February 18, 2008
The life of the typical Twelve Tribes member is very simple. Women’s dresses and “Sus” pants are hand made and most other clothes are bought at thrift stores. Much of the communities organic food is self grown. Members have given up all their possessions and do not have worldly treasures such as TV’s, radios, jewelry, expensive cars etc. Ex-leaders and members often talk about the frugality of the life within the Twelve Tribe communities where every penny is pinched and members work long hours for no pay. The Twelve Tribes leaders do not deny this. They are actually very proud of this fact because they are working to build the kingdom of God on earth and preparing the Messiah’s bride for His return.
The TT leaders adamantly deny that Gene Spriggs lives a “jet-setting” life or any different than the average member in good standing. However, Michael Painter and James Howell, former high level leaders (3rd and 4th in command under Spriggs and Eddie Wiseman) have gone on record as stating that Spriggs has a wallet full of credit cards and travels where he wants when he wants and also enjoys luxuries the average member does not have access to. As the only apostle for the Twelve Tribes it is his role and duty to plant new communities wherever he feels God is leading. So it is necessary for him to travel around the world to do this. Gene always had an inclination towards world travel. In his own biography published by the TT they state he gave up an executive job to take a job as a tour director for a large travel company so that he could see the world.
The Twelve Tribes has never had difficulty purchasing buildings, businesses and property to expand their kingdom on earth. They have claimed in the past that although a number of people come into the communities willing to give up wealth and possessions, just as many come in with little or nothing or even bring a load of debt which often the community does not pay off. So how can they enter a town and drop millions of dollars to buy one or multiple buildings? How did they afford to host a large Cultural Event on the National Mall in Washington DC June 26 – July 6th 2004? How can they afford to produce high quality films denouncing Christianity. The Twelve Tribes can do this because they own over 25 substantial businesses around the world. Many of these are high-end construction companies that list no affiliation to the Twelve Tribes on their websites or advertisements. Below, I have provided a consolidated list of direct links to these Twelve Tribes businesses. These are all businesses that you could stumble across on the various sites hosted by the communities, but as far as I have found, there is no one single list as I have provided below. I believe this is because the Twelve Tribes does not want the public or for that matter their own members to comprehend the vast amount of wealth that is generated by these businesses.
The TT leaders will tell you that many of their restaurants are operated at a loss. Many ex-members have confirmed they often run at a loss but are necessary to recruit new members. However, these are far offset by the other lucrative construction companies as well as the furniture and other products that are made with “free” labor. The most recent defectors from the Twelve Tribes (especially those in leadership positions) complain the Twelve Tribes has become more of a business than a Messianic community.
Many people were amazed to find out a few years back that this obscure group actually had a large contract with Estee Lauder to provide their Origins products. In fact the group had been providing these products from 1995 through 2001 until Estee Lauder found they were using child labor to produce, package and distribute the products. Likewise, the Twelve Tribes provided products to Robert Redford’s Sundance company until he cut-off dealings with them for child labor issues.
The following links are for those Twelve Tribes business that have/had a website. In addition to these businesses, there are a number of “cottage industries” the Twelve Tribes owns and operates with free labor from their members and their children. I will add to the list as I become aware of more businesses.
Twelve Tribes businesses in the U.S.
BOJ Construction – General contracting (trim carpentry, cabinets,
etc.) and New Home Construction
Common Wealth Construction – This is a high end construction
company located in Savannah, Ga.
Community Conference Center Construction – New home
construction in Hiddenite, NC.
Evergreen Construction – Hillsboro, Va, General contracting, trim
carpentry, commercial installation doors and hardware
Anything Builders – The name says it all
Mate Factor – This is the TT company that imports and packages
yerba mate which they also produce in Brazil (again with free labor).
This company sells yerba mate through many non-TT distributors
Back Home Again Cafe and Hostel – Rutland, Vt
Common Sense Market – This is the TT whole-foods store in
Blue Blinds Bakery – Plymouth, Mass
The Parchment Press – Located in several locations in the
Northeast, Southeast, and Western U.S. It is believed these
locations are Coxsackie, NY, Pulaski, Tn, and Vista, Ca.
Elad Products – High quality children’s clothing
Heart Wood Design Co. – Architectural millwork and
casework shop established in 2006 in Warsaw, Mo.
Evergreen Tree Service – In Hillsboro, Va
Gladheart Tree Service – In Chattanooga, Tn
Forest Keepers of Cape Cod, Mass and Arcadia, Fl, Full tree
service, arborist services, cabling and bracing, insect and disease
control, lot clearing, and brush mowing, planting and transplanting,
snow removal and plowing, soil management and fertilization,
stump grinding, stump, brush and debris hauling, etc.
Ozark Rustic Hickory Furniture – Quality rustic hickory lodge
furnishings from Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.
Simon the Tanner – Located in Lancaster, NH and Island Pond, VT.
Cobbler shop and shoe store. Outfitter stores along the
Appalachian Trail and throughout the Northeast.
Twelve Tribes U.S. Farms
Morning Star Ranch in Valley Center, Ca
The Basin Farm in Bellows Falls, Vt
BOJ Farms in Raynham, Mass
New Sprout Farm in Asheville, NC
Common Sense Farm in Cambridge, NY
Journey’s End Farm in Oak Hill, NY
Oak Hill Plantation in Oak Hill, NY
Peace River Farm in Arcadia, Fl
Stoneybrook Farm in Hillsboro, Va
Gladheart Farm in Asheville, NC
Stepping Stone Farm in Weaubleau, Mo.
Twelve Tribes International Farms
Fairfield Farm in Chilliwack, B.C. , Canada
Little Mountain Farm in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
New Sprout Farm in Merville, B.C. Canada
Preserved Seed Farm in the Czech Republic
Peppercorn Creek Farm in Picton, NSW, Australia
Stentwood Farm in Honiton, Devon, England
Twelve Tribes International Businesses
* Sentido Común – The TT Common Sense store in Spain
Tea Room at Stentwood Farm Devon, UK
Common Loaf – Bread and baked goods store in England
Common Sense Teahouse and Bakery in Winnipeg, Manitoba,
Tribal Trading Company – World wide TT Tribal trading site
Tribal Trading Catalog – Online tribal trading catalog
De Tribu a Tribu – Tribal trading outpost in Spain
Tribal Trading Fr – Tribal trading outpost in France
Tribal Brasil – Organics – Organic food supplier including yerba mate
Mate Factor of Canada – Canada’s largest importer of yerba mate
Mate Factor of France – France’s largest importer of yerba mate
Twelve Tribes Mate Factor/Preserved Seed/Yellow Deli/Common Ground Cafes – U.S.A.
Yellow Deli in Hiddenite , NC
Yellow Deli in Pulaski, TN
Yellow Deli in Chattanooga, TN
Yellow Deli in Boulder, Co
Yellow Deli in Oneonta, NY
Yellow Deli in Oak Hill, NY
Yellow Deli in Rutland, VT
Yellow Deli and Farm Stand in Valley Center, Ca
Yellow Deli in Vista, Ca
Common Ground Cafe in Hyannis, Mass
Common Ground cafe in Brunswick, GA
Common Ground cafe in Cambridge, NY
* Mate Factor cafe in Manitou Springs, CO
Mate Factor in Ithaca, NY
Mate Factor Coffee and Tea in Savannah, GA
Twelve Tribes International Mate Factor/ Preserved Seed/Yellow Deli/Common Ground cafes
Common Sense Deli and Bakery in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Cafe Chão Comum/Common Ground cafe – Mauá da Serra, Brazil
* Preserved Seed cafe in Nelson, B.C., Canada