Frog Songs and Co-ops: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Can that little thing really make all that noise? This maybe-not-a-peeper isn't telling. Photo by Nik.

Can that little thing really make all that noise? This maybe-not-a-peeper isn’t telling. Photo by Nik.

All the windows of all the houses open on a certain evening every Spring. I know it’s not technically Spring, but the tree frogs’ song that flooded my tiny house told me Spring is definitively here.

Nik here. I stepped out into the last of the sunset and the frog chorus enveloped me. It’s a sound so synonymous with the warm season here in the Midwest, I become almost deaf to it by June; but that first frog song night, that moment is something to treasure.

After a long time, one can become deaf to a lot of sounds. I find myself lost in work only to look up to see someone who has asked me a question…twice! Kids can run howling circles around parents who don’t blink an eye. Some people sing flat for decades. Can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak.

What comes along with spring peepers, is Spring cleaning. I remember hauling an entire curb of junk out of my old apartment during the open window season, but now I take out a shopping bag of trash every month…and even that could seem like a toppling amount to some of my Rabbit neighbors. It’s amazing how deaf I’d become to how much trash I could make before I moved here.

But the big difference is in the drop in my recycling… the number of beer bottles I overlooked last year was huge. There are huge ecological changes we make in our lives, but we can still be deaf to the personal detriments we allow to perpetuate. A recently formed Addiction Group has been added to the available tools for personal change here in community, and it has shifted a number of people’s relationships to use and abuse of whatever their vice may be.

The first bonfire of the season was last weekend. Even though it seemed much more low-key than the ones at season’s end, and the Addiction Group’s influence may have played a part in that, we still had an amazing evening of laughter and re-connection. I loved seeing the smiling faces of my friends, neighbors, and community members illuminated in the orange glow. The color of summer bonfire glow is so different from winter wood stove glow—why is that?

Other small changes are a plethora of new co-ops forming here and there. The kitchen co-op in the Common House has been resurrected, feeding full-time and part-time members. One of the fundamental legs of community is the meal, and without an active kitchen co-op in the Common House, it wasn’t so easy for new residents and visitors to know where they might get their deliciousness needs met! There were five established kitchen co-ops at Dancing Rabbit (Ironweed, Sky Kitchen, Thistledown, the Critters, and the Mercantile) but there are limits, population-wise and dietary-wise, to these co-ops. An open, common co-op has been long overdue, and I hope we can feed many new folks for years to come!

The Milkweed Mercantile is shifting from an LLC to a cooperative, and the work put into that shift has been monumental! All who are involved are learning a lot, and excited about shifting the way we think about business models. The co-op system is really what Dancing Rabbit has been championing…using less energy and resources in exchange for more cooperation and innovation. From the vehicle co-op, to our internal power co-op, to a gym co-op, to even the “toilet” co-op.

Working with others to make our lives better has been the most eye-opening part of my life here. Nothing is taken for granted if you are a part of making everything happen… And the best part is, you don’t have to make everything better on your own. Even yourself.

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 Want to check out our co-ops in person? Come for a visit! To apply for one of our 2016 visitor sessions, click here!

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If you like Dancing Rabbit and want to support our work, consider joining @ClimateRide this year and enjoy a life-changing 4-5 day journey, while raising funds for your favorite non-profit and making a difference for the future. Learn more and register here!

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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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