The Corner

Blissful Self-Parody

Here’s a hilariously straightforward profile of the Rhizome Collective, a group of alternative lifestylers in Austin. It’s amazing stuff. Here’s an excerpt almost at random (note, I almost thought this was a hoax given everyone’s goofy names, but it seems legit):

The members bristle at the idea that the group is a “hippie free-for-all,” and insist on being called a collective and not a commune. But the group may be as close to the spirit and ideals of 1960s communalism as you can find in Austin.

While a lot of folks in town talk the talk, the Rhizome Collective walks the walk.

Made up of a rotating cast of about a dozen members, each with different specialties, the Rhizome Collective is a flash point of social activism. In the bike shop, members recondition donated bicycles that they then give to maquiladora workers on the border and in Cuba. Other members cultivate an herb garden and are planning a holistic health center to give free herbal medicine and referrals. In the community kitchen, the group Food Not Bombs cooks meals for the homeless.

The Free Skool for the Arts organizes art classes for local kids and adults and is planning community art pieces for public spaces in East Austin. The Inside Books Project leases space for a warehouse of educational books it sends to Texas prison inmates. And every Thursday night, the group hosts dinners to discuss a range of topics from composting to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We’re an extended family of friends with similar visions,” said Brackin Firecracker, who works in the bike shop and is originally from Mississippi. “When the opportunity came up for a space, we put our heads together, and this is what came out of it.”

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