Difficult News: A Brief Update

It is with shock and sadness that I write this update today. Our community has been rocked by a difficult and traumatizing situation. A member of Dancing Rabbit was arrested on 02/01/2019 on charges of sexual assault of minors. 

Like any community would, Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and the surrounding communities are struggling with this very challenging and sensitive situation. We are currently focused on doing everything we can to support everyone impacted by this issue, surrounding people with as much compassion and care as possible.

As you might imagine, this situation is extremely fluid and complicated, and we are still learning additional information. We are trying to ensure that only accurate information is shared, to avoid speculation and rumor, and to protect the well-being of all affected parties. We can understand it might be difficult to not have more details about the situation, and are grateful for your understanding that we aren’t able to provide more at this time. 

Our work ahead is centered on recovery and prevention. We are taking this situation very seriously and are focused on how we can move forward as a community together. We are cooperating with the authorities, and as those systems move forward we also hope to focus on a healing, restorative process for all involved, and to come together to create a better future.  

We are not yet sure how people can be helpful. Thank you again for your understanding, care, and support.

Danielle Williams
Executive Director
The Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture
at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

javih2o (2)

Be Like Water: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Greetings faithful readers, and happy May Day!

Danielle here, writing to you from the most beautiful time of year here at Dancing Rabbit. There are a lot of times throughout the year here that probably rival each other in beauty, but this one is especially high in its existential upliftment effect due to the fact that I haven’t had to wear my winter coat lately when I go outside to pee, grab firewood, go to dinner, or the many other things I have to go outside for here. It’s finally warm, and if you read Ted’s column last week, or if you live anywhere yourself that’s experienced this persistent extended winter, then you may be able to imagine how much celebration and relief I feel in saying that. Warmth!

The peach tree outside the window of the Hermitage (my house) has tender pink flowers on it, the buds on our grape vine are beginning to protrude; and the irises, tiger lilies, daffodils, and the tulips I transplanted from my childhood home in Colorado are all bravely declaring with their presence that spring has arrived! Joy and optimism are in the air even as our to-do lists get longer with the launch of tours, workshops, visitor programs, and the many things outside that we’ve been putting off until the weather gets warm enough.

All who attended the successful mushroom log workshop on Saturday were grateful for the good weather, and Ted said they even had enough spores to inoculate more mushroom logs than projected! I am already grateful for the added bounty these mushroom logs will add to Ironweed’s future harvest. This weekend Bear and new resident Ryan, two steadfast members of the Men’s Group here, went to Kansas to attend a New Warrior Training Adventure put on by the Mankind Project. I look forward to hearing whatever they are willing to share about their experiences, since I’m a bit of a personal-growth-workshop fanatic myself and love to talk about new insights or perspectives gained through such experiences that in turn benefit the way we live our day-to-day lives.

We also saw the return this week of our friends Tereza and Nathan, finally back after their annual month-long trip to visit Nathan’s family in Texas. Since these two people are staples in my social diet here, I felt their absence acutely and it seemed like they were gone for such a long time! Their return seems to augment the gladness in the air, which feels additionally enhanced for those of us (including myself) who are finally recovering from the latest bug that swept the village.

Each of us here has our own combination of remedies we turn to when we get sick, including (but certainly not limited to) apple cider vinegar, chinese herbs, cold showers, hot showers, elderberry concoctions, Ironweed kitchen’s special blend of anti-plague, and such a plethora of herbal tinctures and teas that it would make any witch doctor jealous. My personal favorite go-to remedies when I’m feeling under the weather are orange juice and acupuncture.

While I can’t say that the oranges in my juice are local (this is one item I’m still grateful to the outside economy for), it is possible to get an acupuncture session here without ever having to get in a vehicle or leave the village. I get semi-regular acupuncture sessions with Melany who, in addition to her superhero skill as an acupuncturist, doubles as the Development Director for our nonprofit, CSCC. I actually think both of these roles are pretty superhero in nature. I like to imagine her going into a telephone booth (or around here, I guess it would be an outhouse) and changing out of her acupuncture cape after a session and into her burgeoning Development Director cape between the times when I interact with her in these roles.

She also goes home to take care of her four sprightly kids after every venture, which is worthy of a special superhero cape and award all its own. No doubt she’ll be wearing the Development superhero cape more this week as she gets everything ready for Give STL day (which is tomorrow!). Give STL day is one of the more fun and exciting opportunities of the year where you can make a difference by supporting our outreach and education work and be part of a larger online community that is all about championing the good work of nonprofits in this region. I’m hoping we can exceed last year’s record and raise over $5,300 tomorrow– will you help us?  

It takes more than a village to get the word out that sustainable living is not just a good idea that could help preserve the planet for future generations, but also one that can lead a to more creative, meaningful experience of life which nourishes us in the present. And we all know, in our own way, that pitching in to help when we have the extra energy, money, or time makes life a little easier and a little better for everyone. For instance, I’m jumping in to make a special guest appearance amidst our regular rotation of weekly writers to give Tereza a little more settle-in time back home before it’s her turn to write. I’ve also had an unusual inclination to write lately, stemming from a desire to try to put some of my many ideas into words. This led me to make my first debut at writer’s group the week before last, and I’ll close with an excerpt from something I wrote, stream-of-consciousness style, in that venue:

Photo by Javi.

“Be like water” the river told me. “Anywhere you go in your life, pay attention to your own current, for that is the main force, where your full vitality wants to go, and it will lead you ever forward if you follow it. Pay attention to your current, for within it is the tenacity to forge through sandstone, canyon walls, and rock obstacles of all orders of magnitude. Yet also,” the river said, “notice your eddies. Notice those places that swirl and turn and spiral off. These places are not linear and they rub against the main current. The edge between the eddies and the main current is dangerous- it can flip boats and overturn lives. Yet the eddy is the contrast, the exception to the rule, the place to come play if you want to know your sprightly mischievous nature again. Notice the eddies of your life and when you feel genuinely curious, cast off your rigid obedience to the clock, set down the orders you’ve internalized to ‘hurry up & get somewhere’ and set yourself free with me. Dance with me, the eddy, swirling in my pools, and I will dance you back into a playful youth, rejuvenating even your wrinkles into rivulets of light.”


Growth & Optimism (Despite Discomfort)

CSCC Looks Back on 2017

Another year has come and gone, which I find myself a little more disappointed by than usual, since I have a personal affinity with the number 17. Despite this discomfort, the promise of all that could happen in 2018 is enticing enough that I’m not only willing but excited to open my arms wide and greet the new year, along with all the potential visitors, workshop participants, tour groups, and residents who might find their way to Dancing Rabbit in the coming months.

Danielle here, writing to you as the Executive Director for the Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture (CSCC) here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Before closing the book on last year, I find it a useful practice to look back and take inventory of what happened, lessons learned, and how we might approach the next year with even more wisdom gained from practical experience.

I remember last winter at Dancing Rabbit when many Rabbits were away visiting family or friends, or working elsewhere during the colder months. It felt like a small, tight knit group was holding down the fort. However, hope was in the air, as several people had applied for residency and planned to move to Dancing Rabbit sometime in 2017. I myself remained optimistic even as the time between community rotational chores (cleaning the common house, humey shifts, re-stocking firewood) seemed quite short, due to the lower seasonal population.

Hands-on experience in the vineyard during the 2017 visitor season. Photo by Deena Larsen.

Sure enough, come springtime a handful of new residents took the next step on their journey toward living a more ecologically-conscious lifestyle by moving to Dancing Rabbit. The trend continued throughout 2017, with our most recent resident Cameron arriving in December, just in time to experience the first real winter we’ve had in a while. I can’t say enough about the good energy these dozen or so folks (plus their half dozen kids) have brought to the village. But since this is focused on the nonprofit, I’ll let the weekly update writers continue to tell you more about the vibrancy in the air. I do want to point out that every single person who became a new resident or member here in 2017 attended a Sustainable Living Visitor Program, which is offered through the nonprofit, and this year about half of our new folks participated in more than one CSCC program either before or after they moved here.

This highlights for me a fundamental connection between Dancing Rabbit the village and the village’s nonprofit, CSCC. Almost all of our residents attend a visitor program before moving here, since it serves as an excellent orientation to how we live here, and is also a great way to gauge whether Dancing Rabbit might be a good fit.

Six of this year’s new residents or resident-kids have also attended a Permaculture Design Course here in the past few years. This is pretty remarkable, since we just began offering this program three years ago in collaboration with Midwest Permaculture (thanks to the passion of Dancing Rabbit member Sharon). The renown of this course has grown quickly, and we were delighted this year when every participant slot was filled for the PDC. I find myself personally excited by and curious about how the expanded awareness of permaculture might inform future village projects and undertakings at Dancing Rabbit, all with an eye towards “sharing the surplus”!

For the first time in many years the nonprofit offered a natural building workshop at DR, and it was also a huge hit, selling out even before early bird registration closed! Hassan and Sharon led the workshop with ease and grace, offering an introduction to the fundamentals of building and wisdom from their personal experience, along with the opportunity to experiment with many different natural building techniques. The outcome was a sight to behold—beautiful walls inlaid with cordwood, decorative glass bottles, light clay straw, wattle and daub, and an exterior finish plaster looking as smooth as creamy peanut butter! A lot was accomplished in the few short days of this workshop, and it was such a hit that we’re offering another one in 2018.

Another new CSCC program offered in 2017 was a workshop called “THRIVE: Inner Sustainability for Healers, Leaders, and Lovers of the Earth.” At Dancing Rabbit we know that a community cannot function at its best unless all its members are truly thriving—finding meaning, growth, and productive ways to handle life challenges. Living together effectively, sharing resources and decision making, requires self-awareness and the ability to consider the deeper levels of one’s own motives, intentions, and impact. I personally could not have lived in community this long myself (8 years) without the incredible tools I’ve learned through various inner sustainability workshops. These can strongly impact our personal development, self awareness, interactions with others, and ultimately the scope and quality of the difference we can make in the world. The THRIVE workshop was led by Laura Wolf, a fabulous facilitator and life coach from Kansas City, and I and many other Rabbits participated, making this CSCC workshop the most highly-attended by our own community mates in 2017.

Kyle encouraging local public school kids to get their hands dirty and learn about natural building. Photo by Danielle.

All of our workshops have a special transformative impact on people, but when the workshop ends and participants get to continue living near each other and supporting one another, the integration is enhanced. Daily relationships become infused with a new appreciation for the challenges, little personal victories, and depth of the human beings next to us.

And this, really, is why I cherish living in community. I find that if I know my neighbors (even if I don’t always get along with them) I am more likely to approach them when something bothers me, reach out when they’re going through rough spots, celebrate their successes with them. A simple but powerful truth I’ve learned is that it’s easier for me to be compassionate when I identify and feel like I can relate with another being, instead of leaving them in the seemingly-separate category of “other.”

Thinking back to all the new folks who moved to Dancing Rabbit in the last few years, I feel a special sort of connection to them. Back when I was the Correspondent I read most of their visitor program applications, sent them their acceptance letters, and helped them figure out logistics to attend. It’s a special feeling to see folks applying for membership and buying or building houses here, and knowing that I played a role in helping them take the first steps toward living here. I sometimes miss serving as that point of first contact with people who want to move here or live this way, though as Executive Director I am still engaged in providing opportunities for more people to learn about Dancing Rabbit and come here, albeit in a more behind-the-scenes role. And Vick (our current Correspondent) does a stupendous job handling everything from transportation logistics for the visitor program to responding to the many emails we get every day, and I am grateful to have someone steady and reliable in this role.

Speaking of which, the influx also led to some awesome new staff members for CSCC in 2017.

Carolyn Bunge was hired as Development Assistant. Carolyn hails from Texas, and spent a year traveling to different communities and blogging about her experiences. We are fortunate indeed that Carolyn, her husband Matt, and their 2-year-old son Henri choose DR’s neighboring community of Red Earth Farms as their new home. Carolyn’s ebullience and willingness to learn anything give me a sort of excitement wondering what CSCC might take on next. Our own imagination is the only limit, folks!

Melany Benoit is not new to CSCC, or to DR for that matter (her family first moved here in 2014), but she did move into a new position with the nonprofit in 2017. Melany was hired in spring as CSCC’s Development Director, handling all manner of fundraising, grants, and charitable giving. She is the engine behind our Give STL Day and Giving Tuesday efforts, and her ability to pick up not just new skills but a whole domain (involving backstage apps & interfaces that are, at best, bewildering) have impressed me wildly and earned her high regard in my book. Oh, and did I mention that she fits in her work amidst raising four awesome kids, the youngest of which just started walking? Hats off to you, Melany!

Burl Smith came on board as our Administrative Assistant in the summer, when Melany vacated that position to fill the Development Director shoes. Burl moved to Dancing Rabbit in the spring, with her husband Troy and their 3-year-old daughter Ellie, after a journey to a number of intentional communities. I am so glad to have someone reliable, tuned in to her own heart, and genuinely passionate about cooperative culture assisting me with the myriad things that need doing in this organization!

Samantha Jo Stolle is CSCC’s most recent staff addition, who’s stepped into the praiseworthy territory of website, communications, and messaging, including getting these words you’re reading (along with the nice pictures) formatted and into your inboxes and up on the web. Her willingness to jump in and master new skills is truly uplifting. In addition to her web-savvy skills, Sammy Jo has a wide breadth of knowledge about plantlore, and a history of coordinating Kids’ Camps. Sammy Jo visited DR three years ago, and attended the soap making workshop offered through the Milkweed Mercantile earlier this year, which led her to move here with her son Lennox, who often wows me with his communication skills (“Really, he’s only 5 years old?!”).

Welcome to these four wonderful women, who join other nonprofit staff members Tereza, Kim, Vick, Brent, Nik, and Josi. The CSCC staff, along with our donors, members, volunteers, and board members, are the crucial ingredients that allow this nonprofit to function as a gateway and learning center for sustainable living, sharing the intelligence of living cooperatively.

Emma, Max, and Althea with a feathered friend. Photo by Marge Becaud.

I do believe, as we are more globally and technologically connected than ever, that the work of our times is to realize (or, see with “real eyes”) the interconnection, the “We-ness” that binds us together on this planet. Only then can we remember that we humans are all in this together, and are the only ones who can shift destructive, exploitative, inconsiderate human behaviors, risking our comfort for the possibility of an earth, a climate, a biosphere that is hospitable to other species, as well as our own great-grandchildren.

As we continue to work towards climate change solutions by spreading cooperative, low-resource-use living, I want to thank you for all your choices in the past year that support the same fundamental value we hold here at CSCC: a livable and sustainable world for all.

May 2018 be a year of abundant imagination that allows us all to dream new ways to uphold that basic value, even if it means being uncomfortable sometimes.

In Community,

Danielle Williams

Ecovillage Immersion Program attendee Leanna gets her hands dirty during a natural building interactive learning experience. Photo by Aaron.

Celebrate With Us!

Here at Dancing Rabbit, we love a good party. Especially when we’re celebrating two decades of paradigm-shifting educational and outreach programs that help create a vibrant, sustainable planet. That’s what this year has been about for us: celebrating our 20th anniversary and legacy! Over the years, our supporters have been vital in ensuring that we offer educational programs and reach more people with our message that a connected, liveable human habitat is possible.

As the end of 2017 approaches, you may be reflecting on your year and yourimpact on the world as well. The truth is, by supporting Dancing Rabbit’s mission, you are leaving your own legacy for future generations.

In these last twenty years, we’ve been able to create moments of connection with so many people throughout the world that have generated a spark of hope, inspiration, and the fostering of change as a result. This wave of inspired change is truly our legacy and you can be part of our legacy too. Give today to celebrate two decades of sustainable living educational programs, Dancing Rabbit-style, and to ensure that we can continue to positively influence the fate of our planet and our future. Your choices DO make a difference.

In community,

Danielle Williams
Executive Director
The Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture
at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

P.S. Remember, you are our best partner in creating a vibrant, sustainable world for our future generations. Give now to ensure a truly extraordinary shared legacy of hope.

2016 - Viz 2 a-15

For Women: A Rare Opportunity!

Are you a woman who:

Feels excited about living a more sustainable life?

Could use a break from mainstream culture?

Is craving more authentic interactions with other people?

Then this email is for you!

(Pssst! If you’re not a woman, but you know a woman who might appreciate this opportunity, please do forward this to her!)

This summer you have a rare opportunity to experience our life-changing visitor program in the company of other amazing women like you!

September 3-17, 2017, the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (CSCC) at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is offering our second annual women-only visitor session!

Click here to find out more about our visitor program and request your application now – note that the women-only session is #5!

You may be wondering why we have a women-only session. The idea began as a way to help improve gender balance in our community. Historically more men than women apply for Dancing Rabbit membership, so to increase the number of women applying, we decided to try having a visitor session with only women participants.

More women did apply last year, so we met that goal, but even if we hadn’t, we would still have offered another this year. Why? Because something really special and powerful happened in that visitor session— the women in the group bonded quickly and deeply, and there was a general level of ease, comfort, and deeper connection that doesn’t always happen in mixed sessions. It was such a good experience, for the participants and us, that we decided to do it again.

Here’s what some of the women had to say about their experiences:

“Attending the womyn only visitor session was transformative. I felt at ease expressing my thoughts, feelings, vulnerabilities and confusion in ways I may not have felt comfortable doing in a co-ed visitor session.” ElizaBeth, 27

“I was fairly sure when I came for my visitor session that I was going to move to Dancing Rabbit, but my experience in the women’s visitor session solidified it for me. Feeling relaxed and open-hearted was effortless for me in the all-women visitor’s session, and I especially loved connecting so deeply with women of a wide range of ages and backgrounds.”  Dorothy, 62

“I felt like this whole group of women accepted me and my broken pieces, had my back, and wanted to take an active role in making my day better. That was a new, overwhelming, amazing feeling.” Ash, 28

My time at Dancing Rabbit gave me the closest experience of what I imagine it is like to live in a ‘village’. Thank you DR for bringing the dream alive!” Megan, 33

It was as if we were windows into the past and future for one another… of living lifetimes as conscious, open-hearted women.” Rachel, 28

If that sounds like an experience you’d want for yourself, click here to find out more and request your application for the 2017 women’s visitor session!

Don’t let this rare opportunity pass you by!

Danielle Williams

Executive Director

Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture (CSCC)

at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

P.S. Did you read our most recent blog post? It’s REALLY hot right now. September, on the other hand, is likely to have much better weather 🙂 So don’t delay, request your application now!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.


Want to Feel Better About the World?

With so much happening in the world around us, have you been thinking this might be the year you take an even bigger step towards sustainable living?

If so, it might be just the right time for you to join us at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage for one of our six Sustainable Living Visitor Program sessions this spring, summer or fall!

With almost twenty years as a thriving ecovillage, we have lots to share about virtually every aspect of sustainable living. Natural building? We’ve done it! Green building? That too! Grow food organically? We’ve done it! Use solar and wind power? Yup! Create a vibrant alternative currency? Oh yeah! Operate successful cooperatives? You betcha! Work through conflict? Make mistakes and learn from them? Laugh, sing, and dance in simple human connection? All these and more—we’ve done it!

And we’re still doing it! Through our unique visitor program, you can immerse yourself in ecovillage life, practice new skills, and apply them in your own life, wherever you are.

Last year one visitor reflected,

“Thank you so much for opening your homes, your kitchens, and your lives, and allowing me a glimpse of what it would be like to live here. You are doing great things, and I feel so much better about our world because of you.”

So if you too want to feel better about the world, maybe this is the year you take that step, and experience sustainable living at Dancing Rabbit. Check out our Visitor Program, request a 2017 Visitor Program Application now, and we hope to see you here soon!


New 2017 Workshop Schedule!

Will you join us for a workshop or visitor program at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in 2017?

We took your feedback from last fall’s program survey, and designed this year’s program menu with YOU in mind!

Here are ways you can learn with us this year:

•  Natural Building Workshop – Come experience the exhilaration of learning how to build with natural materials! This 3-day workshop will cover a variety of wall infill techniques, including cob, cordwood, wattle & daub, and light clay straw. You’ll tour many of DR’s natural buildings, learn from seasoned Dancing Rabbit builders, and come away knowing how to make your walls stand the test of time.

Permaculture Design Certificate Course – Swales, edge zones, and stacking functions, oh my! What could be more exciting than learning permaculture in a place where it’s lived daily? You’ll earn your Permaculture Design Certificate while learning and living sustainability, Dancing Rabbit-style. This will be our 3rd annual permaculture course, offered in conjunction with Midwest Permaculture.

THRIVE: Inner Sustainability for Healers, Leaders, & Lovers of the Earth – Want to learn personal growth tools for sustainable inner change so you can make sustainable outer change? Discover how the process of change works, where you get stuck in the process of change, and how to get unstuck– so that you can make the real and lasting changes you long for, at personal, organizational, and global levels.

And of course, we continue to offer our extremely popular visitor program, with 6 multi-week sessions this year, including a women-only session in September.

Dancing Rabbit turns 20 years old this year… What better time to take advantage of our two decades of experience with living sustainably, inside and out?

We look forward to supporting you in your sustainable living-and-learning journey this year.

In Community,

Danielle Williams
Executive Director
Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture (CSCC)
at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

P.S. All of CSCC’s workshops have special early bird prices, but you’ll need to register soon if you want to take advantage of them!


What a Year! CSCC Looks Back at 2016

Editor’s Note: Not too long ago we shared on our blog a “State of the Village, 2016” piece from Thomas, who serves the village on the Oversight Team. Now we offer a similar retrospective from the Executive Director of Dancing Rabbit’s non-profit branch. Enjoy!

First things first: Thank you, thank you, thank you! The Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (CSCC) at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage wants to express our deepest gratitude to everyone who supported our work in 2016. You helped us exceed our fundraising goal for the year, with a final total of over $32,000! Your contributions allow us to keep developing a more connected, cooperative, and compassionate culture, and continue leading us all toward a more sustainable future through radical hands-on education in our unique ecovillage setting. Thanks again for believing in the possibility of a truly liveable planet, and creating ripples of change with us!

Transition and new beginnings… As 2016 falls away and 2017 begins to embrace us, these words best describe last year here at the Center. This was a year we were glad for our bike helmets, as the bumpy unpaved road of events had us throwing our hands up in the air to celebrate at certain moments, and at other times clenching the handlebars with white knuckles. You can clench and cheer along with us, as I recount some of the defining events of the previous 12 months…

We expanded our capacity this year with two brand new programs: a women-only visitor session, and an Ecovillage Immersion Study Program for urban youth from St. Louis. Both surpassed our expectations for success!

Our first ever women-only visitor session this past June brought 12 women to Dancing Rabbit for two-and-a-half weeks of learning how sustainability can be applied in so many areas: personal, social, environmental, economic, and more. As a feminist ecovillage, Dancing Rabbit promotes women (and all people) being able to define themselves on their own terms, independent of society’s norms and expectations. This group of visiting women formed close connections with one another, and many of them remarked on how safe and free to be themselves they felt. One woman from the group, Dorothy, has since moved to Dancing Rabbit and become one of our newest residents!

The session was such a success that we’ll be offering a women-only visitor session again in 2017. For any of you women out there (or if you know women) who feel called to dive deep into sustainable living in a setting that empowers women to live their truth and their values, come join us September 3-17 for our second annual women-only visitor program!

In 2016, CSCC also offered its first immersion program geared toward urban St. Louis youth. We received two grants that allowed us to offer this program free of charge to student and youth groups who would otherwise not have the chance to see community and sustainability applied as radically as we live it here at Dancing Rabbit. It was hands-on and heart-full: for many of these young people it was their first experience of milking goats, and speaking directly and vulnerably with their peers.

They learned how humanure, solar panels, and food preservation are part of social and environmental justice, and each participant came up with a project they could implement once they returned to their school or community. This shows how even our rural Midwestern ecovillage can be relevant to folks living in other settings.

When people visit Dancing Rabbit, as these students did, they experience the innovative nature of sustainability. Seeing so many examples of how imagination and inspiration combine with available physical resources causes new ideas to bubble forth that are adaptable to any environment, whether you live in a house or an apartment building, on a farm or in a crowded downtown area.

We also said goodbye to two beloved Board members this past year. Lydia Olchoff stepped off the board due to health reasons at the end of July, and her enthusiastic energy and unique business insight are greatly missed. Board member and Dancing Rabbit member Dennis Hoffarth passed away on July 15, from brain cancer.

Dennis set a shining example of service and living one’s values, both in the seven years he lived at Dancing Rabbit, and in his previous hometown of Atlanta, GA, as the founder and head of the Atlanta Bicycle Campaign. He was surrounded by community and loved ones as he passed, and was buried at Dancing Rabbit. The outpouring of song, service, emotion, and community during the time of Dennis’ passing was a testament to a good life lived in community. CSCC and the village of Dancing Rabbit will continue to miss Dennis’ thoughtful perspective, genuine care for his neighbors, enthusiasm for sustainable living, and the excellent puns that inspired many eye-rollings and lightened many meetings.

2016 was also a year of great transition and new beginnings for our staff here at the Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture. We welcomed Lucas as our tour guide coordinator, Brent as a new Communications Team member (and resident tech guru), and Vick as our new Correspondent. Brooke stepped into the position of Development Director, and Tereza’s title changed from Communications Coordinator to Communications Director, as we re-organized the chain of collaboration amongst our staff.

One of the biggest staff changes came when Ma’ikwe Ludwig, hired as CSCC’s first ever Executive Director three years ago, decided to pursue new adventures, leaving Dancing Rabbit and moving to Laramie, Wyoming last autumn. We remain so grateful for the clarity of vision and direction she provided to the organization, and wish her the very best in her new endeavors (which include working on a new book, as well as continuing to speak about community, climate change, and the hopeful intersection between the two).

Hired as her replacement was CSCC’s former-Correspondent and Programs Director, yours truly, Danielle Williams. I’ve been in the Executive Director position for four months now, and despite the big shoes Ma’ikwe left for me to fill, I’m excited to guide CSCC to greater prosperity and mission fulfillment as we reach more folks in 2017 with our community-grown brand of education for sustainable and integrated living.

Finally, 2016 was the year we officially changed the nonprofit’s name from Dancing Rabbit, Inc. to The Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture. We feel that this name articulates the essence of what we promote and teach, and provides for a clearer distinction between the village of Dancing Rabbit and the nonprofit branch that is the village’s central channel for outreach and education. Our mission and location remain the same, as we continue to spread awareness and amplify the message of living lightly.

In reviewing the last year, I am reminded that every challenge carries seeds of learning and new possibility within it. Awareness and careful tending allow these hidden gifts to sprout and become the dreams of tomorrow that we can choose to live into. Our dream of a vibrant, healthy earth that we can pass on to our children and the next several generations has been enriched and informed by the transitions and new beginnings of 2016. We’ve learned ever more about how to collaborate and come together to honor endings, celebrate new beginnings, and nourish ourselves and each other through it all.

As part of our extended community, we hope you’re on board to keep living lightly and sharing about it, in whatever ways you can in 2017. As we all know, change must come from within, but knowing others are out there making radical changes to live in accord with this beautiful planet certainly helps.

You can stay connected with us and with your own dream for a viable earth this year by watching our webinars, coming for a visitor program or workshop, or celebrating from near or far  the very exciting 20th Anniversary of Dancing Rabbit’s founding, in Fall 2017. Whatever you do, know that we are in your corner cheering for all your choices, large and small, towards more sustainable living.

For all of us, may the new beginnings of 2016 lead to strong, resilient sprouts of 2017 that know a little more, and a little better, about collaborating in the name of a sustainable world for all.

In Community,

Danielle Williams
Executive Director
Center for Sustainable & Cooperative Culture
at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage