Leaves Return to the Earth: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

—Bob Dylan, 1964.

The autumn air is crisp and cold, fingers freeze and thaw, noses run and jump. Gardens are put to bed for the season yet the collards continue to nourish through soups and stews made on the woodstoves of tiny houses. Piles around the neighborhoods are stacking higher with fallen trees that were once alive, growing, breathing the air so that we may also breathe. On the land somewhere, a grove invites a weary traveler to rest in the branches and recharge their energy before continuing on a magnificent journey.

No mountain too tall, no traveler too small. Photo by Katherine.

Those chunky piles now fuel our fires to keep warm and cook our food, while still offering a mountain to climb for those travelers who have found their way home in time for supper. Tomorrow, another journey awaits.

A green and black carpet of fallen leaves border paths with a spongy lush yearning to be gathered in hands and tossed into the white sky with innocence and frivolity. White turns to grey and a timeless drear settles upon the land, revealing nests that were once protected from predatory eyes by green goodness of foliage.

Stories are re-told around the fire; the same tales of advancements made and unforeseen challenges that accompany those acts of hubris. The systems are scrutinized and found unacceptable by some. Clean air and water are no longer the rights of all beings though they are essential to life on this planet. People march in the streets for unity and voice, facing criticism from those who seek to silence.

To listen to another’s story is an act of compassion; to stand with them and seek to know another truth is imperative.

Autumn will become winter soon and the hibernations encourage the growth and transformation essential to thriving systems. Leaves return to the earth creating fodder for those who seek to live in harmony with one another. Darkness breeds and nurtures ideas that emerge and transform energy into the light of spring. A new day is coming and the sunrise is magnificent.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

—This piece is by Katherine.


Reminder: We hope you’ll join us for
#GivingTuesday on November 28, 2017! On this national day of giving your gift to support our nonprofit’s work will be DOUBLED due to a very generous donor who will match the first $2000 we raise! Look here for more info, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates, and don’t forget to mark your calendar for November 28, 2017!


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.


Building the Dream: A Dancing Rabbit Update

“We’re building Dancing Rabbit because we love the Earth, and to help all people recognize it’s worth… and you know that this is true, we couldn’t do it without you!” For 20 years we have been in construction of cob dwellings and alternative culture, and this weekend we are celebrating all that hard work with new and old friends alike! Katherine here with a look back on where we’ve been.

In 1997, a group of California college students decided to take a more firm grip on their realities and leave the mainstream society which we all know heavily subsists in patriarchy and consumerism. These coes (co=gender neutral pronoun) wondered what it would be like to farm the soil with a focus on feminism, ecological rigor, and sustainable living practices, which include non-violent communication and consensus decision-making. Let us not forget the pooping in a bucket part, where we save literally thousands of gallons of water a year.

Some photos from DR’s early days: Rabbits making decisions at Retreat 2000 (top); and Allium, one of DR’s first buildings, in 1998 (bottom).

The journey began by piling into a van in search of acreage that could hold such a dream and nurture the abilities of some smart and scrappy folks seeking a different way to thrive. Northeast Missouri was already at that time the home of Sandhill Farm, where others had been (and still are) “farming organically and building community since 1974 on 155 acres in rural, northeast Missouri. We grow roughly 80% of the food we eat (endless vegetables as well as black and pinto beans and wheat we grind to bake with and the oats and soy we feed our chickens and the eggs our chickens lay) and we, as members of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities share our income, meals, vehicles and other resources.”

After only a few breakdowns and the loss (and finding) of their cat, Vermin, the motley crew of Rabbits rolled into NEMO and were hosted by Sandhill as potential new neighbors. Yes, by the time they made it to Missouri, this group was already established as Dancing Rabbit. As a good story goes, there are many truths to where the name Dancing Rabbit came from. My favorite is from my friend Aurelia, age 11, who has lived in our village all of her life; she says that the name does not mean a thing, it’s just from some book. That makes me smile in its simplicity. Another story around here mentions the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit (Creek), and I really do think that there is some truth to the thought that one of the early folks was reading their history book and liked the name. As Aurelia says, it’s just from some book.

A parcel of land of 280 acres were located just 3 miles from Sandhill and much rejoicing was had. The scratching of the earth began and seeds of a community were sown. Women’s Building Workshops were held to remind every body that we are all capable of developing a new world with our minds as well as our bodies. Allium (the first straw bale house at DR) was constructed with such practices as, no one lifts a heavy object on their own, male or female identified. This habit encourages equality and cooperation on the worksite regardless of muscle mass.

As much fun as playing in the dirt and building can be, this new culture also takes a ton of brain power! I have to give so many kudos to the Rabbits who sat through hours and hours (and hours) of conversations establishing community values, guidelines, and boundaries that would perpetuate the ideals for years to come. Twenty years later we are still intellectually conversing around ecological rigor, feminism, genderism, racism, privilege, and other “isms”.

And that brings us to this week and getting ready for our 20th Anniversary Reunion Party! I am so excited to see friends from over the years and catch up on their endeavors around the globe. Thomas, Alyssa, and Hassan have been working their tails off (Rabbit joke) planning an amazing celebration of memories and accomplishments while eating delicious food and indulging in frivolity. Christina is planning capture the flag and field games, Dan has scheduled a band for the contra dance, and other Rabbits are bringing community offerings of story and song. It is going to be a marvelous time honoring the land that has encouraged us as we build a different way of life for generations to come. “We’re building Dancing Rabbit because we love the Earth… we’re so glad that you’re helping build our dream!”


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.


Birthday “Tape” and Other Antics: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Greetings friends! Katherine here to regale you with our ecovillage antics of the week.

The weather has been absolutely amazing, with cool nights and windy days. The August tempers are a bit cooler than in recent years and people are often heard during group check-ins to be enjoying the sun-showers and frequent rainbows. The rain could not have come soon enough as our gardens have been thirsty and the cisterns running low.

Last Sunday saw the end of the Milkweed Mercantile’s Preserving the Harvest workshop. About 9 folks came from all over the country to learn about canning, fermenting, and cheesemaking with Alline, Thomas, and Ted. It seemed a success because every time I went into the Mercantile kitchen that weekend, people were handling local food and just laughing and laughing. One highlight for me was hearing about the walkabout that Thomas took the group on, explaining the wild edibles that can be thrown in a jar for fermentation magic. Have you ever tried a milkle?! Yes, a pickled milkweed pod! Weird and neat.

The newest group of visitors! Photo by Cob.

Sunday also saw the arrival of our newest visitor group. Around 12 adults and a family with 4 kids have been sharing our spaces for the last week and learning about our lives in community. They hosted a No-Talent show for our enjoyment, and once again, many, many laughs were heard.

A satirical skit with rabbits (of the four-legged variety) that met up with Rabbits (of the two-legged form), poked fun at our style of speaking with non-violent communication, and our sustainability guideline that says we will strive for negative population growth from reproduction (funny because we are Rabbits!). An accordion was played, several folks sang songs, and there was a fencing match with an actual white picket fence. That last skit was hard to watch as some of us found it “offensive”. Tee-hee.

A smattering of birthdays this week has ensured a steady supply of cakes and goodies for all to share. Willow, Sonic, Rae, Brent, and Burl all celebrated this week with assorted pond parties and hangouts. We have a traditional birthday cape that folks may choose to wear on their special day to let everyone else know what’s up. Somewhere along the line the communication got fuzzy and Brent ended up wearing a piece of tape that said, “It’s my birthday.” He was later heard to say, “I thought they said birthday tape!”

Critter kitchen has been in a bit of chaos this week, with Caleb feeding the visitors at the same time Kyle was building us a Lorena Stove. The Critter Collective is the only propane-free kitchen at Dancing Rabbit and I for one am proud of our value to stay fossil-fuel-free for our food needs. We have cooked on rocket stoves for years and are once again increasing our quality of life with the new stove and bread oven.

Cooking for about 25 people on wood and solar is already a pretty fun feat; adding a construction area to the space really makes for a fantastic cook-shift. It’s not actually as daunting as I may lead y’all to believe. Caleb is a great cook and has lots of practice in the realm of cooking chaos: last season he got to show the visitors the root cellar during one of his shifts because of a tornado warning!

Please contact Dancing Rabbit if you would like to come for a visit and try out our chaos and laughter for yourself! Until next time, thanks for reading!


As mentioned above, our latest visitor group arrived this week, so it seems like a good time to remind all our readers that
there are only two visitor sessions remaining in 2017, so if you want to come check DR out in person, apply now! The September session is our second annual women-only visitor session, and the October session is for everyone. And if you live nearby, don’t forget our annual Open House, happening Saturday Sept 9th from 1-4. Hope to see you here soon!



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.

30 antique tractors from around Missouri paraded down Circle Drive. Photo by Katherine.

Workshops, Visitors, and Tractors: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Greetings, friends! It feels good to be writing again to y’all after so long. Katherine here, with a few musings for your reading pleasure.

This week has seen a lot of high energy around the village with workshops, visitors, and tractors! After a successful Milkweed Mercantile Natural Building workshop last week, followed by the CSCC Natural Building workshop (both of which I cooked for), we launched immediately into the second visitor program of the season and a yoga retreat (for which I am also cooking). With all these people in town, I can tell you that mounds of kale and lambsquarters have been devoured!

With hungry appetites satiated by good food, much rejoicing has been had! The rain and winds lent themselves to an exciting stage for our community courtyard and the magic continued when someone brought out the hand drums to play with. I grabbed my little accordion and along with another melodica, the dancing ensued. I have so many appreciations for the gifts people bring to our village and music is one of them!

30 antique tractors from around Missouri paraded down Circle Drive. Photo by Katherine.

It seems that since then, the frivolity has yet to cease. Just this weekend there was a bonfire hosted by the visitors, capture the flag with the tri-communities, a pizza party with out-of-town friends, and a dance party with the yoga folks! Whew!

Amongst the activities was still daily life of gardening, committee work, and down time for self-care. I love having so many social opportunities and also appreciate a good book at home.

One shift that our village is experiencing as a whole is the choosing of a new Village Council (VC). The VC makes decisions on behalf of the community in lieu of full membership meetings and operates internally by consensus. Five people currently serve on the VC for a two-year term and the terms are staggered so that we elect new cos (co = gender neutral pronoun some of us use as a noun) every year. We had one full group plenary meeting to discuss slates of willing council members and will take two weeks of process time before coming back as a group to make a decision. With such a spectrum of Rabbit talents, many factors are considered in order to make up a holistic council for serving the community. For me, there feels an ease with the distribution of responsibilities to keep our village functioning.

And wait! Didn’t I mention tractors?! Yep! Around 30 antique tractors from around the state drove around our very own Circle Drive and showed off their history. Rabbits gathered and waved from our Main St. as the parade went by, and it was fun afterwards to mingle with folks as they idled their machines and took a look around our village. I appreciate the opportunity to chat with farmers I may not otherwise bump into on the street, and the juxtaposition of them with the yoga attendees. There are so so so many different types of people in the world and Dancing Rabbit is one place that some of them may come together.

If you want to come learn, play, and experience ecovillage life in northeast Missouri, please check out our websites: and There are work exchange opportunities, tours, and every Thursday plain ol’ good food being served at Pizza Night. Remaining Milkweed Mercantile workshops this year include Preserving the Harvest: The Basics of Fermenting, Canning and Cheesemaking, and an all-level writers’ workshop, Writing in Community: Digging Deep, Practicing Courage and Speaking Out.

Maybe one of these days we’ll get to meet through a shared-values experience like environmental awareness, inner-sustainability, or social change, and you’ll get to try my home-made pink mashed potatoes for yourself! (The secret is in the beets.)

Thanks for reading and until next time, (please) be excellent to each other!


There are only 2 spots left in our next
Visitor Program session, happening July 30-August 13th, so if you want to check out Dancing Rabbit up close and personal this summer, apply now before it’s too late! Or if you’d rather come to a workshop, check out the Permaculture Design Course; THRIVE: Inner Sustainability for Healers, Leaders, & Lovers of the Earth, or the Mercantile workshops Katherine mentions above. Hope to see you here soon!


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.

Communities come together to celebrate love. Photo by Katherine.

An Amazing Gift: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Good day, Rabbit friends!

Katherine here, feverishly writing to you with my cup-o-coffee (thank you, local Zimmerman’s grocery store) and adrenaline-filled fingers. I don’t actually know if I “needed” the coffee this morning as I start yet another busy day here in the village and feel like I could get by on my own energetic anticipation.

I had been travelling for the past few weeks and have now dropped back into the thick of it with pure style. The meetings, the garden, the paid work; all still here for me to pick back up!

My trip out west was wonderful, as a handful of Rabbits trained out to New Mexico for our friends’ commitment ceremony. It was absolutely beautiful and peaceful as we spent a few days in the mountains of Hummingbird Community, a 500-acre ranch, home to 25 communitarians dedicated to the evolution of consciousness and planetary transformation.

Singing, playing, hiking, and love abounded as 70 or so friends of Danielle and Hassan came together to celebrate their union. It was neat to hear their story from so many perspectives that spanned years and even decades. Community was formed in a short amount of time and relationships prospered as we talked about our visions for this world and future generations that will inhabit the land in whatever condition we choose to leave it.

Since departing that leg of my journey I have been editing the literally thousands of photographs that I took that weekend of the celebration. I whittled it down to only a few hundred and worked my cropping/coloring/styling magic on the captured memories. I have been snapping shots for years and it was good to step back into the role of “wedding photographer” for two very beautiful people that have so much love in them.

It was also my time of the month to be silent for a few days as part of my personal growth practice and that always makes for a fun journey. Fortunately I have got the art of wildly gesturing down and when I want 70 folks to look at the birdie and say cheese, it’s a breeze. For those who missed it: at the end of every month this year, I am taking “silent” days to listen and meditate on my surroundings. The number of the month is how many days I do not speak, so in January I took one day, in August I took eight. I have really been loving this practice and found that I really have quieted my mouth in order for my brain and heart to be more present. I put quotes around the word silent because I do use sounds and gestures to communicate. It feels very important to me that others not have to work harder because I am making this choice to not use my words. Mae says that I cheat when I hang out with seven-month-old Arthur because my cooing at him is “baby-talk”. I would say that it’s up for debate yet she usually catches me at a time when I am only disagreeing with her via vigorous head shaking.

Thursday found me back from my travels and I literally walked straight from the car into the Milkweed Mercantile to begin preparation for Pizza Night. We had a great day as 40 women from the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge came from all over the state to tour Dancing Rabbit. The GMLC is a group that educates and inspires women leaders to make a difference in their communities, “combining continuing education in leadership development, information and major discussion of state policy issues, and exposure to the philosophies and thoughts of the state’s business, cultural, educational and political leaders.”

So that was Thursday, and Friday was even more celebration! Tereza hosted a Fabulous 50th Birthday Bash, and there was much dancing to be had that night. Tri-community folks got all fancied up and boogied down to DJ Brownlow’s mix tapes while homemade fruit drinks and snack plates were consumed. We also pulled out all the stops to get a double rainbow to appear over community dinner that evening for the delight of all.

The Permaculture Design Course is in full swing as roughly 20 folks from across the nation showed up on Saturday to learn and share their knowledge of growing with the land. Bill Wilson from Midwest Permaculture has come to our village once again to lead the intensive 9-day program, which combines common sense with stacking functions.

Nik, Alline, and I have been cooking our hearts out for the group, serving delectable foods such as local vegetable stir-fry and “Taco Tuesday Night” (on a Sunday). My basket has been full from the garden with collards, chives, tomatoes, and other goodies to share with new friends. I really love to cook and I especially feel proud to serve the literal fruits of my labor.

As the weather cools and the pumpkins abound, I know that it is getting near time to slow down for the year… Note that I wrote “near time”. Land Day is approaching on October 1st, and that is our day of celebration for acquiring this plot of prairie that we call home. Hassan and I are meeting to plan the festivities for our 19th anniversary party, which I know will be joyous and reflective of our past year together in community. We have had birth, death, union, and dissolution that naturally occurs when 50 people decide to share their lives so closely with one another.

It is an amazing gift to share my life with these folks and, in turn, our stories with you. Thank you for choosing to be a part of our journey, and may you have a lovely Autumnal Equinox that inspires shift and balance in and around you.

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.

Happy rabbits, mid-wives, farm crews, and babies!

Why So Happy?
 A Dancing Rabbit Update

Happy rabbits, mid-wives, farm crews, and babies!

Happy rabbits, mid-wives, farm crews, and babies!

Good day, Rabbit friends!

The sun is now hiding behind the clouds giving a much needed respite from the August “heat dome” in Missouri, and the village is still dripping from this early morning’s thunderstorms. Rain always puts me in a good mood—I feel especially appreciative when it means that I don’t have to water the garden!

Katherine here this week, to give you the goings-on and appreciations from one Happy Rabbit’s perspective.

Why am I so gosh-darn happy? Well, here’s only a few of the reasons:

As I write this, I am sitting in the Great Room of the Common House eating a slice of delicious pizza that I made last night from scratch, at one of my very fun jobs—Pizza Night at the Milkweed Mercantile. I can’t think of a much better way to write than eating good food while watching the drizzle outside and having friends walk by as they go about their day, cooking for their kitchen coops or coming to the office of the non-profit at our village.

The Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (which I work for as development assistant) has its office located in the heart of the village and thus provides us with the daily reminder of why we are saving the world. You can usually find Danielle in there with the door open for any “stop and chats” or just a great hug. Many an online Board meeting or program discussion has happened in that office, while the sounds of laughter and construction float through our window. Both of these feel crucial to the building of a community.

This is where I take a moment to applaud Danielle (Dee) for stepping into the role of Executive Director! She is an incredibly talented and perceptive young woman who has taken great care for how she has shown up in this village. She is gentle, fierce, and a great leader in more than a few arenas. I admire her as a leader because she is not the type that asks to be followed, people just naturally gravitate towards her energy. I am incredibly excited to see her stretch into this new role that she and the community at large has chosen for her… (She’s also pretty humble and is probably blushing by this time.)

Right now is also baby-time with my nephew Arthur and that also puts me in a great mood. I moved to community to be an auntie and sure enough, here I sit with a 5-month-old who is not family by blood, but by choice. The Critter Collective, to which Arthur and I both belong, has been together for a few years now, taking care of each other physically and emotionally. We are a sub-community of Dancing Rabbit that nurtures each other through good food, conversation, and the never-ending extension of personal boundaries. We love, we fight, we choose to create lives together that serve our existence in this community and the world. You have seen Ben write of many bucket haulings and pig wrasslings… Well, now you know just one of the folks who might be holding his baby while all these shenanigans take place.

Speaking of folks taking care of each other, the Critters also enjoy hosting wexers (work exchangers) every season. This has been another great year filled with fresh energy from cos (gender neutral pronoun) who want to come work, hang out, and learn some sustainable life skills to take with them on their journeys. Melody, Riley, and Clare have been absolute superstars this season with their hardcore work ethics and good attitudes. It is nice to get into a rhythm and just know that the buckets are being filled, emptied, and moved from point A to Z.

They are always ready to hold a baby or a kid (ha ha, goat joke) or make a smashing pot of red lentils for their cook-shift. Kelsey wexed for us earlier in the season and brought lightness and ease to daily life. We were sad to see her go, and there were definitely a few tears shed. She said she would be back, and knowing what I do about the transient state of our village, I smiled, nodded, and gave her a hug.

Lo and behold, she is back! This time she brought her partner Shawn, and they have both joined the Critters for the rest of the season’s construction and food processing. Thank goodness for the help! I don’t know what I would have done without her in the garden… there’s been a bumper crop for corn and it’s coming out my ears! (Ha.)

Part of what lights me up about this demonstration village is our desire to invite people from all walks of life into our home. Our visitor program has been successfully running for many years, and allows folks to get such a glimpse into our world that they might be enticed to join our community. Another avenue to visit is through the student groups that come through. Colleges and high schools also bring groups for an immersive view of one way to live a sustainable life.

Last week EarthDance Junior Farm Crew brought six students and three leaders for a few days to try out their skills in consensus, communication skill-building, and of course, goat milking! It was totally awesome to hear the perspectives of these (mostly) high schoolers from Ferguson, Missouri talk about their community, trusting other people, and where they are going with the future of this planet. Needless to say, these city kids and this rural ecovillage are coming at life from incredibly different points of view.

To share with y’all some of our organizations’ common ground, this is what EarthDance has to say for themselves, “Our Vision: Organic farmers feeding the world. Communities caring for the land. Farms inspiring creativity. Today we have the unique privilege, responsibility, and opportunity to transform this vision into reality through the production of healthy food, the education of multiple generations, and the engagement of our communities.”

So, I know I can write a pretty great puff piece about how happy I am all the time and why my life is so wonderful… and I would like to share with y’all a reality check: I totally have my moments of anger, jealousy, and any other human emotion that is less than serving of my being. When I am in these states, I tend to hide. People ask me how I am so happy all the time, well, I’m not. I go to my house and stew, or cry, or plan an escape.

Fortunately I live in an intentional community, and when I come back around to my rational side, I ask for help. I talk to my friends about what is going on and truly feel listened to. I am not given advice as much as questioned about why I am feeling these things. The level of communication and emotional maturity in this village can be outstanding depending on which Rabbit I have chosen for conversation. When questioned, I am able dive down and find the root of my insecurity. I am not being told what I am feeling and why, rather I am being asked to look within myself and figure out what is triggering these feelings.

This last year has given our community many incredible opportunities for growth. We have faced mental illness, disease and death, economic woes, division of community, and every other growing pain that accompanies life (on top of climate change and social unrest in our nation!). We have not turned our back on the mass shootings, riots, war, and other inequalities that seem to constantly plague our planet. One of the reasons that I moved to an intentional community, and especially an ecovillage, is because I care so much about these things that it hurts. Someone once told me, “You are the happiest sad person that I know.”

Our community has drawn strength in the last year by coming together around these issues. As people pass through our corner of northeast Missouri, they take a piece of us with them and leave stories behind. Dr. Karambu Ringera of Kenya was incredibly inspiring to me as she shared the horrific stories of women in her community dying on doorsteps and leaving behind orphaned children. She did not accept the atrocities in her community, rather she empowered others to take charge of their lives and created The Amani Home, a community home of peace for orphans and vulnerable children. She founded International Peace Initiatives to “mitigate the effects of poverty, disease, discrimination and violence”. Her sentiment that has stayed with me: I can not help people, they have to help themselves. Together we find the tools to do so.

More inspiration for me is found (daily) in my village, and more specifically with DR member, Sharon Bagatell. Sharon helped launch the Northeast Missouri Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization empowering people to experience breakthroughs exercising their personal and political power,” and traveled to Washington (by train) to speak with Congress on the passage of the carbon fee and dividend. This legislation “is the “best first-step” to preventing the worst impacts of a warming world”, according to economists and climate scientists.

Yet still another group of women in our tri-communities annually visits the State Capitol in Jefferson City on behalf of the Missouri Midwives Association to ensure the rights of mothers and children in the name of choice for pregnancy and birth options.

Recently I watched a documentary called Happy (circa 2011, director, Roko Belic). I had heard of the World Happiness Report years ago and once again it was brought to my attention in this film. The report was first introduced by the United Nations in 2012 “using economics, psychology, survey analysis, national statistics, health, public policy and more to enable policies that support better lives.” One interesting tidbit I learned were the statistics from Denmark, a country that consistently ranks in the top 10 happiest countries on Earth. The Danes have more of their population (5.7 million) living in cohousing than any other industrialized nation.

Cohousing was born in Denmark in the 1960s when some families became dissatisfied with their traditional neighborhoods and began seeking a more cooperative living situation. Individual or family units may be found around a shared common house and outdoor garden/play area, and there are many different models of cohousing with a range of shared infrastructure. These models are found in every developed area from cities to suburbs to rural areas around the world.

This is where I put in the plug for elders in cohousing!

Over the years I have heard folks say that we have a very nice village and they would have loved to live here 20 or 30 years ago. One does not have to live in our community to live in a community like ours. There are over 200 cohousing communities in the US alone and many of these are intergenerational. Elders are finding that they can keep their independence and not be alone in their twilight years, by joining these intentional communities. The focus on aging in community has led to senior cohousing and the founding of EICs, Elder Cohousing and Other Self-Directed Intentional Communities.

To find an intentional community such as an ecovillage, cohousing, residential land trust, income-sharing commune, student co-op, spiritual community, and “other projects where people live together on the basis of explicit common values,” please check out the Fellowship for Intentional Community at

So there we have it, folks! These are just some of the reasons I have found to be so gosh-darn happy a lot of the time. I am appreciative of the people that come through my life and all of the work that they have chosen to take on. I want to continue connecting people around the globe with their wonderful ideas and organizations, to cross-pollinate the greatness that I see in their endeavors.

As an individual, I can care for the entire world; as a community, we can do the work together to find our happy place, whatever that looks like to you.
Two quick reminders: Don’t forget that Dancing Rabbit’s annual Open House is happening Saturday Sept 10th, 1-4 pm! Check out our webpage for details!

And the week after, on Sept 17th, our Permaculture Design Course starts! Click here for more info or to register now– September will be here before you know it!

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.

The kids definitely get a different perspective of the world by living at DR. Photo by Katherine

Common Sense and Listening: A Dancing Rabbit Update

The kids definitely get a different perspective of the world by living at DR. Photo by Katherine

The kids definitely get a different perspective of the world by living at DR. Photo by Katherine

“Success is more a function of consistent common sense than of genius.” — An Wang, Boston Magazine, 1986

Everyday life at Dancing Rabbit seems reminiscent of these words. Katherine here this week, giving you less of a rundown of happenings here and more of a personal editorial on the state of common sense.

When I look at the world and see rapidly depleted resources, my mind says, “Use less water, make less waste, all around, just plain less.” When I look at the world and see war after war tearing apart nations and families, when I see that it is the everyday co that suffers when our leaders bicker about the price of oil and who that valley belongs to now, my mind says, “Why don’t we use our words instead of angrily drawing weapons? Where is our non-violent communication that may allow others’ perspectives to actually be heard and understood, rather than yelled over and bombed?” This is common sense, to me.

So why do I hear the political gossip of more wall building and hate speech? This does not seem like common sense to elect angry white men into office! How can we possibly tend to the needs of Mother Earth when we can’t even agree what color skin is the “right” shade, which deity I choose to hang with, and whether or not it’s any of your business if I like men or women?

I was raised with a notion that if I am happy, I am successful. If I am doing my life’s purpose then I am on the right track. While I fully support that notion, I have come to elaborate on that idea, that there is a responsibility to other people, and especially this planet, to make choices for the benefit of more than just my little being. I could be a totally happy person who uses copious amounts of paper plates and never washes a dish because mine are all plastic and a one-use product is easier on my lifestyle. Yes, not doing dishes could make me happy, thus in this equation, successful. Now I am not so sure that this math all adds up.

I am taken back to 1984 (yes, the year of my birth but in this instance I mean the book and Brave New World (respectively by George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, circa 1949 and 1932). These stories about dystopian futures seem not so wild when I look at the reality of the United States today; don’t spend time mending your clothes when you need to go out and buy next season’s trends anyway. Are you feeling unfulfilled in life? Have you actually tried to identify what is going on with your job, spouse, and livelihood, or are you staying where you are and popping Soma tablets to just numb out? Are you truly happy in your endeavors or are you yelling at random strangers in the drive-thru McDonalds because you don’t know them, may never see them again, and so what could the possible ramifications be?

I guess that common sense to me is taking responsibility for my own actions. If we all concentrated on being our best selves then maybe there would be less of a need to control others and the impact that we allow them to have on us. I have heard that community is the Land of 1000 Mirrors and gosh darn, I believe that to be true.

Want to know the impression that you leave on people? Want to know when you are being a truly compassionate soul and when that sarcastic comment did not land well? Find your community and you just may find yourself. Even if you do not have 40 other adults around to let you know, children sure do reflect the dickens out of our behavior.

Are you really patient with your child and speak to them in a normal tone of voice like the real person that they are? Just because they are short does not mean that they do not pick up what you are throwin’ down. Body language makes up over 50% of our communication* and where do our children come from if not our bodies? Their intellectual and emotional well being is dependent on their caregivers from the moment the cord is cut, and the awareness is there, though it may not be as plain as the cute little nose on their face.

I do have to “say” that it seems super weird to be writing this article right now as I have chosen to take a day of silence in my community. For the year of 2016, at the end of every month, I am taking silent days to reflect on the recent past and just listen. I am listening to the wind blow around my house and the children play in the neighborhood. I am sitting in meetings and listening to where people are with their perspectives without lending my own.

I am allowing a co to cry on my shoulder without comforting words, just comforting hugs. I am noticing when people say hello to me without looking at me, missing that I am offering a salutation in return. I experience the different cultures of personal growth in my own village; one co was confused by my silence and asked if I could even try to speak. After five minutes of gesturing on the path, they figured out that this was a choice.

Another co, after saying hello and receiving a slightly knowing smile and wave said, “Oh, taking a silent day I see.” The point of this exercise in self-discipline is to raise my awareness of the world in a very different avenue than I usually venture. If my actions happen to permeate and affect other’s awareness positively, then more power to us! In the Land of 1000 Mirrors, personal growth can be catching by just witnessing the act. Observing the journey of one may lead another’s thoughts down their own road of self-actualization.

This is the year that I slow down and become even more intentional with my words, actions, and emotions. I know that my being ripples out and affects the entire world (as does yours) and I truly want my waves to be positive, strong, and beautiful.  I will listen, I will watch, and I will impact my environment with ideas more grand then one co may hold; it will take a village and a little common sense.

*Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal Communication. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.

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How can it be March already?!? Time flying means that visitor season is just around the corner: our first visitor session starts April 18th! To apply for it, or one of the other 2016 sessions, click here!

Like Dancing Rabbit and want to support our work? Join @ClimateRide this year and enjoy a life-changing 4-5 day journey, while raising funds for your favorite non-profit and making a difference for the future. Learn more and register here!

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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.

 Mae's new paper crane mobile gets a fair share of onlookers. Photo by Katherine.

Sneaky for a Good Cause: A Dancing Rabbit Update

 Mae's new paper crane mobile gets a fair share of onlookers. Photo by Katherine.

Mae’s new paper crane mobile gets a fair share of onlookers. Photo by Katherine.

Brrr! The temperature has dropped again and ol’ Jack Frost is nipping at my rapidly typing fingertips. I have just lit the first fire of the day in my house, which has yet to take hold and warm the tiny space. Luckily my furry heater Henry is cozying up under the covers and keeping our paws warm during a mid-day dog nap. Howdy folks, Katherine here to give you the local weather report and then some in this week’s article.

The “ick“ has been making the rounds in the community passing from child to parent to friend in the form of a lovely hacking cough, slight fever, and ever so eloquent runny nose. Laundry lines are full as we save some trees and blow our noses on whatever makeshift hankies come our way. I was ever so lucky to find a very soft shirt in the communal fabric bin that I then ripped into several rags for such a noble purpose as “catching my nose” (because it was running).

The tinctures are flowing around town and Rae has been such a sweetheart to give Sparky and I a jar of what we are calling firewater. This particular mix is a ferment with garlic, habanero peppers, and pure magic that will make the esophagus burn (in a really good way) and the sinuses clear. This week I have been offering shots to people for healing and this burning liquid sure wasn’t tequila!

An inability to fall asleep because of said cough led to an evening apothecary run and the discovery of some outdoor flurry action. While it seemed to be only about a quarter of an inch snowfall, it is still quite nice for this Rabbit to see some white on the earth instead of the mud that has been gracing our village for the past week.

The sun has been shining beautifully and warming our passive solar houses as well as the ground, to bring about a nice sludge tracked in just about everywhere. My house is not a shoes-off kind of place but I did take to wiping Henry’s feet before letting him jump up on the bed with me. Alas, once again, the mud is frozen and he’s back to just tracking in slush.

Wintertime in the village usually means puzzle time in the common house! This week’s entertainment has been a 1500 piece (“minus 4,” according to the handwriting on the box) image of over 300 idioms and proverbs. Two tables have been appropriated for this endeavor and have been safe from the common house clean teams for going on a week now. Conveniently placed in the Great Room, puzzlers are able to sit in on meetings or enjoy the chorus of Song Circle while leisurely building the scene piece by piece.

It is super fun to see the picture grow, and we laugh with one other as we figure out if that piece goes with the sky or the river. Althea, at just 6, seems to be our youngest puzzler and is getting way better at not forcing in pieces at her will. It’s a good thing that she’s not listening to Caleb who says that he can make any piece fit with just a trim from a good pair of scissors.

As my own personal ick subsides, I am breathing a bit easier today for quite a different reason. For the last month I have been keeping a very big secret from one of my closest friends and sub-community mates, Mae. I have been sending out emails without her knowing, and having quiet conversations in the halls all to the tune of “shhh…”

What could I possibly need to keep so hush-hush from a gal that I tell practically everything to? Her surprise baby shower, of course! It was awesome to be sneaky for a good cause and we totally pulled it off so that she had no clue what she was walking into. The tri-communities were all represented as we crowded the Milkweed Mercantile and awaited her arrival. Luckily she had gone to town so I knew that she would not be showing up to the “staff meeting” early. When she did walk in, all yelled, “surprise!” and happily she did not go into an early labor.

Cob made about a million animal-shaped cookies, from dinosaurs and kangaroos, to bears and lions, accompanied by baby carriages, flowers and mushrooms. Alline provided yummy carrot cupcakes and I kept the chip and salsa bowls plentiful. Mae was able to sit and relax with friends (after the initial shock wore off) as we nibbled on treats and enjoyed each other’s company.

Thomas was the ever-amazing emcee for the baby-naming portion of the party, which involved a chalkboard, imagination, and a lot of laughs. Participants wrote up our favorite names for the new little Critter and we voted for each with the applause-o-meter. We whittled down about 100 names to the top 20, from 20 to the top five, and from the top five to Momma Mae having final say.

While no contracts were signed and this seems to be in no way binding, we did decide as a community that the lil’ tyke would from now on be known as Fern, Otis, or Wolf (obviously we went for a feminine, masculine, and gender neutral title). Psst, just between us, I’m pretty sure that after all of the shenanigans I heard Uncle Kurt say that no matter what, he is going to call this kid Puddin’.

A new baby in our midst is ever so exciting and we are less than a month out from cloth diapers and sleepless nights. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I am a strong proponent of this sentiment. I love hanging out with our youth and experiencing them as they learn our world and come into their own as beings. I have been around some of these kids since they were three-ish/four and now the oldest of that flock, Aurelia, is turning ten this year!

Our precocious little group never ceases to amaze and I am proud to know that their generation will someday be the caretakers of our earth. Now don’t get me wrong, they definitely have their moments of attitude that already have me thinking, “ugh, teenagers”, but fortunately the amount of smiling and helpful tendencies greatly outweigh the eye-rolling and foot dragging that I have also experienced.

Well folks, the fire has really taken off and my fingers seem to have thawed and warmed enough to scratch behind Henry’s ears without so much as a whimper (from either of us). While the temperature outside hovers around a balmy two degrees tonight, I do believe there will be a bit of cuddling going on in this doghouse. Until next time, keep warm, be well, and thanks for readin’!

Puzzle Update: completed! And 6 pieces missing 🙂

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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.