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Sex, Money, Mind Control: The Zendik FAQ [Dec. 27th, 2011|05:00 pm]
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Yes—as of July 2018—the Zendik FAQ is still here. But, before you read it, I'd like to offer some context.

I posted this FAQ nearly ten years ago, when Zendik was still going strong and I was hoping to curb its abuses by providing detailed information about how its particular brand of mindfuckery worked (I pretty much ignored Zendik's positive aspects, since you could hear all about those from any current Zendik, or read about them at zendik.org). Since then, Arol has died, the Farm has dissolved, and each of us who lived there has gone about composting her Zendik years in her own particular way.

I am choosing to let this FAQ stand, as a historical record. However, I no longer consider it my most illuminating, or nourishing, account of life at Zendik. That honor goes to my memoir, Mating in Captivity (She Writes Press, 2018), available here, at many libraries (if yours doesn't have it, you can request that they order it), and wherever books are sold. In the book I tried, per Tristine Rainer's advice, to "tell the whole truth, with love"; many years of turning my pile (far more fragrant and fertile now than it was in 2008) made that mission possible.

One more thing: If you've found my FAQ by googling "zendik," after meeting someone who used to live there, please do not use it to dismiss that person, or her intelligence, or her unique experience. We Zendiks were, and are, a wildly divergent band of highly idiosyncratic badasses. We moved to Zendik in hopes of doing something beautiful, while escaping the everyday catastrophe of business as usual. As I've said elsewhere, Zendik harbored some of the smartest, boldest, kindest, imaginers and creators I have ever met. Most of us have gained significant wisdom and insight from our Zendik (mis)adventures.

Okay, on to the very vintage, yet potentially still useful, Zendik FAQ.
Click here for the Zendik FAQCollapse )

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From: lorigrrl
2009-10-08 06:41 pm (UTC)
Hi, I'm Lori. I just happened upon your journal. I was actually looking up information on mind control for a research paper i'm writing. I am a little confused. I looked at the zendik website and they are listed as being in WV, but they have a foundation in NC and when I lived in Austin I was pretty sure some girls on the street out in front of the college were from zendik... and one we knew disappeared. People said she left to live at zendik farms. Are these related groups or am I piecing together stuff that's unrelated. Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2009-10-11 12:52 pm (UTC)
there's only one zendik. the farm moved from texas to florida to north carolina to west virginia. all their operations are now based in west virginia.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-11-02 11:46 pm (UTC)

Holy cow.... this was so well written!!! I love it

I had been fantasizing about saying f- it all and joining the Zendik tribe for well over 10 years but never went and did it.. I follow jam bands around all over the country and I see Zendik folk all over and they seem like really cool cats to be around.. I have bought many cds over the years,red a lot of Wulf's work and I was really fascinated by what my interpretation of Zendik life would be like.. This article sums it up so well I hung on every word because I never knew what the reality of the life would be. It seems like Arol has stripped the group of its soul and now seems to be a shell of what it was. I went looking for an inside glimpse of what life on the farm would be like and now I know... you should be a journalist this is so well written
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-11-28 07:19 am (UTC)

totally accurate

this was totally accurate with my experiences, although I was there only for 3 weeks so I never went selling, but all that I saw was consistent or identical with your FAQ.

While I was there they condemned anal sex, a girl fell out of her bunk and had to go the hospital without insurance, a goat was killed for food with a pistol, members were fleeced for their inheritances, savings or cars, and so on.

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[User Picture]From: rehd_fawx
2009-12-06 12:00 am (UTC)
I recently noticed a little clutch of smarmy-looking teenagers wearing the Stop Bitching shirts, and up until reading this, I though the shirts and the philosophy behind them (at least, the watered third-party rundown I got from the kids) was pretty neat. Now, I just feel ill having brushed so close to such a nasty knot of human cruelty. I don't know you, I doubt we'll ever meet, but I'm glad as hell that you're out of there. I hope your life now is full of joy.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-01-17 10:43 am (UTC)

1985 Ex-Member

Hi Emerald,
I am extremely impressed with the comprehensive, honest, and thoughtful descriptions and insights of your experiences as a Zendik. Let me tell you how I experienced the cult during my several months as a member in the eighties. My original name was changed. I was 18, vulnerable, naive and looking for friends during a tough spell in my life when I joined them. I was lured by the promise of a supportive community, cool clothing, rock music, sex, and an alternative lifestyle. I gave over everything -- my $3000 dollar car, the money in my bank account, furniture, my Dad's electric typewriter and all my other possessions. As far as I can remember, weed wasn't actively discouraged then. Also, I witnessed members of the core group having orgies when not under Arol/Carol's watch. I remember Wulf and Arol sharing some power with the core group which seemed to represent the needs of the newer members. There were some bona-fide great people in that bunch who had the power of their own convictions, and even many who tolerated the occasional power upheavals preferring to subjugate their wills to the group in order to experience a taste of Shangri-la even if it was inevitably built upon unethical premises. Many were irritated that the power structure was being designed for the purposes of Arol's self-aggrandizement though it seemed harmless at times. However, during my short tenure I came to know many interesting young visionaries who wanted to live in community and engender ideals that they were not ordinarily able to do on their own. Chen, he was one of the leaders -- was a college drop-out who previous to joining had a real corporate job- he was a jovial, charismatic and compassionate, older brother-type who all the guys wanted to be like and who all the girls loved. I sensed he was dissatisfied with his dwindling role, usurped by Arol's then-boyfriend Kan - a mean-spirited, anti-social, intemperate redneck. When I was there, it seemed that the group was struggling to define itself, and I am saddened to hear that loftier voices didn't prevail. I could say more -- I would be glad to share my stories with you knowing that your voice is speaking out for those of us who haven't articulated those experiences. You have a passion that reminds me of the bittersweet hopes of those who came through, certain of their dreams. I sure do remember that bunch with sentimentality. Thank you for doing this work!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-17 07:59 pm (UTC)

Thank you

I used to hang out with some Zendik folks back in Austin, TX around 1994 - they seemed like great people, had some really cool ideas, and I almost joined myself but ended up having to move away from TX. So thankful to know I avoided what you're describing, and so sad to hear what the group has become. I was wearing today a "Start a Revolution" tshirt I bought off a Zendik kid on the street a few years ago, and decided to see what Zendik was up to these days. Your post was one of the first things I came across.

I'm throwing away the tshirt today. Thank you for your courage and writing.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-25 06:13 pm (UTC)

I'm glad I didn't visit....

In my one year of college (1991), I came across the Zendik Farm "mag-zeen" at a meeting of a campus environmental group, and the more I read it, the more angry at the world I became, and the more jealous I became that I could not join Zendik Farm. The tone of the writing, as well as the "testimonials" of members who were already there, made me furious that I had neither the resources nor the courage to give up my "DeathKultur" life and go there. A few years later, I told a therapist about this, and I had told her of their angry tone toward the world, and she immediately said, "They're a CULT!". At that time, I refused to believe that and thought more and more about joining. How heartbreaking it is to realize that this therapist, who I really despised at the time, was absolutely right. What is even more terrifying to me is that on their website, Arol casually goes on about growing season and what's growing in the garden, carefully making sure nothing "real" gets out to the larger public. Sickening....
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-03-21 04:09 am (UTC)

We bought animals at that place...

At first, I liked the place; the rank and file seemed pretty nice. I got the impression, as I am sure many visitors do, that it was a simple art collective/commune. I inferred that from, well, all the art and shit. Hell, I even was tempted to join up, being a writer and all.

I first got a hint that something was up when one of them mentioned something about "the movement" and that Arol person. When I asked for more info, he clammed up. I brushed it off, and left form home. The woman, with the luxury of hindsight, seemed pretty spooky.

Knowing that I did business with a cult makes me somewhat paranoid. I wonder if Arol is having them look me up on the net...*shivers*
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From: valiors
2010-05-25 05:12 am (UTC)


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[User Picture]From: dncingmalkavian
2010-08-06 01:06 pm (UTC)
This is scary. Really. I am never giving money to these people, ever.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-08 02:43 am (UTC)

Thank You

Thank you for taking the effort to put this together, and having the courage to post it. It is a valuable resource for all of us to have a clear picture of what the zendik people are about.
I vend on a pedestrian mall in Va, so I have encountered the teams of sellers and indeed talked with them. I was annoyed that they were trying to vend w/o a license like the one I pay for, so I was less than helpful, and of course didn't buy anything.
Now armed with this I can have much more useful encounters with them next season. What can you say to free the brainwashed? probably not much.
Oh Well
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[User Picture]From: Marlene Ivette Flax
2010-12-03 11:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Thank You

You can print out the FAQs and have them read it. That is a start to plant a seed of doubt as to what they are involved in.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-08-09 04:56 am (UTC)

Thanks for this...

I've started researching "Intentional Communities" again and Zendik has been on my list of things to research. It was good to get a former insider's view of what it was really about because it was one of the places I was considering recently. I first became aware of Zendik about five years ago when they had some members soliciting in a upscale shopping district of Richmond, VA called "Carytown". I actually paid for a copy of Wulf's "novel" (and actually read the badly-written thing). When I came back to considering Zendik, I found two major things on the Internet: the Washington Post article which made it seem like just any other intentional community (which it really isn't at it's very core) & your posts here that gave me all the information that I really needed to know. I can't believe that they are allowed to get away with the tax-designation of being a "non-profit". I've pretty much concluded that it's just a cult of personality that is still being administered by Wulf's old girlfriend & his daughter for their own personal benefit. It's actually an insult to real egalitarian, non-hierarchical intentional communities that can't go to the government seeking funding under the guise that they are "non-profits". Zendik "farm" and it's nonexistent "arts foundation" is a total fraud which enriches nobody but a few select individuals. The more people that know this, the better. I actually see the occasional bumpersticker in town that says "Stop Bitching Start A Revolution" and it makes me sick to my stomach. I just wonder if they know what they are really supporting from having bought that sticker. Probably not.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-09-22 06:16 pm (UTC)
Hello Helen,

I was actually wondering how much you know about the past lives of the members who are still or were once in Zendik.
A member of my family who was very close to me left a goodbye note and disappeared some years ago. Those of us still looking for him recently found that he was looking into things like Zendik, but every time we send people to the local communes to try and find him we are often forced away. Whenever I see Zendik members at conventions, I always look for him, but have had no luck. If I was to send you a picture of him, would you be able to potentially identify him as a member?
I'm terribly sorry if this causes an inconvenience.
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[User Picture]From: emeraldimajia
2010-09-23 10:21 pm (UTC)
yes, you can send a photo to madgelma@hotmail.com. it's likely i'll know whether or not the person is or has been involved with zendik.
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[User Picture]From: malfunctionzero
2010-10-15 05:03 pm (UTC)
When I was a teenager and there was a possibility I was going to be out on the streets I found Zendik online and considered going there. I even went as far as contacting them. I told my friend and he did some research and within 5 minutes he told me "You know they're a cult, right?" I've only heard worse and worse as time has passed.
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2010-10-19 11:50 am (UTC)
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