Monday, June 29, 2009

Adult-Child Affectual Preferences

Or "The Creepy Case of Eno Commons"

I am sure by now everyone is familiar with the horrid story of Frank Lombard, Duke University Professor, accused of pimping his own adopted son.

So far the news media is giving us these details:

Frank is gay, and lived with his gay partner.
Frank had two adopted children, both black.
Frank lived in a cohousing community, Eno Commons Cohousing.
Frank attended an Episcopal church.

I want to just look at Eno Commons, as a cohousing community, and some of its attitudes toward children.

Then you can decide for yourself if this environment facilitated Mr. Lombard.

Paradise for Children

Children learn what they live. Our children are learning about independence, inter-dependence, diversity, ecology, consensus, and how to be good neighbors in a supportive community through their every day experiences. From the time they decide to participate at the age of two or three, children can help make some of the community rules. They clear their places at community meals, leave their shoes on all of our porches, run through the meadow (or more likely around Sam and Margaret's yard) with their friends, get homework help from all of us, follow animal tracks through the woods, or choose to be alone. (The neighborhood is good for parents too - we spend a lot less time in our cars by pooling rides and not having to takes kids to as many play dates.)

There is nothing wrong with neighbors that trust each other, and children visiting their friends houses and leaving their shoes all over the neighborhood. Under normal circumstances though, this happens after the adults get to know their neighbors and trust them. Moving into a community that promises this to strangers breaks down any natural defenses the adults might bring. Intentional or not, it grooms the parents to not be suspicious of any wrong doing.

There's more.

- We provide our children with opportunities to develop their full potential in a safe, caring neighborhood.

- We treat our children with love and respect and expect them to be active, positive
contributors to our community.

- We listen to our children’s ideas and recognize their need for good friends and
playmates, friendly neighbors, fun places to play, and appropriate community and
family activities.

Well, we know how these lofty ideals turned out. (Does this remind anyone else of some of the unparenting rhetoric?) This is a small community of a mere 22 houses on 11 acres. The community has a Common House, where residents meet at least once a week to dine together. The whole point of this community is to create openness, interconnectedness and trust. To let the village raise the child. "They stand as innovative answers to today's environmental and social problems."

Then it gets downright creepy.

'Secret Pal' brings neighbors together. (Click on "cached")
(This link only exists in Yahoo cache now, though just this afternoon it was still active on Eno Commons servers. Go figure.)

Seven years ago Suzanne started the Secret Pal week tradition to celebrate Valentine's Day at Eno Commons.

The goal of Secret Pal week is to promote interaction between adults and kids. Adults are asked to volunteer to be a secret pal and are matched with a child. During the week leading up to Valentine's Day, the adults give their secret pal children little gifts and clues, but the adults keep their identity a secret. At the end of the week, the kids prepare the brunch.

It is fun watching the kids huddling together trying to guess who their secret pal is. Can you think of a better way to connect kids with adults?

Well? Can you? Can you think of any better way to connect KIDS with ADULTS than to have secret pal exchanges . . . on VALENTINE'S Day?

Valentine's Day? Are you kidding?

Wait, isn't Valentine's Day for LOVERS? Maybe.

Our Vision For Eno Commons

• We welcome residents of all ages, races, religious beliefs, and affectional

"Affectional Preferences" is quite a different thing from "Sexual Orientation".

Valentine's Day, however, celebrated with Adult-Child Secret Pal celebrations is a yearly event (click on the "Cached" link on the first search return) at Eno Commons.

Now, you might ask, where did this, um, tradition come from?

It seems to be a favored practice of the Unitarian Universalists.

They celebrate it in Midland Texas, Gainesville Florida, and California. The position of the Unitarian Universalist Church is well known with regards to those of minority sexual orientation.

Did interconnectedness go to far?

1 comment:

  1. Pray that the 5 year-old child receives the love and support he will need to grow up strong and live in peace.

    My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn't a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet suburbs of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

    I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. He was arrested and indicted but never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

    In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

    Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

    Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

    Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn't my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

    My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at

    For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

    For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at