My Time at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage..
by Alex Johnson
As I rumbled down the dirt road, leaving a trail of Missouri dust in my wake, the GPS declared with complete and total apathy “Turn right onto Dancing Rabbit Lane in half a mile.” I was almost offended that my phone could remain so calm in this moment, as a potluck of excitement with a side of debilitating anxiety churned in my stomach. I had fantasized about visiting an ecovillage since I had discovered them 4 years prior, knowing deep in my heart there was a better way of living for the Earth and for those who call it home.
Four years of environmental courses and hours upon hours of extensive research (including the telling episode of “30 Days: Off the Grid,” where two New Yorkers transform from consumer connoisseurs to eco-warriors) could not have prepared me for immersion into the village.
I floated into the Common House courtyard with my luggage in tow, relieved and pinching myself to wake up from what seemed a perfect dream. Laughter filled the air, everyone actually looked at me and smiled, nature weaved itself seamlessly into every space, as the birds sang a welcoming chorus: like I said, perfect.
This flawless first impression of Dancing Rabbit was, of course, just scratching the surface. Like most everything in life it is not a perfect entity, and it doesn’t aim to be. Dancing Rabbit is an experiment in ecological and cultural sustainability.
It is, in essence, a demonstration, a “be the change you wish to see in the world” type o’ thing. And as the days drew on I began to realize this: the reality of the huge amount of work that goes into making this village seem so magical. Some of it isn’t encircled in butterflies. Naturally with my baseline demeanor of fluttering around without a care in the world, this is the area where I grew the most.
Befriending the dirty work, the dark side, the fear of the unknown. I knew coming into this experience would bring monumental challenges, and my comfort zone would be left in the dust. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Dancing Rabbit was a metamorphosis for me in many ways; some subtle, some not. There were times when I felt liberated and blissful, and times when I felt homesick and alone. There were sleepless nights, oceans of biting insects, various conflicts; and then there was interconnectedness, pure learning and spirit, newfound friendship, and adventure.
This is the nature of human experience. Out here away from the bull crap you are left with a raw, perfectly imperfect life. You fall into synchronicity with Mother Nature’s cycles, no matter how hard you try to stay up past eleven. You wind up dancing and chanting around a fire as the full moon rises, and believing even more in magic outside your obsession with Harry Potter. You find yourself set free to be who you are, even if that means getting up on stage in front of the whole village, mock microphone in hand, to channel your inner rock star.
Though I am nowhere near omniscient enough to say what is the right way to live, I can tell you Dancing Rabbit is a perfect place to start.
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.