by Brooke Jones
I’ve got some exciting news to share with all of you! First, a bit of background…
Research has always been an important part of our mission at the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (CSCC), the nonprofit arm of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, and for the last six years we’ve been working with a team of social scientists to collect data on our resource use and carbon footprint. The results of these years of research have not only enlightened our perspective as to where we currently are (environmentally speaking), but have also pushed us to work harder (and smarter) toward our goal of living lightly within the ecosystems that surround and sustain us.
Internally called the “Eco-Audit”, our research shows that people at DR are living on approximately 10% of the resource consumption rate of the average American in several key areas (vehicle fuel, vehicles per capita, water, and electricity, to name a few). Our data also shows that we’ve done this while maintaining a quality of life that is on par with that of the average American, demonstrating that it is indeed possible to greatly reduce resource consumption while also living a fulfilling life.
The exciting news is that one of our extraordinary board members, Dr. Joshua Lockyer, Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Behavioral Sciences Dept. of Arkansas Tech University, recently published an article in the Journal of Political Ecology, a widely respected online peer-reviewed journal. In the article he examines the role of intentional communities, and more specifically ecovillages, with Dancing Rabbit as his leading example. In the article he says that ecovillages serve as places where the necessary “fundamental shifts in cultural logic can be manifested,” and that are “recreating common property arrangements [referred to as ‘commoning’]…. as a vehicle for social and political emancipation and societal transformation…[and] as a counter to the individualist accumulation of wealth and goods that drives the growth economy.”
Dr. Lockyer highlighted data he helped collect for Dancing Rabbit’s Eco-Audit research project to demonstrate the value of intentional communities in the transition movement, and members of Dancing Rabbit as “effective stewards of local commons while also being responsible citizens of commons that are more global in scope.” Dr. Lockyer touted DR as a hotbed for scholarly research, and concludes his article with the statement, “if…de-growth is conceivable only… within the framework of a system based upon different logic, then in places like DR, we seem to have found our muse.”
We are proud to be a muse for the scientific community!
You may wonder why this research so important to us. We want to have greater credibility with the scientific and policy-making communities, and know that we are truly having an impact in the wider world. We take climate change very seriously, and are constantly re-examining our role in combating the destruction caused by the typical lifestyle in industrialized countries.
It is essential to show the world that alternative communities, economies, social structures, and governance not only can exist in theory, but do exist, successfully, in practice. There are feasible alternatives/solutions to the current growth-based society that is leading us into environmental catastrophe. And maybe even more importantly, we need to show that people living within these alternative systems are living abundant, happy lives; thriving even.
And while we want people to move here and live more simply with us, we know that most people can’t or won’t move to ecovillages, so that alone isn’t a feasible solution to climate change. Ecovillages can’t handle a mass influx of people, and we need to use existing infrastructure in cities and suburbs. Those areas often have the greatest impact, and need the most drastic change.
In order to create the desperately-needed change, we must offer an alternative that’s proven, attainable, adaptable, and maintains an acceptable quality of life. This is the revolutionary role of places like Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, and could be our greatest contribution in the realm of climate change research and mitigation.
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.