Relying on Others: A Dancing Rabbit Update

Saturday morning I went out for my normal Ultimate engagement with my many friends who like to chase flying plastic, but had to sign a couple releases before I could play. Rae and Aaron, who play Ultimate with us now and again, as well as serving on our Outreach committee and running a private business engaged in the production and good use of video and audio content related to community, had arrived with gear. Rae with a digital camera took video from the sidelines as we played. A drone flown by Aaron took aerial footage at the same time, which required us to ignore a flying thing in a game focused on a different flying thing. I found this surprisingly difficult, but I’m always excited to be able to review our play. They’ll be taking more footage of village activities over the coming days.

Ted here with the news from this past week at our fair ecovillage here in steamy northeast Missouri.

I’ve lately come to realize that Ultimate (formerly known as Ultimate Frisbee, but then shortened owing to the specific brand-name reference) is a great reference for community living as a whole. I can’t play Ultimate unless at least five other players show up, and that only gets us a three-on-three game, which is tiring owing to so much running (seven-on-seven is regulation). So for a fun game of any length, I’m hoping for eight or more people to show up when we play. I rely on that many or more for an essential part of my happiness a couple times a week. And that is just in one realm- most other parts of my life also rely on others, like those that milk and tend goats at pasture, without which I could not make cheese. Thanks to all my compatriots!

Rabbits pose for a picture to send to Aurelia, who’s away at camp. Photo by Aaron.

For the second year, a group of students and their group leaders from Earth Dance Farm in Ferguson, MO came to Dancing Rabbit early this past week for a variety of learning sessions, including natural building and food preservation. I spoke with them for a couple hours Tuesday, during which we worked with a basic goat cheese at several different stages, and also made sauerkraut from start to finish, including the students harvesting the cabbage and walking away each with a pint-full of kraut ready to begin fermenting. Sort of like bringing home a pet, those ferments… It was great to deepen that relationship with the organization and the students, and felt great to connect with them around the many things we’re trying to do to live lightly on the earth.

My own child Aurelia has been away at camp a week now, a place called Camp Kupugani in northwestern Illinois, which bills itself (and does feel very much like) a multicultural camp. That was one of our hopes for her first camp experience, and we’re pleased to find it not so far away.

In dropping her off there last weekend, there inevitably came the moment when I had to say goodbye for two weeks to my kid who’d never been without some family or close friends for more than a day in her life. She started with whispers soon after arrival of “Do I have to stay?”, which soon became “I don’t want you to leave!”, and ended at that moment we both knew was coming, when she tried hard to smile at me and say goodbye while crying as she stayed at her cabin and I started to walk away… and I forced myself to keep walking away, looking over my shoulder a few times but never seeing her running after me as I half-imagined. I had a lot of time for thought and some tears driving home alone for five hours. Very excited to pick her up again this coming weekend and carry her home again, and to see what she carries home with her.

The camp posts several dozen pictures of the campers each day, so that we’ve been able to catch glimpses of Aurelia with a smile on her face, having fun, and know she’s ok. She does not have the same ability to check in in return, but she seems like she’s doing alright with that. I know I survived and loved going to camp (even though there was no internet in those days), and I’m sure it is a good thing for her sense of independence, but I have new respect for my parents for letting me go back then.

At our Sunday meeting here in the village we gathered a bunch of us together for a photo to send Aurelia for the next mail day (which includes the ability to send emails with photos), and I wish I could be a fly on the wall when she receives these reminders of home.

The weather ’round these parts has been consistently warm, though I felt grateful this past week for a low-likelihood 2″ rain that fell all night long, and a few nights in the mid-60s that allowed us to throw open all the windows during the dark hours and recharge the coolth of our home’s interior mass. I shouldn’t be surprised by hot summer weather, and indeed I do enjoy the relief of jumping in the pond to cool off most days, sometimes repeatedly.

Chelsea and Kelsey, Ironweed work exchangers through early August, helped me this week to get our four newer, bigger solar panels lifted onto the tracking rack we have behind the kitchen, taking down two smaller ones to make space. The rack passively tracks the sun through the day with the aid of sun-activated hydraulics, boosting the effective efficiency by up to 30%. I’ve had to dig out some long-stored bits and pieces to get everything wired out and back, and meanwhile relied solely on the original eight panels we put up in 2004. We have acquired a lot of additional uses of power in the meantime… the motivation to complete the wiring is high.

We also mixed up some earthen plaster, and they each worked on plastering some earthbag walls in our root cellar that had never been finished. It is one of the few places that feels truly cool without air conditioning on these hot days, so it was a good fit with the weather. Also in the cellar we built another set of tall and deep shelves for carboys, winter veggie storage, and more, significantly increasing the functionality of the space.

Saturday the 15th marked a year since our friend Dennis left the physical plane, to commemorate which we all gathered in the evening out on Mullein Hill where he is buried to remember him, to hold Sharon and each other, and to witness the unveiling of his grave marker. Thomas, in creative consultation with Sharon, has built a beautiful marker that incorporates a bicycle wheel (Dennis was a tireless bike advocate) into a carved wooden monument that perfectly meets the space and the need we each have to remember. We miss you, Dennis.

If all that wasn’t enough for one week, Sunday morning a handful of folks met with an archivist from the University of Southern Indiana who is interested in acquiring historical materials related to the founding and growth of our ecovillage. USI’s Communal Studies Collection already contains photos and documents from all kinds of communities historical and contemporary, and includes documents from both the Fellowship for Intentional Community and the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. Now our various decision-making bodies will engage in identifying all the sorts of things we’d feel good about sharing with this research-oriented collection, with an eye toward preserving our documents for the long term and furthering the understanding of intentional communities in the wider culture.

To close out the week we held the second of two plenary meetings to select the community members who’ll next serve on the Village Council alongside the three mid-term members Mae, Cob, and Tereza. Newer villager Christina will now join for the first time (cheers for new village governance energy!), and I will return for a second two-year term. We had a longer list of willing candidates this year than usual, which bodes well for our collective future.

Here’s hoping July, historically our wettest month, chooses to drop some more substantive rain on the village to keep our gardens chugging along. Javi had the first tomatoes for sale at our weekly meeting on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to ours. May your gardens also grow vigorously wherever they may be!


Visitor program slots for the year are filling up fast — 
find out more about our Visitor Program here. If you’d prefer a workshop, check out other programs happening at DR this season. And if coming in person isn’t an option right now, or if you want to be ahead of the game when you visit, check out our online education series How to Live like an Ecovillager,” where you’ll enjoy learning about a wide range of sustainable living topics from Dancing Rabbit teachers.


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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