I can’t say writing a bio is my forte, but here goes! I have always derived great satisfaction from connecting with others that share a common interest, while exploring teamwork and building deep bonds with each other. I grew up in a small coastal Virginia town living near most of my extended family. During my middle school and high school years I was devoted to the team sport of rowing. I spent day after day, year after year, committed to my boat mates and teammates. After high school I spent time serving in the military, seeking a similar form of connection with others, sense of fulfillment, and camaraderie (though ultimately finding it was not right for me). I later landed in Kansas City to start a family with my former spouse. In the city I built connections with others through master gardening and urban farming organizations, as well as in activities my children were involved in.
By and by I found that my life felt choppy and incoherent. I drove one direction for work, and a different way for volunteering, another for school, another for friends, and another for family. I wanted more overlap and connection. I wanted true community. I was dreaming of a life and place where I and my family could commune and connect with other humans, the native plants and animals around us, the waters and soils that nourish our bodies, and the big sky above. It seemed as though I was continually leaving home to find these connections when I wanted these connections to be my home. I had a clear vision, I just needed to find the place that I was dreaming of.
I first visited Dancing Rabbit online (much like you are now!) after using selective criteria on the Foundation for Intentional Community website. I read the bios on this very page while feeling dreamy about these people I would soon come to meet (and love!) in person. I read every post in the March Hare blog, and dove deep into Youtube videos made by folks who lived at Dancing Rabbit. I was hooked and planned my first visit almost immediately. I, along with my former spouse and two children, came for a Saturday tour in the spring of 2015. We stayed in the Mercantile and met a handful of Rabbits during that stay. I left Dancing Rabbit feeling excited, inspired, and wanting more.
I signed up for a permaculture design course at DR in the fall of 2015. During this experience I discovered a lot about myself and was better able to envision the life that I was seeking. Dancing Rabbit was where I wanted to be, I realized, and my former spouse and children were not far from the same. We returned for a three-week visitor program in the summer of 2016. At that time we had already begun making plans to relocate to DR. We reduced to one shared vehicle and began heavily focusing on cycling to meet our transportation needs. We also started to part with the way too many possessions in our life. I started school to become a paramedic to increase employment opportunities after the move, and we began chipping away at accrued debt; over $35,000 in debt and a mortgage, yikes! During the visitor program we shared our hope to return in a year as residents and did just that, landing at Dancing Rabbit in June, 2017. We bought a house not long after our arrival and I began working as a paramedic, 18 miles from home.
Both in my work life and in my home life at Dancing Rabbit I find a sense of meaning and fulfillment in teaming up with others to have a positive impact, whether it involves human health and wellness, or environmental health and wellness. I was once deeply bothered with the toll that my lifestyle choices had on myself and the Earth; the daily encounter with billboards and traffic, the pollution and trash and waste, using potable life-giving water to flush away so much, the depression and lack of connection between humans I witnessed. I needed to construct a life with deeper roots and create a cycle of support and nourishment with the life around me.
I am still in the process of building my life and maybe that part never ends, but my life now looks more like what I envisioned. I regularly consume milk eggs and meat raised on farm, neighbors’ homemade bread and jams, and homegrown vegetables. I compost my kitchen and human waste. I harvest rainwater and my electricity comes from solar panels that make up a microgrid cooperative. I either ride my bike or use a car sharing cooperative for transportation. I am planting trees and seedlings. I am chopping firewood. I see the stars at night and enjoy breathtakingly beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I enjoy solitude while on the prairie- a walk in the park in a city cannot touch the joy I experience when I walk the path we have on our land. I enjoy frequent social gatherings without needing to drive anywhere. I feel attuned to, and subject to, the climate and weather. I am engaged in deep meaningful relationships with community mates. And I am thoroughly enjoying watching my children have access to all of the same joys in life! My life is truly beautiful and wonderful.
I don’t think I would be accurately and fairly sharing if I did not note that I certainly have faced many challenges, too. This more rigorous lifestyle demands more time and attention than the conveniences and amenities of my life before. And living in community means that, along with all the connection and sweetness that we experience together, we also experience conflict and struggle to relate to each other at times. I ended up choosing separation and divorce with my former spouse when we realized we wanted different lives and moved through that major loss. I’ve watched a lot of people come and go and often find that I have a strong attachment to most people I am in community with and don’t want to let them go. I struggle to strike a good balance between showing up and skipping out. My life requires a fair amount of manual labor and deep thought and sometimes I experience overwhelm, vulnerability, or uncomfortable exposure. This is why I am in community; I chose a more demanding life and I chose to do it with support! We share in the hard things and we share in the good things.