This is Alline, back in the writing rotation after a few years off.
I tend to be a traditionalist when it comes to this column. Fourteen years ago, when Rachel Katz first proposed the idea to Chris Feeney, editor of the local newspaper the Memphis Democrat, the column was intended as a way for Dancing Rabbit to be as transparent as possible with our local neighbors. Our goals were, and are, to inform readers about what we’re doing out here in Rutledge, and why, without judgment.
Now we have far more readers online, so we walk an interesting line in trying to decide what information to share with our local neighbors that will also be of interest to our sometimes far-flung internet fans.
Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we miss the mark. But Dancing Rabbit, like every town and city everywhere, is made up of unique individuals. While we share a few basic values there are many different styles and attitudes, which we demonstrate here weekly. And while we’re all writing under the Dancing Rabbit banner, the thoughts and opinions are solely our own, and not necessarily those of other members of Dancing Rabbit.
One of the reasons I enjoy this column is hearing from readers. Back in the “early days” of DR I tried to include activities of all the members, mostly so that their parents would know that they were still alive. It was a bit easier then – when Kurt and I joined Dancing Rabbit it 1999 there were about ten of us. Now, inching towards 70, I won’t even try to get everyone in (is that a sigh of relief I hear?).
Another reason I enjoy writing this is that it gives me a good excuse to be nosy. I get to channel my inner Mrs. Kravitz (remember the neighbor from “Bewitched”?) and ask everyone what they did last week. Some folks, like Dan, laugh and say “absolutely nothing.” However, I know that’s not true – I remember that Dan headed up the delivery of a huge supply of mulch, which was put into service by scores of Rabbits with wheelbarrows. Perfect timing to cover the muddy paths between storms.
One of this week’s highlights was a piano recital featuring students of Amy “Meadoe” Carleton. The timing couldn’t have been better – the grand piano in our Community Building had just been beautifully tuned by Davie Kreuger (we highly recommend him!).
Four of Amy’s students played: Mariana, with characteristic humor, played the theme from Star Wars; Rae demonstrated her sophisticated side with “Alpine Melody;” Ewan rocked the house with his rendition of “Jingle Bells;” and Aurelia, channeling her inner Liberace, emoted her way through “Indian Song.”
Amy, a talented musician and teacher of voice, guitar and piano, still has a few openings for motivated students. If you’re local and interested in lessons contact us at the Milkweed Mercantile and we’ll get the message to her.
Jibran, Ma’ikwe’s son, was featured in an article on Shimer College, the school he attends in Chicago. Tiny and extremely non-traditional, Shimer was recently ranked “the worst college in the US” and British newspaper The Guardian came to find out why. Author Neil Gaiman tweeted about it, and a Shimer graduate wrote eloquently on how everything that makes Shimer “the worst” is precisely what makes it so fantastic.
We were all excited to hear from Sharon, who is in Malawi. For those not as familiar with African geography as they wish to be (like, embarrassingly, me…), Malawi is a small country in Southeast Africa, surrounded by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. Sharon is spending three months as a volunteer for the Kusamala Institute for Agriculture and Ecology.
Excited about being able to devote so much time to her passion for permaculture, Sharon is developing a very simple step-by-step “how to” permaculture manual for farmers. In her spare time she is working hard on learning Chichewa, the Malawi national language. We’re looking forward to her next update!
Back at home, on Saturday a number of tri-communitarians took a break from busy-ness and conversation and spent the day in silence. In addition to private contemplation, participants had several group meditation sessions, and a silent walk on DR’s land.
In contrast, and as an example of how diverse the interests in our extended community are, our neighbor Natalie celebrated her birthday with a Harry Potter marathon at La Casa (a cooperative community building). All eight movies were shown over two days. Folks came in and out, and some even got big projects done; Mica from Sandhill was able to weave two rugs over the course of the movie extravaganza.
In other news, Alex, Bri and Dmitri have returned from their Thanksgiving travels to visit family and Camphill Communities. It is nice to have their smiling faces back!
Josh “Bagels” is currently singing for his supper – literally. He brings his guitar and entertains cooks (and diners) before and after the meal. He is booked almost every evening and reviews are glowing. Unfortunately, I don’t think he travels beyond Dancing Rabbit for his performances.
Ultimate Frisbee games continue while the weather remains unseasonably warm – it is always a delight to see players returning from a game, cleats in hand and out of breath, with flushed cheeks and big smiles on their faces.
Work continues, too. Mae still has eggs for sale, the Mercantile is slinging pizza every Thursday (except Christmas Day!), and the Village Council meets (almost) every Sunday afternoon. Committee work is never-ending, as is chopping wood (thanks, Ben!).
But seed catalogs (aka “veggie porn”) are beginning to arrive, and gardeners are dreaming of next season, while enjoying the fruits of last summer’s labor. Next Sunday is the shortest day of the year; and so the cycle of the year begins again.
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Dancing Rabbit, Inc. is excited to announce a nationwide speaking tour by our Executive Director Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig. The message we want to spread is that people can live rich full lives on just 10% of the resources of the average American! Ma’ikwe’s TEDxCarleton talk has been quite popular, and we want to expand and spread its hopeful message all across the country.
We’re in the early stages of planning the tour and we’d love your help! We’re especially interested in connecting with universities and colleges, sustainability organizations, churches with Creation Care programs, and other intentional communities. Do you have connections with these kinds of organizations? Can you help organize a stop on the tour? If so, we invite you to contact Mariyam Medovaya, tour coordinator. As always, thanks for all you do to promote our work!
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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.