Merry (forthcoming) Christmas and Happy Holidays from Lucas, at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage!!
I’m pleased to be back writing to each and every one of you after an exceptionally busy warm season, a season I now find myself missing (and anticipating) as I look outside and shiver. This cold is for the birds. Penguins, specifically.
Every fall I find myself anticipating a break over the cold months that never quite seems to manifest—much like the busy lifestyle I had prior to joining this community. However, I also find my attitude towards it quite different than before; I feel more positive about what I’m helping to create with and for others. I feel great about living a self-directed, more rugged, less materialistic life. I feel more compassion and grace from my neighbors. These are the thoughts that warm my soul, but, admittedly, not my face, fingers, or toes.
A fair trade, I think, all things considered.
And I’m in good company here. Even as I cringe at the encroaching cold, I watch my friends and neighbors hustling over the ice and snow. They’re hauling firewood and water, wiping snow off the community solar panels, and even stopping to chat with each other as the flurries bounce off their eyeballs. Buddy, we can take that conversation inside—I’m no penguin and, no, I would not like to learn to be one. For. The. Birds.
As I cook a meal in the (thankfully warm) Common House kitchen, I absorb the cheer and goodwill of the Winter Seasonal Sing-a-Long crew, singing the songs of the season in the Great Room adjacent to me. I’m no singer myself, but I’m glad that there are those who do, and that they have a place to come together to share that internal happiness in such a boisterous, joyous way. It’s one of the byproducts of community living that I’ve not seen much of elsewhere; a distinguishing quality that, when combined with so many other “little things”, makes this life worth living.
I’m a fan of research, and I’m glad to see Dancing Rabbit continuing to draw in and inspire both student and professional studies. I was delighted to meet Anna, an International Relations major at Carleton College, who has been staying with us for the last few weeks developing her thesis on “how people in alternative communities like Dancing Rabbit engage with the market, and the effect the engagement has on [our] lives”—the goal being “to see if the ideas of Dancing Rabbit and communities like it can increase equality and sustainability worldwide.” Many of us volunteered for in-depth interviews with her on the subject, and it’s been a delight to contribute those data points. I’ll be excited to see what comes of it.
My partner, Brooke, has been here for the last three years, with a focus on better assessing our resource usage and waste footprint, completing her Masters’ thesis last year and continuing her work into 2017. I’m a fan of having hard data to back up claims, and I believe one of our big translational barriers to be a lack of empirical evidence. Those of us who have lived or visited this place know that we have sharply reduced our carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependence, but by how much, and in what ways? And are those ways actually beneficial to the local environment and people? As always, more information is better. But in my view, as it currently stands, the research that’s been done here indicates a resounding YES. I suspect that as more studies are completed and assessed, the contrast will become more striking and clear.
After almost a year of weekly meetings, the Milkweed Mercantile, our on-farm Bed and Breakfast, is preparing to shift to a worker-owned cooperative business model! Alline and Kurt, the visionaries behind its original inception and operation, have long wanted to shift to a more cooperative structure and now, with a board of 10 community members, we’re ready to make it official in January! We’ve already been able to expand our (I’m on the Board of Directors) hours of operation, offer more goods and merchandise, and host more events than ever before.
Just in the last few weeks, the Mercantile has hosted a couple Christmas parties, multiple “movie nights” showing the National Geographic series “Years of Living Dangerously”, and even a local craft fair full of honest, handmade, local goods and confectionery delights. I was particularly impressed with our on-site poet, sporting an exceptionally charming talent and typewriter. Aside from slapping ourselves with evergreens, I could not imagine a more festive atmosphere. I’m anxious to see how our example of cooperative business performs over the coming years! Perhaps someone will come and study it too, one day.
Have a wonderful week, folks, and we hope you’ll come in person if you find yourself curious about what we’re doing and how we get it done. I believe it’s very good, very important work that will yield progressively more over the coming years. I, for one, am honored to be a part of it. Semper Fidelis.
Dancing Rabbit’s non-profit arm is in the midst of our end-of-year appeal, when we ask for donations to support the work we do. If you’ve already donated, thank you! If not, and you enjoy receiving these updates and want to support us, please donate now!
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 (dancingrabbiticorg) .