Amy with cat
Amy with Nemo

Ahhh… another busy day ends in beautiful rural Missouri. Back on the East Coast, it seemed like only half of these stars were visible in the night sky. The countryside is constantly giving me an ever-changing show of natural wonders. Sometimes, I find myself just gazing up at the clouds in awe of just how much sky there is out here.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Amy and a happy member of Dancing Rabbit. I came for a visit during April 2004 and liked what I saw so much that I went back East, packed up my two kittens and moved out here. On July 1st 2004, I became both a full-fledged Rabbit and a member of Skyhouse. Sure, it was a bit chaotic, but I like to follow my heart, and my instincts told me that this was the community I’d been seeking.

I was born and raised in New Jersey where I lived almost my entire pre-DR life, with the exceptions being two years at a suburban Philadelphia college and two years living in Boston. College was full of a sense of community, but Boston was another matter. I had taken a full-time job doing graphic design for PricewaterhouseCoopers and felt extremely isolated there. It’s hard to find kinship with anyone other than one’s coworkers while working overnight shifts for Corporate America.

Eventually, I transferred my PwC job south and moved back to Jersey, all the while looking for something more. I wasn’t quite sure what my life was missing. After all, I had moved back to my friends and family, so I thought I had enough companionship. To balance out my corporate stress, I was taking yoga and whole-foods cooking classes while coordinating a group of friends to try a new local restaurant each month. Socially, I felt satisfied. I came to the conclusion that any unhappiness in my life had to be because of my job, so I quit and took a graphic design position at Comcast-Spectacor, an entertainment company in Philadelphia. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was totally dissatisfied with trying to balance my lifestyle with the working world.

Amy with feet
Amy: shoe-free and loving it!

I don’t remember where I first read about intentional communities, but most likely it was during an internet search to see if any of the hippie communities from the 60’s were still in existence. Being a peacenik, I had always felt like I was born 30 years too late, so once aware of the communities movement, I spent a lot of time researching all the different types of communities. The more I read about life in these places, the more I wanted to live there. Finally, it seemed possible to live in a group dedicated to the greater good of the world. Now I simply had to find the right one.

I had quite a list of what I required of my future community. Not only did it have to be environmentally savvy, but also include income sharing, an organic, locally-grown vegan diet, consensus decision-making, and no animal agriculture. I found many communities with some or most of them, but it took a long time to find one that met all my requirements.

Skyhouse was, in fact, the only one. It turns out, not only did they have everything I wanted for my future home, they even had a job I could plug into. Many of the community members work together as Skyhouse Consulting, and I found I could join in doing my design work. Plus, Skyhouse had the added advantage of being part of a larger community, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

It seemed too good to be true. Overwhelmed with excitement, I sent off an e-mail. When Cecil called me in reply, I was ecstatic! He patiently answered all my questions and arranged for me to visit. Skyhouse and Dancing Rabbit were looking perfect on paper; now I had to meet the people to be sure it truly was right for me.

From the moment I arrived, DR felt like home. The people here are some of the most amazing I’ve ever met–the perfect blend of hard-working, intelligent, compassionate and fun. As someone who has never really found a group of people who share my interests, it was wonderful to come to a place where everyone understands and accepts me. For example, it’s nice that I don’t have to explain to every person I meet why I don’t eat animal products even if the choose to do so themselves.

Before moving to DR, I had lived in harmony with the environment as much as the average suburbanite–which is to say, not much. I knew I wasn’t doing everything I could to reduce my impact on our planet, and felt I just didn’t have the knowledge, resources or support to live a “greener” lifestyle. Dancing Rabbit has taught me so much more about sustainable living than I could ever have learned on my own; and it’s deeply rewarding to know I am finally doing my part to contribute to the well-being of the world.

Since my arrival I’ve been learning many new things, from food canning and preservation to natural home construction. I’ve picked strawberries from our garden, stomped sand, clay and straw into earthen plaster for various parts of the Skyhouse building itself, and cooked meals for potlucks at Sandhill, a neighboring community–all the while enjoying the company of my new community family.

I love experiencing life here as each season turns into the next. Each year, as the leaves are falling and the air is growing crisp I look forward to eating all of the delicious foods I helped preserve. Spring comes and along with it, many visitors and new faces. Then, summer’s abundance keeps us busy with sunny days and flourishing gardens. Living close to the Earth’s cycles is far from boring!

At Dancing Rabbit no day is the same as the last, and for that my heart is lighter than it’s ever been. What a relief to be out of the rat race! I still do design work, but no more overnight shifts. In fact, the work isn’t even where I’m getting most of my satisfaction. Rather, I find it comes when holding the hands of my fellow Rabbits at our community dinners and knowing that I’m finally where I belong.

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