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Co-Opted: The Ultimate Berkeley Housing Ad—From a ‘Sustainably-Karmic” Community

August 15, 2015
House and cars

Hours ago, craigslist posted an online ad seeking housemates for a space that does not promote “ableism, consumerism, negativism, positivism, homophonia, slut shaming or sham slutting.” Applicants need only forego TV, microwaves, doors, and all scented products (yes, foods included, people!)—and they must be non-speciesist in their welcoming of fellow tenant Gaia, the 8-foot-long monitor lizard.

“We often host spontaneous get-togethers, art parties, fire dances, political rallies, knife fights, and other spirited challenges to outdated social mores like ‘decency,’ ‘restraint,’ or ‘public safety,’ ” notes the ad touting Wysdym Yrth. One gets the inescapable sense that the drafter of the ad has reached the frayed end of his organic-hemp rope. But more about the man who placed the ad—and why—later. First, the post itself, in all its glory:

Wysdym Yrth is a deliberately-founded, intentionally-minded, socially-radical, sustainably-karmic community with two (2!) currently available rooms.

The rooms:

Both are single occupancy only (sorry!) The attic boasts an intact floor, roofing on two sides, and southfacing glassless windows for $700 a month. The studio is a cozy 5 X 3 space located beneath the attic stairs for $400 a month. We also have a 1974 Chevy Nova parked in the garden, the trunk of which will be available for sublease in June. Utilities run $20-$30 a month.

The home:

Our home is a three story Victorian with five bedrooms, two baths, kitchen, dining room, common area, garden, and dungeon. We have water, electricity, gas, wifi, and the just comfort of the righteous. What we DON’T have at Wysdym Yrth is a television, radio, microwave, doors, or passive aggressive communication, vis-a-vis “notes.” Any household disagreement must be first first submitted via email to the house mediator to be put on the docket for regularly scheduled mediation, the last Tuesday of the month, excluding August.

Our intentional community is fragrance free. We do not allow scented candles, oils, detergents, soaps, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, shampoos, gels, lubricants, or foods.

Our household does not support products which have been tested.

We doubt that our home would be a good fit for those who indulge in occasional recreational use of hard drugs, prescription pharmaceuticals, alcohol, aspirin, or bread.

We do not promote ableism, consumerism, negativism, positivism, homophonia, slut shaming, or sham slutting. We are a diverse and inclusive house. We love all people who share our values, and gladly accept any who can prove themselves against our arbitrary yet unforgiving standards.

We love animal companions! Though due to a landlord agreement cannot allow any more into our home (sorry!) Our house currently hosts two of our earth-relatives. Daryl is an easygoing barrel cactus, needing only an occasional watering. Gaia is an 8 foot long monitor lizard who enjoys sunshine, fresh air, and ambush, though now that she has laid eggs in the trunk of the Nova, stays primarily outside.

All individuals brought into Wysdym Yrth are expected to participate in house chores, including but not limited to cooking, weeding, house laundry, watering, sweeping, and whipping.

We often host spontaneous get-togethers, art parties, fire dances, political rallies, knife fights, and other spirited challenges to outdated social mores like “decency,” “restraint,” or “public safety.” You need not attend every household event, but must be okay with the possibility that at any day, at any hour, in any room, including yours, any of the above could happen. Attendance is only casually mandatory – though absence may go severley punished! 🙂

About us:

        • Lana is a female-bodied atmospherist.
        • Trudeau is a male-bodied, gender-fluid, film-making radical snacktivist.
        • Robyn is a female-bodied former navy seal, escaped inmate of a Soviet prison camp, and corporate headhunter with the taxidermy to prove it.
        • Rū does not believe in labels, pronouns, adverbs, or prepositions.

Altogether we form a low-frills, laid-back community bound together by a rigorous and legally binding blood oath.

About you:

Applicants should be easygoing individuals. We’re not looking for someone exactly like us, just someone we can like—shall we say a fellow conspirator?—who also knows how to cook, juice, render a steer into soap, non-lethally restrain a monitor lizard, and who has a strict attention to cleanliness, a spartan daily regimen, contempt for dissent, and less than 4% body fat. S/He should be prepared to have a quarter bounced off them at any moment. We will be testing.

A degree is not necessary. The school of life is enough. A complete list of all your friends, with contact information, beginning from earliest memory, is, however, non-negotiable. Applicants who can count more than five close acquaintances are discouraged from applying, as prolonged absence may raise suspicion.

Selection Process:

We believe in a consensual household. If selected, at the end of your trial first week in our home, we will hold a house meeting to discuss extending your stay for a second week. If, by sundown, we cannot reach consensus, then we will respectfully ask you to continue your search for housing elsewhere. As a thank you for your trial stay we will provide a farewell gift of mineral water, dried fruit, moccasins, hasp knife and three hours head start. Any rejected applicants who remain longer than 3 hours will be hunted, as will those who leave during the allotted time.

Sound good? Please respond to this ad with a detailed message about yourself, including name, social security number, blood type, five letters of recommendation, and a description how Wysdym Yrth fits into your 75 year plan. If we are interested in pursuing your application we will contact you with details for our upcoming open house and to schedule an intensive 4 day break-down interview. All invitees are encouraged to come wearing form-fitting clothing, comfortable trail runners, and contact info for next-of-kin.

Can’t wait to meet you! 🙂

California tracked down the post’s author, Cirrus Robert Wood, who describes himself as a 31-year-old Oakland-based writer/photographer, “though naturally, being both things means I do something else to pay the bills.” But he says he’s keeping a semi-literary blog about his paid job as a bike messenger, intending to compile it into a roughly 35,000-word manuscript within the next few months.

Wood explains that he hailed from New York— “Not that one, not the glitzy impressive one, but the other one, the rest of the state. The one that’s fairly indistinguishable from Ohio.” He relocated to the Bay Area in 2008 in part because of how alluring UC Berkeley sounded in the reminisces of his State University of New York professor Kenneth Asher, who earned three degrees including a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Cal. Wood has yet to apply to Berkeley, although he says “if you know of any professors in any department looking for research assistants or photographers, data-entrants, or go-fers, I am all ears. I don’t mind volunteer work or whatever it takes to get my foot in the door.”

He wrote the Wysdym Yrth ad a few years ago, when he was stymied looking for Berkeley housing and “my frustrations were still fresh.” His search was turning up “rooms which were either slightly larger than a linen closet or else located in homes with absolutist standards. More often both.” He came across the old satire recently and decided to place it on the very well-scoured craigslist Bay Area housing board as the surest way to get other people to read his words.

Responses thus far? One would-be applicant wrote to say that although she suspected his ad was satirical, just in case it wasn’t, she had actually been in two knife fights— “one was with a stick…does that count?” He also heard from the folks at south Berkeley co-op Fort Awesome (yes, doubters, that’s a real Berkeley independent co-op, lacking its own monitor lizard mascot but not, apparently, a sense of humor). Fort Awesome invited Wood over for dinner, just in case Wysdym Yrth’s “no food” rule was leaving him hungry.

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