Dancing Rabbit FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

in approximate order of how frequently asked

Q: Are you a cult?

Q: Are you a commune?

Q: Do I have to be vegan or vegetarian to live at Dancing Rabbit?

Q: Do I have to give up my car if I move to Dancing Rabbit?

Q: How much does it cost to live at Dancing Rabbit?

Q: How can Dancing Rabbit be a sustainable village if it accepts donations?

Q: How do folks support themselves financially?

Q: If I decide to move to Dancing Rabbit, what can I do for housing? How about leasing land?

Q: Are there families with children living at Dancing Rabbit? What do the kids do for schooling?

Q: Can older adults join Dancing Rabbit?

Q: What does the community do for health care?

Q: Does the community share certain religious/spiritual beliefs?

Q: Can I bring my dog/cat if I move to Dancing Rabbit?

Q: How did you convert the Grain Bin into a living space?

Q: What do you do for fun?


 

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“Circle up!” We usually hold hands in a circle before our weekly potlucks, to share announcements, a moment of silence and a song before digging in! Photo by Angela Neese.

Q: Are you a cult?

A: No. People tend to be concerned about four main things when they think about cults: being forced to believe in something (brainwashing), having to unquestioningly follow a leader, being coerced into staying in a situation that feels unsafe or unhealthy, and being coerced into giving the cult their money. None of these are true about Dancing Rabbit.

We do not share or require common religious or spiritual beliefs, and are not in fact required to believe anything at all, so long as we agree to abide by the Sustainability Covenants, the Sustainability Guidelines, and the Membership Agreement (or Residency Agreement), all of which are behavior based, not belief based.

We have no single leader, but share leadership in many areas, and are governed by a democratically-elected Village Council which makes decisions by consensus.

Membership at Dancing Rabbit is completely voluntary; people are free to leave at any time for any reason. No one is ever coerced into staying (though if we really like them we might give them chocolate cake in hopes that they don’t go), nor are they shunned or punished in any way for leaving.

Finally, we are not asked or required to give DR all our money. We do pay fees for using co-ops, leasing land, and other services we use, and we do donate 2% of our income as dues once we become Members.

Find more information about the common characteristics of cults here.

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Q: Are you a commune? (Sometimes phrased as: I don’t want to share money, can I still live there?)

A: In spite of the many stereotypes attached to the word commune, all it really means is a group of people who share income and have egalitarian decision-making. While we tend to share a great deal, it is not required, and we do not share income as a full group; thus, Dancing Rabbit is not a commune. (Some subgroups at Dancing Rabbit are, however, so if that is the life you are looking for, you can explore this!)

We also do not guarantee work, housing, food, etc. for our members, which most communes do. Each Rabbit is responsible for figuring out how to meet their needs here.

We are, however, extremely co-operative folk in general, as we have found that sharing tends to build community and reduce resource use, both of which are crucial to our mission.

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Q: Do I have to be vegan or vegetarian to live at Dancing Rabbit? How vegan/vegetarian friendly is DR?

A: While many Rabbits consider dietary choices a key part of living sustainably, DR does not dictate what we eat. We have vegan, vegetarian and omnivore members and residents, and we have a community culture that generally supports people in their food choices (community potlucks often have several vegan options and care is taken to alert people about allergens and other food issues).

Rabbits are responsible for meeting their own food needs, and do so in a number of ways. Many participate in kitchen co-ops, each of which has its own guidelines, preferences, and willingness to meet various dietary choices and needs. Some individuals and families also choose to eat on their own, in which case they also decide for themselves what food choices to make. Other food choices many Rabbits weigh include hyperlocal (from the tri-communities or similarly nearby), local, and/or organic.

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Q: Do I have to give up my car if I move to Dancing Rabbit?

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The all-electric LEAF, a recent addition to the Dancing Rabbit Vehicle Co-op fleet. Photo by Tony Sirna.


A: Yes. All Members must abide by the applicable Ecological Covenant: “Dancing Rabbit members will not use personal motorized vehicles, or store them on Dancing Rabbit property.” Residents are expected to abide by this covenant as well, with some exceptions made for transitioning to DR. We have a vehicle co-op that all Rabbits may join and is how most of us meet our vehicle needs. In general we maximize ridesharing and cooperating (for example by doing errands for other people when we have to go to town) in order to minimize car travel. Biking and walking are also highly utilized forms of transport.

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Q: How much does it cost to live at Dancing Rabbit?

A: The cost of living at Dancing Rabbit varies widely based on your choices. Which co-ops you join, what you eat and with whom, and where you choose to live all impact costs. Other factors include whether or not you have children, or pre-existing debt, and how much you travel. There are so many variables that it is hard to say what the average annual costs are. In general living costs are lower than in most large cities, but wages tend to be lower as well.

A ballpark estimate, for a single adult living an “average” Dancing Rabbit lifestyle, is $5,000-$10,000 annually. For more information, you can check out our cost of living page.

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Q: How can Dancing Rabbit be a sustainable village if it accepts donations?

A: There are two parts to this answer. First off, the financial donations we receive only go towards our educational programs and research, which helps expand the influence we can have on the larger culture. The village of Dancing Rabbit does not use these donations. Rather our non-profit arm, Dancing Rabbit Inc., uses donations to enhance how we share what we are doing and to influence the global community through example, education, and research.

Secondly, we make a careful distinction between sustainable and self-sufficient, because we are not aspiring to be a self-sufficient village, producing 100% of our own food or operating as a fully self-contained economy.  We are creating a society which allows and encourages its members to live sustainably. And, we do see the journey to sustainability as a continuum: we are striving for the radical end of the spectrum, getting closer all the time, and yet there’s always more improvements and adjustments we can make to get closer to that goal.  You can check out the definition of sustainability we use on our mission statement page.

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Q: How do folks support themselves financially?

A: Like in any other small town, individuals are responsible for meeting their financial needs themselves, and do so in a variety of ways. Many people piece together a number of different kinds of work, rather than having one traditional full-time “job.” A sampling of ways people have made money here:

    • telecommuting, internet-based jobs, or over-the-phone work (such as coaching, teaching, consulting, or counseling)
    • starting a small businesses, for example the Milkweed Mercantile and Ecovillage Education US, both of which also employ other villagers, and the Grocery Store bulk food ordering service
    • “commuting” on Amtrak, spending part of the time working away from home as consultants or teachers
    • midwifery, natural building, organic inspections, substitute teaching, massage therapy, chiropractic, surveying, nursing, cheesemaking, yogurt making, teaching, tutoring, baking, market gardening, and childcare
    • working for our local nonprofits, Dancing Rabbit Inc (DR’s nonprofit outreach and education arm) and the Fellowship for Intentional Community
    • doing work that is creditable toward the fees of living here, like mulching common paths and chopping firewood for the Common House

Some Rabbits also have income from disability, retirement, trust funds, or savings from before they moved to DR that they use to support themselves.

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Q: If I decide to move to Dancing Rabbit, what can I do for housing? How about leasing land?

A: Once you have been accepted as a resident of Dancing Rabbit, you can either choose to rent, if rental housing is available, or camp (until winter). Housing options vary as folks move here and move away.  Once you apply and are accepted for membership (which can happen after 6 months of residency) you would then be able to purchase a house or lease a warren (our term for a leasehold) on which a house could be built.  Members do not buy land from Dancing Rabbit, rather we lease a warren (plot of land) from the Dancing Rabbit Land Trust at a certain rate per month.

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Q: Are there families with children living at Dancing Rabbit? What do the kids do for schooling?

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One of many superhero kids at Dancing Rabbit.

A: Why yes! As of 2014 there are about 20 kids at DR and in the nearby communities.  What they do for education is the choice of the parents and children themselves, based on available options. Some of the school-age children attend the public school in Memphis, MO (about 12 miles away), some are homeschooled by their parents, and some are part of a “homeschooling cooperative” that began in 2013. As the kids grow older and more families move to the area we think it’s likely that even more alternative/collaborative schooling efforts will emerge.

Kids may be taught by their parents, and also sometimes by other community members, such familiar subjects as reading, science, and math, as well as less traditional subjects like gardening, plant identification, woodworking, Chinese, and much more.  There is no formal day care here right now, as there is not enough demand, though one member offers a “preschool/daycare” experience one morning each week. Many families have cooperative childcare arrangements, where those involved take turns hosting each others’ children.

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Q: Can older adults join Dancing Rabbit?

A: Dancing Rabbit is definitely open to older adults joining the community. Many here acknowledge the importance of age diversity and believe that intergenerational relationships make for a stronger, healthier community.  As of early 2014, we have four residents in their sixties, four in their fifties, and a handful in their late forties.

It is good to note that our community has been in the “pioneer” stage for many years, and can still be quite physically demanding.  We continue to add infrastructure over time, which makes living here less daunting all the time. There are more living spaces, more pathways, more kitchen/eating options, more food grown on the land. We look forward to exploring issues for older folks in more depth as more older folk join us, and as we all join that category in time.

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Q: What does the community do for health care?

A: Like in so many other areas, folks at Dancing Rabbit make many different choices around health care. Some choose to provide as much of their health care at home as possible. This can include preventative options like a healthy diet, exercise, meditation, massage, supplements, etc. Some add alternative treatments such as herbs, acupuncture, or other non-western healing modalities. Some also choose to use mainstream approaches, including medical doctors (in our area most are osteopaths) and hospitals located as nearby as Memphis (12 miles) and Kirksville (35 miles). We also have midwives, a nurse, and a number of alternative healers living in the local communities who offer their services.

Some Rabbits are on Medicaid or Medicare, some pay for private health insurance, and some go without insurance (Missouri chose to not participate in the Medicaid expansion, and therefore some people aren’t covered by the Affordable Care Act).

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Q: Does the community share certain religious/spiritual beliefs?

A: No. Many different faiths, beliefs, and practices are represented here, and it is generally a supportive environment for spiritual and personal growth practices. We also have people who do not identify as religious or spiritual at all. As a community, we neither prohibit nor require any spiritual or religious practices or beliefs of our residents.

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One of a number of “free-roaming” dogs at DR, Thor is humorously enough frightened of thunder.

Q: Can I bring my dog/cat if I move to Dancing Rabbit?

A: Both dogs and cats live at Dancing Rabbit. We do not allow first time visitors to bring pets, so you will have to make other arrangements for that time period. If you decide to pursue residency you should get in touch with the Pet Committee to find out more about our pet policy and to get your pet started in the pet membership process.

We do not currently have a limit on how many cats can live here, but outdoor cats who hunt must be kept inside for 3 months of the year to protect ground-nesting birds during their nesting season in the spring.

We do have a limit on how many dogs can live here at a given time, due to their potential for pack behavior and their higher impact on the community.

Some well-behaved dogs are free-roaming and others are kept on leash.

All of these policies have been discussed and well thought out over a long period of time in order to meet the needs of all community members, both pet-lovers and those who would prefer DR not allow any pets. This is one of many areas where it is important to remember that someone can be a very good person and yet have an opinion on a topic that is diametrically opposed to your own. Respect and compromise go a long way toward making community work in these areas.

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Q: How did you convert the Grain Bin into a living space?

A: Why, we wrote a whole newsletter article about this!

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Q: What do you do for fun?

A: What? We’re saving the world; we don’t have time to have fun. Just kidding! Like so much else at DR, we mostly make our own fun.

Folks spend their free time in vastly different ways. There are potlucks and celebrations and slideshows about trips we’ve taken, dances and yoga and game nights and chess matches, not to mention song circle, singalongs and open-mic nights.

Spending time with friends, just visiting and talking, is popular, as is playing music or singing together. There’s also Pizza Night at the Milkweed Mercantile every Thursday, as well as regular times when the cafe is open serving drinks (and sometimes dessert); hanging out there is a great way to unwind and connect with each other.

Lots of Rabbits go for walks on the 240 acres of our land outside the village proper. In the summer, many spend their free time at the pond, to get relief from the heat in the cool water, or to play water polo or other games.  In winter, people sled, cross-country ski, ice skate, and play broomball and hockey on the frozen ponds. We also have a strong contingent of Ultimate Frisbee players. Riding bikes is not only a recreational activity, but for many a primary mode of travel. In short, we make our own fun, in lots of different ways.

One nice thing is that we don’t have to drive or take transit to do this—so many friends live within walking distance—and it’s easy to make something happen at DR if you want a new kind of event. Our dance hall is frequently booked for traveling singer/songwriters, dance weekends (yes, we do like to dance!), and workshops on all manner of fascinating topics presented by both ecovillagers and visiting experts from around the country.

Many of us also enjoy getting a group together and taking one of the co-op cars to Memphis or Kirksville for a movie, play, basketball game, or concert. And of course many of us travel farther afield to visit family and friends, and for the kinds of fun we can’t find here or bring to us.

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