Michelle working on knitting at the Milkweed Mercantile

Walking the Talk: My Dancing Rabbit Visit

When I made the decision to come to Dancing Rabbit for a two-week visitor session in the summer of 2018, I tried to have zero expectations. I tried to leave my assumptions at the door about what made an ecovillage like Dancing Rabbit work and run efficiently.

Michelle working on knitting at the Milkweed Mercantile

Having an open mind allowed me to truly absorb my first impressions of the people and systems in place. I had never experienced community life, and I found myself internally rewarded time and time again as I began my journey. The people I encountered took time to truly communicate with each other. The consensus governance that was in place meant each person truly had a voice; it was paramount that each voice was heard and, more importantly, understood. This style of communication is truly ground-breaking compared to mainstream society (at least the one I had been raised with). The Rabbits made sure the visitors in my session not only had their basic needs met such as food and shelter, but also that their emotional and intellectual needs were being met. I had never before experienced such a caring environment for fellow humans, and I found myself vested not only in my own emotional state but also the state of my fellow visitors and hosting Rabbits.

Since my visitor session, I have found my communication style has completely changed. I take time to truly listen and understand what another person has said. I saw in action how open, direct communication can affect people’s perception of each other and a situation. In mainstream society, people can jump to conclusions, brush off their emotions, and bury their feelings. For the first time in my life, I was told that my emotions mattered, that it was OK to FEEL what I was feeling, and that my emotions had validity. I was surrounded by people who helped me to process my emotions, put them into words, and translate that into action. I found a passion for tapping into the emotions of the people I love (and some I thought I didn’t love). Communication is so important at Dancing Rabbit, and I can see why. If we are to truly move forward as a sustainable society, we must learn how to communicate effectively. Dancing Rabbit is a shining example of how open, direct, and honest communication can build a village and create positive change.

Come join us for a two-week visitor program so you too can learn some of the inner sustainability practices, like open and honest non-violent communication, used at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Michelle Lea Winebarger is a teacher by trade and a learner by passion. A Tennessee native, she enjoys cooking, swimming, music, and traveling.

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