Zoku is a Japanese term meaning tribe, clan, or family.
In recent years, as the world and it's inhabitants have changed and evolved, more and more people are redefining and reexamining what it means to be "family". A tribe, in a general sense, is a group of people who are not always of blood relation but who share common attitudes, beliefs, or goals. It is easily one of the oldest forms of coalescence. In modern times, urban and suburban tribes have become increasingly more popular as people seek new ways of saving money, dividing responsibilities, and finding support. This style of living is generally communal in nature and is often seen as an alternative to traditional family structures.
Shin Seiki Zoku, which can be directly translated as "new century family", is a 20+ year old mixed race and gender sub(urban) tribe with members/branches in the United States, Canada, and various parts of Europe. Using the latest technology and the great tools of the Internet including Skype, Facebook, Gmail and more, we keep in constant touch as if we lived in the same location. While we are obviously not entirely cohabitative across all branches, we do occupy fewer living spaces than total persons and share resources, finances, and responsibilities across the entire network.
No matter where branches of SSZ reside or how they choose to represent themselves, we uphold the same common beliefs of supporting others, practicing radical honesty, communal living, minimal Earth footprint, philanthropy, selflessness, generosity, and open mindedness. We are parents, teachers, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, writers, theologists, designers, musicians, sons and daughters. We are a diverse family of friends and supporters from all walks of life, economic levels, races, cultures, and beliefs.
SSZ is more than just an idea or concept, it is a way of living life. It is beyond just a simple outline for how to live well, it is a foundation for how to leave behind the best legacy of your existence on the Earth through how you have evolved, what you have taught others, and how much light you have shone through the darkness of others peoples lives.
It is not a lifestyle for everyone, but it should be.
Message From The Chief
My interest in tribal living started when I was attending The University Of Connecticut and sometime sophomore year I was doing a paper about early language development for my linguistics course. Among my research I found an interesting book about early communal living which talked about tribal communities and how they evolved. I thought about many of the practicalities of such living and wondered where the world had gone so wrong, so selfish, and so oddly off kilter in their development.
In my mind, communal living, the sharing of resources and responsibilities, close communities and the subsequent growth patterns that such relationships provided, seemed like an ideal way of not only surviving the various hardships of the world but also being able to advance with the added support of a community of people who shared the same goals. I thought about how you could implement that kind of "old world" thinking into modern day life and worked on developing a rough structure for how it might work. After about of year of making it a side project to study various cultures, religions, political stances, and current native American practices (of which I based a lot of my original outline), it all started to come together.
I find a lot of political ideas and stances inherently flawed because they are too compartmentalized and rigid. The foundation of SSZ is a combination of flexible communism with a spattering of modified democracy. Just above that foundation is a layer of spiritualism and related Buddhist elements that aid in the solidifying of multiple belief systems under a general umbrella that works for everyone. The result is a really interesting melting pot of values, political viewpoints, and universal understanding that can be adapted by most open minded people. The communal living outline I developed for SSZ is very much a scaffolding upon which any kind of idea can be built up. A branch of SSZ in South Dakota, for example, is based more around a large church community, but they utilize the same principal tribal guidelines that SSZ was originally based on and combine those with their own specific community needs and beliefs.
Many people are at first enamored by the idea of how we live but quickly find that it's not just about sitting back and being taken care of. While the tribe does handle a lot of the needs of the group, each individual must pull their own weight for the good of the group, and everyone is equal as are their various contributions. Everyone is unique and can bring a uniqueness to the community. No one does nothing. No one does everything. Everyone does many things based on their skill sets, availability, individual desires, and community needs. The thing that I find so disappointing about people who come and go through the tribe system is how selfish they truly are. The world has evolved into a place where everyone is out for themselves and people just use each other to get what they want. The idea of working hard for a group seems so foreign to most people who will only work hard for themselves and only for some specific payoff. Striving to be the best you can be as a person for the sake of others is at the heart of what SSZ is about. Living as a group, thinking as a group, being unselfish, and being dedicated to a common goal, are things that most people have little understanding of, or actual desire to do. It's a real shame because SSZ has been going strong for many years and we owe that success to each other.
Team Heavy Cream contains the content of, and focuses on, the Connecticut branch of SSZ which consists of myself, Laurence Willis, Christina Caulfield, and Kory Pickens. I met Christina in 1992, Kory in 1993, and Laurence I met online in 1997. Christina and Kory and I lived together in college and Laurence moved in with us when he was just 18. Other people have come and gone in the tribe over the years. Many people joined just to use us to get over a hurdle or difficult spot in their lives or benefit from our money, skill sets, and generosity. Those types usually betray and subsequently abandon the tribe when they have no more use for us and have grown selfish and no longer wish to help anyone but themselves. Some have joined and simply could not, or would not, follow the rules we had in place and therefore could not be a part of what we were all about. Some we wanted to join but were incapable of understanding what it meant to be part of a family/group structure and continued to have unhealthy, selfish, negative thoughts that tainted both them and the group.
The most common problem with people who come into the tribe and cannot stay is that they refuse to work hard on evolving themselves into better people. It seems so impossible for people to grow and look at themselves critically that that is the biggest "complaint" we hear from people about the tribe; it is too hard because too much self progression, self analysis, and self respect is required. My god, what has the world become? We have all learned hard lessons from being used and mistreated by the people we reach out to and try to help. In the end though, we are the better, stronger, and more honest people, and we will always continue to lend support when we can, even to people who are incapable of reciprocating it or passing it forward to others.
The rules are simple: Be open. Be honest. Be communicative. Share. Respect. Give of yourself. Give what you receive, learn, and experience back to the world in some way, shape or form simply because you can, because it's the right thing to do, and the best way to live. Be the best person you can be for the sake of others. Work hard to evolve yourself into the best version of who you want to be so you can help others do the same.
Simple, right? Impossible for 99% of the population unfortunately.
I have been most surprised and glad to see the SSZ philosophy and guidelines for living spreading around to different areas thanks to word of mouth, lectures I have given from time to time, and through people I have met over the years. I can proudly say there are groups that live the tribal way based on my ideas in several places in the United States, Canada, and Europe. I hope to hear of even more people from other areas of the world changing their thoughts about living life, changing themselves and how they treat others, and believing in the concepts of love, honesty, and selflessness. Be the change ... as the saying goes ... it's the only way this awful world will get any better.
Shin Seiki Zoku Stong And Proud! Kory Pickens, Christina Caulfield, Jennie Song (Honorary Queen), and Laurence Willis