Dancing Rabbit doesn’t have all the answers, we aren’t always right and we aren’t the solution for every person who feels drawn towards the ecovillage way of life. We are often our most strident critics. But this cooperative attention to our actions compels us to effect change for the good of more than just our individual selves.
Josi here, writing from a dry chair in Julie’s wood shed while the rain patters and the wind whips. I’m inspired by Nik’s inflammatory opening to his illuminating column from last week. It’s been a very full seven days and spring has finally smiled on northern Missouri. (Update: it’s snowing hard as I finish editing this).
The first Saturday Tour brought visitors from around the country, on perhaps the warmest day yet this year. Bob guided them through the village, explaining intricacies of straw bale construction, rain water harvesting, and our renewable energy systems.
Many Rabbits, myself included, took the opportunity to speak one on one with tour guests and the 10 folks who came to spend the weekend at the Milkweed Mercantile Eco-Inn. Over delicious food, including Nik’s Black Eyed Peas with Chowchow and Alline’s rendition of the Librarian’s Carrot Cake, we got to know our inn guests and why they came, from as far away as DC, to spend the weekend in a rural ecovillage.
I always enjoy hearing why folks come to visit us and what most struck them as being different from their expectations. This week I heard curiosity on everything from why we don’t all eat together at every meal to what exactly our Village Council style of government means. In answering these questions, it’s worth pointing out that one of our goals is to be a village of 500-1000 people. We are laying the foundations for a much larger population and our customs today reflect that intention.
We eat together twice a week and once a week that includes a rotating potluck with members of our neighboring communities, Red Earth Farms and Sandhill Farms. Most people’s eating scene is communal every day, there are several co-ops where a once a week cook shifts means your lunch and dinner are prepared for you the other six days a week. When our village is five to 10 times larger, most people’s eating patterns will look much the same.
Until 2013, the members of Dancing Rabbit participated in a full consensus style of governance. Every decision was agreed upon by every member, and most major decisions were made in full-group meetings. Consensus doesn’t mean majority rules, it means that everyone either endorsed or abstained on the issue, blocking a decision is a rare occurrence and usually outweighed by consideration for what is best for the group. Today, our Village Council (VC) is an elected group of seven Rabbits who discuss and decide (still using consensus) upon the larger decisions facing our community.
Many other committees exist with their own unique realms of responsibility and their findings inform the VC. Imagine the complexity of facilitating 300 or 700 people all being heard and coming to agreement on every policy and project of public concern. With DR’s current size and anticipated future growth, traversing the path from full consensus to a representational council was deemed a necessary step. Like all things, it continues to evolve, and our conscious attention to balance and improve what we create is in evidence.
No, DR isn’t perfect, we don’t have all the answers and not everyone who tries our own special brand of sustainability, canned here in northern Missouri, will choose to embrace it long term. Being a Rabbit is an active choice, renewed daily, not merely to live a life intrinsically expressing one’s beliefs but to challenge those beliefs through openness to others’ experiences and perceptions. We cooperate together to find the answers that work in this place, in this moment. And we’re doing that in a demonstration village, wide-open to the world.
In other news (not taking place within Josi’s head):
The Critters’ baby goats (Honey & Sorghum) have become playmates for village kids and will soon be winning foot races with the two-legged Rabbits.
One of our many friendly neighbors brought a free load of horse manure for Dan who, along with Julie, promptly set to work dispersing it throughout Dan’s vineyard.
Bethany Boyle, Staff Reporter from Truman State University, visited the Mercantile for Pizza Night to interview staff and guests about what makes this weekly tradition such an important part of our community.
Rae’s work on the Outreach Committee continues to engage student researchers conducting interviews; some visiting the village, others connecting virtually from all over the world.
Snowflakes sprinkled down this morning, as final preparations for the first Visitor Session were underway; visitors arrive this afternoon and Thomas has been busy finding indoor sleeping space for them until the weather warms.
Katie, our first wexer (work exchanger) to arrive this season, spent time busting pallets apart to be constructed into raised garden beds in the former community garden.
Stephen became our newest Member and Joe applied for Residency – Welcome!
Karen Hanrahan returns today for another stint as the Milkweed Mercantile’s Artist in Residence; her photography captures life from a very unique perspective.
Alyson treated the office staff to a rendition of Prince’s “Sometimes it Snows in April” as this update was being readied for publication.
After approval from Land Use Planning, five lucky ducks have a new home on the Cattail Pond. On the first warm day, as the last light leaked out of the sky, Althea, Sparky, Katherine, Mae and Josi ported Khaki Campbells and Muscovies from Critterville to their new shelter. Moments like those, having answered the random request of “who wants to carry a duck?” are when I’m most thankful for the diversity of life we interact with so frequently here.
So come visit us, and experience for yourself the life we are building together. There are still openings in upcoming Visitor Sessions and several educational courses will run later this summer; or make it an official vacation and book one of the rooms at the Milkweed Mercantile Eco-Inn.
Upcoming Events! DR is hosting a short educational workshop on seed starting by Rabbit Dan after the Village tour on April 26th. Look for more info in next week’s update. Other upcoming events: If you’re in the St. Louis area, you can hear Rae speak about DR and green living on Thursday April 17th in Town & Country. Dancing Rabbit will also be running an education booth at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival on April 27th, while long-time Rabbits Ted and Sara will be representing DR at our booth at the Columbia Area Earth Day Festival, also on April 27th.
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.