Who are you?
We are one of the longest lasting communal groups in the United States, having been together for over 45 years. Many of the people in our group have been living together for several decades and have made this way of living a permanent lifestyle choice. Others have lived with us for varying lengths of time while they explored the information and experience they sought or found the partner they were looking for.
We have spent our lives researching all aspects of group living, starting with groups as small as two. We support ourselves by presenting the findings of our research in the form of courses. For more information please read Welcome to Lafayette Morehouse.
Why are you called Morehouse?
Based on the viewpoint that the world is good, then more can only mean better. So we named it Morehouse to let people know that in this house, the people were going to try to see the best of whatever is happening, even if they don't always succeed.
Do you follow a particular philosophy, political affiliation or religion?
The basis of the More Philosophy is perfection as in: I am perfect, you are perfect and the universe is perfect. We offer a course called a Presentation to individuals and couples to discuss this concept in depth. We also refer to our philosophical outlook as Responsible Hedonism.
Everyone chooses their own political affiliation. We have Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens and apolitical folks. The same is true with religion. We celebrate every holiday that anyone cares to and a few we made up on our own too!
What is Responsible Hedonism?
Hedonism is an ethical point of view that has the pursuit of pleasure as the highest goal. People often think that living pleasurably means that you don't care about anybody else. Our experience has proven that if you are going to have a pleasurable life, then you have to see to it that others around you live pleasurably too. In other words, Responsible Hedonism means creating a pleasurable existence for all concerned, including yourself, and doing what it takes to have that happen. That's where the responsibility comes in.
Without the responsible, you can't get the hedonism.
What are the rules in a Morehouse?
There are only two rules we are philosophically committed to: "Don't do anything you don't want to do" and "Don't put glasses on Vic's floor". The first one is self-explanatory. The second one refers to honoring the idiosyncrasies of the other folks in the group, being interested in their personal comfort.
They are the best rules we know of for a group, be it a marriage with a couple of kids and a dog, or a latter-day commune. In essence, they are both expressions of the one no-vote. People then make whatever additional personal agreements they like with each other.
Who is Vic Baranco?
Vic Baranco formulated the More Philosophy. His vision and intention to love inspired the More courses and the one-no-vote lifestyle we know and enjoy as Morehouse. He recognized the possibility of and fostered true freedom for women and consequently for men. The lives of his students and friends are immeasurably better through his enthusiasm for life and willingness to see the good in every situation. He showed us how to have more fun than we had imagined.
A biography of his life is in the works.
Are you a cult?
Does anyone answer "yes" to that question? Seriously, we are in many ways fairly traditional, suburban families and individuals but we're also a group exploring pleasurable living, which qualifies us as an alternative lifestyle. Since it's tough to categorize us, people are sometimes tempted to try and fit us into a known slot: "self improvement," "new age," "cult," etc. We don't think any of these labels accurately describes us.
A cult is often characterized by a strong leader with followers who surrender their personal belongings and finances and are discouraged from leaving or having contact with their families. In our case our land and buildings are owned by the group and we share some of the bills. But everyone has their own money and possessions. People can come and go as they please and most have maintained close and ever improving contact with their relatives.
For most of our history, Vic was the most enthusiastic member of our group and was viewed by many as the leader. Because he conceived of one no-vote as the governing principle that would level the playing field, we saw him as very committed not just to the ideal of equality, but its actuation. We liked his concept so much that we agreed to it and have operated with one-no-vote ever since. He gained our love, trust and respect because he, more consistently than anyone else in our group, included everyone's viewpoints. He was also the most fun person we knew. Vic took exception to being characterized as the leader, pointing out that if we did it his way, things would look a lot different than they did (and that's the truth!)
We've heard it said that, in the same way a weed is a flower you don't like, a cult is a group you don't like.
Are you a sex cult?
As for cult, see above. It's true that we have conducted research into all areas of human experience, including sensuality, which as far as we can tell is something that must be handled for people to live happily together.
Throughout history groups have tried different approaches to handling sensual relations between members, typically attempting to regulate them or forbid them outright. Our approach has been to become sufficiently adept so it can take its proper perspective in life and not be a reason for our group to split up.
All of our research has been between consenting adults who freely and willingly chose to study these parts of life. Some of the people in our group have been very interested in participating in this research and others not at all.
We report our sensuality findings in some of our courses.
Why do you call it a Mark Group?
In carnival vernacular, a "mark" is someone who is looking for entertainment and Mark Groups tend to be quite entertaining. We are all marks looking for a good time.
Why do you paint your houses purple?
We think it only fair to let people know that they are entering an unusual situation. Besides, it's a fun color.
Are you "the purple people"?
There is another group actually called "The Purple People" and they wear purple clothes. We are not them. We don't call ourselves the purple people but we have been called that, mostly by young people growing up in our area.
Why do you ride around in classic purple limousines?
When you live with a bunch of people, it makes sense to ride around with each other. In a limo, two of us are in the front seat, a driver and a shotgun to be a second set of eyes for road safety. We can have several passengers in the back who have a lot of room and are free to talk and carry on without distracting the driver. You get to take your ambiance with you, surrounded by friends, making any excursion more pleasurable, while also getting to your destination in the best possible condition. It's a luxurious, fun and safe way to travel that we used long before carpooling and designated drivers were brought into the general consciousness of society.
Classic limousines also have philosophical importance to us. Vic was adept at seeing value where others didn't, making old limousines attractive precisely because they are generally viewed as not having much worth. It's our intention that caring for and using classic limousines communicates to people, especially women, that we don't discard things that are old or end relationships when they become difficult.
Are there other groups that teach your material?
Not really. There have been a number of students who have put together their own presentations using some material from our courses but have excluded elements we consider to be of critical importance while often adding material from sources that may have a different perspective than ours.
People who take our courses have always been welcome to use whatever information they hear as they wish. Many people have written books or created their own courses or businesses based on information they gleaned from just a few of our courses or from having lived with us for a period of time. We are happy for anyone who has profited, personally or financially, from contact with our information.
I took a course from someone who says they have taught for Morehouse or lived with you in the past. Can I use that as a prerequisite for one of your courses?
Probably not. If they have continued their teacher training with us, which is ongoing, and are currently on our teaching staff, then their courses qualify as prerequisites for our advanced courses. We are not aware of anyone or any other organization or group that provides the totality of the information from any of our courses completely intact.
Are you polyamorous?
There is no label regarding sexual choices that applies across the board for our group. Sexual preference is a personal choice. Some people here are celibate, many are monogamous and some have more than one partner.
How do you maintain the sexual health of your community in this age of STDs that are incurable or potentially fatal?
We have a screening program which began in 1977 wherein the members of our community sex only with one another and we practice safer sex techniques.
As a result we are happy to say that we have a lot of very useful information on attaining maximum pleasure with the use of safer sex barriers.
Do I need a partner to take Basic Sensuality?
No. Basic Sensuality is really about you and your relationship to your universe. The material is equally relevant for single people as it is for people who are coupled. The course is lecture, demonstration and Q & A. There is no disrobing and you don't need a partner for any part of it.
Do you accept credit cards for course tuitions?
No but we continue to consider the possibility.
Why did you become a university?
We had already been teaching courses for many years when the state agency that regulates higher education adopted rules to encourage the development of alternative education. We fit that category and we thought it would be fun.
For twenty years of our history, Lafayette Morehouse operated More University and was authorized to grant degrees.
Why did you stop being a university?
The California rules changed and in order to continue as a university we would have had to conform to a curriculum that we did not wish to teach. We prefer teaching courses in our areas of expertise.
Why do you have guards?
There are several reasons. One is that we have a large property with a number of houses. If someone comes by looking for a particular person or to make a delivery, the guard can facilitate his or her goals.
Another is that curious people come by to see what they can see of us as if we were a public institution. This is our home and we like our privacy. Having someone at "our front door" provides a buffer for us.
And yet another reason is that, unfortunately, we have been vandalized and wish to protect our vehicles, our belongings, and ourselves.
Why do you ride around on golf carts?
Our property is over 20 acres and has hills and valleys. We have always limited the use of gas-powered vehicles on our property to avoid their exhaust emissions and noise. Electric golf carts have been a fun way for us to get around that we have used for decades.
How do you join?
There's not really anything to join. People can live with us with everyone's agreement. Generally, people who decide to live with us have already had several courses and are interested in the philosphy and lifestyle.