Category Archives: Updates

Occasional Update #12 — December 2013

We’ve made this place a home for 3 years now. Earlier this month was our annual Land Day, which we’ve never properly celebrated before. It feels substantial to do so now. We decorated, had a nice dinner together, built a fort around the wood stove, and cracked open some glow sticks. (Well actually that was Sunday for scheduling purposes — on Saturday most of us just went to High Street and had an impromptu dance party with friends and whoever joined in. Also great!)


Hello friends new and old! This is Mattie from The Midden. It’s been nearly 3 years since I wrote one of these quarterly-ish updates for us, which is a great sign to me that this intentional community has grown. Here are several glimpses into the last few months around here:

So many people! On top of regular visitors, we’ve had two new folks staying with us for a month each as prospective members (including Yello, who’s been here about a week so far). Cole and Molly plan are moving toward full membership, and Weslie has returned after nearly a year of elsewhere. In short, more food is made, and more food is eaten! We also have an unusual addition in the form of a mid-sized waste-veggie-oil school bus, currently fairly full with the belongings of a dear friend who’s recovering from an injury.

Molly toured the southeast and mid-Atlantic with the newly hatched Beehive graphic, Mesoamerica Resiste, connecting local and global social justice issues. Some of us variously performed with the Columbus Capit@l Crushers cheerleading squad in rallies for farmworker rights, helped with FRAC’s Huntington divestment campaign, developed relationships on the West side for the Community Land Trust group, and hosted the third annual Prisoner Art Show to benefit Redbird Books to Prisoners. Cole and Alex also continued to develop a class and gentrification workshop which they took on the road to Baltimore last month.


Back at home, we hosted a wonderful Leftovers potluck + dance party the day after Thanksgiving. We haven’t had many potlucks lately, because…

I’ve said for years that Columbus is the best place to live. This is quite a statement, and on top of that I’ve lived many different places. My rationale, as you may have heard me say, is that “Columbus is at least mediocre in every category, and I can’t say that about anywhere else.” Well, I’m changing my tune ever so slightly, because Columbus is almost the worst place to stay free of bed bugs. Ack, terrible! We had a bout with them this fall in two rooms, and diligently defended ourselves. We’re now happily freely inviting folks over again to potlucks and such!

We finally put a hat on the house! 102 years old and standing strong, this house had zero insulation, so this fall we used fiberglass, foam, and cellulose to insulate the 3rd floor. Friends from Acorn, the Baltimore Free Farm, and Twin Oaks helped us quite a bit, with support from the FEC‘s Labor Exchange fund. Here’s a shot of our helpers operating the blown-in insulation machine [one of them also wrote a blog entry about their visit]:


We also scraped, sanded, cleaned, and painted the house’s exterior wood trim. One by one, we worked on the porch, eaves, 8 doors, and 37 windows — quite an undertaking!  With approval from the city’s Historic Preservation office, the wood is now satin black and will be in good shape for the winter and years to come.

-best, mattie-


Occasional Update #8

Date: Friday June 22nd, 2012

The Midden’s Spring Update



In March we had the chance to host a prospective member named Shawn for a month and are currently going through the process of new membership with Cole. If you wanna live here too, let us know! We continue to try and work against development in the neighborhood.

Us and Spring Changes

At a recent pot luck, there was a question about what ‘who you were 5 yrs ago’ would think of ‘who you are now.’ People’s answers to that question highlight just how much happens with time, how everyone is constantly creating variations of who they are. So, here are some things that we’re up to these days that will make us someone else in 5 years:

Wes has given up screen printing for farm work, Mattie has started his own business called Living Wage Lending and Alex is beginning to get a Masonry business off the ground. Meanwhile, Neb is continuing to develop music and make small fires for audiences on High Street. Death row prisoners receive support from Ben and RedBird Prison Abolition. And last but not least, Kate quit her job and is spending time this summer writing and working around the house.

Mattie also continues to play a mentoring role for students organizing around environmental justice, and in April, Kate, Wes and Ben returned from a month long tour with their play In the Belly. Here’s a picture of us celebrating Student Move Out with a trash cake.

moveout cake

We’ll continue to have spontaneous pot lucks and we’d love to chat with you about what you’re up to.

That’s all for now!

The Midden

Occasional Update #7

Winter News from The Midden

Hello and sending warm thoughts from Wes, Kate, Ben, Mattie, Alex, and Burglar (yes, a new member!) at the Midden!  As you read this, we are probably all huddled around our new woodstove hatching plans to knock down walls, re-finish floors, paint things, build things, and generally realize our dream to create ‘one big house’, as we like to say.

One big house . . .

As you may or may not know, the house we bought in Columbus used to be a duplex.  We’ve been living mainly on one side, while the other side has been very messy, so the first and main task towards one big house was cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  I think we are all glad that the cleaning part is about finished, and now we get to move on to the fun stuff – renovations!  None of us have ever done home improvement quite on this scale, so we’re in for a fun and exciting learning process.  Our living room is scattered with drafts of crazy awesome ideas – our main criteria seem to be big kitchen and lots of common space. In the upcoming months, we plan to do lots of repairs on both sides of the house.  By the next newsletter we will hopefully have one big house!

Dogs, woodstoves, and other warm things . . .

Between the months of September and November we had 2 break-ins, which left us feeling pretty violated and un-easy.  As a result, we decided that the  house would benefit from having a big dog around.  Now we have Burglar, a 75 pound 11 month old boxer-lab mix, who is more likely to cuddle an intruder to death than bark at him.  Needless to say, Burglar has quickly become an important part of the house as we learn the ups and downs of collectively having an animal.  He belongs to no-one, and we share the tasks of caring for him.  If you come to visit us sometime, just tell him ‘down!’ :)

Another important addition to Midden was our wood stove!  We decided to install the stove ourselves, and Mattie took a leading role in making it happen.  The process included Mattie climbing 40+ feet into the air and perching on our chimney to finish up tapping into the existing chimney and exhaust pipe.  It was quite an adventurous couple of days, to say the least, but we recently passed an inspection with flying colors and fire it up almost every night.

The wood stove has inspired many nights of reading and writing together by the stove, and we have also started having people over for potlucks.  At the old house (64 King) we had a weekly potluck that happened without a halt for two years straight – quite an accomplishment!  From that experience we learned that we enjoy filling our house with people, food, and ideas.  With that in mind, Ben is going to host a weekly craft night by the fire.  Bring it on, winter – we’ve got friends, crafts, and a woodstove!

Us and new members (the human kind)

When we’re not running around like maniacs with the dog or fixing the house, we all have different projects we’re working on.  Mattie has been facilitating with the Beehive Collective, and continues to work at a local food distributor, the Greener Grocer.  Kate, Wes, and Ben still work with Red Bird Prison Abolition, and all have various part-time jobs.  Ben has been especially excited by the Occupy movement, and sees opportunities to tie it in with Redbird work.  Similarly, Kate is exploring other projects, such as volunteering with women’s health organizations.  Alex has been recording songs for a new album, is helping plan a Solidarity Network for Columbus, and frequently cooks up magnificent meals.

And there will soon be a new addition to the Midden – Neb! Neb makes noises with home made instruments, has expansive foraging knowledge and experience, and recently attended a silent meditation retreat. He will moving into the third floor sometime in late February.

Occasional Update #6

September 20 2011

Hello Friends!

This summer, things have been really hopping at Community Autonomy! We’ve done a lot of growing as a house, a community and as people.

As a house!

We had a house work party and got a lot done in the yard. We’ve built up a bunch of garden beds to grow more foods for ourselves. We replaced the gutters off one side of the house to grow our water catchment abilities (and shrink the basement’s tendency to collect water). We’ve got so many more exciting plans to transform this space over the next year. We’ve also been calling the house “The Midden” with enough regularity that it just might stick. “Midden” is an archaeological term for a trash heap or rubbish pile. It’s a intriguing place where detritus is collected. In our case, that detritus is re-purposed and transformed into a home!

As a community!

We’re super excited to announce that we’re expanding our membership. Alex and Wes are now provisional members of Community Autonomy. Alex has been active in Columbus Housing Justice and other activist and documentary film projects for a long time. Wes lived with us at king house and has been very involved with RedBird Prison Abolition and Insurgent Theatre. We also hosted a really wonderful provisional member for a month this summer, but he’s instead settled at Acorn Community in VA.

As people!

We’ve been doing a lot of house maintenance work, student move-out scavenging, and had a fun day in a rolly coaster park. I’m not sure how effective being thrown around screaming by huge steel machines is for bringing a community together, but we all had fun. Mattie has been developing his facilitation work, which you can read about online here: Ben, Kate and Weslie have been super busy and travelling all over with their play In the Belly and working to support Ohio prisoners through RedBird Prison Abolition.

On a somewhat melancholy note, we also helped everyone move out of our former home at 64 King and helped prepare it for sale. We’re so grateful to have met each other in that space, and are supportive of Amy doing what she needs to do to move forward and put the house behind her.

Until fall!


Picture: Kate, 3 stories up on a 32 foot ladder. (Don’t worry, she got more confident up there by the end of the job!).

Occasional Update #5

Spring Update — We Did It!

Hello you and hello springtime!  This is Mattie from Community Autonomy, bearing digital greetings and well wishes.  As you know, we are a group of people creating a life together around the principles of egalitarianism, sustainability, accountability, justice, and community in Columbus Ohio.In this spring edition:
– We Did It!
– Ad Seg
– New Economics

We Did It!

Yes indeed. 3 years into this project, we bought a house together, did some initial rehab, and moved in. Our house is a 10 bed/4 bath centenarian on an 1/8 acre southeast of OSU. After helping the sewage actually make its way to the sewer, refinishing the floors (see attached!), replacing 115 slate roof tiles (okay we contracted that one out), and a bunch of smaller ongoing stuff, 3 of us moved in a month ago. We live in an area known as Weinland Park or The Short, a neighborhood undergoing rapid transformation. We’re variously and critically engaged to help this place remain culturally rich, socioeconomically diverse, and accessible to current residents, which is a complicated adventure!
We need: new members, help developing the awesome potential of this old house, conscious and critical community organization in this changing neighborhood, some good dirt, and probably other things we don’t even know about yet – please drop a line if you can help! Also, in case you’re wondering, the old house on King Ave is continuing as a housing cooperative, and they’re also looking for members.
Ad Seg
Continuing their work with Insurgent Theater, members Ben & Kate have got a new show. Ad Seg is a critical exploration of the US prison system. February/March was the southeast tour, and some more local shows are filling space until the west and east tours in August/September – you can bring them to your town!
New Economics
We take care of each other. Though it will take a few months to figure out the details, there is great comfort and strength in egalitarian community. Transportation? Health care? Unemployment? Food? Got you covered. Here’s an excerpt from our economics agreement to give you a flavor of what I’m talking about:

Accountability: To guide our economic decision and actions, we rely on an honor system, regular communication, clear understanding of what counts for Quota hours, and a shared convention in recording them. Generally, all work done to meet the Community’s needs counts for Quota. Acceptable work includes, but is not limited to: cleaning, cooking, shopping, yard work, renovation, Community meetings, record keeping, outreach, research, repairs, income-generating work, and limited sick time.

What a way to live!  And with my new job at the Greener Grocer, Ben becoming a substitute teacher, Kate maybe picking up some part-time vegan baking, and all the work to do on this house and in the neighborhood, there’s no shortage of stuff to do around here.
until next time,