The Crushing of the Kommune

I sat at my desk reading Jimmy Goode's heartfelt note to the Kustom Kommune community letting them know that this beloved Melbourne communal workshop would soon be closing its doors, and I was shocked.

As far as I knew The Kommune had been going from strength to strength, regularly hosting BBQ nights, training courses group rides, sponsored parties and weddings. When they finally gained permission to open up their bar and restaurant, the vision of having a self sustaining business model that would grow and provide workshop members with even more benefits, would be complete.

Despite all of this, as circumstance would have it, the Kommune would not be able to remain at their current location and would be in no financial position to relocate. So they would have to close their doors.

And so, Jimmy sent out his email to call for help. He invited all members to a last minute meeting to try to find some kind of solution that might save the Kommune. After reading it I knew I had to do something to help and booked a flight down to shoot the meeting and give the Kommune a little bit more of a voice.

As I walked in I already found the main social area in front of the bar, in disarray and halfheartedly packed up. I later found out that the landlord had already started packing things up.

I caught up with Jimmy, who looked relatively calm and positive, and had a brief chat before we did a quick interview to camera. He told me he was not feeling hopeful and was thinking that only a handful of people would show. We then set-up in the quiet driveway space beside the workshop, where I wanted to have Jimmy explain the situation and get a sense of how he felt. He he spoke his usually relaxed demeanor began to unravel and Jimmy began to stumble on his words. Before we both new it, Jimmy was in tears, brought on by hearing himself tell the story and feel the weight of the pressure.

"I didn't think I would get choked up like this." he said softly, "I just feel like I'm letting everyone down. That's what it is...".

Later, we both watched people pour in over the next half hour, including Jimmy's wife Megan, until there were close to 100 members packed into the workshop. Some were saddened by what was happening, but most seem to have a steely look of determination.  Jimmy soon took to standing on a milk crate and explained the situation. He shared that, after so much hard work, he wasn't ready to let the commune go, but that he couldn't do it on his own. Over the next 2 hours the crowd were readily offering up solutions, passionately exploring ideas and offering up anything they could do to help, include money and their time and skills.

There was no anger about why this had happened. Only the focus and a determination to keep their workshop alive. By the end of the evening people had organised themselves into various committees to action as many of the ideas as possible and were energetically sharing phone numbers.  I looked to the flash screens which had been used as a makeshift whiteboard. It was covered in hundreds and hundreds of notes. Each note with an idea, offer of service or donation.

Later, I took Jimmy aside again for to talk to camera about the evening and his mood was the polar opposite to when we spoke earlier. Despite his exhaustion, he was buoyant and energised again.

Most of all he had hope that the little dream of a communal workshop he once had would continue on.

If you would like to offer help to The Kustom Kommune, reach out to them at www.kustomkommune.com.au

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If you're not familiar with Melbourne's Kustom Kommune, follow their story along with Sydney's The Rising Sun Workshop as they both race to customise a Harley Davidson 48 Sportster.