I have been visiting and photographing the Twelve Tribes community at Basin Farm in Bellows Falls, Vermont for eighteen months. My regular trips to the farm began as a documentary project; I was interested in observing this agrarian, Messianic community.
After a few attempts to contact the community I was granted provisional access. The people of the community were welcoming but somewhat suspicious of my motives. That was understandable; most of what I could find to read about the Twelve Tribes in the press was negative.
I have spent hundreds of hours at the farm since April of 2012 and consider all the people who live there my friends. They are warm and gracious individuals and loving parents. I have never witnessed any kind of abuse at the farm. On the contrary, the children appear well-adjusted and happy.
The teenagers I have met at the farm were born in the community and raised in the Twelve Tribes traditions. They are kind, generous, respectful, and mature for their age.
I was appalled to hear about the raid on the community in Germany and horrified that the children were taken from their parents. Everything I know about the Twelve Tribes makes me think the community in Germany is quite like the one I know very well in Vermont. If the children in Klosterzimmern and Wörnitz have been raised like the children in Bellows Falls then they are happy and well cared for. But now they are suffering the abuse of separation from their family at the hands of the German authorities.