I’m in love. Not that I’m not completely dedicated to Dancing Rabbit, mind you. But if I’m really honest, I seem to be having a bit of an emotional affair with Bellingham, Washington.
I’m two and a half weeks in to the seven week journey that is my spring Speaking Tour, and Bellingham is the first stop that’s a new city to me. I’ve spent a week each in the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland, OR, talking about Dancing Rabbit, cooperative culture, and the practical and ethical implications of climate disruption.
I’ve had receptive audiences everywhere (and have now spoken to or done workshops with over 300 people), but I gotta say, there’s something special going on in Bellingham. And to think, I almost didn’t make it here…
What saved the day was a community connection. When we asked Rabbits if they knew anyone in Bellingham (where tour assistant Mariyam and I had been struggling to find the right connections), Critters Rachael (Mae) Ferber and Ben Brownlow piped up to say that, why, yes, one of their best friends is a mover and shaker in Bellingham.
And so yesterday I finally got to meet Zach Robertson, a bare-footed, multi-lingual papa who is also part of the founding group of a Land Trust community working to get off the ground here. And Zach turned out to be the key guy we needed to get me up here. And for that, I’m very grateful!
Why do I like Bellingham so much? Maybe it’s because it’s human scale: 100,000 people tucked into the northwest corner of Washington state, with a university and five distinct neighborhoods, walking and bike paths galore, and a lovely creek running through it. Maybe it’s because it has a long history as a “boom and bust” town, and knows what it means to weather hardship together… that kind of thing creates community faster than anything else I know of.
Or maybe it’s because they are one of the hundreds of communities around North America with a fossil fuel industry fight on their hands, and these folks are close enough to the natural beauty of the world to have a good idea of what they’d lose if plans for a cool transport hub actually get approved. Apparently 1500 local folks have already signed on to a public commitment to civil disobedience if the thing passes.
Nothing I can say about the economics of climate change much surprises folks around here. But they are hungry to hear about Dancing Rabbit and what we’re doing to directly address the forces that are driving climate change.
Last night, when I said, “Just stop buying crap,” they clapped.
When I said, “Racism is one of the things feeding in to climate change,” they clapped.
And when I communicate in a dozen different ways that we can do this, together, they clapped, too.
Maybe I just like preaching to a non-pretentious choir, but these folks are clearly my peeps: feisty, intelligent, practical, and in love with life, with a terrific community to show for it.
(Sound familiar? Of course, maybe I just miss home. Now that the snow is gone, that is…)
Last night, after the talk was over, Zach unfurled a beautiful handmade poster he made a few years back. It features Dancing Rabbit statistics, comparing our resource consumption to the average American’s.
It’s a low tech version of my TEDx talk, and it floored me: how many people around the country, even the world, know about us, use us as an example, and we don’t even know it?
I feel very, very lucky to finally be able to share some hugs with a handful of these local miracle workers who are our fans. And to be becoming a fan of my own, of places like Bellingham…
As you read this, I am most likely on a long train ride back to the Midwest. Next up: Chicago, Ann Arbor and Philly. Hope to see you there!
Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig is a pioneering sustainability educator, who, in addition to her work as DR, Inc.’s Executive Director, is head of Ecovillage Education US, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Fellowship for Intentional Community. Her work integrates ecological, economic, social, political and personal approaches, leading to a strongly holistic view of what it takes to truly be sustainable.
She is a regular writer for Communities magazine and the author of Passion as Big as a Planet: Evolving Eco-Activism in America. For more information you can visit her website: www.maikwe.net.