March 26, 2012

Greetings! Tereza here, writing her first ever column in the 11+ years she’s lived at Dancing Rabbit!

Of course the top story continues to be the weather. The unseasonably warm temperatures mean folks are outdoors a lot, playing, hanging out–why, some of them are even working! (For those who may not know, this is a joke. Most Rabbits work their fluffy little tails off most of the time.) We’re prepping and planting and pruning, getting ready for another year of growing food for ourselves and our community-mates. Rumors in this area involve Cob pruning the raspberry bushes near the Community Building, and both Tom and Thomas experiencing invasions of cruel pea-shoot-nibbling varmints. Alline also announced at Sunday meeting the excellent news that she and Kurt harvested their very first asparagus spear! Hooray for spring!

Usually when it’s this warm outside there are oodles of short-term folks around, so having just our usual March population numbers on-farm makes for a relatively slow, low-key feeling. But we know we’re heading into the high season when we get our first trickle of new residents and work exchangers (WEXers), and it’s already seeming more like a stream! Former WEXer Haley finally finished school (and got her wisdom teeth out the same day, I hear) before returning as a resident last week, new resident SunGee came ready with a large yurt-like tent she plans to live in for the warmer months, and by my count at least 3 new WEXers are showing up this coming week. Welcome and welcome back, y’all! We’re excited that you’re joining us in our grand experiment and look forward to getting to know you!

The long awaited return of part singing was also welcomed this week. Over the years it has been difficult to find a critical mass of folks who are interested in learning and practicing different parts of songs in order to create beautiful harmony together. (I should mention that other key factors include being willing, able, and having enough time to commit to doing it– no wonder it’s taken so long to rekindle!) It’s been over a decade since I’ve personally done that kind of singing, and boy howdy, was I rusty. It was super fun, though, and despite several of us still having scratchy voices from the never-ending chest and cough crud that had been making the rounds, we sounded pretty good! I hope we can maintain our momentum in the busy weeks to come.

One of the most interesting events I heard about last week was a dance/birthday party for one of our youngest neighbors at Red Earth Farms, which was announced as “including dancing baby goats”. Now maybe I misunderstood, and I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend, but just imagining tiny goats frolicking around with all my little friends made my day much brighter!

Some of us participated in another interesting event this week, called a restorative circle. It’s a method of engaging with conflict by gathering everyone involved, communicating very clearly with one another about the impacts of the conflict, and making action plans to address various needs. You can read more about it at http://www.restorativecircles.org. It was a fascinating process, and I hope it will become another tool we can use for addressing this crucial and often difficult aspect of living together.

Conflict is inevitable in any group, and the ways we deal with it at DR are wide ranging. Some people prefer the time honored method of ignoring it and hoping it will go away. This rarely works well long term, however, so trying to communicate directly with the other participant(s) in the conflict is usually an excellent idea. Many folks first address themselves: figuring out what went on for them, what needs they were trying to meet that led them to act the way they did, and letting themselves actually feel whatever feelings they have about the situation. This is usually best done alone, or with a friend. Talking about it, crying, blowing off steam, basically doing whatever it takes to get the feelings out in a safe way without the other party present, makes it less likely that you’ll emotionally blast them. Unless you’re dealing with an ascended spiritual master (and quite frankly they aren’t too thick on the ground these days), that kind of blasting usually makes the situation worse. Both solo inner work and talking with a friend will often lead to more openness to the other person’s perspective, which can make a huge difference in how things feel once face to face communication happens.

If for any reason someone doesn’t feel able to meet with the other party on their own, there are almost always uninvolved folks who can be asked to step in and assist. We have a Conflict Resolution Team that maintains a list of Rabbits and friends from nearby communities who are willing to serve as mediators, and the Team is mandated to step in if a conflict arises that is significantly impacting the whole community. Very rarely an interpersonal conflict gets to the point where we bring it to the community at large; I can think of only a few times that this has happened in my lengthy tenure here. (The restorative circle held this week was not community-wide.)

One important note is that we have a standing agreement to solve conflicts non-violently. This sometimes leads to jokes about going across the road (i.e., off DR property) in order to fight it out, but we seriously are very committed to taking care of and supporting one another when conflict arises. I’m pretty impressed with how we engage with conflict at DR, especially as compared to the mainstream culture, and am glad to have witnessed yet another method that might help us continue to improve in this area.

Finally, a two-person film crew came to check DR out as a possible location for a documentary-type TV show about us. Exciting! Scary! I wasn’t involved with their short visit, but Alline was, so since she’s next in the rotation to write about DR happenings anyway, I’m going to let her share all the juicy details next week. If we’re lucky, she might even tell the truth, or at least that’s what she said when I asked her about it!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit in Rutledge, northeast Missouri, focused on sustainable living. We offer free tours to the public twice monthly from April-October. Our first tour of the year will be April 14 at 1pm. Meanwhile, for more information you can visit our website www.dancingrabbit.org, read our blog The March Hare at blog.dancingrabbit.org, or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.