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Celebrating 20 Years: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is growing up! The several-days-long on-farm Board of Directors meeting was ample proof of that. Our intrepid Board gathered to tackle high-level issues and review our collective progress to ensure we’re on track with our overall mission “to create a society, the size of a small town or village, made up of individuals and communities of various sizes and social structures, which allows and encourages its members to live sustainably. And to encourage this sustainable society to grow to have the size and recognition necessary to have an influence on the global community by example, education, and research.”

I’m Cob, writing to you this week from a place of deep gratitude for the time and attention our Board members have given to this wonderful dream project: Jess Watson, Chong Kee Tan, Stephen Shapiro, Cecil Scheib, Ed Pultz, Sue Ann Kortkamp, Sara Peters, Joshua Lockyer, Melissa Carlson, and Kyle Yoder. Thank you to all of our Board members past, present, and future, who bring their expertise, critical thinking, and passion to help us monitor our progress, learn from our mistakes, and boldly plan for the future. Collectively they have helped us to reach our 20 year milestone. You can learn more about them and their work in the world on our website. (Note that Kyle and Sara are relatively new additions; their info will be there soon.)

As a reader of this column, you wouldn’t be aware of the passage of time as I contemplate what to write next. It’s been such a whirlwind of a week, I keep dropping into fun memories and lose track of where I am. Before our Board members arrived, our 3rd annual Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) wrapped up after an intensive nine days. It was a deeply bonding experience for the participants, which I observed somewhat vicariously as I occasionally provided meals for their group over the course of their stay. 

20 year reunion from the sky, with the big “Two-Oh” spelled out with Rabbits! Photo by Aaron.

The PDC has a rigorous schedule, and I noticed the volume of coffee consumed increased as the students increasingly struggled to arrive for breakfast on time.  Appetites increased also, as they burned through the glucose while learning and integrating new knowledge and perspectives. The Certificate ceremony was an emotional time as well, held just before the newly-bonded group dispersed back out into the world and their individual lives.

This is a familiar pattern here: groups of strangers arrive, share their hopes and dreams, learn and grow close to each other, and then separate once more. Those of us who remain at Dancing Rabbit are also affected by these comings and goings. Forming new friendships and attachments, then having to let go with feelings of bittersweet joy and sadness combined. We will do this yet again next week when the final 2017 visitor session begins, but that story will have to wait until next week.

This gathering in of as-yet-unknown friends, and release of known, valued, and loved human beings was writ large this past weekend as Dancing Rabbit officially celebrated our 20 year reunion.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is no different from any other town, village, or city in that we experience turnover in our population. People come and go. Folks move here for any number of reasons, and leave for many different ones, just like anywhere else. Yet, the shared purpose and mission of our little community creates strong bonds, far beyond that of simply being neighbors. So, much like many families in this rural county hold family reunions, so too do we on occasion.

It’s an opportunity for our newer generations (literal and figurative) to meet and learn from the older generations, and vise-versa. Old family tales are re-told to much laughter (and eye-rolling), new accomplishments are oohed and aahed over, babies are passed around and admired, and young adults are reminded of just how much they have GROWN (see “eye-rolling” above).

I’m sure other weekly column writers will chime in with their own particular perspectives on the “big two-oh” reunion party, which is a good thing, as no one person could possibly have participated in everything that happened. There were many small-group sharing sessions and events in addition to the full-group activities. I DID learn that you can fit 20 people into a small tent, food is popular (as the meals were always well attended), and spontaneous co-ops can form when auction bidding becomes particularly fierce.

Alline is a natural auctioneer (after all, a microphone is involved) and as a many-years provider of birthday cakes, coffee and chocolates, she knows all of our weaknesses and played the crowd mercilessly. It was all for a good cause, with auction proceeds going to the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, the outreach and education nonprofit arm of our village demonstration project. Folks donated and bid on a wide array of items, from original photographic and painted art, kid-collected seed packets, and homemade jam, to homemade wines, insurance reviews, college essay coaching, and a cured deer hide.

If you’d been present, you could have bid on recycled kitchen scrubbies (now you know what to make from those plastic mesh onion bags), a pair of salt & pepper shakers shaped like tiny outhouses, or Italian lessons from Erica (a bargain at twice the price)!  The runaway winner of the night was a beautiful sculpture from one of our newest residents, Sammy Jo. The bidding became so intense that folks spontaneously formed competing bidding co-ops, where the winning group would share the sculpture. Twelve people and $400 later, the new Luna Lady Co-op will have to schedule a meeting to hammer out the details.

Another real treat from the weekend was a live concert from the very talented band The Mighty Pines from St. Louis, MO. They offered an inspiring mix of heartland bluegrass, soul, and rock ‘n roll. I’m surprised the dance floor isn’t bruised; my feet sure are. They tour widely, so if you ever have the opportunity to catch a show, I highly recommend it. Hopefully they will come our way again, and play another set.

After catching my breath, the next day I jumped into preparing lunch for the full reunion crowd. I was nervous enough about feeding 100+ folks that I actually planned ahead and mostly just assembled previously prepared elements of the meal. Weeks of accumulating bread rolls in the freezer, canning batches of butternut squash bisque, and soaking tofu in a citrus marinade paid off. It only took two hours to heat everything up and produce the stir-fry. Whew, on the exhale.

Now all the old/new friends are leaving again, with some planning to return soon, and others maybe in another five years for our 25th reunion. It was wonderful to see everyone and catch up, and there’s an ease in the return to normal routine, albeit with a touch of sadness. I/we took a deep breath in a few days ago, shared our experiences and realities with our extended family, and now are letting it go back out into the world, hopefully renewed and re-energized with our common purpose for increased sustainability and connection with the world.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Breathing in. Breathing out. Sharing our dream and vision. Inviting you in, celebrating your journeys. Appreciating our connections and different experiences, always learning from one another, growing in new ways, being drawn along different paths of inspiration and hope. In the words of my Presbyterian upbringing I offer you the following: May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

And also: breathe.


CSCC’s final program offering for the year will be
THRIVE: Inner Sustainability for Healers, Leaders, & Lovers of the Earth happening October 26-29, 2017. We’d love to have you join us! Find out more by clicking here.


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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