My name is Susan “Tereza” Brown, and I believe I’ve found a true home here at Dancing Rabbit.This simple statement becomes more profound viewed in context: since I was born in 1966 in Roswell, NM [insert eerie alien music here] I have lived in no fewer than 34 “homes” in 10 different states in 3 different countries. My dad was in the US Air Force so we moved every two years on average. Since being out on my own I kept up the transient lifestyle I learned as a child: even if I lived in one town for years, I almost always moved to a new house every year or so.
After hellish pseudo-suburban high school experiences in northern central Massachusetts (I almost bought into “girls shouldn’t do physics,” “it’s better not to be smart,” and various other bogus ideas), I went to Bryn Mawr, an expensive women’s college in Pennsylvania (Katherine Hepburn went there–ask me to show you my impression of her sometime…), where a whole new world opened up to my working class self.
It was hard and amazing and confusing, because I really didn’t know who I was away from my family and church. And believe you me, my professors and friends sure weren’t lining up to tell me. (I guess they thought I needed to figure it out for myself–great big belated thanks to all of them). So I tried on lots of identities, in the process discovering which ones really didn’t fit me. Then I worked a year at a health food store, where I first found out about vegetarianism and veganism and environmental issues, to save money to move to northern California. I’d heard lots of stories about Berkeley and it sounded like my kind of place.
So I lived in the SF Bay Area for seven years before realizing that the wonderful weather, neat people, and great restaurants didn’t make up for the earthquakes and ever-encroaching yuppiedom. At that point I began my search for home in earnest (though it’s only now, in retrospect, that I realize it).
Big surprise: I’ve always felt a lack of rootedness. So finding a place I could grow and change and stay for a long time, hopefully until I die, was very important. (The good parts about feeling rootless were that I was able to leave whatever life I’d created in a new place fairly easily, and I didn’t have to settle for a particular place because of friends or family or a job.) I also wanted a place where I could really challenge myself to live most in accordance with my values. (A friend once told me that others might have a hard time with this: apparently my choice to live a very examined life is way too challenging for most people.)
I also need to feel connected with people, and with the universe (or Earth, or nature, or the environment–call it what you will, it encompasses all these words and more, and is an intrinsic part of my self and my spirituality). I finally came to realize that living in a city makes it almost impossible for me to feel those connections. I thought I had to live an urban existence for reasons of transportation (I’ve never owned a car and never wanted to) and income (let’s just say the idea of telecommuting hadn’t quite occurred to me).
At Dancing Rabbit I’ve found a place where these home-requirements of mine are met. The people here are amazing: we use consensus, we’re committed to feminism, we aim for openness and honesty, and I feel respected and valued for who I am and the contributions I make. Plus our mission of living sustainably and teaching others about it feeds my soul: I can hardly express how satisfying it is to live so closely in alignment with my values and spirituality. (And with only 100 folks in the nearest town, I’m certainly not living in the city!)
How did I come to be here? In 1998 I was living and working in Washington, DC (eeek!), and fell into deep despair about what we humans are doing to the planet. I found Dancing Rabbit on the web, devoured the entire site, and realized it was the first time I’d felt excited about making change in years. I visited DR that summer, and came away with hope that things could be different. I wasn’t sure at that point that I was ready for DR (or that DR was ready for me!), so I decided to join the Peace Corps. I went to Ukraine and was there for six astoundingly intense months before being medically separated. On some level at least I took it as a sign that I was ready for Dancing Rabbit, or at least as ready as I was ever gonna get.
I arrived in August 2000, became a member in November that same year, and I’m still here, living the dream. It’s not always easy, but just knowing that even if I’m not changing the world (which I believe DR has the potential to do), at least I’m not adding to the destruction.
And while I’m living lightly on the earth and doing my best to nurture our baby ecovillage, I’m also having a great time. I get to eat wonderful healthy food (fresh organic tomatoes–yum!), help build amazing structures on our land (yay, yay, straw and clay!), connect with folks, watch the sun and moon and stars and plants and animals, and sing and dance and laugh more than I ever have in my life.
At long last I believe I’ve found a true home, right here at Dancing Rabbit.
P.S. What, you wanna know more? I’m also: white, european american, raised working class, bisexual, antiracist, feminist, an abuse survivor, into languages (Russian, American Sign Language, and Spanish), high in disability awareness, and contradictory: I love my country very much, even though I think lots of our policies stink; I believe in anticonsumerism, yet still buy new stuff sometimes. Lots more examples, but they just prove that I’m as human as anyone. (I do think that realizing it makes me more accepting of others’ inconsistencies, though.) I want to practice “deliberately choosing to extend love” (to quote Rebecca Riots). I struggle with self-esteem. My strengths include nurturing and healing, willingness to learn, intelligence, compassion, interest in other people, and leadership skills. (I can also talk the leg off a donkey.) ((Which is a strength or a challenge, depending on who you talk to.)) Things that I love (in no particular order): music, dancing, my friends, organic fair-trade chocolate, reading, organic fair-trade chocolate, singing, writing, my mom, organic fair-trade chocolate, walking, and giggling a lot about nothing in particular… Enough? Enough. Peace!