Exploring Dancing Rabbit: A Visitor’s Perspective

Our September 2014 visitor session.

Our September 2014 visitor session.

Hello everyone! My name is Lucas, a recent visitor in Dancing Rabbit’s latest wave of curious explorers. It is my delightful honor to share my experience with all of you.

While I wouldn’t assert that my opinions are held by the entire group, I do feel my experience is in relatively close alignment with the majority of the others in my visitor group.

The three weeks I spent at DR very revealing in a deeply personal sense. The baseline level of intimacy between members and residents was very awkward for me at first, but has shown itself to be an essential component in changing cultural norms and extinguishing the sparks of isolation, stress, exploitation, and violence. In a world where these are prevalent for many, I was pleasantly surprised to find that stress levels (both in general and personally) at DR seem to be much lower than the norm.

That is not to say it is an easy life– but I would argue that real progress has never been simple. The contrast, I feel, lies in the motivations of the residents and members. They are not spending their time and money serving the desires of someone who may or may not have the same values.

Though I have now seen the complexity of self-governance by consensus (a daunting task), I have also seen that the people here are willing to invest significant personal effort to overcome the obstacles that such a system can pose. Personal opinion is regularly checked against the interests of the community as a whole, sustainability guidelines, and ecological covenants. It seems a promising possibility that stands in sharp contrast to our national political strategies.

I was also delighted to find an infrastructure robust enough to allow for many of the same creature comforts that I have at home. There are movie nights, game nights, song circles (which I have been hesitant to jump into so far), and the occasional bonfire. Events are held as community activities, which facilitates bonding within the community while reducing waste and energy usage; two birds with one very powerful stone.

There is a Bed and Breakfast here, the Milkweed Mercantile, which boasts a five-star rating and a large selection of snacks and wines. They also host a pizza night once a week, which is a consistent point of excitement within the community. The food co-ops here have all impressed me. I prepared well, bringing some commercial “energy bars” with me in case I found the food inedible, but they turned out to be totally unnecessary. I have eaten very well here, and have an abundance of energy! I have also dropped two belt holes (BIG smile). I feel healthier than I have in years.

In addition to the wealth of information presented to us during our stay, we participated in the construction of new homes, most of which are absolutely stunning. Why so many are tricked into purchasing “cookie cutter” homes is beyond my understanding. The homes at DR embody the soul of the family/couple/individual. They are sustainable, highly customized, and most marry technology, passive solar, and rain collection techniques with simple yet elegant design.

Often built by their owners’ own hands, they seem a labor of love above all else. Most homes seem to take 2-3 years to finish, as winter doesn’t allow for much productivity in the building arena. In my opinion, they are very much worth the effort and patience.

The other visitors were perhaps the biggest surprise to me. I expected to have a somewhat similar level of knowledge to those who I came here with. I was mistaken in that assumption. I was, by and large, the “Village Idiot”, so to speak. For many, this wasn’t their first go-around with sustainable living.

Some came from living at other intentional communities, while others have been traveling from place to place, evaluating for their “best fit”. I have learned that ecovillages and intentional communities are plentiful; many names of many places are consistently tossed around. Whereas at home I was typically the most outspoken in environmentally-oriented conversations, here I am often simply an observer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have so much to learn.All in all, this experience has shown me that I am not alone in my deep concern for the problems confronting our species, nor in my desire to have my actions mirror my words. I was delighted to find that ecovillages and other intentional communities have been springing up like wildfire for the last 20 years or so. They are growing both in number, and in their cumulative effect on their surrounding communities.

This is a wonderful place; it is a springboard for the development of our species and the maintenance of our planet. I don’t believe I could have been more impressed– which is why I have asked the community to consider me for residency. I can’t think of a healthier, kinder, or more responsible way to live my life. Thanks to all at Dancing Rabbit for an inspirational visit!

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Lucas hails from Smyrna, TN, and has fostered a growing concern for climate change and fossil fuel dependence since 2006. He is a military veteran, and currently works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.


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