Obituaries for Kat Kinkade

Posted on July 29, 2008 by

Community founder and author Kat Kinkade passed away in July at the age of 77. Kinkade was involved in the founding of Twin Oaks, East Wind, and Acorn, and published two memoirs of life at Twin Oaks, A Walden Two Experiment, and Is it Utopia Yet?. Several US newspapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, published obituaries of Kinkade, highlighting her involvement in the communities movement.

Both articles highlight these accomplishments, as well as Kinkade’s move in and out of the communes she helped form. The New York Times wrote of Kinkade’s involvement in the early years of Twin Oaks:

It was not easy. The farm’s well ran dry, cows starved over the winter and rammed-earth bricks did not generate the kind of revenue that the founders had hoped for. Pot-smoking hippies who drifted into the commune found themselves at odds with work-ethic missionaries like Ms. Kinkade, whose blunt practicality and executive talent – rare qualities in the counterculture – helped the stumbling colony achieve not just self-sufficiency but something resembling prosperity.

“She was the Hillary Clinton of Twin Oaks,” her daughter said.

Ultimately, Twin Oaks succeeded, and Kinkade put her energy into founding other communities. The Washington Post wrote:

Unlike thousands of other communes that sprang up in the 1960s only to succumb to the perplexities of shared living, Twin Oaks gradually began to flourish, despite early hardship and dissension. It grew to almost a hundred communards, became a self-sustaining land trust of 450 efficiently managed acres and began to thrive financially when it signed a long-term contract with Pier 1 for its hammocks.

Although she was involved in founding two other income-sharing communities — in Missouri and Virginia — she told The Post in 1998 that communal life had not measured up to her expectations.

“My mother was disappointed that Twin Oaks did not turn out to be the model for what the rest of our society would be,” said her daughter, Dr. Josie Kinkade of Louisa, Va. “When she found out that it was really just a nice place for some middle-class people to live, she was disappointed.”

Although, I suspect that few kitchens in middle-class homes contain a cross-stitch sampler reading, “From each according to their need, to each according to their ability”.

Read the full articles here [New York Times] and here [Washington Post].

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