Cross-Pollination: A Dancing Rabbit Update

I have a sense of time marching on as the season shifts gears from late summer to fall. Liz here, checking in with the latest about Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. This week we had several rain storms, including one loud thunderstorm that kept me up for hours. I am grateful after these storms that my little, straw bale house stays snug and dry in this weather. I haven’t felt the need to fire up my wood stove, which is how I heat my house, but a nip in the air is telling me it won’t be long.

The village feels quiet since the permaculture design course students departed for home. I was in charge of cooking most of the breakfasts during the nine-day course. While it felt fun and easy as I was doing it, since then I’m noticing the spaciousness in my days for unscheduled time: time for sitting and chatting with other Rabbits, time for leisurely sipping cups of good coffee, time for listening to music and playing solitaire, and putting my gardens in order for the winter with cover crops and mulching.

In the wake left by the permaculture design course, I’ve noticed the various cross-pollinations, as it were, from the Rabbits who took the course. Angela was asking around the Thistledown Co-op dinner table if people were interested in a permaculture discussion group (this was greeted enthusiastically by all of us). I took the course several years ago and have been implementing those principles in my own gardens, in Cob’s garden this summer, and in the plans for the sub-community, which will include extensive gardens for food production and livestock.

Land walk on Land Day (photo by Hassan)

Cross-pollination at Dancing Rabbit fascinates me: what visitors take away from here and implement in their lives near and far; what Rabbits implement at Dancing Rabbit and how that changes the future of the village; what simply gathering at our co-op dinner tables night after night and exchanging information and ideas does to change our lives.

Speaking of cross pollination, I am currently reading David Fleming’s Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival, and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy. What I instantly loved about this book were the predictions of what might take place in a market economy of the future. These descriptions involve a lot of things already commonplace at Dancing Rabbit: barter, community singing, potlucks, and creating traditions. When communities have fun together and weave favors so thick that no one can keep track anymore and so they don’t, the result is benevolence and trust. I also like Fleming’s concept of the “slack economy,” where there is a return to spaciousness in people’s lives because full employment is not possible. This harkens back to the Middle Ages when communities were bound by work guilds and festivals and merrymaking; creating enough community cohesion to survive at a local level.

Saturday was Land Day at Dancing Rabbit. On Land Day, we celebrated the twenty-first anniversary of our founders’ purchase of the 280 acres where our village is located. As often happens when something is being celebrated at DR, a meal was shared. This time, the Critters Co-op hosted a pancake breakfast with partakers bringing their own pancake toppings. People brought apple slices fried in butter and cinnamon, pressure-canned strawberries, chocolate chips, and yes, maple syrup. Later that day, the rain let up just in time for a land walk.

There was also the squash competition, with prizes for the largest, the best looking, and the so-called “squashiest” squash. (A squash from Cob’s garden won that award!) There was a Land Day potluck (of course) and I have to say, I never get tired of seeing all the smiling faces when we circle up, hold hands, sing a song, and share what dishes we’ve brought.

We sang DR’s version of happy birthday twice during that meal. Here are the lyrics: “Happy birthday to you/We’re so glad you’re alive/You’re a gift from the earth/Bless the day of your birth.” Who wouldn’t want those words sung to them by a crowd of friends and neighbors?

After potluck, there was a Memory Lane gathering. Alline led the group through DR history and others shared stories of the early days. Then, we danced, with Ben as disc jockey.

This week, the village will host the last Visitor Session of the season. We had a nice, long break since the last one and I found myself looking forward to seeing new people come to the village. I cooked their first breakfast and chatted with most of them. People come from all over to live with us for a few weeks and learn the many aspects of our model for sustainable living. I am still struck by how many wonderful people we get to meet.

Inspired by discussions about the goals of the planned sub-community, I began to address my growing dissatisfaction with the amount of garbage I create. I compost food scraps and recycle cans, glass, and paper, but even the number of recyclables I produce is annoying me. As I learned in my permaculture course, there is no “away” with garbage and recyclables; they just move further downstream in the waste cycle. With fewer countries willing to manage US waste and recycling, it seems more important than ever to not produce it in the first place. Elementary, I know. So, I bought wax cloths that are made to act like plastic wrap. They arrived in the mail and sat on the counter for several weeks. In the busyness of life, it is often hard to strategize and then change behavior. I’ll keep you posted, dear reader, on how my new habits manifest.

The subject of enneagram types has been coming up lately in conversations and I found myself hauling out my enneagram textbook, Don Riso and Russ Hudson’s The Wisdom of the Enneagram. Like the true “four” that I am, I eventually ended up re-reading the chapter on type four (individualist, identity-seekers). Every time I pick up this book I learn something new, and this time the section on personal growth stood out for me, particularly the advice that read, “Put yourself in the way of good.” With the tumultuous times we live in, I’m grateful that I live in a place that is good and good for me.

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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