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Vibesmithing Via Committee

Normal Gossip logo with cartoon characters gossiping
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

I’ve been trying to get my friends to form a commune with me for nigh on a decade now. This has involved two group chats from different eras, as well as an ambitious little Discord server in April 2020. I still cherish this dream of sharing resources, growing food in common, and escaping at least some of the pressures of this capitalist hellscape, but I gotta admit, as soon as my friends and I took the step of actually putting together a Discord (and a meeting with an agenda), I got cold feet. Co-living requires an incredible amount of empathy, battle-picking, needle-threading, and emotional intelligence—energy that I wasn’t actually capable of mustering in the early days of the pandemic. Unfortunately, friendship and vibes aren’t enough to create a utopia. Harmonious communal life doesn’t happen by accident—but maybe it happens by committee. 

Today’s story centers on Gladys, a retiree. She wants to find a new living situation, ideally with a community of people who share her love for nature as well as her distaste for air conditioning and single-use plastics. And what she finds is Komunumo, a co-living community in the southwest, populated both by hardline environmentalists like Tammy and freewheelers like Duncan, who is more concerned with vibes. Gladys joins Komunumo in time to experience what one hopes will be the community’s biggest spiritual reckoning: Do worms have souls?

Our guest this week was none other than Defector’s own Patrick Redford! Patrick has featured in several of our exclusive subscriber episodes, regaling us with the latest in competitive chess scandals, but this is his debut on the main feed. As you probably already know, Patrick writes about a wide range of topics with panache and flair, like chess, that new Gollum game, and how to make nocino (now is the time to gather your green walnuts!). But 2023 has expanded Patrick’s horizons. He ate a raw onion live on Twitch, both because he was honor-bound to do so and also out of love for the Sacramento Kings. And now he has unfurled his gossiping skills in Normal Gossip’s Season 4 finale for all the world to appreciate.

Kelsey and Patrick talked about Patrick’s experience with gossip in media. Then, in order to set the tone for this week’s story, Kelsey made Patty take that one food disgust quiz that was making the rounds a while back, and we learned about his aversion to small round bursty objects. Then Kelsey told Patty the story of Gladys’s journey to a co-living community in the southwest with deep internal divisions on everything from plastic waste to bonfires to—as everyone painfully discovers—mealworms. 

And that’s a wrap on Season 4, folks. We’ll see you in October for Season 5! If you can’t stand to wait that long for more goss, you have several options: subscribe to get access to our backlog of subscriber episodes (if you already subscribe to Defector, you’re already all good here), or come see us on tour this summer

You can subscribe to Normal Gossip on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you listen! You can follow Normal Gossip on Instagram here.

(The transcript for this week’s episode can be found here.)

And if you have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is normalgossip@defector.com, or phone it in to 2-6-7-9-GOSSIP.

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