Thank you for you interest in Magic’s residential service-learning community. Our purpose here is to explain what we’re aiming to do and be here, and why, and to guide you in making your stay enjoyable for all of us.
Since 1979, we have opened Magic to more than several hundred different overnight guests, and to more several more thousand individuals who came to share food and conversation, or to participate in educational, public service activities sponsored by the public service 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 enable visitors to be here in a way that is enjoyable for you and for us.
Please read carefully what we have written here, and be conscientious in cooperating with others here during your stay. If you have questions, please ask your host or hostess to explain or clarify.
We hope that you will find us good company. Thoughtful guests have contributed to our lives in countless ways, and welook forward to each new visitor with pleasure.
How We Are
We generate our community from shared values. In this section we describe some of the ideas we hold in common, which serve as the 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.
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 people 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 adapt successfully, humans will maintain a close fit between our own ways of being and the qualities of the rapidly changing environment in which we live. We view the practice of science, by which we mean any behavior by which we gain ability to predict with better-than-random accuracy, to be unparalleled as a means to live well. As we learn to see our situation more clearly, and become better able to foresee the consequences of our acts, we increase our meaningful choices, our freedom, and our 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 desires and 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 biotic and abiotic 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.
Our community is affiliated with Magic, a public service corporation chartered to study and teach human ecology, the scientific investigation of interactions among humans, and between humans and the rest of the environment. People making Magic sponsor activities aimed at demonstrating how the methods and principles of ecology may be applied to improve the quality of human life. Our intentional community is one such undertaking.
The land, the buildings, and much of the furnishings and equipment here are owned by the corporation. Individual residents hold varying amounts and types of wealth privately. Various individuals among us have entered into a wide range of agreements for sharing the risks and rewards of living. All residents contribute money or labor at about the prevailing market rate to support the operation of the household, and all of us also give at least ten percent of our income or two hundred hours of volunteer service each year to sustain the corporation’s other public service projects.
Prior to becoming a resident people usually work with Magic for a year or more. Typically, residents remain for anywhere from a few years to decades.
We are an egalitarian community, proceeding from the fundamental premise that each of us is worthy of respect and consideration. We practice decision-making with allowances for each person’s special 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. Resident fellows serve as the interface between our community and the Board of Directors of Magic. They are responsible for maintaining clear communication between the board members and the residents, and for assisting the residents in ensuring that our community complies with the rules and regulations governing non-profit, public benefit organizations. We currently operate with a single resident fellow. The various managers coordinate other residents and guests in keeping the household running smoothly. All of us aim to support those who have shouldered the 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 our visitors in return. Our guests have included people of all ages, from a variety of backgrounds, from around the United States and the world. We ask prospective visitors to contact us in advance, even if that means just calling from nearby before showing up at the door. 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.
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 we have furnished our home similarly. We eat simple, nourishing food. Most of us engage in aerobic exercise, like running, swimming, or cycling for about an 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 the residents here from legal difficulty we require that any who store or use illegal substances do so off this site.
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 travel primarily by walking or bicycling, 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 eight or more of us are in residence. With less than two thousand square feet of buildings, including garage, 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. At least once each week we gather for three hours or so to listen and talk. Each calendar quarter we set aside a day or more 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.
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 non-profit 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.
Sometimes as we read this section, we think, “We sure are
particular. I hope people will still want to come.” Then we remember that this is how we enjoy living. What you read here is the bare minimum we aim to offer each other. If you think you will appreciate living in these ways, and feel enriched by the opportunity to be with others who do, we will be pleased to invite you into our home. We hope what follows will seem easy and natural to you.
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 the standards we have chosen for ourselves. We are open to change, and are steadily changing, but after more than twenty years making Magic, we have substantial momentum, and we appreciate those who learn our way, and experience it fully with us, before urging us to accept some other way here.
Specific Things to Remember
We thank you for respecting the following conventions:
- respect others’ desire for quiet: close doors and gate gently; talk only to people in the same room as you; ask the others in a room before turning on a stereo; avoid making sounds which may disturb 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; turn off appliances and lights as soon as you finish using them; dress up or down rather than using the 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 room, library, kitchen, offices, bathroom, halls, porch, offices, garage workshop, patio, 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 other items as soon as you stop using them
- avoid tracking dirt around: clean or remove shoes before entering the house; if you go barefoot in the house, keep your feet clean; when you’re in the 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
- keep all illegal items and substances off the property; smoke off the property; consult your host or hostess before bringing alcohol onto the property
- doing laundry: learn laundry protocols and schedules before using machines; wash your own sheets and towels on the last day of your stay, 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 (cloth on rack on left side of sink cabinet); wipe water from counter and wall (cloth on rack on right side of sink cabinet); avoid splashing or spraying mirror; remove hair from sink and shower and place in trash; use the soap and shampoo in the shower stall, and the soap on the counter by the sink if you like; keep personal care products in the 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 the fridge or the cupboards, or serving yourself dinner; clean table and counters after using them; spot-clean floor before leaving (rag on rack of right door beneath sink); 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 (sponge above sink); 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 the floor or sweep before you leave; wipe the fridge and cupboard doors if you’ve dirtied 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 the file access protocols before entering files; learn the 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 our property taxes. You will find safety and comfort in our yards, our buildings, and their furnishings. And you will very likely enjoy one or more meals with us. Each of us contributes about $70 per day to sustain these aspects of our community. We sometimes offer work exchange to guests whose skills are applicable here and whose working styles are compatible with our own.
In the spirit of a public service organization, we commonly offer supper and a night’s lodging as a gift 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. If you contemplate a longer stay, please discuss with your host or hostess how you will support Magic so that both you and we will feel enriched for having lived together here.
We at Magic are joined in the purpose of demonstrating how people can become healthier and more aware, how we may cooperate more effectively to further common interests, and how we may 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 leavng Magic stronger than you found it. Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to learning, and loving, and laughing with you.