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.

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