Note: This review contains no attacking, disparaging, libelous or hateful claims: everything stated here, however unbelievable it may be, is the plain and honest truth.
I got to TheGarden [sic] (https://www.facebook.com/shutupandgrowit) in mid-October and left at the end of December 2020. Here are the things you deserve to know when considering TheGarden as a potential “intentional community” destination.
Fact #1. As of 12/31/2020, “TheGarden” in Lafayette, TN, is still known to civil authorities by its old name “Shut Up and Grow It”. (Whether law enforcement persist in using the old name due to Patrick Martion’s notorious lack of clarity, out of habit or out of contempt remains unclear.)
Fact #2. Patrick Martion, his “ex-wife”, and his “ex-mother-in-law” own the property (Mr. Martion prefers to have visitors refer to and think of it as “the land”) jointly between the three of them, and any one of them has the legal right to have any non-owner removed with zero notice, Mr. Martion’s only constraining fear being the community’s morale and their regard for him and the other co-owners. I was told Mr. Martion had once been voted off the land, but for as long as I was there, nobody spoke ill of him or showed him or his lieutenants anything short of reverence (especially when you consider the inner circle’s frequently macabre, psychologically abusive, flagrantly politically incorrect and otherwise disconcerting behavior); the only ones who dared were subjected to a gut-wrenching regimen of psychological abuse (with the help of the aforementioned universal and completely MINDLESS DEFERENCE or loyalty, the likes of which I’ve never seen in any other ostensibly “adult” community) then banished.
Fact #3. Mr. Martion lives on-site with his young Vietnamese-American girlfriend Mai and their young daughter. Mr. Martion’s “ex-wife” and “ex-mother-in-law”, the other co-owners, never visit, though it seems that some of the more horrifying long-term denizens have been on speaking terms with one or another of Mr. Martion’s parents.
Fact #4. Mr. Martion will start lying to your face as soon as you arrive, compulsively repeating to each hope-filled newcomer that TheGarden seldom have anyone removed, except it appears that he only maintains this perception in those who stay behind by falsely telling them that people left of their own freewill when he had in fact threatened them with forcible removal (which again is his legal right), which has happened at least once, or by claiming to have obtained unanimous community-wide consensus to have someone leave when several and perhaps most members have no idea what has happened, which also happened on at least one occasion. If either Mai or Mr. Martion wants you gone, Mai will verbally abuse and slander you (as will a Bostonian chef named Bobby, who was removed presumably for being redundantly toxic), and Mr. Martion will lie all he has to to make it so.
In short, Patrick Martian is a feckless manipulator and a pathological liar, and Mai is a raging narcissist.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Fact #5. Rel (supposedly some kind of abbreviation of Ariel), who has been there the longest of anyone (Mr. Martion has the luxury of travel, so he’s out of the runnings), is literally the kind of nut horror plots are built around, wears dead pets, is used to having her way at TheGarden, has never been kicked out, and if you say anything about her (doesn’t even have to be negative, since again she’s nuts times privileged) you will be kicked out. On the other extreme, those who spend the least amount of time with the community are the least likely to believe and repeat slander against the routine scapegoat who has to leave because of Rel’s, Mai’s and the owners’ apparently insatiable penchant for drama and prodigious facility with blaming others for anything they may feel, do or say. Rel gossips her ass off and sows drama everywhere with zero consequences (except for those who dare to call her out).
Sooooooo, if you want your heart seared by white-hot hypocrisy or if you want to spend time in a place where everyone walks on eggshells and only psychologically broken weasels thrive, well then this is the place for you! And remember: no matter how nice people seem, they will all need to gang up on someone (again, the exact social psychology of any horror movie) when the moon is full.
DON’T LET IT BE YOU.