We’ve gotten a flood of email and have seen numerous posts on message boards about us since the 30 Days Off the Grid episode. Thanks for everyone’s supportive and thoughtful comments! There have also been many questions that we want to answer and misconceptions that we would like to clear up.
First, remember that if all you saw was the 30 Days episode you only saw a little bit about Dancing Rabbit. What you saw was not necessarily an accurate representation, and we had absolutely no control over the content of the program or the editing process. For instance:
- There are children at Dancing Rabbit, but their parents chose not to have them filmed for privacy reasons.
- There are 30 people who live here but not all of them wanted to be filmed or ended up on TV by the nature of the editing. There was even one person who ate at the same table as Vito and Johari every day and wasn’t on film. Reality TV does not show all of reality.
- Not everyone at DR is vegan or vegetarian. About 30-40% of us are vegan, some more are vegetarian, and probably half are omnivorous. It just happened that Vito and Johari were set up to eat in a primarily vegan food co-op because that co-op had a nice kitchen and most of them were willing to be on TV.
- The solar system shown on the grain bin that Vito and Johari were staying in did not cost $20,000. We have no idea how the producers of the show came up with that figure. A $20,000 solar system would be quite large. The one pictured on the grain bin cost about $3,000.
- Although Vito called Dancing Rabbit a “hippie commune” a number of times throughout the episode, no one who lives here considers the place to be a hippie commune. Hardly anyone here considers him- or herself to be a hippie, and no one considers the place to be a commune in the mainstream sense of the word.
Also remember that this was not a documentary and the producers were under no obligation to portray Dancing Rabbit accurately. The editors took well over 100 hours of footage and condensed it down to 44 minutes of TV. They decided to focus on conflict and to play up certain aspects of DR and Vito and Johari. Contrary to how it appeared in the show, Vito and Johari were both very nice and we had a really fun time with them. Johari did not complain all the time and Vito only got obnoxious about meat when he was showing off for the camera.
In order to heighten the drama, the editors decided to focus on meat as a central part of Vito’s experience. To clarify our position, many people at DR eat meat. We allow hunting and animal husbandry and some folks are even raising chickens right now. But it is also true that almost everyone at DR eats far less meat than the average American because of the ecological costs of producing meat. Some also choose not to eat meat or other animal products for ethical or health reasons.
When people here do eat meat they try to eat meat that is as ecological as possible. This usually means hunting or acquiring local, organic, free range meat. Vito was free to hunt rabbits because that seems like the most ecological choice. For some of us, the idea of killing animals seems cruel but we do not enforce those beliefs on others. And while some of us do not like the sight or smell of meat we still allow it at our table because we want to honor each other’s choices. Our sense of friendship and community overrides our personal distaste. At first Vito wouldn’t bring his meat to the table, but he was specifically invited to join the table. The editors decided to edit out the invitation, presumably to heighten the drama and make Vito look obnoxious. We feel that they did us a disservice by making us appear annoyed that he came to the table with his steak.
It’s important to realize that although you may see two images juxtaposed in a video, they are not necessarily related. One person’s nod or concerned look is not necessarily in response to the previous comment (for example Johari’s comment about meat at the table). Vito’s firing a gun and then holding up a dead rabbit does not mean that shot killed that rabbit. In the “meeting” we held to talk about Vito and Johari (which the producers specifically requested us to hold) 90% of the comments were very positive and the editors chose to use only the two comments that showed any negativity.
The other big topic people seem curious about is humanure. Here’s some quick info:
- Yes we really do compost our human waste. We do so in a way that should kill most or all pathogens. Some people here use it in their gardens but are careful to avoid situations where it will come in direct contact with food that will be eaten raw (cooking also kills pathogens).
- Yes it does smell somewhat, but not as bad as you might think. We ventilate our pooper stalls well, we change buckets very frequently, etc. The smell is much less than that of a portajohn or a national park pit privy. It’s really not that bad and you get used to it.
- Our long term plan is to compost our waste in a biogas digester just like the dairy farm in the show and create methane to use for cooking.
Just remember, it may claim to be reality but it is still TV.
Click here to read our reaction to having Vito and Johari here, before the show aired.
If you have specific questions about the show that are not answered by this page, feel free to contact us. If you want more information about Dancing Rabbit, please read the rest of our website. If you like what you see you can contact us to arrange a visit or you can help support our project.