Dancing Rabbit FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
in approximate order of how frequently asked
A: No. People tend to be concerned about four main things when they think about cults: being forced to believe in something (brainwashing), having to unquestioningly follow a leader, being coerced into staying in a situation that feels unsafe or unhealthy, and being coerced into giving the cult their money. None of these are true about Dancing Rabbit.
We do not share or require common religious or spiritual beliefs, and are not in fact required to believe anything at all, so long as we agree to abide by the Ecological Covenants, the Sustainability Guidelines, and the Membership Agreement (or Residency Agreement), all of which are behavior based, not belief based.
We have no single leader, but share leadership in many areas, and are governed by a democratically-elected Village Council which makes decisions by consensus.
Membership at Dancing Rabbit is completely voluntary; people are free to leave at any time for any reason. No one is ever coerced into staying (though if we really like them we might give them chocolate cake in hopes that they don’t go), nor are they shunned or punished in any way for leaving.
Finally, we are not asked or required to give DR all our money. We do pay fees for using co-ops, leasing land, and other services we use, and we do donate 2% of our income as dues once we become Members.
Find more information about the common characteristics of cults here.
A: In spite of the many stereotypes attached to the word commune, all it really means is a group of people who share income and have egalitarian decision-making. While we tend to share a great deal, it is not required, and we do not share income as a full group; thus, Dancing Rabbit is not a commune. (Some subgroups at Dancing Rabbit are, however, so if that is the life you are looking for, you can explore this!)
We also do not guarantee work, housing, food, etc. for our members, which most communes do. Each Rabbit is responsible for figuring out how to meet their needs here.
A: While many Rabbits consider dietary choices a key part of living sustainably, DR does not dictate what we eat. We have vegan, vegetarian and omnivore members and residents, and we have a community culture that generally supports people in their food choices (community potlucks often have several vegan options and care is taken to alert people about allergens and other food issues).
Rabbits are responsible for meeting their own food needs, and do so in a number of ways. Many participate in kitchen co-ops, each of which has its own guidelines, preferences, and willingness to meet various dietary choices and needs. Some individuals and families also choose to eat on their own, in which case they also decide for themselves what food choices to make. Other food choices many Rabbits weigh include hyperlocal (from the tri-communities or similarly nearby), local, and/or organic.
A: Yes. All Members must abide by the applicable Ecological Covenant: “Dancing Rabbit members will not use personal motorized vehicles, or store them on Dancing Rabbit property.” Residents are expected to abide by this covenant as well, with some exceptions made for transitioning to DR. We have a vehicle co-op that all Rabbits may join and is how most of us meet our vehicle needs. In general we maximize ridesharing and cooperating (for example by doing errands for other people when we have to go to town) in order to minimize car travel. Biking and walking are also highly utilized forms of transport.
A: The cost of living at Dancing Rabbit varies widely based on your choices. Which co-ops you join, what you eat and with whom, and where you choose to live all impact costs. Other factors include whether or not you have children, or pre-existing debt, and how much you travel. There are so many variables that it is hard to say what the average annual costs are. In general living costs are lower than in most large cities, but wages tend to be lower as well.
A ballpark estimate, for a single adult living an “average” Dancing Rabbit lifestyle, is $5,000-$10,000 annually. For more information, you can check out our cost of living page.
A: There are two parts to this answer. First off, the financial donations we receive only go towards our educational programs and research, which helps expand the influence we can have on the larger culture. The village of Dancing Rabbit does not use these donations. Rather our non-profit arm, the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, uses donations to enhance how we share what we are doing and to influence the global community through example, education, and research.
Secondly, we make a careful distinction between sustainable and self-sufficient, because we are not aspiring to be a self-sufficient village, producing 100% of our own food or operating as a fully self-contained economy. We are creating a society which allows and encourages its members to live sustainably. And, we do see the journey to sustainability as a continuum: we are striving for the radical end of the spectrum, getting closer all the time, and yet there’s always more improvements and adjustments we can make to get closer to that goal. You can check out the definition of sustainability we use on our mission statement page.
A: Like in any other small town, individuals are responsible for meeting their financial needs themselves, and do so in a variety of ways. Many people piece together a number of different kinds of work, rather than having one traditional full-time “job.” A sampling of ways people have made money here:
- telecommuting, internet-based jobs, or over-the-phone work (such as coaching, teaching, consulting, or counseling)
- starting small businesses, for example Fox Holler Farmstead provides the source of meat and eggs for many in the village, our Dairy Co-op provides all the milk, cheese, yogurt, and The Grocery Store bulk food ordering service handles some of the produce and spices
- “commuting” on Amtrak, spending part of the time working away from home as consultants or teachers
- acupuncture, natural building, organic inspections, substitute teaching, massage therapy, surveying, nursing, cheesemaking, yogurt making, teaching, tutoring, baking, market gardening, and childcare
- working for our local nonprofits, Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (DR’s nonprofit outreach and education arm) and the Fellowship for Intentional Community
- doing work that is creditable toward the fees of living here, like mulching common paths and chopping firewood for the Common House, and other handy person activities
Some Rabbits also have income from disability, retirement, trust funds, or savings from before they moved to DR that they use to support themselves.
A: Why yes! As of 2022 there are about 10 kids at DR and in the nearby communities. What they do for education is the choice of the parents and children themselves, based on available options. Some of the school-age children attend the public school in Memphis, MO (about 12 miles away), and some are homeschooled by their parents. As the kids grow older and more families move to the area we think it’s likely that even more alternative/collaborative schooling efforts will emerge.
Kids may be taught by their parents, and also sometimes by other community members, such familiar subjects as reading, science, and math, as well as less traditional subjects like gardening, plant identification, woodworking, Chinese, and much more. There is no formal day care here right now, as there is not enough demand, though one member offers a “preschool/daycare” experience one morning each week. Many families have cooperative childcare arrangements, where those involved take turns hosting each others’ children.
A: Dancing Rabbit is definitely open to older adults joining the community. Many here acknowledge the importance of age diversity and believe that intergenerational relationships make for a stronger, healthier community. As of early 2022, we have a handful in their fifties and sixties and another handful in their late forties.
It is good to note that our community has been in the “pioneer” stage for many years, and can still be quite physically demanding. We continue to add infrastructure over time, which makes living here less daunting all the time. There are more living spaces, more pathways, more kitchen/eating options, more food grown on the land. We look forward to exploring issues for older folks in more depth as more older folk join us, and as we all join that category in time.
A: Like in so many other areas, folks at Dancing Rabbit make many different choices around health care. Some choose to provide as much of their health care at home as possible. This can include preventative options like a healthy diet, exercise, meditation, massage, supplements, etc. Some add alternative treatments such as herbs, acupuncture, or other non-western healing modalities. Some also choose to use mainstream approaches, including medical doctors (in our area most are osteopaths) and hospitals located as nearby as Memphis (12 miles) and Kirksville (35 miles). We also have midwives, a nurse, and a number of alternative healers living in the local communities who offer their services.
Some Rabbits are on Medicaid or Medicare, some pay for private health insurance, and some go without insurance (Missouri chose to not participate in the Medicaid expansion, and therefore some people aren’t covered by the Affordable Care Act).
A: No. Many different faiths, beliefs, and practices are represented here, and it is generally a supportive environment for spiritual and personal growth practices. We also have people who do not identify as religious or spiritual at all. As a community, we neither prohibit nor require any spiritual or religious practices or beliefs of our residents.
A: Both dogs and cats live at Dancing Rabbit. We do not allow first time visitors to bring pets, so you will have to make other arrangements for that time period. If you decide to pursue residency you should get in touch with the Pet Committee to find out more about our pet policy and to get your pet started in the pet membership process.
All of these policies have been discussed and well thought out over a long period of time in order to meet the needs of all community members, both pet-lovers and those who would prefer DR not allow any pets. This is one of many areas where it is important to remember that someone can be a very good person and yet have an opinion on a topic that is diametrically opposed to your own. Respect and compromise go a long way toward making community work in these areas.
A: Why, we wrote a whole newsletter article about this!
A: Yep. We have a no-no list of ingredients. Why a no-no list? All the substances listed here are harmful to the plants and animals of our wetlands. Because the Common House, Skyhouse, and many other plumbed buildings here at Dancing Rabbit use greywater systems, we must be vigilant and not use products that will disturb the balance of the wetlands on which we rely.
The harm these substances can do range from genetic mutations to endocrine system disruptions to death. Effects can be immediate, or damage to organisms can accumulate over time. Some of these substances will break down over time, but some will remain in the environment, and the life that lives there, forever. Some of those that do break down actually degrade into substances that are more deadly.
Please help protect the land we love, and the world to which our land is connected.
- “contains microbeads”
- “with micro-abrasives”
- BHA – bisphenol A
- BHT – toluene, butylated hydroxyltoluene
- Phthalates – dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, dimethyl phthalate, DBP
- “Fragrance”, “parfum” – really phthalates
- Siloxanes – silicones, cyclical silicones, cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane
- Parabens – ethyl-, methyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-
- Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates
- Formaldehyde & formaldehyde releasers – bronopol, DMDM hyantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazonlidinyl urea, quaternium-15, formalin, methyl aldehyde
- PTFE – polytetrafluoroethyline (Teflon)
- Sodium lauryl sulfate – SLS
- Sodium laureth ether sulfate – SLES
- Plastic containers made of 3 or 7 plastics
Essential oils, apricot kernels, coffee grounds, sugar, salt, all in small quantities
A: What? We’re saving the world; we don’t have time to have fun. Just kidding! Like so much else at DR, we mostly make our own fun.
Folks spend their free time in vastly different ways. There are potlucks and celebrations and slideshows about trips we’ve taken, dances and yoga and game nights and chess matches, not to mention song circle, singalongs and open-mic nights.
Spending time with friends, just visiting and talking, is popular, as is playing music or singing together. Lots of Rabbits go for walks on the 240 acres of our land outside the village proper. In the summer, many spend their free time at the pond, to get relief from the heat in the cool water, or to play water polo or other games. In winter, people sled, cross-country ski, ice skate, and play broomball and hockey on the frozen ponds. We also have a strong contingent of Ultimate Frisbee players. Riding bikes is not only a recreational activity, but for many a primary mode of travel. In short, we make our own fun, in lots of different ways.
One nice thing is that we don’t have to drive or take transit to do this—so many friends live within walking distance—and it’s easy to make something happen at DR if you want a new kind of event. Our dance hall is frequently booked for traveling singer/songwriters, dance weekends (yes, we do like to dance!), and workshops on all manner of fascinating topics presented by both ecovillagers and visiting experts from around the country.
Many of us also enjoy getting a group together and taking one of the co-op cars to Memphis or Kirksville for a movie, play, basketball game, or concert. And of course many of us travel farther afield to visit family and friends, and for the kinds of fun we can’t find here or bring to us.