My “Prehistory” and Childhood

Ma'ikwe Ludwig Schaub


Once upon a time, the train lines had guys who stood outside, come  rain,  snow, sun or large metallic objects and waved their arms to  signal the trains  whether the could come on or stop or switch tracks,  etc. One of those guys was  a lad named Richard who was wickedly bright  and loved language. Eventually,  Richard—ever loyal to the trains and  train people—worked his way up to being  the editor of the country’s  biggest union newspaper and became one of those  crazy “American success stories”.In another part of the country, a guy named Fred was working his way through  medical school. His sister had died in a ridiculously  preventable gun accident  when he was a teenager and it inspired him  into a life of service. He already  liked science and had taken up bird  banding at a young age. That hobby would  be handed down to both his  sons, and in turn to their children, along with the  service ethic.

These two guys were my grandfathers, and there are days when I see  myself more  clearly than anything else as their granddaughter.I was raised by their children: a clay artist with solid working  class  notions about the world and an idealistic ecologist who actually  did save a  small corner of the world by being his father’s meticulously careful scientist  son. My childhood was an odd mix of typical college  prep-ness, strands of  self-sufficiency training and a biology lab. I  followed my dad around, banding  birds, camping and playing field  assistant, and my best, longest standing  friend was/is my mom. I was the  only girl in my generation on either side of the  family, and I  basically shunned domesticity in favor of playing football with  the  guys and contemplating what big important stuff I was going to get to do  with my life.

Major Themes as an Adult

I ended up at Dancing Rabbit through the convergence of three themes in my  life: sustainability activism/teaching, community living and spirituality.

Sustainability: At the age of 20, I dropped out of college to take my  first professional eco-activist job, as the assistant canvass director  for one of the PIRGs. It was a big fat lesson in burnout and I discovered I don’t have the stomach for confrontational, enemy-making  politics… but I never did manage to get the  activist bug out of my  system.  I leaned into education instead and have  almost always since  then been involved in some kind of teaching.

Spiritual and Personal Growth: At 24, after years of searching for a way to express my deeply-felt spirituality in a way that would satisfy a natural scientist’s  daughter’s brain, I was blessed with stumbling upon a course called  Avatar and starting,  in earnest, my quest for growth, connection and  self-less service. While my path has taken me away from Avatar, I am grateful for that work (which lasted 15 years) that helped me become more self-responsible, appreciative and  empowered. I’ve also always had a strong  pagan-esque relationship to the land  and waters of the midwest, and currently  feel held by the lovely, rolling  land I live on.

I’ve also discovered a strong affinity for Buddhism. In 2010, I was diagnosed with chronic lyme disease, after nearly a year of going physically downhill with a “mystery illness”. Facing my mortality in my early 40’s was helped immensely by Buddhist practice and study, as well as by becoming part of the chronic lyme community. I created a blog about my and other patients’ experiences, which also helped me feel less powerless while being bed and couch bound for the better part of two years when I was at my sickest. Never have I been more grateful for having a real community around me than during those years, and now that I am back on my feet, being able to serve that community feels like a real gift.

Community Living: At 26, pregnant with my son, Jibran, I landed in my first Intentional Community. Once there, I feel like I had found my calling: here was a place  where you could really walk your talk!  Since then,  I’ve been part of 7  different groups and have tried just about ever  flavor of community living:  spiritual and secular, rural and urban, income sharing and not: you name it, I feel like I’ve had a foot in it. I got involved in 2001 with national  networking as part of the  Fellowship for Intentional Community and have done various volunteer and professional roles for them, currently as a Board member. Nearly 2 decades in to my IC  journey, I’m more convinced than ever that we have a great thing going for  folks who  really want to live their values.

Along the way, I learned how to cook (and my grandmothers’ stopped  rolling in  their graves) got passionate about consensus and other forms of participatory  democracy, and married my mentor, long-time FIC organizer and group process guy, Laird Schaub. I also had a second child—a girl named Ananda who I birthed for some really close friends to adopt (talk about community building!) I now  have a very cool relationship with my birth daughter that is a little like  being a  grandparent. In 2007, I published a book about the intersection of   spirituality and environmental activism. And in the fall of 2014, my son Jibran started his freshman year at Shimer College… and I count his transition as a community education success story.

My current roles in life include serving as the Executive Director of Dancing Rabbit’s nonprofit and doing regular public speaking on behalf of DR, the Intentional Communities movement as a whole and, ultimately, the health of our planet. I still love teaching and outreach work, and am grateful to Dancing Rabbit for providing such a great container for me to do my work. I also have discovered a deep love of teaching consensus and other group process topics, and have a very part time consulting practice.

Home, Home on the Range?

I returned to Dancing Rabbit in 2008 after many years of circling around, living here for short stints, visiting… visiting again… Since returning I’ve built my own natural home, helped us develop a consensus-inspired Village Council system and facilitated many meetings. And cried some tears… shared a lot of hugs… laughed a lot… in other words, it’s a full life!

Dancing Rabbit is home for me because it embodies the things I value most from  my blood family and life journey: balancing the practical  with the idealistic,  acting rather than complaining, leading with  inspiration rather than anger,  working things out through communication and compassion rather than  power-tripping… all the while staying  clear-eyed and real about the very real  pain and suffering in the  world, and knowing that we can, in our own small  circles, impact things in a positive way. Having companions for this life is  about as good as it gets, and I am very, very happy to be here.