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 five 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.