Hello friends! After a hiatus away from Rabbit-land I’m thankful to be enjoying 77 degree days in late October, and the company of friends, old and new.
Josi here, writing my views on this week at Dancing Rabbit; a viewpoint now closer to that of a visitor trying to construct a cohesive whole from brief glimpses of life on-farm.
The most poignant event of the week was one affecting Rabbits as well as millions of people around the world, an event capable of capturing your heart and mind and linking you to something much bigger than yourself.
I’m not talking about the birth of the NEMO Citizen’s Climate Lobby Chapter, or the weekend program presenting the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta, but something with even more universal appeal than either of those.
“Frozen”. Yes, the Disney movie. Even here at Dancing Rabbit, where modern American culture has less influence than most places, the impassioned voices of children singing the anthems of “Frozen” were a frequent event of the past week.
I’m pretty sure that every child from the tri-communities was gathered Friday night to watch a special screening in La Casa de Cultura. I snuck in before it started to photograph the girls dressed in their elaborate princess costumes, but refrained from staying for the viewing. (The boys, while there to watch, emphatically did NOT want to be in any pictures.)
Feeling I may have missed something important to this column in not watching the film, I was lucky enough to have a second viewing with Althea, Mae, Aurelia and Rae. Curious as to how this had taken little Rabbits by storm, I sought out Mae (who always has motherly wisdom to share, oftentimes turning my perceptions upside down) and learned that the tri-communities “Frozen” phenomenon took parents by surprise. It’s as simple as the sweet love of grandparents for their little princesses. From what I can tell, every girl here was introduced to the songs and stories of “Frozen” by family far away.
Thankful that Mae convinced me to watch, I got to experience the movie through the eyes and voices of the girls (spoiler alert, courtesy of Aurelia: “It gets a wee bit scary, but everything works out in the end”).
Given the popularity of “Frozen”, I wish I had some brilliant revelation to share with you about its transmission to children in this intentional community, but alas, it is only another piece of the puzzle I’m working on in my mind. A puzzle that can’t be completed for another 20 years, when the little pig-tails return from college and I finally get to see what kinds of adults grow out of childhoods spent in ecovillages and homesteading communities. I’ll let you know when I finally put the pieces together. I’m sure the answers will surprise us all.
I ponder their lives a lot, wishing I’d had that kind of childhood, watching for clues as to how it will shape them as adults and how they will shape the world they inherit. I tried to equate “Frozen” with “Aladdin”, the most moving Disney movie of my childhood, but just can’t. Have things really changed that much in a quarter century?
In other Dancing Rabbit news, the FIC (Fellowship for Intentional Communities) Board meeting took place in downstairs Skyhouse last weekend. Representatives from all around the world attended, several of them via internet, as the FIC was doing inter-organizational collaboration with several other groups, including the Canadian and American branches of GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) as well as NextGEN (GEN’s youth caucus).
It’s hard to convey how inspirational it was to brew my morning coffee and get to overhear leaders of these groups discussing the future of their organizations. I may err slightly in my assertion of DR being the epicenter of intentional community, but from where I stood this week, it rang true.
In other news, new roads are nearing completion on the northern edges of the village, and landscapes I’ve learned to traverse by starlight have been transformed into infrastructure better suited for development of the built environment. It’s amazing the difference a culvert can make!
Seeing fields change to accommodate development here at DR isn’t as sad to me as watching the same activities transform the suburban fringe of St. Louis; at least here I know that painstaking process took place before the laying of new roads, planning that will allow for a supportable expansion of the human footprint created by this ecovillage. Over plates of vegetable soup, Bear related how much attitudes have shifted to accept this expansion. He also reassured me that the gravel was as local as possible, coming from Edina, only 16 miles to the south.
Speaking of local, a quote by Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, has been much on my mind: “Local is the distance the heart can travel.” Despite living three hours to the south, DR is still my local.
I save my organic staples shopping trips for when I’m in Rutledge and can visit the mecca that is Zimmerman’s. This Mennonite general store is my destination for replenishing everything from organic coconut oil to neem toothpaste and mason jars. I also frequently carry fresh eggs and meat – raised by friends in the tri-communities – to gift to friends in St. Louis.
Maybe this column is less about what happens at DR and more about what flows through the village, connecting with the rest of the world: popular culture capturing young hearts and voices, environmental activism birthing new chapters of citizen’s groups, humane food making its way to St. Louis dinner tables, philosophical teaching studied in India and shared at DR.
All of these things are made possible in new ways by the love of a community that practices what it preaches, giving me a framework for personal sustainability in any place I call home. Ultimately, that is why our world needs more ecovillages: this cooperative culture, experimenting as it grows, provides a model for living in harmony no matter where you reside.
No longer being able to call DR home has given deeper meaning to the elusive truth that personal sustainability is a worthwhile goal wherever you practice it. I’m thankful for a new perspective of the little lights we can all ignite, lights that can benefit from having a place like DR that shines as such a bright example.
So many Rabbits I’ve come to know are now scattered far afield, from Berkeley to Bay, Arkansas, to Manhattan; Rabbits whose paths, like mine, have led away from DR. But those paths are lit by the lights of community and the lessons learned while immersed in this expression of cooperative culture.
Living in community can awaken a desire to be of service on a scale previously unconsidered. Sometimes, as I’ve found now, one must leave community to find the path one is best suited for. I’m thankful my path includes continually returning to Dancing Rabbit, and the people who daily live the values I find so inspiring.
I didn’t have a chance to get to know many of the visitors who came and went this season, but I see them through the eyes of others. So many amazing people who have sought out the life and lessons embodied at Dancing Rabbit, some returning to faraway homes with a new perspective on living, and some choosing to remain and begin a new chapter of life as a Rabbit.
If you’ve always wanted to experience for yourself the village written about in this column, consider a 2015 sojourn to northeastern Missouri. There’s something of value here for everyone, and perhaps the greatest lessons are those that are carried out of the ecovillage and into mainstream culture.
Whether the community that grounds you is an intentional one on the scale of Dancing Rabbit, or a more spontaneous expression in a larger city, I hope this little slice of life here leads you to discover what is local for your heart, and how you can grow and be of service in exactly the space you find yourself now.
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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.