Many folks ask us what it costs to live at Dancing Rabbit and how much work is expected of them as members. It’s not a simple question to answer since everyone’s needs are different and people’s situations vary so much.People can work in various ways in exchange for ELMS, our alternative currency. Our hours are valued starting at $9.50/hour which sets a sort of minimum wage. Not all work is paid, as some is still done as volunteer labor. It’s important to realize that you cannot necessarily count on there being 40 hours of work per week available for you to do; in fact, you can’t count on there even being 20 hours of work per week available. If you’re considering moving to Dancing Rabbit, it would be much to your advantage to give serious thought as to what skills you have that might be economically viable in a rural setting, or skills that would allow you to find work online. Since Dancing Rabbit is not an income-sharing community and we have no community business, there will not necessarily be work that you can just plug into. Besides the dollar or ELM costs of living at Dancing Rabbit, there are also time commitments to consider. When budgeting your time, count on the following:
• Meetings—Group meetings range from 1 hour each week, where only basic recurring tasks are handled, to 3 hours in length, when community related agenda topics are discussed. Participation is not required but is strongly encouraged.
• Committees—Members are expected to serve on at least one standing and one ad-hoc committee. How much time you spend in committee meetings really depends on how many and what kind of committees your choose to serve on. One hour a month is probably the very minimum you could expect, many members spend much more time.
• Clean shift—All members are part of a ‘clean team’ and once every four weeks or five weeks are expected to spend up to two hours cleaning the community building or other community property.
• Cook shift—If you’re a member of a food co-op, you’ll likely take on responsibility for cooking for your co-op about once per week. A cook shift can take an average of four hours. Likely you’ll have to clean the kitchen occasionally, too, to the tune of about two hours per month.
• Chores—Some chores that serve the whole community are done on a rotational basis. When your turn comes up you are expected to watch until the chore needs to be done, then do the chore and inform the next person on the rotation that it is their turn. Additionally once or twice a year we have a land clean day during which everyone is expected to spend half the day cleaning public outdoor spaces. Non-members of the Humanure Co-op are expected to perform one humey bucket clean shift per year to support visitors to the community.
• Retreat—Once a year the full group gets together to spend anywhere from three days to a week in a number of closely spaced meetings to help us reach consensus on items too big to be handled at Sunday meetings. We also set our priorities for the year and assign year-long responsibilities to members. Participation at the retreat is expected. People’s participation in this varies a fair amount some folks only show up for topics that most concern them, while other folks come to every topic and go even further by helping to plan, run, and record the meetings. Members also frequently spend time before the retreat ‘pre-processing’ discussing in small informal groups the upcoming topic to uncover the underlying issues and find solutions that would meet everyone’s needs.
The following table gives the various costs required of folks living here and also lists a number of optional costs. To get a realistic idea of what your costs might be will require your making choices from the tables according to the lifestyle you choose to live. Lifestyles vary too much for us to be able to estimate what your costs will be. Many of these expenses are co-op fees. Read more about the co-ops at Dancing Rabbit. Required costs and fees are marked with a *.
|Expense||Dollars per month|
|*VCC Village Commons Co-op (can be partially paid with labor)||$50.17|
|*DR Dues (only for DR members)||$5.00 minimum|
|DRLT Lease Fees (For people renting tent platforms or for DR members who are leasing land. Cost given is based on 2,500 sq.ft leasehold; your lease size may vary)||$25.00|
|The above three costs are kind of like neighborhood association fees. For this you get the benefits of living in community as well as use of roads, paths, a common house, and access to DRLT land for nature walks.|
|Rent and Utilities||Dollars per month|
|Rent (estimated, and assuming there is a place for rent)||$200|
|Electricity (for a single person’s small home)||$20|
|Howling Coyote Phone Co-op (not including long distance)||$12.69|
|There is a lot variation in how folks choose to meet the above kinds of needs. You can belong to co-ops for phone, internet, showers and toilet services, or you can provide your own or go without. Electricity, if desired, can be provided via an off-grid system.|
|Other Expenses||Dollars per month|
|DRVC Vehicle Co-op mileage (Vehicles costs are based on mileage driven. Vehicle rates are $.62 per mile ($.80 per mile for the truck). Cost given is based on 25 miles a week; your mileage may vary)||$50|
|Kitchen Co-op (includes kitchen rent & utilities)||up to $240|
|Common House Kitchen (if you choose to eat on your own instead of joining a food coop)||$65.11|
VCC (Village Commons Co-op)
This is kind of a catch all co-op that covers expenses on things such as roads, paths, fences, cleaning supplies, recycling, waste disposal, etc.
DR Inc. Dues
DR members pay 2% of income as dues. This is due on the first of each quarter for income from the previous three months. Minimum is $15/quarter. Residents do not owe DR inc. dues.
DRLT lease fees (Dancing Rabbit Land Trust)
To have your own home or garden here you need to lease land from the land trust. Residential use goes for $.01 per square foot per month, garden use is $.001 per square foot per month, agricultural rate is $.0001 per square foot per month. If you rent a house or a room here this fee is usually covered as part of your rent. A tent-camping spot is $5.00 per month.
Sometimes residences are available to rent here. Rents do vary so this figure is very much a guess as to what you would pay.
The Humanure Co-op provides composting toilets for use by members, guests, and visitors to the community. Two toilets are located in the Common House and four seats are provided in the outhouse. Co-op users pay a fee and are required to participate in the rotating chore of dumping and cleaning the buckets. Some folks use their own toilets and only use the co-op’s sawdust and composting bins. The charge for this type of use is $14.00/year and they don’t participate in the dumping and cleaning rotation.
The Village-wide power cooperative called Better Energy for Dancing Rabbit or BEDR (pronounced “better”), was authorized by the community to connect to the mainstream utility grid as long as it committed to exporting twice as much renewable power to the grid as it consumed. This allows BEDR to utilize the grid as if it were a large battery bank and thus avoid the expense and environmental impact of battery systems. This system goes beyond net-zero to have a positive energy balance and impact on the world. Currently BEDR is $700 to hook up and $300 refundable deposit and electricity is $.37 per kilowatt.
The CASA Co-op rents La Casa De Cultura. Members have unlimited access to the space and are able to sponsor events there.
DRVC Dancing Rabbit Vehicle Co-op
One of Dancing Rabbit’s covenants is that members and residents will not use personal vehicles or store them on DR property, so if you want to use a car, you will need to join DRVC. DRVC trips cost $.62-.80 per mile.