by Liz Hackney
Why did I decide to come to a visitor session at DR? To step off the merry-go-round of my life, to think about what was important to me, to try on a different way of living. And I longed to meet others who were living in community and living sustainably.
I came to DR with a heavy heart. I was leaving my partner of 34 years and my adult children were not thriving. Nothing was certain. I didn’t know where I was going to live and what my life going forward would look like.
My instinct was to seek a natural place with meaning and purpose, where I could somehow peel off the layers of stress and isolation that had accumulated over the years. It appealed to me as a newly single person to seek out the support of an intentional community and to take my place in the world as someone willing to be of service to it. I had a feeling of urgency about getting on with my new life and that the larger world needed my efforts. It was time to leave the familiar comforts of home and see what else was out in the wider world.
What was I looking for? Deep conversations about doing service work, getting my hands dirty building a straw bale house, walking on the prairie, eating healthy food in good company. I wanted to meet people who were actually walking their talk. I wanted to not be disappointed by something that looked good but didn’t deliver.
Within days of arriving, Dancing Rabbit began to work its magic. Even a wary urbanite like me found my heart opening. There are so many things at DR that are so fundamental to us as humans: the fellowship of eating together, opportunities to check in with one another, the inspiration of a common mission with others, being among people living their convictions. There is a quote from a Rabbit on the DR website about why people feel better after they’ve been at DR for a while. It’s about being seen for who you really are and how that brings out your best self.
And within those first few days of the visitor session some unwinding takes place. With time to talk, visitors start to find common threads in what they’re excited about at DR, why they want to come to DR, what they’re hoping to change about their lives for the better. I observed that people came to the visitor session saying they were sure they didn’t want to move to DR, that they were just there out of curiosity, and within days they were wistfully discussing how they could make the move. Body language relaxes, people smile at each other, topics of conversation deepen.
Each morning we came together for a check-in. Each day there were workshops on some aspect of life at DR, like land management, green building, sustainable energy usage, and car sharing, as well as going out into the community to observe or experience something in the village, like a tour of the green energy houses.
Visitors seem to settle in quickly at DR. I think this has to do with the welcoming people living here and the many social interactions built into everyday life (co-op kitchen eating, social hour 4-6 at the Mercantile every day, pizza night, and community potluck every Friday, to name a few) and that social relationships are a priority here. I also think the small scale of the place, of life here, helps visitors quickly find their place in it.
Liz Hackney is an acupuncturist and therapeutic chef from Berkeley, California, and soon to be Dancing Rabbit’s newest resident.