As our last day in Moscow drew to a close, we found ourselves feeling stunned that this whole thing just happened. From an idea, a blog post, some emails, a Facebook page, some postcards, and a lot of help from some friends (and some strangers), Summer Commune became an incredible community and a transformative experience. And we couldn’t have picked a better location for launching our experiment.
Big ups to the city of Moscow, and a very special thanks to Mayor Nancy Chaney, Kathleen Burns & the Moscow Arts Council, Sue Scott & the City Council, Gina Taruscio & the Chamber of Commerce, Steve Streets & Daystar Organic Farms, Nicole & Thando & Wanderer’s Tavern, Jesica Dehart & Book People of Moscow, Austin Storm of Brick & Mortar, Maree McHugh & The Every Other Sunday Show, Stacy Isenbarger & The Pritchard Gallery, One World Café, David Giese, Tiffany Harms, friend and teacher Jay Feldman, and artsy-partner-in-crime Sofya Yampolsky.
Oh, and you too, Communers: Christin, Mike K., Jon H., Nitsan, Alaya, Maggie, Spivey, Amy, Micah, Bill, Kathleen, Max, Jason, Mike V., Jeana, Jon L., Lola, Rachel, Oliver, Taras, Anna, Christine, Odette, Nathan, Warren, Lauren, David, Kaitlin, Vinh, Eugene, Ava, Jan, Jen, Teresa, Ana, Noah, Kevin, Joyelle, Michael, Daniel, Dan, STARSKATE, Fiddlin’ Al, & The Super Saturated Sugar Strings. THANKS FOR BEING PART OF THE FIRST SUMMER COMMUNE!
Moscow Food Co-Op
As a quick FYI to people making the “Moscow, Russia / Moscow, Idaho” joke… Yakov Smirnoff was on that in ‘91… Yakov Smirnoff from Moscow…Idaho
Sixty-five miles from Moscow, and the orange light came on. Why hadn’t I gotten gas on the Interstate? I’d acted blasé about it. I’d traveled 1300 miles and taken for granted that I’d always find somewhere to refuel. I panicked because I hadn’t renewed my AAA card in two years. But that wouldn’t matter anyway, I’d run out of juice on my cellphone. No way to contact the outside world. I imagined myself awkwardly walking down the road to a single wide trailer surrounded by signs that said KEEP OUT! (and in this imaginary scenario I noticed they’d used an upside down ‘i’ as an exclamation point). But as I was rolling on fumes I thought, “Nobody just has a full gas can lying around their trailer.” Plus this baby takes 87, and you can only get 85 in these parts—-Then out of nowhere, an empty gas pump appeared in front of a gigantic propane tank. I pulled off the road and filled my tank. I would not spend my first night inadvertently camping on the Palouse.
At the Idaho state border, I took Instagram photos. I don’t really like taking photos, but I thought it important to document the moment where an idea of what something looks like becomes a reality. Border pictures seems like a popular pastime, because it was the only place on the highway with a turn off: “Free Parking for People who like Geographic Points of Interest, and Who May Be Starting a Temporary Intentional Community.”
After unpacking I went to the grocery store to buy staples: beans, bread, beer. I went to pay at the cashier, and glanced down at the newspaper. We were on the cover. I knew I’d given an interview, but I was surprised to see the paper in the flesh (paper is a kind of recycled tree flesh) right next to the section about high school sports wins. It said my name and called me a travel writer. This was the first time I’d ever arrived anywhere with this warm of a welcome. (I mean, once someone wrote a Facebook status that said they were excited to have me visit.)
I spent my first nights in Moscow sleeping in a tent in the living room. (Cuz I thought that would be fun.) I figured I’d be most comfortable in the room closest to the Anytime Fitness where I steal the internet from. It’s important to have that life line to your virtual life in case of emergency, or if you wake up in the middle of the night with a joke to tweet. (A constant internet connection is also good to be able to immediately erase that last joke.)
Everyone in town has been so friendly. Some new friends took me to a Co-op party where I let a goose bite my skin and realized that it was not as scary as I thought it was when I was a kid. At a bar I met scientists who thought it was funny that I still couldn’t get over the cheap drink prices. ($2.75 mixed drinks. $3.25 for “32 oz tubs” of beer.) I met with a Buddhist scholar who provided me with some good Summer Commune advice: “Instead of asking what you can do for Moscow, ask what Moscow can do for you.” People told me about how various cafes on different sides of Main Street are also on different sides of America’s “culture wars. Liberals get their espressos at One World, conservatives get cappuccinos at Bucer’s. This college town is a mirror of our larger society. The perfect destination for our Summer Commune.
Later in the week, friends from the internet passed through for a few nights en route to Glacier National Park. They’re filmmakers who said that this town would be a perfect place for a filmmaker to work on projects. If they had their own equipment, all they would need are actors. While they were here we recorded a rap song, a Summer Commune milestone. Stay tuned for the next Kid Sriracha + Boar$head + Sauerkraut In the Cabinet jam dropping soon.
This summer is full of endless potential, and it seems like we’ve picked a wonderful town to spend it. Excited for more communards to show up, so I can introduce them to the great people who already live here.
Brick & Mortar Coworking: Coworking is like if Summer Commune had desk jobs. (Productive, collaborative, and fun!) Brick & Mortar is an office space in downtown Moscow shared by designers, developers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, videographers, writers, artists, telecommuters, and more. “If you can work from anywhere, you can work from Brick & Mortar.” They offer all the comforts of the office & even better co-workers: “Some of the most interesting, creative, talented, and driven people in Moscow for you to work alongside.” And like Summer Commune, they require that all new members first purchase a day pass before subscribing long-term (though there’s no official screening process).
The Moscow Food Co-op: They have produce (obvs), a deli, and bakery, plus events like foodcentric film screenings, and a Tuesday night Growers Market with musica en vivo.
Also: “The Moscow Food Co-op has some great opportunities for Crop Mobbing this summer! What is Crop Mobbing?! It’s a volunteer program that helps the community maximize their collective efforts by helping our local growers with on-farm projects. Because farm labor is so intensive and our growers work so hard to provide us with sustainably grown food, we think it’s only fair to help them out when we can!” The next Crop Mobs are scheduled for June 1st, 9th, & 10th. Email edolinky [at] moscowfood [dot] coop for more info.
Organic Farming at the U of Idaho: The University of Idaho has an organic farm 2-3 miles from town, run by the Soil Stewards student group. Soil Stewards are undergrad and grad students, art majors, soil science majors, agriculture majors and environmental science majors. It’s a diverse group united by their desire to effect change and grow healthy, organic food on campus, and we hear they’re always looking for volunteers.
Backyard Harvest: Backyard Harvest connects local gardeners, farmers, and fruit tree owners with low income families through local food pantries and meal programs. (Growers donate their excess produce.) Always in need of good looking volunteers.
Community Pool: One of our Facebook fans pretty much sums it up: “We have an amazing community pool here in Moscow that is like a mini-waterpark. It’s one of my favorite places to be in the summer and it only costs $5 a day (unless you get a discounted summer pass)!” Pro tip: GET THE SUMMER PASS! Opens June 7.
hot tips about the happening haps in Moscow have been pouring in over the F-book:
Jon’s alley is where it’s at for live music. They have music most nights of the week and bring in a wide variety of bands, most of which are jam bands based loosely on blues and folk with various rock influences to spice it up. The place maintains a really friendly and warm atmosphere. They also have a couple open mics a month on tuesday nights.
The alehouse has really cool outdoor open mics every wednesday evening that epitomize what you would expect from an open mic: alot of acoustic singer songwriters with occasional poets, comics, classical guitarists, and even a beat boxer or two. they also have an AWESOME beer selection and partner with a different brewery for the open mic nights.
The moose lodge is home to one of the most incredible open jams every wednesday late night. The sound is always changing, but mostly stays somewhere in the realm of funk and blues to heavy rock/ metal. it’s pretty rare that there’s fewer than three musicians on stage at a time and the instrumentation is continuously evolving and consistently impressive. Also has an EXTREMELY warm vibe and really home-y feeling to it.
Bucer’s is a coffee shop that focuses more on jazz and folk/ bluegrass tunes. They always have music on friday and saturday that showcases one of these genres. They also have a semi regular thursday night jazz jam that draws alot of the students AND professors from the music college and those kats light the place UP!
One world is a coffee shop that focuses on giving local artists the opportunity to play shows and get their name out; there’s alot of hidden gems hanging out in this spot.
8 miles away is pullman, home of rico’s, which hosts an open mic on monday evenings that is also a pretty standard open mic. It has a really cool air about it, it’s held in a lower section of the bar and has a really intimate feel to the performance area.
thanks to Jason for this run down. rendezvous in the park is a concert series that’s also happening all summer.
there you have it. INFO.