My husband, Kurt Kessner, and I arrived from Berkeley at Dancing Rabbit on June 24, 1999, in the middle of a heat wave and just in time for the Women’s Building Workshop. We were greeted by a parade (Tony juggling, Cecil playing his trombone, and 18 interns cheering and banging on pots and pans) as our moving van rolled into Dancing Rabbit. We set up our tent, moved our bed, desk and couch into it, and began our adventure.
The workshop was an inspiring introduction to DR life. Two women contractors had been hired to teach 16 of us how to construct a strawbale building. It was brain-meltingly hot, it was sticky, and it was great fun. Anthony Carron came to cook for us and created amazing meals on a wood-fired cook stove in the Outdoor Kitchen. Bean, rice and fresh veggies had never been so delicious.
Dancing Rabbit in 1999 was an old abused farm with very little shade, no power, no infrastructure, and just a pole barn and a machine shed. Since then, watching the land being transformed by dozens of Rabbits into the lush acreage it is today has been astounding. Shade trees abound, as do gardens, homes, and memories.
Kurt and I built a house, built the Milkweed Mercantile, and built a life. I have learned so many skills and ideas, including canning and food processing, how to efficiently build a fire, how to identify birds by their song and trees by their shapes, how to make delicious desserts, how to cope with humidity, the ins and outs of Non Violent Communication, the importance of using “I” statements, and that sustainability is entirely subjective. I’ve catered five weddings, made a zillion pizzas, celebrated and wept.
Since opening the Milkweed Mercantile in 2010, we have gotten to know people from all over the world, and from right down the road. The experiences and conversations will always be with me. While the Mercantile is closed during COVID-19 (starting in March, 2020 until some unknown date), I have been working on building a quilting business, acting as a broker between quilters everywhere and local Amish quilters.
Dozens (hundreds?) of people have come and gone. The loss is palpable, and community decision-making is often a giant hairball. The community has weathered several tragedies, and yet keeps going. Living in an intentional community is one of the most challenging, difficult things I have ever done. And yet it has changed my life in so many positive ways. I can’t imagine my life without Dancing Rabbit. Come say “hi” next time you’re here!