Time and Transitions: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Construction on Dancing Rabbit's new Town Center Road broke new ground this week. Photo by Dennis.

Construction on Dancing Rabbit’s new Town Center Road broke new ground this week. Photo by Dennis.

Resident Vick here, with my mind on transitions and transitions on my mind…

See, lately, I’ve been spending time getting to know some of our most recent guests at Dancing Rabbit. Namely, the woolly bears – fuzzy-wuzzy orange and black tootsie rolls, larval adolescents of the Isabella tiger moth – who I repeatedly find myself needing to rescue from the bicycle path near my tent.

I’ve been watching them inch their ways along on some mysterious business and I can’t help but wonder: where are they all going? What are they looking for? Will they recognize it when they find it? Do they see their silken gold cocoons as a kind of dignified auto-enterramento, self-imposed deep-six, each believing it has reached its natural end? Or do they go into it knowing they will metamorphose into something new and different, with talents unattainable to them in their current state?

I have to admit, my train of thought was largely inspired by Kassandra and her innovative birthday celebration earlier this week. She turned forty, and chose to see this milestone in her life as an opportunity to reflect on how the experiences of her past have led her to be the person she is today, while looking forward to her future in a state of awakened anticipation.

Everything started with a brief session of art making – I chose to draw a diverse collage of creatures representing the evolutionary progression of life on our planet, culminating in humankind and journeying into space. Meadoe and Loren chose colorful, free-flowing forms and brocades of interlocking patterns, while the children hung out nearby for a knitting session.

Kassandra’s piece was a take on the number 40, its zero signified by a sunflower borne aloft on a stem of time marked by key years in her past, its seed head an open door to the future with her likeness, complete with characteristic long hair and fuchsia pants, taking the first step across the threshold. At her request, Tereza appended a few piquant feline attributes to the four.

Afterwards, many people came together to offer Kassandra something I have come to call (not knowing its proper term of reference) the Angel Walk. We stood abreast in two long rows, forming a corridor between us and humming in unison. As the blindfolded birthday co walked through, we each offered her a kind nudge further on her way, whispering words of wisdom, love and appreciation. Nathan took a turn as well, face split ear to ear with a Cheshire cat smile, and ended his journey with a group hug, after some spontaneous, and anonymous, partner dancing.

Other transitions are in the works, inside and outside of Dancing Rabbit. The trees have donned their autumn colors to mourn the passing of summer. The gardens have undergone their final harvests. Preparations have been laid for the flush of spring, and heavy rains have shifted the course of meandering paths once more. (By the way, did you know that “petrichor” is a word for that refreshing smell after a drizzle?)

Bagels and his band opened a show for our friend John Craigie, who came back through on his circuitous journey busking across the country. He has a style not unlike Rambling Jack Elliot – I would have made the comparison even if it wasn’t on his website– based on charming folksongs, storytelling and invocation of the indomitable Chuck Norris.

Having seen him play twice, it was interesting to compare his last show to this one, which took place in Dancing Rabbit’s own eco bed and breakfast, the Milkweed Mercantile, which was packed as full as a can of sardines following Thursday’s Pizza Night, which is totally open to the public, by the way. All I can say about the music that night is that one song’s chorus has been haunting my dreams all week – “Let’s talk it over, when we’re sober, and we’re not at Burning Man…”

Our current visitors have undergone a transition of their own, shifting from an insular group of outsiders abiding in a state of culture shock to a real and integral part of our sustainable society. They’ve spent the week learning about what life is like at Dancing Rabbit, helped some of our members with projects around the village, and even put some of our social practices to good use for themselves.I think every visitor group is an interesting group, but this one is especially so, and I’m sad that they will be our last until spring of 2015. There will be plenty of opportunities to visit next year, so keep your eyes peeled for an announcement of program dates, early next year at the latest.

Visitors Andy and Stephanie decided to host a dance night at La Casa de Cultura, where even I could not escape the inevitability of transitions this week. In my case, I was dragged kicking and screaming away from a state of total-non-dancer into a semi-willing isomer of fidgeting around in a dance-like way. I learned a couple of swing steps from Andy, I waltzed for a while with Sharon, and Bri showed me how to cut a rug polka style. It will be a long time before I can keep up with the acrobatic capers of some of our more agile dancers, but at least I got to cross something off my bucket list.

On Saturday we had our first, and maybe only, No/Talent Show of the year, in which truly talented people from our community bare their souls for all to see in performance of art they have worked years to perfect – while the rest of us keep the stage warm between sets by goofing around.

Farmer Dan, guitarist of some twenty-five years, presented a beautiful acoustic Neil Young cover. Cob, in the guise of Mrs. Freud, interpreted dreams for some of the audience with extemporaneous humor, leaving us with the sage advice to include more cookies in our lives.

Meadoe and a partner performed an outrageously funny variety skit including song, comedy and piano playing, for which some folks have been waiting over a year.One of our visitors, David, read tarot cards, and another visitor, Ryo, demonstrated a few Aikido techniques from his native Japan. Then, with musical accompaniment from visitor Nabil, our very own resident Olivander, fabled wand merchant and tallest descendant of the Bullroarer, Bandobras Took, sang a gut-busting rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”, which we couldn’t lampoon if we tried.

Just another week in the life at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, where we bear ongoing witness to climactic transitions that will impact our entire planet, and strive to empower the world to cope with them. I heard that some of the warmer days this week smashed long-standing temperature records for this time of year. It’s nice wearing a t-shirt and shorts in the middle of October, but what does it mean for the kind of planet our great-grandchildren will inherit?  I like to believe that we humans are like the woolly bear, tucked away in its cocoon, changing by small degrees into something new and wonderful, awaiting the right time to emerge and take flight.

•                    •                   •

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.

Autumn News: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Sewing on a rainy dayprintweb

Darleen making good use of a “sew-sew” rainy day. Photo by Kyle.

Hello again, from Ted here at Dancing Rabbit, in that time of year where work takes on a survivalist edge.

As Nik said last week, as you split and stack, there is a tangible connection between the work you do and the ease you’ll feel later as the snow flies. And with the weather trending cooler, that old adage about wood warming you twice comes readily to mind. I’ve always thought it warms me more than twice. Maybe I need a more efficient set-up, so I’m not moving wood from one place to another as much.

We lit our first fire of the year at home last night, on the same day I got down to splitting wood in earnest. Preceding me to the pile of log rounds in the morning was new resident Lucas, who has been accumulating social capital all over the village since his arrival by helping out with this and that, including splitting plenty of wood. Oliver, another new resident, has likewise been offering up help, and on behalf of this village that benefits so much from that spirit of pitching in, I say thanks!

Aurelia and I returned the day before Land Day from a trip of nearly three weeks that took us to the coast of Maine (stopping to see Niagara Falls along the way). We hiked, climbed, collected rose hips and driftwood at the stony beach, studied the local native plants, helped a friend working on building a cabin in the woods, ate some lobsters, and spent a day at the Common Ground Country Fair, among other adventures. En route home we basked in the early glow of New England leaves turning every possible color, and also stopped to visit family in the mid-Atlantic.

Coming home from “out there” is always a bit of a process, feeling both relieved by a return to the familiar and confused by how I can be in love with places and people that are so far away and hard to get to. Sigh.

Land Day served to hasten the process of re-acclimation, with a good strong dose of remembering why we love living here.

Two days later, freshly imbued with the spirit of our home, we welcomed the final visitor session of the year, and within a couple days had a chance to host the whole group (12 or so) down at Ironweed kitchen for dinner and lunch the next day. I love seeing how many we can functionally serve in our smallish space down there. Instant cozy atmosphere. And still the tail end of the season’s bounteous produce to serve up.

Mid-week we were treated to the lunar eclipse late in the night. Aurelia, Sara and I awoke around 4:45 am to go out and watch the last half of the moon disappear, leaving that moody reddish hue behind. I heard indications that others might be out as well, though I didn’t see anyone.

Once the moon was fully eclipsed the cold seemed colder and we soon went back to bed. I’d hoped to get up again and watch the moon growing full again as it set at dawn, but I slept right through. I’ve heard we’ll have two more lunar eclipses in the next year, so maybe I’ll get another chance.

A full moon fire circle took place that night up near our swimming pond, while others of us gathered at the same time for Song Circle back at the Common House. Most traditions here wax and wane over time. Sometimes we can go weeks without enough collective energy to get a Song Circle together, but this time we had a good group show up and the songs flowed easily. I heard from Aurelia and Sara that the fire circle was likewise a good one, in a tradition that has been strong this year.

Friday evening we heard the rumble of large machines coming and marching up Main St. toward town center. They proceeded through the weekend to work on the long-awaited new road there and out into the newest neighborhood in the village. Kyle, our project manager, has been acquiring culverts, drainage tubing, and road membrane for some time, and thinking through all the details.

We’re grateful for the work of all involved, improving access for the continued development of our village. I heard the rumble again this morning for a little while before the skies let loose with a downpour. Hopefully it won’t slow things down for too long.

As the machines rumbled around to the north, many villagers took part in a workshop called “The Gift of Anger” Saturday at the Casa. Led by two experienced outside trainers, it offered tools, tips, and training on that very human emotion and how to work with it in our lives. I did not attend, but heard lots of jokes about being angry about this and that, as well as plenty of discussion afterward that suggested it had brought up plenty of good food for thought.

I finished digging our last bed of potatoes the other day (Sara having done the majority of it in our absence), to cure and put up in our cellar for winter. We grew more spuds this year than ever before, with the cool and steadily moist weather, so we’re looking forward to lots of warming meals this winter, whatever polar vortices or other excitements the winds may bring. Now we are preparing those potato beds with more manure for planting garlic, and getting down to the work of grading and sorting our seed garlic in the evenings. Lots of big bales of straw for mulching arrived this week, so we have all the ingredients for a successful planting.

Alongside dehydrating, juicing, and otherwise storing the last of the season’s plenty, we’re thinking on the last outdoor construction projects and generally hunkering down. I did not think I’d ever be ready for winter again after the bitter last one, but autumn has a way of easing me into it, keeping me too busy to think about it much until it is here. May all your preparations for winter be equally successful!

If you’ve been thinking about visiting Dancing Rabbit for a tour this year, please note that our last public tour of the year will happen Saturday, October 25th at 1pm.

•                    •                   •

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.

Exploring Dancing Rabbit: A Visitor’s Perspective

Our September 2014 visitor session.

Our September 2014 visitor session.

Hello everyone! My name is Lucas, a recent visitor in Dancing Rabbit’s latest wave of curious explorers. It is my delightful honor to share my experience with all of you.

While I wouldn’t assert that my opinions are held by the entire group, I do feel my experience is in relatively close alignment with the majority of the others in my visitor group.

The three weeks I spent at DR very revealing in a deeply personal sense. The baseline level of intimacy between members and residents was very awkward for me at first, but has shown itself to be an essential component in changing cultural norms and extinguishing the sparks of isolation, stress, exploitation, and violence. In a world where these are prevalent for many, I was pleasantly surprised to find that stress levels (both in general and personally) at DR seem to be much lower than the norm.

That is not to say it is an easy life– but I would argue that real progress has never been simple. The contrast, I feel, lies in the motivations of the residents and members. They are not spending their time and money serving the desires of someone who may or may not have the same values.

Though I have now seen the complexity of self-governance by consensus (a daunting task), I have also seen that the people here are willing to invest significant personal effort to overcome the obstacles that such a system can pose. Personal opinion is regularly checked against the interests of the community as a whole, sustainability guidelines, and ecological covenants. It seems a promising possibility that stands in sharp contrast to our national political strategies.

I was also delighted to find an infrastructure robust enough to allow for many of the same creature comforts that I have at home. There are movie nights, game nights, song circles (which I have been hesitant to jump into so far), and the occasional bonfire. Events are held as community activities, which facilitates bonding within the community while reducing waste and energy usage; two birds with one very powerful stone.

There is a Bed and Breakfast here, the Milkweed Mercantile, which boasts a five-star rating and a large selection of snacks and wines. They also host a pizza night once a week, which is a consistent point of excitement within the community. The food co-ops here have all impressed me. I prepared well, bringing some commercial “energy bars” with me in case I found the food inedible, but they turned out to be totally unnecessary. I have eaten very well here, and have an abundance of energy! I have also dropped two belt holes (BIG smile). I feel healthier than I have in years.

In addition to the wealth of information presented to us during our stay, we participated in the construction of new homes, most of which are absolutely stunning. Why so many are tricked into purchasing “cookie cutter” homes is beyond my understanding. The homes at DR embody the soul of the family/couple/individual. They are sustainable, highly customized, and most marry technology, passive solar, and rain collection techniques with simple yet elegant design.

Often built by their owners’ own hands, they seem a labor of love above all else. Most homes seem to take 2-3 years to finish, as winter doesn’t allow for much productivity in the building arena. In my opinion, they are very much worth the effort and patience.

The other visitors were perhaps the biggest surprise to me. I expected to have a somewhat similar level of knowledge to those who I came here with. I was mistaken in that assumption. I was, by and large, the “Village Idiot”, so to speak. For many, this wasn’t their first go-around with sustainable living.

Some came from living at other intentional communities, while others have been traveling from place to place, evaluating for their “best fit”. I have learned that ecovillages and intentional communities are plentiful; many names of many places are consistently tossed around. Whereas at home I was typically the most outspoken in environmentally-oriented conversations, here I am often simply an observer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have so much to learn.All in all, this experience has shown me that I am not alone in my deep concern for the problems confronting our species, nor in my desire to have my actions mirror my words. I was delighted to find that ecovillages and other intentional communities have been springing up like wildfire for the last 20 years or so. They are growing both in number, and in their cumulative effect on their surrounding communities.

This is a wonderful place; it is a springboard for the development of our species and the maintenance of our planet. I don’t believe I could have been more impressed– which is why I have asked the community to consider me for residency. I can’t think of a healthier, kinder, or more responsible way to live my life. Thanks to all at Dancing Rabbit for an inspirational visit!

•                     •                   •



Lucas hails from Smyrna, TN, and has fostered a growing concern for climate change and fossil fuel dependence since 2006. He is a military veteran, and currently works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Chopping, Carrying, Celebrating: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Althea's capterpillar circus was a pretty big deal at Dancing Rabbit Land Day. Photo by Nik

Althea’s capterpillar circus was a pretty big deal at Dancing Rabbit Land Day. Photo by Nik

A thousand years back, in a secluded monastery, an old man put these words to paper:

“Magical power,
marvelous action!
Chopping wood,
Carrying water.”

I really think he was onto something there.

Nik here, between rounds of chopping wood and carrying water.

Those words mean just as much today as they did so long ago. Although today’s modern equivalent would be other physical yet meditative work like gardening, working out in those “gyms” I’ve heard so much about, or re-flooring the rumpus room. At Dancing Rabbit, we keep that adage pretty literal, with so much wood to chop and water to carry.

When the world seems a bit too heavy on the shoulders, or you just can’t seem to find the right way out of a labyrinth of bad days, the magical power of physical work clears the mind, or at least slows it down…just enough.

While splitting and stacking wood, you watch the cords pile up. There, in front of your eyes you begin to estimate how many warm and cozy night are in that pile; how many comfortable mornings lie ahead this winter. If that doesn’t make your heart do a little dance, I don’t know what will. I just know my stout little Vogelzang stove will be well-fed.

Speaking of wood, my seasonal book recommendation to anyone interested in building, heating, and crafting with wood is “Hammer. Nail. Wood.” by Thomas Glynn. It’s especially good by a crackling fire.

In DR news, aside from canning and stashing away firewood like responsible little ants, it’s finally rounding the end of the visitor and tour season. The final visitor session starts this week.

Last weekend we celebrated our 17th annual Land Day, the anniversary of purchasing the land. A day-long celebration our surroundings and the home that everyone (those who’ve stayed and those who have passed through) has created here. We celebrated and told our collective story. Sandhill Farms folks joined us as well, and they were a huge part of the initial decision to settle here; the 40-year-old sister community continues to be a mentor and a constant inspiration of what community can be.

Land Day started with a community-wide pancake breakfast (236 jacks were flapped!) and ended with an acoustic jam session of musicians from the tri-community area. Though my favorite, low-key part of the day was when most of the community just went for a walk.

We walked all the trails, really taking time to enjoy the land. Here and there a member would talk about the history of the old farmstead or about the flora and fauna. Every now and then, someone would pick something and tell the group to try it. From the banana-citrusy flavored innards of a fresh honey locust pod, to plump red and tangy autumn olives. The more we know and love the land, the more it provides.

As I scrawl this, a woolly bear caterpillar is crawling across my yellow legal pad. I’ve heard the Midwestern folklore all my life of the Nostradamus-like ability of the woolly bear: the blacker the caterpillar, the more severe the coming winter.

Well, I’ve seen fully tan ones, completely black fuzzy ones, brown bands of all sizes, fat ones, skinny ones, ones that climb on rocks… So what the winter holds is still uncertain. But I’m feeling warm and secure with those neatly stacked cords of wood outside my cabin.

•                    •                   •

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.

Sharing Our Lives: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Bob lead one of the happy tours during Open House last weekend. Photo by Zach.

Bob leads one of the happy tours during Open House last weekend. Photo by Zach.

Wow, time flies when you’re having fun… It’s another update from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage! Tereza here, with the biggest news of the week: another successful Open House! You can check out the 2013 Open House video to get a sense of what you missed, or relive the memories if you made it to that one.

About 150 folks came to DR to find out more about what’s happening in this demonstration project we call home, and to see in person the buildings and gardens and people and animals that make this place what it is. It was fun to meet so many interested people, who came from as far away as St Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia, MO, and from as close as Red Earth Farms.

There were tour stops on sustainable agriculture and village growth, natural and green building, renewable energy, sustainable transportation, sustainable food choices and kitchen co-ops, as well as how we creatively use infrastructure to reduce our resource consumption. Tour groups were shown between stops by tour guides, who also answered questions about the village.

I was one such guide, and my name tag said I would answer questions about anything (other Rabbits listed more mundane items such as gardening or natural building) so I was expecting at least a few doozies, but they were all fairly run of the mill. Or maybe after 14 years I’m not very easily surprised…

Tours ended at the Milkweed Mercantile, where folks could cool off under the fan, buy a cold drink or tasty snack (the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes were yum!), and sample some of Alline’s amazing jams and pickles.

There was also a Village Fair, where Rabbits and neighbors sold soaps, jewelry, fresh organic veggies, and many other items, including value-added products like salsa, jam, kombucha, and cajun jerk seasoning. The Grocery Store was in fine form, showing off its new digs (a refurbished container building) and offering samples and sales of some of Cob’s fine comestibles.

Another fun part was that Mae and Ben brought out some of the Critters’ critters so kids could see them (and pet the more tractable ones). They used the movable fencing they use to pasture the animals in various places on the land (no electric in the fence of course). There were chickens, ducks, goats, and a donkey, that I recall, and the kids I saw in there sure seemed to enjoy it.

Bear entertains a tour with tales of natural building in his family's home, Lobelia. Photo by Zach.

Bear entertains a tour with tales of natural building in his family’s home, Lobelia. Photo by Zach.

I like when the goats go on their hind legs to eat leaves off the trees, myself. Cracks me up no matter how many times I see it… One of Ma’ikwe favorite moments was seeing Ben heading back home after it was over, pulling his cart loaded up with chickens and fencing down Main Street. Not a particularly common sight here, but unimaginable in most US cities and suburbs…

Huge shout out to Rae for all her organizing efforts, and to Bagels and other Outreach Committee members as well. It’s especially awesome and appreciated when newer folks take on this kind of responsibility. And of course big thanks to all the Rabbits who did so much to make Open House the success it was!

In other thankfulness-inducing news, the nonprofit outreach and education arm of Dancing Rabbit was very excited to have met not one but two fundraising challenges recently! A generous donor offered us extra money if we met them, and we did, resulting in a bonus $6000 to support our outreach work! We’re very thankful to that donor, and to all our supporters who helped make it happen by giving money, by sharing our emails and social media posts, and by offering words of support during the campaign– thanks, all!

I also heard tell of a bonfire held one evening in honor of some folks from Acorn, a community in Virginia, who were out helping Sandhill with sorghum harvest and came over to spend some time with Rabbits.

And last but in no way least, my birthday! It wasn’t this week, but didn’t make it into the update when it happened, so I’m mentioning it now. I had a fantastic birthday dance party (if I do say so myself, and I do!) with fabulous DJ Ben, and many fine friends dancing and hanging out and helping me celebrate. I had a wonderful time and feel so grateful to live in a place where it’s easy to share each others’ joys and the turning points in our lives.

•                    •                   •

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.

Adventures in Homeschooling: A Michaelmas Dragon Story

by Alyssa

Zane wearing his cape and brandishing his sword, ready for any dragons that may come! Photo by Bear.

This fall marks my second year sharing the adventure of homeschooling with my seven-year-old son, Zane. While I relied on plenty of experienced homeschoolers and resources, my first year was truly a year of figuring things out as we went along. My conclusion was that kindergarten is great (and I highly recommend it for every adult)!

As part of our homeschooling adventure last fall, Zane and I celebrated Michaelmas. We have enjoyed incorporating the seasons and various celebrations into our weekly school schedule. Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with Michaelmas until last year, so perhaps you are too.

Michaelmas happens at the end of September and is a celebration honoring St. Michael, an angel who is seen as a protector against the dark of night. St. Michael is often depicted with a shield and a sword restraining a dragon underfoot.

Throughout the week, Zane and I learned more about St. Michael. We sang songs about courage and we recited verses about bravery and good deeds. We daily read a Michaelmas dragon story. Zane constructed, sanded and oiled a beautiful wooden sword. Together we dyed a silk cape golden yellow. We even constructed a “dragon” out of construction paper and old paper bags. We were ready for anything.

On Friday, the last day of school that week, we got a phone call. Zane’s papa had run into a neighbor on his way to a meeting that morning. This neighbor reported a dragon in the area and wondered if we could help.

Zane’s eyes lit up. He quickly ran to his room, donned his new golden cape, grabbed his sword and we ran out of the house in the direction of this neighbor in need.

The scene was worse than we imagined. When we got there, our friend Caleb shared a dramatic story of barely escaping the wrath of the dragon. Luckily, he walked away with only a cut in his clothing. Their favorite chicken, Captain Cluck, however, didn’t live through the experience. They showed us the charred feathers and wing of the beloved chicken.

“Where is the dragon now?” Zane asked. The dragon had left and flown in the direction of the Milkweed Mercantile. Without hesitation, we were off!

Zane asked a lot of questions along the way. Did I really think the dragon ate Captain Cluck? What if the dragon found other friends in the village? What will we do if we find the dragon? He didn’t seem to really be seeking answers, just posing the questions and processing the experience.

Zane dying his cape a deep golden yellow color. Photo by Bear.

Before arriving at the Mercantile, we ran into Alline. She was devastated. The dragon had come into the Mercantile and eaten all the cheesy puffs! None of us had any knowledge of dragons liking cheesy puffs in a culinary kind of way.

Luckily Alline was okay (minus the cheesy puffs) and the dragon had moved on. She thought she heard the dragon mutter something about jewels at Sara and Ted’s house. Zane quickly remembered that dragons love jewels. We had to make sure our friends were okay!

Sara was in the path by her home. She was in tears. The dragon had come into her home and stolen all of her jewelry. She was distressed and didn’t know what to do. Zane’s sword was drawn. He would find this dragon. Sara last heard the dragon mutter something about thirst and noticed the dragon flying toward the pond. We couldn’t run fast enough.

All was quiet when we arrived at the pond. We didn’t know what to make of that. We crept closer and closer and then noticed something. The dragon, the one we had constructed earlier in the week, was sitting by the side of the pond. Zane swiftly drew his sword and bravely slayed the dragon. The village was safe!

Zane carried the dragon back into the village. We showed our neighbors and friends that they would now be safe. There was an audible sigh of relief from all those affected by the dragon’s antics.

In the subsequent days, Zane asked even more questions. How did the dragon get here? Did I really think the dragon ATE Captain Cluck? Was the dragon really real? Like for real, real?

Throughout this experience, I wrestled with the fine line between dishonesty and story, reality and imagination. In the end, I told Zane the truth. Yes, I put our constructed dragon at the pond and asked our neighbors to help with the hunt.

At first he was disappointed. And then, he decided that the story was just too good to let go. He loved the story. He continued to live the story. In the end, he was just as brave and courageous as St. Michael when called by his friends in need.

Furthermore, we both learned a little bit more about ourselves than we had known before. And so, the adventure continues!

•                       •                       •

Alyssa Martin has been living a rich life at Dancing Rabbit since 2006. She spends her time gardening, homeschooling her young son, serving pregnant women and their families via her work as a Certified Professional Midwife www.homebirthnaturally.com, dancing, playing ultimate frisbee, knitting, and loving life in a vibrant community.


Wonderings: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Rabbits and neighbors participated in a Climate March solidarity event on Sunday. Photo by SunGee.

Rabbits and neighbors participated in a Climate March solidarity event on Sunday. Photo by SunGee.

I sit alone in Bella Ciao, swaddled against the cold and wrapped in darkness at the base of a broad windowsill.  I pause a moment and prepare myself for a glimpse into Toon’s World of Wonders, a jar filled with water from several ponds at Dancing Rabbit.


The titanium-white glow of a headlamp filters through the gallon-sized glass jar set before me, casting iridescent patterns of watery shadow onto the earthen walls around me.

As my eyes slowly adjust, I become aware of a plethora of aquatic lifeforms busily coalescing into strata disturbed by my intrusion.  I study their behaviors, marking the characteristics of each wee beastie by increasingly minute degrees.

An almond-shaped crustacean swims frantically past half-submerged fragments of gnarled driftwood, unable to escape the parasitic embrace of a leech nursing at its back. Snails scrub oxygen-producing algae from the slick surface of the glass, while swarms of black mosquito larvae wriggle where air and water meet, oblivious to the circuitous business of a chili-red beetle in their midst. Opalescent fairy-shrimp, like motes of dust spotlighted in a sunbeam, strive on gossamer wings toward the brilliant halo of the flashlight’s fiery filament.

As I marvel at this captivating microcosm, retrospection leads to awe –  and wondering.  I wonder what consciousness might be like for Toon’s Lilliputians.  I wonder whether beings on distant worlds orbiting unknown stars have thoughts like mine.

Hey y’all, Resident Vick here – sit with me by the fire as the days grow shorter, the nights grow colder and autumn ushers in the final frenzy of the harvest season.

This week was the last for our most recent group of visitors to the village and I am delighted to have spent a great deal of time with them during their stay. Our conversations often dwelt on the subject of intentional community, and as the week progressed I found myself repeatedly consociating Toon’s microcosm with the village here at Dancing Rabbit. Maybe I’m just anthropomorphizing fairy-shrimp, but I see new parallels all the time.

Our visitors, for instance, are a diverse class of organisms adapting to a new environment, each of them in search of the niche for which they are best suited.  I watched as they made subtle adjustments to their behaviors following some new insight they had gained in one of our workshops.

I listened with relish to their wildest ambitions and most cherished dreams as they speculated about the roles they might play in our particular human ecosystem.  My imagination reeled with the many possibilities ahead for Dancing Rabbit in its ongoing evolution as a community.

When several members of the visitor group decided to apply for residency, I realized that their arrival will mimic genetic mutation in our population, introducing new material to the pool of ideas, experience, and knowledge available to us right now.  I can’t wait to see what new things they bring, as we pursue our mission to share sustainability with the world.

Dancing Rabbit is a microcosm, but we are also part of a global network of people. The March on Climate Change took place in New York City and around the world this week, and at Dancing Rabbit we participated in this global demonstration with a solidarity event on Sunday. Knowing that millions of people share a piece of our mission fills me with hope, and stopping disastrous climate change is only phase one – our potential is much greater than that.

The first electric car rolled down a Scottish road in 1839 – I wonder how 175 years of research and creative thought could have altered our situation today. Project Orion would sweep up the world’s nuclear warheads and use them to propel us to the stars, where we may find new worlds of wonder to explore, like Toon’s jar on a windowsill.

In less cosmic news, we’re gearing up for our annual Open House and Village Fair, this Saturday Sept 27th, from 1- 4 pm. Free tours happen every half hour, and there will be lots of friendly Dancing Rabbit folks on hand to answer questions, a Village Fair selling unique crafts and goods, and some complimentary refreshments. See our website or Facebook Event page for details. Hope to see many of you there!

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Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.

Visitors and Memories: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Alex brought out the scythe to trim grass for "Land Clean Day" at Dancing Rabbit. Photo by Dennis.

Alex brought out the scythe to trim grass for “Land Clean Day” at Dancing Rabbit.
Photo by Dennis.

Don’t know about you, kind reader, but I’m reeling from too many days in full-bore, too-much-to-do, holy-cow-autumn-is-approaching-WAY-too-fast mode…

Tereza here, and it’s my turn again to regale you with stories from Dancing Rabbit Land, a wonderful place where the living is… well, perhaps not so much easy as it is meaningful. A place where the ducks will give you a good quackin’ if you dare to run by them too quickly on your way to a meeting, and the torrential rain brings gifts of mulch to those of us on the downhill end of town…

Yes, that last bit was my attempt to mention the weather without calling too much attention to it, but I can’t help it! My goodness did we get some rain this week! The ducks were loving it, and I truly do appreciate the Mulch from Elsewhere, but I have to say overall I was not a fan. I am not fond of chilly, and chilly it has been.

Yes, I’m needing to get my head around the fact that winter is on the way to northeast Missouri, whether I like it or not. I find it helps to recall the joys I find in winter here in the heartland: a warm wood stove on a cold night, hot chocolate made with direct-trade cacao and local milk, smaller crowds at community supper so I can actually hear the conversation…

But those are past (and future) dreams, and right now I’m meant to be telling you about the present, or at least the last week here at DR. So on to that…

Dee, Hassan, Nathan and I had appointments in Quincy on Tuesday, making for a great rideshare, but we were excited to also be able to pick up a new visitor to DR, a photojournalist for a major magazine who is working on a story on exemplary ecovillages and sustainable communities. He was great fun to chat with on the way home, and has since been wandering around, getting to know the village and taking lots of pictures. Bonus points for our stellar, full-car, five-person rideshare! Woot!

Speaking of excellent rideshares, I also had a trip to the dentist this week (thanks for the help, doc!), joined by two other humans and one dog. Two of the humans were bound for the dentist, the other human and the dog for the vet. (Um, only the dog was actually seeing the vet. Like for treatment. The human was accompanying the dog. And probably paying the bill. In case that wasn’t clear. But I digress…) Penny (the dog) was excellent in the car, plus she’s super cute so I don’t mind that she won’t pay a share of the vehicle co-op fees for the trip. (Note: Cob, Penny’s human, was fairly well-behaved as well.)

The second-to-last visitor period for the year is more than halfway through as I write, and this group has been fascinating and fun. Hassan and I are their liaisons, which means we meet with them regularly throughout their stay to go over the workshop (and work party) schedules, check in to see how they’re doing, and assign them assistant cook slots to help the Rabbits who make lunch and dinner for them. We answer questions large and small about DR, and generally try to smooth their way as much as possible.

These folks not only came together as a group really well, they did it very quickly, cooking cooperative breakfasts (the meal we provide ingredients for but that visitors make for themselves) after just a day or two. Quite impressive!

They are an interesting bunch, and if I’d thought ahead I would have gotten permission to tell you more about some of these interesting individuals who have come to see what we’re about, but since I didn’t plan better I’ll just have to say that a few are considering making DR a more permanent home (yippee!) so perhaps you’ll hear more about them in updates to come…

One of the biggest events in my week was the anniversary of Tamar’s death. For those of you who don’t know, Tamar came to DR as an intern around the same time I did (14 years ago now) and became a member a year or two later. She influenced our growing village and culture in many ways, and it’s hard to believe it’s already been four years since she died of pancreatic cancer.

It’s a bittersweet time– a time for grieving her loss, of course, but also an opportunity to remember the good times, and to connect with her parents, Eva and Amos, who made the trip from the East Coast to be here. I remain so grateful that her family chose to bury Tamar here, far from them but close to this land she loved and all the community folk whose lives she impacted.

We had a short ceremony by her graveside the drizzly afternoon of the 12th, with songs and chants in English and Hebrew, a few reminiscences, and of course tears. Then that evening, in the Great Room she helped build, we had a huge song circle, where those of us who knew her well, and many who never met her, shared more songs, many of them ones that she had taught us, or that she liked to sing, at song circle. It was a lovely connecting gathering in memory of a special person, and I was especially happy that so many newer Rabbits and visitors joined in.

In other news, a generous donor has offered the nonprofit outreach and education arm of Dancing Rabbit a challenge — if we meet it in time we’ll get $3000! The money goes toward our efforts to share sustainability with others, and I’m hopeful our supporters will help us make it happen! Check out the email with details if you’re a subscriber to our email list, or go to our website’s donate page for more info.

And last, but certainly not least, this week we also had not one but two Land Clean days (folks could choose whichever day worked best for them), in which visitors, guests, and Rabbits worked together to spiff the place up. It looks great, and just in time for our annual Open House, happening Sept 27th from 1-4 p.m.! You don’t want to miss it, so mark your calendars! If you know you can’t make it, or to whet your appetite if you can, check out the short video of last year’s event!

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Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.