State of the Village 2016

State of the Village 2016

by sambucus holleraway*

[Editor’s Note: Most years the Village’s Oversight Team offers an in-person State of the Village report to Rabbits, and this year they presented it at the annual on-farm meeting of our Board of Directors. They very kindly agreed to write up the following to share the info with you, our readers, as well…]

Dancing Rabbit’s human population is around 36 adults and nine children. These numbers are down from previous years, but that’s just how this roller-coaster rolls.We are so glad for the many new folks who arrived in 2016 to help us build our dream! In February, a great cry was heard from up on Critterhill and we all marveled at the arrival of Arthur Osage, who is a real charmer and already walking with his feet.

Alas, it was also a heart-breaking year for goodbyes, as our dear friend Dennis pedaled away into the hereafter. We will miss his wisdom, gentle and skillful ways, and of course his humor. We wheelie wheelie do. (Anyone spending time in Atlanta, where Dennis was a bike advocate for many years, should check out the bike lane on Peachtree named after him.)

There are seven adults and four children queued up to start residency here in the next six months. With a few homes on the market and numerous rooms for let, plenty of housing is available for newcomers, or bobcats and badgers, if the door is left open.

It was a very mild spring, followed by a dry June and average summer weather. Then came a protracted, warm and dry Fall, which all added up to a solid growing season. Perhaps you’ve heard about all the turnips? Also, the garden in front of the Outdoor Kitchen (née “The Herb Garden”) hasn’t looked so delicious in ages… many thanks to the green thumbs who have reinvigorated this fertile ground!

It was a good year for apples and small fruits: the berries were most excellent. The pear trees about the village have been struggling with a plague of fireblight and we’ve had to remove a number of them, replanting with other species and more blight-resistant varieties. And finally we are getting some persimmons up in here. They are heavenly and perhaps in 20 more years we’ll have such a bounty as to pucker the world.

Two long-time dog friends, Isis and Judy, passed away in 2016. May they compost in peace. Shout out to Sir Henry Royce von Dinkleton, who was getting way too agro at certain people and so now lives peaceably somewheres in Wisconsin.

The cadre of kids held multiple anti-Trump rallies and also wrote powerful letters to the editor in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline and in defense of clean water. They then received a response signed cryptically “DT” that read, “Wrong!”. But we actually know that the kids are all right.

2016 found us sorting through a heap of village-governance challenges. Topics have included: a guest policy, gender balance, absentee landlords, membership revocation, covenant compliance, and finding adequate staffing and energy for tasks and committees. We’ve faced some wrenchingly difficult decisions and can see yet more pacing restlessly at the agenda door. Hopefully this winter will bring some much-needed chill… like what’s a little hot mess when the whole world is burning?
A walk along the path reveals numerous changes to the built environment: a beauty of a new round house by Hassan has swirled up in the Crooked Root neighborhood; Oliver got some chops on a resourceful “dwelling shed” in preparation for building his eco-dream home; Thomas finally got on with it and raised a workshop building that appropriately dwarfs his house; and porches, sheds, coops and other outbuildings too various to mention have sprung up like so many of the chanterelles our neighbor kindly brought by this summer.

Chinese zodiac says 2016 was year of the monkey, but around here it felt more like year of the pig. Esmerelda the magnificent has farrowed two litters of piglets down in the Critter barn. Reportedly they are all quite personable, and for those who appreciate such things, also very tasty.

The Milkweed Mercantile crew put in long hours to chart its way and set sail as a member- and worker-owned cooperative! Pick up the microphone NEMO, because the word around the scuttlebutt is that some serious karaoke is almost here!

In other co-op news: there’s a fun and educational homeschool co-op in the tri-communities; a bunch of folks are now sharing in the goats with chores and milk etc., producing something like 200+ pounds of cheese in the season; ambitious gardeners formed a “grow-op” for the mutually beneficial production of mass quantities of vegetables; our local currency system, ELMS, did just under 1 million dollars in annual transaction volume; and the vehicle co-op got a new truck whose engine has created a bit of a pickle by saying “hell no” to our customary bio-diesel fuel.

Hopefully that gives you a decent sense of where we’ve been in 2016. In the upcoming year, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage will be 20 years old!!! Does that mean a transition to adulthood for the project? Please stay tuned, take care, and keep in touch as the story continues…


*(aka Thomas)