To live in a place that is being destroyed

It has been over six and a half years since I left Lupin Lodge. My thoughts return to the place from time to time partly because a friend includes me on a list of people he forwards news of Lupin, its members, and its former members to. But there is much more to it than that.

We live in an incredibly messed up, insane society. And as I have progressed in my education, I have learned more about just how messed up and insane it is.[1] But even at the time I moved to Lupin, I was looking for someplace different. And Lupin is a place that peels back at one—sadly, only one—of several interrelated layers of oppression in our society, the notion that society has a right to tell you what you may do with your body, that you must wear clothes, and that even though we all have bodies, your body is not presentable unless it is covered in the ways that society demands.

It is also—as nearly everyone who has been there can tell you—a place nestled amongst incredible beauty. There are the woods that line the entrance drive and that I could see out my back window, the woods of the campground and that surround many of the cabins. It is a place where one can frequently see deer and, less often, coyotes, foxes, and mountain lions.

It can be said that Lupin has been the only place in my life that I actually wanted to move into. And at the time, it was also a respite. Having been laid off in the dot-com crash, this was affordable rent. I met my cat there; she remains with me and though we’ve had some rocky times, she is now more affectionate than ever.

But there has always been a darker side to Lupin, that it has been incredibly poorly managed. In retrospect, I wonder if it is even possible to “straighten up and fly right” for a manager there. Because there have been so many who were so screwed up. Glyn and Lori Kay Stout have been long-time owners, but it has only been since the Ed Dennis fiasco that they assumed direct control of the day-to-day management.[2]

Jennifer Wadsworth came out with a story about Lupin’s woes recently. It seems that what I saw of how the Stouts treated workers[3] was not even the half of it. Workers fared—and there is no reason to imagine their condition has improved since—far worse than I imagined.[4] I was never vulnerable to Lupin’s management in the way that many workers were. I had other money coming in, mostly from student loans. So I could choose whether to work there, and I did for some of the time.

But as Wadsworth’s story makes clear, for some workers, it was their only means of bringing in any living at all. And they were not paid in real money, but rather in credits—so-called “Lupin Bucks”—on their accounts, credits that could be applied to the membership fee, the rent, food in the restaurant, and knick-knacks available for sale in the office. But what that meant was that if the employment relationship went sour, as it often did, people had no money with which to get out. “Lupin traps you up on that hill,” Little John Chrisley told Wadsworth.[5] As I contemplate that situation with what I know of that management, I feel a terror. Even now, six and a half years removed from that situation.

To offer an example of the mentality that Lupin’s owners possess—and rationalize to themselves—it has recently come to light that they have been accused of stealing water from Hendry’s Creek. Apparently, this creek runs through neighboring land that was sold to an Open Space district. Where the previous owner had permitted Lupin to draw water, the district refused. And in restoring the land, the district covered over the road that led to the creek. None of that mattered to the Stouts. Imagining that they had ‘grandfathered’ rights, they cleared the road, ran pipes, and drew the water. Much of this was photographed by the district’s cameras. The Stouts and a couple of their workers now face felony and misdemeanor charges.[6] But in a statement, available here, responding to Wadsworth’s more recent story, the Stouts declare:

Our water system is producing more than adequate water including water for fire suppression. Ironically, the excess water that flows from our aquifers above and below Hendry’s Creek also flows into Lexington Reservoir on an uncompensated basis – a fact that seems to get lost on some people.[7]

Which perfectly explains why they were caught on camera stealing water,[8] and why they were trucking in water at considerable expense.[9] They didn’t need it.

When, in that same statement, the Stouts assert that “in every eviction case, Lupin prevailed on the facts,”[10] they omit that eviction cases proceed on landlord-tenant law, not on employer-employee law, and not on any broader concept of restorative justice that explores the whole situation and attempts to address root causes.[11] In the narrow frame of landlord-tenant law, the question for these workers would simply be, was the rent paid? As combination landlord and employer, Lupin controls all of the evidence that the court can, under the law, consider. But on the basis of such victories, the Stouts assert their righteousness.

One might notice that in their statement the Stouts do not discuss any individual cases. They simply resort to the general sorts of agreements that we all agree to:

In most cases, the people involved were accepted and given opportunities to live and work in a peaceful setting but later failed to live up to financial commitments or standards of conduct. So management took the legal steps necessary to remove these people from just squatting on the property, not paying rent and thinking they should be cared for by others.[12]

That is a very broad brush and Wadsworth includes this defense in her article.[13] But the Stouts accuse her of “drift[ing] back and forth between historical facts and one-sided accounts taken from interviews of a limited number of disgruntled former resident members who had been evicted over a period of many years.”[14] Wadsworth named specific names and supplied details. The Stouts do not take the opportunity to respond in kind, but then blame Wadsworth for “one-sided accounts.”[15] And, as I noted yesterday, though I was quoted in the article, I was never evicted. I moved out of my own accord.[16] (Wadsworth has modified her story to reflect this.[17])

But this is the very sort of dissembling that Lupin residents and members confront on an ongoing basis. And no, most residents and probably most long-term members do not believe it. I remember, from the time I was there, shaking my head with a number of fellow residents at whatever the Stouts’ latest was on a number of occasions. We worried about the place a lot—and not just because it was our home, but because we wanted it to be our home.

But to be in Lupin is to be in a place that is being destroyed, not so much physically—although I have been heard accusations to that effect—as it is socially and psychologically. It is a place where the only real hope lies in compelling the Stouts to sell—and no one knows what would become of it if they did.

  1. [1]Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1956; repr., Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2010).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Ed and Kassandra Dennis to leave Lupin,” Not Housebroken, January 7, 2006, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=333
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Killing people,” Not Housebroken, December 15, 2013, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=6006
  4. [4]Jennifer Wadsworth, “Bad Nudes Bared: Lupin Lodge’s Idyllic Clothing-Free Lifestyle Unravels in Alarming Fashion,” San Jose Inside, July 9, 2015, http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2015/07/09/bad-nudes-bared-lupin-lodges-idyllic-clothing-free-lifestyle-unravels-in-alarming-fashion/
  5. [5]Jennifer Wadsworth, “Bad Nudes Bared: Lupin Lodge’s Idyllic Clothing-Free Lifestyle Unravels in Alarming Fashion,” San Jose Inside, July 9, 2015, http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2015/07/09/bad-nudes-bared-lupin-lodges-idyllic-clothing-free-lifestyle-unravels-in-alarming-fashion/
  6. [6]Tracey Kaplan, “Nudist resort owners charged with stealing water,” San Jose Mercury News, June 13, 2015, http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_28302284/nudist-resort-owners-charged-stealing-water; Vic Lee, “Los Gatos nudist camp fights for water access,” KGO-TV, September 17, 2014, http://abc7news.com/news/nudist-camp-fights-for-water-access-/313447/; Julia Prodis Sulek, “California drought: Nudist camp accused of stealing water from open space district,” San Jose Mercury New, September 11, 2014, http://www.mercurynews.com/News/ci_26514043/Los-Gatos:-Nudist-colony-accused-of-stealing-water-from-open-space-district; Jennifer Wadsworth, “Nudist Camp Owners Accused of Water Theft by District Attorney,” San Jose Inside, June 16, 2015, http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2015/06/16/nudist-camp-owners-accused-of-water-theft-by-district-attorney/
  7. [7]Glyn Stout and Lori Kay Stout, “Metro Poster 1,” distributed by third party email, available at https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/sites/default/files/2015-07-10/Metro Poster 1.pdf
  8. [8]Tracey Kaplan, “Nudist resort owners charged with stealing water,” San Jose Mercury News, June 13, 2015, http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_28302284/nudist-resort-owners-charged-stealing-water; Jennifer Wadsworth, “Nudist Camp Owners Accused of Water Theft by District Attorney,” San Jose Inside, June 16, 2015, http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2015/06/16/nudist-camp-owners-accused-of-water-theft-by-district-attorney/
  9. [9]Julia Prodis Sulek, “California drought: Nudist camp accused of stealing water from open space district,” San Jose Mercury New, September 11, 2014, http://www.mercurynews.com/News/ci_26514043/Los-Gatos:-Nudist-colony-accused-of-stealing-water-from-open-space-district
  10. [10]Glyn Stout and Lori Kay Stout, “Metro Poster 1,” distributed by third party email, available at https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/sites/default/files/2015-07-10/Metro Poster 1.pdf
  11. [11]Wanda D. McCaslin and Denise C. Breton, “Justice as Healing: Going Outside the Colonizers’ Cage,” in Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, eds. Norman K. Denzin, Yvonna S. Lincoln, and Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), 511-529.
  12. [12]Glyn Stout and Lori Kay Stout, “Metro Poster 1,” distributed by third party email, available at https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/sites/default/files/2015-07-10/Metro Poster 1.pdf
  13. [13]Jennifer Wadsworth, “Bad Nudes Bared: Lupin Lodge’s Idyllic Clothing-Free Lifestyle Unravels in Alarming Fashion,” San Jose Inside, July 9, 2015, http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2015/07/09/bad-nudes-bared-lupin-lodges-idyllic-clothing-free-lifestyle-unravels-in-alarming-fashion/
  14. [14]Glyn Stout and Lori Kay Stout, “Metro Poster 1,” distributed by third party email, available at https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/sites/default/files/2015-07-10/Metro Poster 1.pdf
  15. [15]Glyn Stout and Lori Kay Stout, “Metro Poster 1,” distributed by third party email, available at https://parts-unknown.org/drupal7/sites/default/files/2015-07-10/Metro Poster 1.pdf
  16. [16]David Benfell, “A clarification regarding Lupin’s response to a San Jose Inside article,” Not Housebroken, July 10, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=7851
  17. [17]Jennifer Wadsworth, “Bad Nudes Bared: Lupin Lodge’s Idyllic Clothing-Free Lifestyle Unravels in Alarming Fashion,” San Jose Inside, July 9, 2015, http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2015/07/09/bad-nudes-bared-lupin-lodges-idyllic-clothing-free-lifestyle-unravels-in-alarming-fashion/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.