A Word To Guests

Introduction

Thank you for you inter­est in Mag­ic’s res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ty. We’ve writ­ten this pam­phlet to explain what we’re aim­ing to do and be here, and why as you and we plan towards your pos­si­ble visit.

Since 1979, we have opened Mag­ic to more than sev­en hun­dred dif­fer­ent overnight guests, and to more than three thou­sand indi­vid­u­als who came to share food and con­ver­sa­tion, or to par­tic­i­pate in edu­ca­tion­al and ser­vice activ­i­ties spon­sored by the pub­lic ben­e­fit orga­ni­za­tion with which we are affil­i­at­ed, and with which we share our name. On the basis of these expe­ri­ences we have assem­bled the fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion and guide­lines to respond to inquiries, and to enable vis­i­tors to be here in a way that is enjoy­able and ben­e­fi­cial for you and for us.

Please read care­ful­ly what we have writ­ten here, and be con­sci­en­tious in coop­er­at­ing with oth­ers here dur­ing your stay. Your host or host­ess will answer your questions.

We hope that you will find us good com­pa­ny. Thought­ful guests have con­tributed to our lives in count­less ways, and we look for­ward with plea­sure to each new visitor.

How We Are

We gen­er­ate our com­mu­ni­ty from shared val­ues. In this sec­tion we describe some ideas we hold in com­mon, which serve as a foun­da­tion for our ven­ture; we out­line our orga­ni­za­tion­al frame­work and our ways of mak­ing deci­sions togeth­er; and we dis­cuss some ele­ments of dai­ly life here which we con­sid­er to be of cen­tral importance.

Ideas

We live togeth­er so that we may more eas­i­ly devel­op deep friend­ships with each oth­er. We seek such close­ness because we rec­og­nize that each of us has uncrit­i­cal­ly and even uncon­scious­ly accu­mu­lat­ed many ways of being, and we want each oth­er’s assis­tance in becom­ing more aware. We prac­tice observ­ing our­selves, each oth­er, and the world around us to see afresh, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing our per­cep­tions hon­est­ly, open­ly, and with care.

We con­sid­er liv­ing and dying to be con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous process­es, begin­ning at birth and end­ing at death. To learn to enjoy these ful­ly, we are seek­ing a bal­ance between atten­tion to mate­r­i­al needs and desires, and accep­tance of the inevitabil­i­ty that we will cease to exist as the indi­vid­ual human beings we are today. We share a sense that we may more ful­ly real­ize our own poten­tial by devot­ing our lives to improv­ing the well-being of humankind.

We some­times speak of sci­ence and lov­ing as the cen­tral themes of our lives together.

We use the word ‘sci­ence’ in a very basic sense, to refer to the cycle of won­der­ing, observ­ing, rea­son­ing, and test­ing by which vir­tu­al­ly all humans and many oth­er ani­mals learn from expe­ri­ence to make pre­dic­tions bet­ter than we can make by chance.

To adapt suc­cess­ful­ly, humans main­tain a close fit between our own ways of being and qual­i­ties of the rapid­ly chang­ing envi­ron­ment. We view the prac­tice of sci­ence, by which we mean sim­ply ‘learn­ing from expe­ri­ence to make more accu­rate pre­dic­tions,’ to be unpar­al­leled as means to gain a clear­er pic­ture of self and world, and to become bet­ter able to fore­see con­se­quences of our acts. With this abil­i­ty we increase our mean­ing­ful choic­es, free­dom, and capac­i­ty for con­scious evolution.

Lov­ing is anoth­er word which peo­ple define in wide­ly dif­fer­ent ways. When the res­i­dents of Mag­ic talk of lov­ing, we mean search­ing for com­mon inter­ests and act­ing to fur­ther them. We ques­tion often how to bal­ance our own wants with those of oth­ers. What is fair? Or good? Or adap­tive in an evo­lu­tion­ary sense? By liv­ing so close­ly with each oth­er, we are dis­cov­er­ing how much we are all alike. We are learn­ing to trust each oth­er. We are find­ing that we enjoy some­times think­ing of our ‘selves’ in ways that include oth­er peo­ple, oth­er life, and even the Earth.

We aim to evi­dence our grow­ing love by meet­ing our mate­r­i­al needs ever more mod­est­ly, and by devot­ing ever-increas­ing atten­tion to car­ing for each oth­er, for peo­ple beyond our house­hold, and for both the liv­ing and non-liv­ing com­po­nents of the envi­ron­ment on which all of us rely for our well-being. As we enlarge our sphere of inter­est, we become bet­ter able to enjoy our liv­ing and dying.

Framework

Our com­mu­ni­ty is affil­i­at­ed with Mag­ic, a pub­lic ben­e­fit orga­ni­za­tion char­tered to devel­op and dis­sem­i­nate val­ue­science, appli­ca­tion of sci­en­tif­ic meth­ods and prin­ci­ples to ques­tions of val­ue. Peo­ple affil­i­at­ed with Mag­ic spon­sor activ­i­ties aimed at demon­strat­ing how each per­son may prac­tice val­ue­science to improve the qual­i­ty of human life. Our inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty is such an undertaking.

The land, the build­ings, and much of the fur­nish­ings and equip­ment here are owned by Mag­ic. Indi­vid­ual res­i­dents hold vary­ing amounts and types of wealth pri­vate­ly. Indi­vid­u­als among us have entered into a wide range of agree­ments for shar­ing risks and rewards of liv­ing. All res­i­dents con­tribute mon­ey or labor at about the pre­vail­ing mar­ket rate to sup­port oper­a­tion of the house­hold, and most of us also give at least ten per­cent of our income or two hun­dred hours of vol­un­teer ser­vice each year to sus­tain Mag­ic’s oth­er pub­lic ser­vice projects.

We are an egal­i­tar­i­an com­mu­ni­ty, pro­ceed­ing from the fun­da­men­tal premise that each of us is wor­thy of respect and con­sid­er­a­tion. We prac­tice con­sen­su­al deci­sion-mak­ing. With­in the con­sen­sus process we make allowance for each per­son­’s demon­strat­ed com­pe­tence, past con­tri­bu­tion, and com­mit­ment into the future.

A num­ber of us serve the com­mu­ni­ty in spe­cial roles. These include Res­i­dent Fel­low, House Man­ag­er, Food Ser­vice Man­ag­er, and oth­ers which we cre­ate from time to time as we see fit. Fel­lows serve as inter­face between our com­mu­ni­ty and the Board of Direc­tors of Mag­ic. They are respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion between board mem­bers and res­i­dents, and for assist­ing res­i­dents in ensur­ing that our com­mu­ni­ty com­plies with rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing non-prof­it, pub­lic ben­e­fit orga­ni­za­tions. Man­agers coor­di­nate oth­er res­i­dents and guests in keep­ing the house­hold run­ning smooth­ly. All of us aim to sup­port those who have shoul­dered respon­si­bil­i­ties of fel­low or man­ag­er roles.

We enjoy extend­ing hos­pi­tal­i­ty to guests. Each new per­son brings unique gifts to us, and we aim to pro­vide good val­ue to vis­i­tors in return. Guests have includ­ed peo­ple of all ages, from a vari­ety of back­grounds, from around the coun­try and the world. We ask prospec­tive vis­i­tors to con­tact us in advance, even if that means just call­ing from near­by before show­ing up. After ini­tial inter­ac­tion by let­ter, e‑mail, or phone, we decide whether we feel com­fort­able offer­ing a guest a night’s hos­pi­tal­i­ty. We con­sid­er and com­mit to longer stays in grad­u­al­ly larg­er incre­ments. In rare instances, guests have remained for more than a year. Many have returned repeatedly.

Style

We have tak­en to heart Thore­au’s admo­ni­tion to “high think­ing and plain liv­ing.” We are per­sis­tent ques­tion­ers, hold­ing ideas open to revi­sion. We repeat­ed­ly ask: “To what pur­pos­es do we live?” “By what actions may we fur­ther them?” and “On what bases do we decide these things?” We are hon­ing our skills of obser­va­tion and rea­son­ing, and we are con­stant­ly test­ing ideas in prac­tice. Peo­ple who are eager to ques­tion, observe, rea­son, and exper­i­ment with us are often enthu­si­as­tic about their stays here.

Most of us have adopt­ed a fair­ly reg­u­lar dai­ly pat­tern: sleep eight or nine hours each night, work dur­ing nor­mal busi­ness hours, come togeth­er each evening for sup­per. When the days are long some of us shift our pat­terns to exer­cise out-of-doors after sun­set and avoid UV dam­age. We dress and groom sim­ply and unpre­ten­tious­ly, and we have fur­nished our home sim­i­lar­ly. We eat sim­ple, nour­ish­ing food. Most of us engage in aer­o­bic exer­cise, like run­ning, swim­ming, or cycling for at least a half hour each day.

We are wary of addiction—habitual mal­adap­tive behavior—of all kinds. We are very care­ful with psy­choac­tive sub­stances, includ­ing even things like wine, beer, cof­fee, and tea. To pro­tect Mag­ic and res­i­dents guests here from legal dif­fi­cul­ty we ask every­one to refrain from stor­ing or using ille­gal sub­stances here.

We often lis­ten to music. We dance a lot, sing a bit, and some of us play musi­cal instru­ments. Though we have our moments of rau­cous­ness and exu­ber­ance, we gen­er­al­ly main­tain an atmos­phere of calm and rel­a­tive quiet.

We are very mod­est con­sumers by the stan­dards of the com­mu­ni­ty in which we live, rarely eat­ing in restau­rants, buy­ing new things of any kind, pur­chas­ing pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices, or even trav­el­ing in motor vehi­cles. We get around pri­mar­i­ly by walk­ing or bik­ing, even over dis­tances mea­sured in tens of miles.

We aim to set a pos­i­tive exam­ple by shar­ing space and equip­ment in a fru­gal, con­vivial way. Typ­i­cal­ly fif­teen or more of us are in res­i­dence. With about four thou­sand square feet of build­ings, includ­ing garages, green­house, sheds, et cetera, we live at a den­si­ty high­er than many U.S. res­i­dents do. We man­age this by sub­sti­tut­ing con­sid­er­a­tion and self-rev­e­la­tion for space.

We devote sub­stan­tial life to learn­ing about each oth­er, often eat­ing, exer­cis­ing, work­ing, or par­ty­ing togeth­er. Each cal­en­dar quar­ter some of us set aside a day or so to plan and review togeth­er. Day-to-day we inter­act one-on-one and in small groups to strength­en the fab­ric of our com­mu­ni­ty. Though we are gen­tle peo­ple, we are spir­it­ed in con­ver­sa­tion, and ded­i­cat­ed to our ven­ture. We move quick­ly to per­son­al and heart­felt topics.

Over the years we have become con­vinced that we enjoy more free­dom when we are neat, order­ly, and clean. Peo­ple who vis­it here are often sur­prised by our atten­tion to these qual­i­ties and we are grate­ful for all that you do to sus­tain them.

Cur­rent­ly sev­er­al of us make lit­tle dis­tinc­tion between home and office, work and play. Although we enjoy what many con­sid­er unusu­al free­dom in choos­ing what we do, and when, we are dis­ci­plined in our lives, and respect­ful of each oth­er’s desires for pri­va­cy and qui­et while engaged in activ­i­ties requir­ing concentration.

In sum­ma­ry, we are an unusu­al hybrid, with ele­ments of school, fam­i­ly, monastery, and pub­lic ser­vice ven­ture oper­at­ed by a group of agnos­tic, free­dom-lov­ing, order­ly, intel­lec­tu­al ani­mals. If you like the sounds of this, we hope you’ll give us a chance to meet you.

What We Ask of You

Some­times as we read the sec­tion below, we think, “We sure are par­tic­u­lar. I hope peo­ple will still want to come.” Then we remem­ber that this is how we live. This is the bare min­i­mum we aim to give to each other.

We want to invite into our home peo­ple who will appre­ci­ate our ways and feel enriched by the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be with us. We hope what fol­lows will seem easy and nat­ur­al to you.

In General

Make arrange­ments in advance. If you arrive unan­nounced, be pre­pared to be asked to return at anoth­er time, or to join us in what we are doing, or to fend for your­self with what­ev­er we offer.

In your ini­tial tele­phone, let­ter, or e‑mail con­tact, tell us your pur­pose in request­ing to vis­it. We live with con­scious inten­tion to dis­cern and to fur­ther com­mon inter­ests and we want to know what you and we are intend­ing together.

Where prac­ti­cal, please plan to vis­it first at lunchtime or din­ner­time, or to par­tic­i­pate in a spe­cif­ic sched­uled event. In the spir­it of a pub­lic ser­vice orga­ni­za­tion, we com­mon­ly offer a meal and/or pro­gram activ­i­ty as gifts to those who seek to learn more about Mag­ic. You may con­tribute some­thing to make such oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to those who fol­low you, and we are grate­ful when you do.

Be sen­si­tive to our pat­terns. As you read this pam­phlet you may note dif­fer­ences between your usu­al ways of liv­ing and ours. Please be atten­tive to those aspects of your being, and approach us with respect for what we’ve cho­sen for our­selves. We are open to change, and are steadi­ly chang­ing, even after thir­ty-five years; how­ev­er, we have sub­stan­tial momen­tum, and we appre­ci­ate those who learn our ways, and expe­ri­ence them with us, before urg­ing us to adopt some oth­er way here.

Specific Things to Remember

We ask you to fol­low cer­tain conventions:

  • respect oth­ers’ desire for quiet: 
    • close doors and gates gently;
    • talk only to peo­ple in the same room as you;
    • ask oth­ers in a room before turn­ing on a stereo;
    • avoid mak­ing sounds audi­ble to those who have gone to bed or are writ­ing, read­ing, meet­ing, med­i­tat­ing, etc.;
    • refrain from meal­time con­ver­sa­tions which make simul­ta­ne­ous con­ver­sa­tion among oth­ers in the room difficult
  • con­serve nat­ur­al resources: 
    • short­en show­ers and con­serve water when you wash dish­es, cloth­ing, and oth­er items;
    • turn off appli­ances and lights as soon as you fin­ish using them;
    • dress up or down rather than using a fur­nace, a heater, or some mechan­i­cal cool­ing device;
    • oper­ate doors, win­dows, and shades to enhance pas­sive solar heat­ing and ventilation
  • pick up after yourself: 
    • keep per­son­al belong­ings oth­er than those you are using at a giv­en moment out of the com­mon spaces (liv­ing rooms, library, kitchens, offices, bath­rooms, halls, porch­es, garage work­shops, patios, and front and back yards);
    • if you bring any­thing onto the site, find out where to store it, and put it there directly;
    • put away items as soon as you stop using them
  • avoid track­ing dirt around: 
    • clean or remove shoes before enter­ing houses;
    • if you go bare­foot in a house, keep your feet clean;
    • when you’re in a house, keep your hands clean
  • if you dam­age or break some­thing, or dis­cov­er some­thing dam­aged or bro­ken, tell your host or host­ess, or in their absence, ask anoth­er res­i­dent how to proceed
  • park bicy­cle or motor vehi­cle in the spot des­ig­nat­ed for you
  • drugs:
    • keep all ille­gal sub­stances off the property;
    • smoke off the property;
    • con­sult your host or host­ess before bring­ing alco­hol onto the property
  • with tele­phones:
    • make only local calls;
    • use a call­ing card to make long dis­tance phone calls;
    • please check with one of us or the phone direc­to­ry if you are uncer­tain of the nature of your call;
    • use an out­go­ing line assigned you, give only the num­ber assigned you to your callers;
    • refrain from lengthy calls at times when oth­ers may be inconvenienced;
    • fol­low tele­phone answer­ing and mes­sage pro­to­cols as described by your host or hostess
  • doing laun­dry:
    • learn laun­dry pro­to­cols and sched­ules before using machines;
    • on your final day, please wash sheets and tow­els you used, if possible
  • in the bathroom: 
    • sit to pee regard­less of your gender;
    • leave toi­let clean (brush under sink, a sec­ond flush is some­times necessary);
    • run exhaust fan when show­er­ing or defecating;
    • wipe water from floor (ask host for loca­tion of appro­pri­ate cloth);
    • wipe water from counter and wall (ask host for loca­tion of appro­pri­ate cloth);
    • avoid splash­ing or spray­ing mirror;
    • remove hair from sink and show­er and place in trash;
    • use soap and sham­poo in show­er, and soap on counter by sink if you like;
    • keep per­son­al care prod­ucts in a stor­age area assigned you;
    • brush and cut hair out-of-doors when practical;
    • deposit used san­i­tary nap­kins, tam­pons, or oth­er prod­ucts (oth­er than toi­let paper) con­tain­ing body flu­ids or waste neat­ly in waste­bas­ket, or place them direct­ly into con­tain­er marked ‘trash’ in recy­cling area adja­cent to driveway;
    • place fresh roll (from cab­i­net beneath sink) in toi­let paper dis­penser if you use the last;
    • remem­ber that we flush urine only occa­sion­al­ly and reduce the like­li­hood of pipe block­age by using toi­let paper sparingly
  • in the kitchen: 
    • wash your hands before open­ing fridge or cup­boards, or serv­ing your­self dinner;
    • clean and dry table and coun­ters after use;
    • spot-clean floor before leaving;
    • wash dish­es and uten­sils thor­ough­ly, using soap, sponge, and abra­sives as nec­es­sary to make them sparkle;
    • avoid spilling down sides of containers;
    • imme­di­ate­ly clean up spills;
    • inform a res­i­dent if you use the last of any food stored in a container;
    • use counter space fru­gal­ly to leave room for others;
    • keep crumbs off floor or sweep before you leave;
    • wipe fridge and cup­board doors if you dirty them;
    • replace food con­tain­ers, uten­sils, and equip­ment where you found them;
    • ask your host or host­ess where to store food items you bring;
    • be sen­si­tive to the num­ber of peo­ple who will be shar­ing food
  • in the offices: 
    • wash your hands before using com­put­ers, files, or library materials;
    • ask before putting any non-Mag­ic disk in a computer;
    • ask before access­ing any on-line ser­vice or oth­er remote facil­i­ty from a Mag­ic computer;
    • refrain from remov­ing any mate­ri­als from the room where they are stored;
    • learn file access pro­to­cols before enter­ing files;
    • learn library pro­to­col before pulling books from shelves;
    • leave all sup­plies and equip­ment in the place you found them.

A Fair Share

Each of us gives about one or two hours per day to keep­ing the house clean and neat, and the gar­den healthy, and to feed­ing the peo­ple here. If you will be here for even a few hours, we ask that you share these respon­si­bil­i­ties with us. Some read­i­ly avail­able oppor­tu­ni­ties are food pro­cess­ing, meal prepa­ra­tion and cleanup, gen­er­al house­clean­ing, and run­ning errands. These tasks require min­i­mal expla­na­tion from one of us, so your net ser­vice can be great. If you have a spe­cial skill or resource that you think can ben­e­fit those who share this house­hold, or those whom we serve, please offer.

We are reduc­ing our depen­dence on com­mer­cial trans­ac­tions. Cur­rent­ly our evo­lu­tion along this path is less than com­plete: we exchange mon­ey for food, mate­ri­als relat­ed to house­hold main­te­nance, books, equip­ment and fur­nish­ings, teach­ing aids, postage and print­ing, trans­porta­tion, med­ical care, insur­ance, tax­es, util­i­ties, and telephone.

As a guest you will ben­e­fit from util­i­ties ser­vices like water, elec­tric­i­ty, and refuse col­lec­tion. You will be pro­tect­ed by pub­lic ser­vices like police, which we sup­port with tax­es. You will find safe­ty and com­fort in our yards, our build­ings, and their fur­nish­ings. You will inter­act with peo­ple who’ve among us more than a cen­tu­ry of expe­ri­ence in cre­at­ing val­ue­science-based ser­vice learn­ing com­mu­ni­ty togeth­er. And you will very like­ly enjoy one or more meals with us. We cal­cu­late that we expend about $70 per day for each guest in our com­mu­ni­ty. We some­times offer work exchange to guests whose skills are applic­a­ble here and whose work­ing styles are com­pat­i­ble with our own.

An Invitation

We at Mag­ic are joined in the pur­pose of demon­strat­ing how peo­ple can prac­tice val­ue­science to become health­i­er and more aware, to coop­er­ate to fur­ther com­mon inter­ests, and to pro­tect and restore the envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ties on which life depends. This home is a base from which we serve.

You can con­tribute to the sta­bil­i­ty and strength of our com­mu­ni­ty, and to the qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty of our pro­grams for ben­e­fit of the gen­er­al pub­lic, by vis­it­ing us with the inten­tion of leav­ing Mag­ic stronger than you found it. Thank you for your con­sid­er­a­tion. We look for­ward to learn­ing, and lov­ing, and laugh­ing with you.