Life in the Not-So-Slow Lane: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Community members gathered to learn some great meeting facilitation skills from friend and neighbor Alyson. Photo by Illly.

Community members gathered to learn some great meeting facilitation skills from friend and neighbor Alyson. Photo by Illly.

Hello, busy world. This is Stephanie, first-time writer for this column, relatively new resident at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, and administrative assistant for the non-profit organization, Dancing Rabbit, Inc.

When I first pondered writing this post, I thought I would write about the thrills of nature and the joy of living in community. While there are thrills and joy aplenty to be had here, I found myself too stressed out this week for most of it. It seems that time is precious wherever we go. So for the sakes of all who live busy lifestyles here at Dancing Rabbit and elsewhere, I’ll try to keep this brief.

Lately I’ve been hearing a curious theme in the questions and comments of friends, family, and professional contacts living in the outside world. A lot of them seem to have the idea that life at Dancing Rabbit is “life in the slow lane”, that there’s not a lot to do here, for fun or for work – that we’re all strolling through life here as easy as the breeze or just sitting around doing nothing at all. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My Easter Sunday was spent in the office, prepping for and attending Dancing Rabbit Inc.’s board meeting, then following up on that and other work items. Much of Saturday was devoted to facilitation training, where a bunch of us turned out to learn some great skills for facilitating meetings.

My work week flew by in its routine of paperwork, emails, research, reports, policies, and all manner of administrative tasks. Morning and evening I try to keep up with the steady stream of emails from our internal mailing list of community-level questions and announcements. In between all of that I take some time to keep in touch with my family and friends, and occasionally even catch up on news from the outside world.

Then there is the regular business of cooking, eating, cleaning, sleeping, emptying the bucket under the sink, emptying the humanure bucket, hauling drinking water into the house, pulling weeds, planting seeds, coordinating rides and grocery pick-ups with other community members, and all the little jobs that crop up endlessly every day.

There’s certainly more work to living here than I could ever handle on my own. Fortunately, the willingness of community members to pick up groceries and run errands for each other saves us a lot of time. And the love of my life helps keep our household running smoothly, in addition to working several part-time jobs.

There’s no shortage of fun and enriching things to do here, either, though I personally couldn’t squeeze more than a couple of them in this week. On Monday night, community member Bagels and touring musician Liam O’Brian treated us to rich performances on vocals, guitar, percussion, and ukelele.

There were three birthdays, a meet-and-greet at the Mercantile to welcome Jodi as innkeeper for the season, a workshop on using salvaged pallets to create awesome furniture, women’s circle, men’s circle, game nights, ultimate frisbee, pizza night, five-rhythms dance, yoga, and much more.

And yes, mixed up with all this were the thrills of nature and the joy of living in community. Brilliant green leaves poking up in my flowerbed, the rising full moon, the setting sun, the wind humming strong through the wind turbine across the way.

Neighbors gifting me with produce and teas when I needed them the most. A friend taking the time to talk me through some of the worst of my stress. “Getting stuck in traffic on my way home from the office,” meaning chatting with three people converging at an intersection of footpaths along my three-minute walk home. These are what make feeling hectic in an ecovillage preferable to feeling hectic anywhere else.

I guess, no matter where we live, it comes down to the choices we make with our time. Choosing to tear myself away from the never-ending work on my computer to go outside and feel some sun for a few precious minutes. Choosing to be late to a meeting or skip it altogether, in order to be available to a friend who would like to connect with me.

Choosing to walk a little slower and chat a little more with the people I pass as I scurry back and forth between obligations. Choosing to take a deep breath and take a walk even when there are a million things demanding my attention. These are not choices that come easily for me, and I can’t say I’m very good at slowing down. My life at Dancing Rabbit is in a faster lane than it ever was in the big city where I lived before. But thank goodness, I’m not in it alone.

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Check out this blog post about DR on the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s site!

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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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