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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 1/18/10 [Jan. 18th, 2010|05:44 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |busybusy]

This week at Dancing Rabbit we had weathery things like snow, ice, and slush. Burrrr and a bit o’ yuck. This is my first winter at Dancing Rabbit and it has been a learning experience (and continues to be). We had below zero weather for a few nights in a row. This weather, which I thought had to be uncharacteristic, is evidently how it used to be, "back in the day" (according to the Rutledge Renegades, locals and friends we talk to often at Zimmerman's). I have learned the fine art of chopping wood and keeping a room warm. Tereza, Alyson, and I all shared the joy of frozen pipes; not to fear, we are all well and on track again. The best part has been taking advantage of winter's abundance...of snow. Dave, Jennifer, and I trekked over to a big o hill, affectionately called Vista de la Moo, and sledded on toboggan and flimsy yet fast regular sleds. My first time sledding, it was awesome, I tried to get Thor (Bear's dog) to get on the sled, but he wasn't having it. What we also learned about too many nights of too cold weather may cause the top layer of potatoes to freeze. Sheila was trying to explain to me how the first mushy layer was usable in some way, but I couldn't really imagine it. The good news is that most of Sheila's cellared tates did well, and I'm hoping that one day Sheila will make me breakfast. Dan tried to feed his mushy taters to the chickens, they were not so interested; they are clearly hens with discerning and refined tastes. Whatever helps those yummy eggs to keep 'a coming!

My favorite part of this week was seeing more of our people return home. Ali and Thomas, Sara, Ted, and Aurelia, Ziggy and April. I know it was last week, but Alyssa, Zane, and Bear and Ma'ikwe and Enzio. It always feels good when family returns home, both related and chosen families. So, now it feels like we are all getting back into the swing of things. The common house is livening up again. We all get to socialize together again and get excited about this next year. I hear people talking about projects they want to start...or continue. Gardening is always a big topic. We just started a gardening club and had our first meeting. There was quite a turn out, with experienced gardeners and newbies like myself. It inspires me how much the people in our eco-village care to bring food organically and locally into our lives for ourselves and neighbors. It is inspiring to see sustainability in process.

We all came together for a special party for Sara, who had a medical procedure last Monday. She is doing well now; before she went to the hospital we got everyone together and all wished her well. There was artwork galore and henna tattooing and songs written in her honor. It was not only fun, which is always a welcome thing during January, it was warm and fuzzy.

All in all it's been a good and productive week. People chopping wood, throwing shindigs and dinners, connecting, and some people continue to build – Dave is still putting a floor in the Timberframe extension, even as the temperatures drop. As it seems to be getting warmer, I can feel the spirits rising around here too. I think we all look forward to getting more work done and having more fun together in the common house. I'm from Hawai'i though and perhaps I'm optimistic and naive, it's only just January. I suppose we could be sledding again next week. Either way, I can't wait. It's taken awhile, but I'm finally warming up to this colder weather.


Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri, practicing ecological sustainability. We offer free public tours March through October. For more information, please see our website at http://www.dancingrabbit.org.
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 1/4/10 [Jan. 4th, 2010|05:09 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |coldcold]

Happy New Year to all of our readers! This is Alline checking in with all of the news that’s fit to print from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

As often happens around here, the big news is the weather. In a nutshell: it is COLD! It has been -9 and -11 (that is 9 and 11 degrees BELOW zero) in the mornings when we wake up…Brrrrr! People reading this in Northeastern Missouri are thinking “well, duh!” but this column also goes out electronically to all sorts of climates, and we’d like our friends in, say, Florida (hi to families of Liat, Mary Beth and Cecil!) to feel the full weight of our stoicism. Have I mentioned just how cold it is?

And still we bravely soldier on. As we run all of our appliances on renewable energy (solar panels and wind turbines) we choose not have clothes dryers – we have clothes lines. One of the most entertaining aspects of my winter is hanging clothes out to dry. Depending on just how bitterly cold it is, the clothes freeze solid within minutes – one can hold them up much like a board, which makes me laugh every time. (Clearly we do not have TV here, and are very easily entertained).

Just yesterday Nani, a native of tropical, sunny Hawaii, came by to borrow still more blankets. We are hoping that she survives the winter. The good news is that because it is so cold (at noon we are experiencing a daily high of 9 degrees F), the snow that fell on the ground over Christmas is still with us, and crunches delightfully as we walk around the village – it really is beautiful, at least to this Californian. There have been (brief but exciting) sledding runs down the hill across the road, exuberant games of broom ball and a group of Rabbits went over to Sandhill to play a game of ice hockey. I’m pleased to report that all came home with all of their teeth. The rest of us are staying home by the fire and reading seed catalogs, dreaming of warm sunshine and fresh tomatoes.

I’d like to use this space to give a special thanks to Dennis, who has been unflagging in his commitment to keep our vehicles running (even getting up at 4:00 a.m. on numerous mornings to make sure we can get to the train station on time), and to Bob who fires the boiler in the Community Building, keeping us warm and providing plentiful hot water.

As many Rabbits are away for the holidays, the rest of us have been pinch-hitting in the animal care department. Dennis has been doing double-duty, taking care of Dan’s chickens (he gets paid in eggs) and Sparky’s kitten Huckleberry. Many of us worried about little Huck (who has entranced us with his little pink nose and tufts of hair growing out of his ears – why is it that what is goofy on an old man is fabulous on a cat?) and so unbeknownst to one another up to five visitors went to see him each day; each of us soaking up joy from the purring ball of fluff. Sheila, who professes to “not being an animal person,” played Florence Nightingale to Amy and Juan’s cats, for which everyone is grateful, especially Nemo and Dweezil. Boone and Danielle did a noble job of chasing Maikwe’s cat hither and yon, trying to make sure she was warm and fed. And the dogs have all become tremendously lovey-dovey, since they’re not quite sure which human is feeding them each day, and want to hedge their bets.

The traveling Rabbits are slowly returning – Maikwe came back from her holiday in the Southwest; on Saturday Amtrak delivered Dave, Rachel, Tony and Sparky. On Sunday Ted, Sara and Aurelia returned, as did Amy, Juan and Joly. Bear, Alyssa and Zane went to Quincy for a New Year’s celebration with Bear’s parents, but only stayed a few days. Toren and Rowan came for two lightening-fast weeks (while Cynder went to Oklahoma to visit her father) and have now headed back. Sharon, who is part-owner of a cacao farm in Ecuador left on Christmas day for a two month stay, and will be joined there by MaryBeth, who will be helping with the farming and harvesting. We are looking forward to the their return, as in their suitcases will be bars of organic, single origin 100% cacao – it is a joy to bake with!

New Year’s Eve found most of us gathered in Skyhouse for an all-night pajama party. Games began after dinner, along with snacks – it is fun that all of the kids and adults can hang out together and have a good time. I especially enjoyed Tom and Tereza’s flannel jammies! Beginning at 9:30 p.m. we began to ring in the New Year – at 9:30 our time it is midnight in Newfoundland. After that I went to bed, but I heard that the party continued on into the wee hours.

We have received the wonderful news that Tamar is feeling much better. After two rounds of chemo and lots of acupuncture, tong ren, tuina, and loads and loads of positive energy from people around the world, the results from the CT scan show a significant reduction in pancreatic and liver masses. We are looking forward to her visit next month!

Also on the books for next month is our annual retreat. Additionally, we hope to have details of the Work Exchange opportunities for the summer of 2010 up online soon. We’re already gearing up for a busy, exciting summer!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting next April. For more information, please see our website at www.dancingrabbit.org
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 12/21/09 [Dec. 22nd, 2009|10:37 am]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |gratefulgrateful]

Hello! This is Danielle from Dancing Rabbit with praise for the changing of seasons, the quiet reflection of the winter months and a small brewing twinkle of next spring’s plans and schemes. I’m feeling rather poetic having just come from an early morning solstice celebration in Skyhouse, where we gathered this morning at 6:30 am for coffee, tea, cranberry orange muffins, corn muffins, Sheila’s sourdough pancakes and delicious eggs from our own Dan Durica’s lovely chickens (who are currently in the loving care of Dennis who it turns out makes the best scrambled eggs in the world). As the sun rose through the clouds and brightened a fresh cover of snow, we sat inside and sang old and new songs about the return of light in the sky. Last Night is when the celebration actually began; so let me back up a bit…

At dusk, we gathered with candles as Sharon treated us to a brief lesson on the meaning (scientific and spiritual) of the winter solstice. Scientifically, the solstice marks the moment in time when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun. In other words, when the sun reaches its lowest point in our horizon, thus beginning its ascent again, marking the last and longest night of the winter. For many people, this is a time to celebrate the change from darkness to light, the slipping away of the still winter and the sneaking in of an abundant, alive and promising spring. For us, it was a time to reflect on what darkness means for us, how we feel during the winter, what we experience and learn from the season of rest and stillness.

After all the deep reflection, this morning felt light and joyful because, as Sharon pointed out, we are now closer to spring then we were in September! Hooray! Right now there are fewer of us on farm than usual. Many people are away for the winter, visiting family, friends, traveling, exploring etc… And I imagine it will become still sparser before spring shows up. But the small group reflects the season. We can be closer to each other and learn from each other in more detail. We can cease some if not all, of the constant doing and building and moving and running (well at least some of us can, there are some here who seem to work, play and live outdoors with as much vitality as most do in the summer!).
I feel so grateful to have experienced my first full turn of a season here at Dancing Rabbit, and I’m looking forward to the next one, and the next one, and the next one!I wish you all a wonderful holiday and happy Solstice!

See you next year,
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Proving that Sustainability works! [Dec. 16th, 2009|05:02 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |hopefulhopeful]

Dear Dancing Rabbit Friend,

It's finally making headlines! Everywhere you turn, a simple message is repeated: Don't Hurt the Earth!

Sounds like such a simple concept!

But you know it's not as simple as that. We all do. You may have heard about No Impact Man, who spent a year working towards zero environmental impact while living in New York City. He gets the media coverage he does because the truth is that aiming for zero impact is not simple. It's a radical departure from the current way of doing things. Our entire way of life has been built around convenience and ease for humans, with little regard to the ecological systems around us.

No Impact Man, village scale?

You know we're on the right path by looking at our track record: we receive support and encouragement from folks across the globe, including No Impact Man himself. No Impact Man writes:

“We need to change our culture so that living sustainably doesn't mean swimming upstream. Dancing Rabbit has created a village where living sustainably means going with the flow. We need more of that! Please support this community; it is making a big difference!

Dancing Rabbit takes the efforts of someone like No Impact Man, and applies them at a village scale. We're proving to the world that it can be done not just on the individual scale for a year, but on the community scale long term. Here's a concept that provides some serious help for Mother Earth! You know that change needs to happen at a variety of levels — individual, community, and societal. While Dancing Rabbit encourages everyone to make personal lifestyle changes and to lobby congress to create good climate legislation, we also know that Mother Earth needs solutions that work at the village, neighborhood, and town level.

Community-Scale Sustainability – Positive Impact.

Dancing Rabbit: Promoting a Positive Impact for Mother Earth.
It's not enough for Dancing Rabbit to create a single sustainable village. We need to take the lessons we've learned and the skills and experience we've gained and share them with the world. We need to inspire others and give them the tools to help make their neighborhood, town, or city “Positive Impact”.

We need your help to make it happen.
Your donation today will help sustain into the coming year our unique outreach and education programs that effectively demonstrate and promote sustainability on a village scale. With your support, Dancing Rabbit can surpass the impressive figures we've obtained this year:
  • Sixty people now live at Dancing Rabbit, proving that a positive-impact village is possible, while collectively volunteering thousands of hours each year to demonstrate these ideas to the public.
  • Hundreds of people visited the village of Dancing Rabbit to experience for themselves community-scale sustainability in action.
  • By sending speakers to public events, conferences, and classrooms Dancing Rabbit helped thousands of people learn about sustainable living.
  • Over 125,000 people learned about community-scale sustainability through our website.
  • Media coverage of Dancing Rabbit, including the Food Network, Nickelodeon, St Louis Post-Dispatch and more, showed millions that sustainability is possible.
Community-Scale Sustainability is possible, it is practical, and it's successful!

Dancing Rabbit depends on you to keep these important programs going. Your support provides vital outreach and education programs to share our combined knowledge of sustainability with the world.

Please support our important work toward sustainability with a donation today!

Working together toward sustainable community,
Jennifer Martin, Dancing Rabbit Development Coordinator

Dancing Rabbit is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Your donations are tax deductible, and very much appreciated!
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 12/14/09 [Dec. 14th, 2009|11:33 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |gratefulgrateful]

Dan D. here, writing another column for our local paper updating you all on life in our village. I've been kind of busy this week getting ready for my annual winter vacation. It was the week when we felt the first real bitter cold front of the season. I picked the last heads of my broccoli and pulled the last of my carrots just before the temperatures plummeted. It's so nice to still be getting fresh garden produce in December. Hopefully, I'll be reporting the same thing in January and February when I'm pulling carrots, beets, and leeks from my root barrel.

I opened the door to the chicken coop the morning after it got down below zero and the chickens seemed struck by the world outside and turned right around again. The Ironweed coop seems to be working well to keep them at least somewhat warmer than the outdoors. They also benefited from the freezing of the broccoli plants. I threw the plants into their pen and they picked them clean of their leaves.

This last weekend the Milkweed's Mercantile hosted a showing of the documentary No Impact Man, about Colin Beavan, a guy in Manhattan who lived an eco-friendly lifestyle for a year. I think Alline talked about the movie last week so I won't give too much detail. Many rabbits and neighbors attended the showings and discussed the movie afterwards. It's been nice to see the lights on and activity in the Mercantile in the evenings. We hope to attend many more fun events there in the coming months and hope that our neighbors will feel welcome to attend.

Nathan, in anticipation of the arctic blast, called for the first Broomball game of the season on our old pond. I was surprised to see the pond frozen enough to be able to hold the game on. Broomball is a game kind of like hockey, where a puck is hit into a goal. In the DR version however, the puck is an old dog bone, and it is swatted around the rink using old brooms. I wonder how the dogs reacted to the game. Players have been scrambling to find brooms to play with. They don't make brooms like they used to and apparently the cheapo plastic brooms they make these days don't hold up to the rigors of the game. If you have any old fiber (not plastic) brooms that have seen better days, you can donate them to DR.

I've been watching the skies lately waiting for the first signs of the Geminid meteor showers. I'm so busy during the season I often don't take the time to look up at night and follow what's happening in the sky. It's not until fall that I start paying attention and realize what I've been missing. Unfortunately, I'm headed to a city now and even if the skies are clear I won't likely be able to see many shooting stars. But getting out on these clear, cold, moonless nights with the binoculars has been an excuse to learn the names of some new stars, nebulae, and constellations. And sometimes if I watch and listen closely I can see and hear the geese flying south way up by the stars. It's another great thing about living in the country.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting next April. For more information, please see our website at http://www.dancingrabbit.org.
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Memphis Democrat Column 12/7/09 [Dec. 8th, 2009|12:39 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |calmcalm]

Hi all. This is Alline with the latest news from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Things here at Dancing Rabbit are pretty much the same – folks coming home from holiday travel, others leaving for trips. Gatherings, dinners, and our first snowfall of the year – yay!

But what has been on my mind most lately is movies. Last night we watched the documentary “Food, Inc.” It features two of my personal heroes; Michael Pollan, the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (http://www.michaelpollan.com/), and Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/). Among other things it focuses on the importance of small local farms, of being aware of where our food comes from, and just exactly what it in it.

I also previewed the documentary film “No-Impact Man” in preparation for this weekend’s free public screenings at the Milkweed Mercantile. I wasn’t sure what to expect – the film is billed as “Colin Beavan and his family turn their small Manhattan apartment into the site of an experiment in radical non-consumption.” They go off the grid for a full year—while still living in New York City—to see if it’s possible to make no net impact on the environment.

There are many parallels between the No Impact Project and Dancing Rabbit that, for me, elicited a kind of kindred admiration for the Beavans. While the project was, admittedly, a ploy for his next book, he genuinely wanted to learn how one person could make a difference. By doing so, he opened himself up to criticism and ridicule. No where in the movie or book does he suggest that others do what he is doing. But when the New York Times gets wind of the No Impact Project they write a sneering article, calling the project “an ethically murky exercise in self-promotion.” Here at Dancing Rabbit we’ve spent countless hours with reporters and journalists, documentary makers and students – sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they completely miss the point. The New York Times focused on the Beavans’ lack of toilet paper (the article was entitled “The Year Without Toilet Paper”) while the Colbert Report honed in on DR’s composting toilets. The Beavans learned what members of Dancing Rabbit continue to learn – living one’s life in a demonstration community, willing to showcase both the successes as well as the challenges, is not for the faint of heart.

The evolution of Colin and Michelle’s marriage was much more entertaining than many soap operas or TV dramas; this also struck a bell of recognition. Michelle’s disdain for “nature” was hilarious, and reminiscent of the attitudes of many of our friends who don’t quite get why we’re living in rural Missouri.
About halfway through the film Colin starts to seem more humble and less domineering, and Michelle turns from whiny skeptic to good sport. The family bikes around the city and cooks organic food by candlelight, and the no-impact regimen mutates from family issue to family adventure. We get to watch Colin and Michelle deal with questions that we at Dancing Rabbit ask ourselves every day – how much of what we consume really adds value to our life vs. how much of it is filler, or worse, inhibits us from living our lives to the fullest? The Beavan family discovers that when they remove many things from their lives, they spend more time enjoying each other instead of wandering around the mall or staring at the television. They discover that eating locally and using human-powered transportation result in reversing pre-diabetes indicators and losing 20 pounds. They discover that their 2 year old daughter really enjoys gardening and the beach and riding on a bicycle. (One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Isabella sees fireflies for the first time.) Without No Impact Project they'd have missed out on all of those discoveries.

I think that in the end the movie presents us with a choice: instead of casting environmental activists as either hypocritical or self-righteous, are we able to watch the movie and then find a change in our own lives that will not only reduce our negative impact on society but also more positively impact our life? It could be more human-powered transportation, more local food, buying fewer new and more used goods, having things repaired instead of replaced, adjusting that thermostat, improving one’s home to be more energy efficient, drinking less bottled water... or any other number of things. We all have an opportunity: how will the world be better today because of our/your changes?

So come see for yourself. The movie will be shown at the Milkweed Mercantile at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage Friday, December 11th at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, December 12th at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, December 13th at 2:00 p.m. Admission is free. For directions please call 883-5634.

The Milkweed Mercantile has donated a copy of both the “No Impact Man” book and film to the Scotland County Library in Memphis.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting next April. For more information, please see our website at http://www.dancingrabbit.org
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 11/30/09 [Dec. 4th, 2009|11:13 am]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Zip zip zip goes the time, just flying by…where does it go?

It was Thanksgiving, now it’s December; who can keep up? I’m still trying to find a place to store the tomatoes I canned three months ago…

Hi all, this is Alline with this week’s adventures from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

It was a quiet but fun-filled week. Lots of folks are traveling for the holidays – Ted, Sara & Aurelia went east; Bear, Alyssa and Zane went west. Nani, Elle and Dave went south, then north; Brian went to Ohio, Liat was dog-sitting over at Red Earth Farms… And humans weren’t the only ones on the move – Dan and Mary Beth’s chickens took up residence in the “chicken TV” in the Ironweed kitchen.

We missed submitting a column last week – assigned author Jen had a painful run-in with lime plaster while working on Maikwe’s home. She accidently got a blob of it in her eye; as lime is extremely caustic it was very painful and rather terrifying, for all involved. Quick thinking on the jobsite got Jen’s eye flushed (and flushed and flushed) with saline solution, followed by a trip to the Memphis Emergency room where she received excellent care. After an uncomfortable and painful week, Jen is now doing well, as is her vision. Whew!

Dennis and Sharon just returned from presenting a successful and well received weekend seminar on Permaculture at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. Permaculture is a holistic approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimics the relationships found in natural ecologies. The word permaculture is a blend of the words permanent agriculture, as well as permanent culture. The intent is that, by training individuals in a core set of design principles, those individuals could design their own environments and build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements — ones that reduce society's reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution identified as fundamentally and systematically destroying Earth's ecosystems. Modern permaculture is a way of looking at a whole system or problem; observing how the parts relate; planning to mend sick systems by applying ideas learned from long-term sustainable working systems; seeing connections between key parts. For more info see the Permaculture Institute at permaculture.org. Also recommended is Toby Hemenway’s book “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home Scale Permaculture.” Dennis, Sharon and I are currently plotting a way to bring this seminar to the Milkweed Mercantile in the fall of 2010.

Wednesday evening Enzio (formerly “Jibran”) and Duncan presented a play featuring their version of the first Thanksgiving. Ably assisted by actors Lily and Sheila, it was a comic tour de force, a combination of “CSI Rutledge” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” It was short but fabulous; we look forward to more home-grown entertainment!

Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving here at Dancing Rabbit with our friends from Sandhill and Red Earth Farms. Juan’s mom Gloria and her husband Vince were here to celebrate Jolyon’s first Thanksgiving. We were also joined by Marqis (Enzio’s dad), who is rapidly becoming one of the family, and Jo Sandhill and her partner Peter, who were in town to visit her father Laird. While it could have been chaotic having 42 for dinner, all ran smoothly as a crew of servers cheerfully distributed the food to the various tables. We ate until we were full, and then ate some more. The Carletons and Nathan celebrated the day in LaPlata with our friends at the Possibility Alliance. Life is good, and we are grateful.

Lately we’ve had wonderfully clear skies at night and a moon bright enough to walk around “in the dark” without flashlights. It feels quite magical. Adrienne, who along with her delightful son Cody recently made Dancing Rabbit her home, has offered to teach astronomy classes so that we know what we are ooohing and aahhhing at. Many of us are excited, and we’re all happy that our circle of combined skills and talents is ever increasing.

Saturday and Sunday brought the Scotland County debut of the talented duo of Danielle and Boone, who presented “The Fontina and Gruyere Show” at the Memphis Theater. Everyone who attended was thoroughly entertained – oh, how we laughed!  Danielle and Boone had lots of help putting on the show: in addition to ample and gracious support from the Memphis Community Theater, Sparky (nicknamed “Debbie Gorgonzola” for the production) made sure the moon rose on time. Mark Mazzioti (aka “Mr. Stilton”) played the banjo and I (as “Professor Limberger”) got to introduce the play. It was a good weekend for the ham in all of us. Ziggy and April filmed the production for posterity’s sake. Being in town was also a great excuse to eat at the Main Street Café both days. I highly recommend “The Original (Dave’s)” – it’s an amazingly delicious concoction of pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, tomato, mozzarella cheese and garlic mayo all melted together on toasted foccacia. All in all, the weekend was delightfully cheesy!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting next April. For more information, please see our website at www.dancingrabbit.org.
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 11/16/09 [Nov. 16th, 2009|11:56 am]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |mellowmellow]

Dan D. here writing another column to update you all on what we were up to at Dancing Rabbit this week. It's been a stretch of unusually good weather lately. We got the October (or even September) we never actually got in October. I was able to finish the scratch coat of plaster on the house and make more progress on the light clay straw insulation on the South wall this past week.

I wasn't alone in getting some good work in during the late season warm front. Luke Zimmerman was doing more excavating the foundation for Bear and Alyssa's new house. The Ironweed kitchen has been transforming lately as Travis and Ted have been putting some finishing touches on it. I say finishing touches, but I guess the work adds up to a lot more than touches. The loft was finished so that Travis could sleep there during his stay. The greenhouse on the south side has been almost entirely enclosed. Boone put a door on the chicken coop and earthen floor was laid to prep the coop for the new tenants--my chickens. At our meeting today Ted talked of having a kitchen warming party soon.

Speaking of chickens, I was able to eat the first chicken from my flock this last week. I've got about 4 roosters and only 7 hens, so I plan to eat a couple more roosters before long. Mary Beth and I made delicious chicken soup in which the only ingredients not grown by us were salt and pepper. Then this morning I went out for the morning feeding and found my first egg. I brought it back home and fried it up right away. It was delicious, and the yolk had a deep orange color as only the freshest and healthiest eggs have.

Raising chickens has definitely been a lesson in sustainability though. Growing your own livestock gives you a better understanding of how much they eat. I'm sure this is not news for you livestock farmers out there. It's incredible how many bushels of feed those 11 chickens have packed away these last seven months. And they were pastured in addition to being fed grain. Granted if they were meat birds, they would get eaten after 6 weeks, but layers take a lot longer to start laying, so it takes a lot more food. Anyway, it's a lot of food I could have just eaten myself, instead of feeding to an animal. For me though, the chickens are a part of the farm “ecosystem”. I'm raising them to fertilize the vineyard, and any eggs or meat they produce are just a bonus.

As far as other happenings here, there was a dance party earlier this week just for the heck of it. I heard that Sheila had been going through dance party withdrawal and just had to do something about it. It doesn't take much to get a dance party together here at DR. Just clear the floor of the Great Room after dinner, put on your town clothes, dim the lights, and crank up the stereo.

I attended Ziggy's slideshow Thursday on his trip to the Natural Building Colloquium. He inspired us with incredible photos of the Cob Cottage Company, a natural building school in Oregon that specializes in cob building. Cob is a building material consisting of sand, clay, and straw that Ziggy built his house out of last year. I'd recommend checking this place out on the web or in person if you can. On his visit, Ziggy was particularly taken by the cob walls that connected the buildings. Walking through the little cob village you had to walk through archways in the walls. Now people here are thinking of ways we can bring some of the creativity and beauty of the Cob Cottage Company to DR.

Thomas has continued plugging along on his efforts to reforest the bottom land. I got a closer look at the work of the latest work party yesterday while walking out on the land. It looks like many of the trees planted last year have survived and sprouted new shoots this year. Earlier this week a crew of volunteers put tree tubes around many of the saplings to protect them from grazing by wildlife. Hopefully in the years to come we'll see our bottom land grow tall and leafy thanks to their efforts.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting next April. For more information, please see our website at http://www.dancingrabbit.org.
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 11/9/09 [Nov. 9th, 2009|03:24 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |tiredtired]

Greetings from Dancing Rabbit!

It is awfully warm and balmy for November don’t you think? I suppose I am still adjusting to the whimsical nature of, well nature and weather and rain, and not rain etc. It is likely that by the time you read this we will all be huddled up indoors all cozy to avoid the bitter cold!

Hi! My name is Danielle and I am a new resident at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. I am originally from Northern California so you can imagine my surprise almost everyday when I wake up and greet the vastness of the horizon and sky not to mention the unpredictability of the weather. It has been so incredible becoming acquainted with the landscape and climate here. My partner, Boone, a Kansan, makes fun of me for being so utterly taken by all the different kinds of clouds. But I can’t help it, the sky has replaced the ocean for me and it is a never-ending source of awe. I do believe it is how I fell in love with this little corner of Northeastern Missouri. Since we (Boone and I) are fairly new residents, our time here at Dancing Rabbit so far has consisted of a lot of observing and absorbing. It is one thing to make the huge leap of faith it takes to move from a major metropolitan area to a rural environment with the intention of building a sustainable life for yourself, your family and your community, but to actually be here and experience the day- to -day reality of this experiment is humbling, beautiful and quite profound.

What stands out most to me as I observe and become a part of this community is the dedication people have to themselves, each other and the projects they take on.  Right now I can look out the window and watch Dan put the last patch of plaster on his two- story straw bale house, a project that was started in spring and is impressively close to being winterized. Oh yeah, and his roosters have finally learned to crow! Kurt and Alline continue to plan and scheme, build and beautify the Milkweed Mercantile with the same zeal they had when I met them last August. Ma'ikwe has moved in to her straw bale house out in the new neighborhood, and there is still time made for canning, cooking, playing, singing, eating and of course celebrating. Speaking of which, Halloween was a lovely, upbeat parade of transformed Rabbits. Dennis and Sharon dressed as the winds of change, and their dog Quila came as, well, a Quila monster. Thomas dressed as a dreamer in his striped pajamas and night -cap and Ali was an elephant. Mary Beth was an eggplant. There were Christmas caroling zombies, cats, fairies and ladybugs. It may go down as my favorite Halloween to date. There really is no shortage of imagination and spirit in this community that we were so lucky to have found. Even the dedication to Halloween was evident! 

Well, it is about noon and the clouds presently are forming a general wash of white and gray over-head. I think it’s time for lunch. It’s nice to meet all of you!

Very Sincerely,
Danielle Conover

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is a nonprofit and a residential community that demonstrates ecological sustainability in Rutledge, MO. Our tour schedule and Visitor Program will resume in the spring of 2010. Please call us at (660)883-5511 or visit dancingrabbit.org for more information.
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Memphis Democrat Column Week of 11/2/09 [Nov. 2nd, 2009|01:29 pm]
little miss earth goddess
[Current Mood |workingworking]

Hi all. This is Alline with the latest news from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

As this column appears in the local Northeastern newspapers and is sent to readers via email, we column writers do double-duty. The locals already know about the weather, but folks reading this in, say, Sarasota, Florida might not remember what a chilly, windy autumn day is like!

So with that caveat, we begin with the weather: The constant, driving, Noah-esque rain has finally abated and we’ve been receiving the wild winds for which the Midwest prairies are famous. Sometimes we wonder if we’re going to wake up in Illinois instead of here in Missouri. The leaves on the trees are all turning scrumptious shades of red, gold and brown, and are providing a gorgeous contrast to the bright green grass that still lingers. Fall crops are being harvested and eaten with gusto – chard and kale are still quite happy in the chilly fall air.

Halloween (or, as we call it around here: “Holler-ween”) is a big annual event here at Dancing Rabbit, rich in traditions which are being added upon each year. Preparation for the big day began early in the week with not one but two pumpkin carving parties. In addition, Bear crafted a jack-o-lantern with a skid-steer loader for Zane, a fan of all heavy equipment.

Saturday itself was filled with lots of planning and plotting for costumes and our annual Progressive Fiasco. Much like a progressive dinner, we dress up and go from home to home, where we are fed and entertained. In preparation for the stop his family was hosting, Cob came into the Milkweed Mercantile in the afternoon and asked for “a quarter pound of maggots.” In the spirit of the holiday, I filled his order with some delicious, organic jelly beans. Viewed in the right light, I guess they do look a bit larval…

When the kids could stand it no longer, it was finally time for the festivities to begin. The full moon rose over a cloudless sky – for once it was NOT a “dark and stormy night,” and we all gathered in the Community Building to ooh and aah over each other’s costumes. The first stop was Skyhouse, where we were delighted to find Tamar on a computer via a Skype connection. It was sometimes difficult to hear her, what with little zombies yelling for brains every few seconds, but it was lovely all the same. Lily (dressed as a school girl) and Brian (a creepy science teacher) read fortunes. Next stop: the tent kitchen of Boone (leader of the zombies) and Danielle (an iguana), where we were treated to video snippets of some of their hilarious shows. After this we all trooped over to the Milkweed Mercantile, where a fire roared in the fireplace and there were homemade donuts hanging from strings. After finding a donut at the appropriate height, Rabbits bobbed for donuts, no hands allowed. Jennifer took photos; one of the entire group can be seen at http://ecovillagemusings.blogspo... . Costumes included an eggplant (Mary Beth), the winds of change (Dennis and Sharon), a pony (Liat), an elephant (Ali), A Sleep (Thomas), a flower (Jan), a belly dancer (April), an uppity British couple (Ted and Sara), two witches (Aurelia and Elle), a baby bear (Zane), a voodoo princess (Jen) and the aforementioned zombies (the elegant Cynder and Duncan, Enzio and Ewan). Kim (a mummy) and Nina (a lamp) of Red Earth Farms came over to celebrate with us, as did Emily, Jacob, Apple, Owen, Renay and Gigi from Sandhill. What a great crowd!

After this we rambled over to the Timberframe addition, where we collaborated and told the scariest ghost story ever told. Then it was off to the home of the Carletons (dressed as a church lady, a schoolgirl, two zombies and a robot, who’s head was not only wired for sound with an I-pod but also had a clock, a camera and a straw for easy imbibing) for more activities and snacks (including “dried blood” popcorn). Last stop of the evening was Ma'ikwe’s (an elegant vampire) house, were revelers danced into the evening.

In other news, the building season is slowing wrapping up, one work site at a time. Rev and Kit, who have been working feverishly on Maikwe’s home, departed on Thursday. Jennifer held an end-of-season BBQ celebration for her crew (Bear, Horacio, Dave and Randy) on Saturday afternoon, although I still hear hammering from the site where they are installing the observation tower on the Timberframe addition. Travis (a work exchanger) has been helping Ted and Sara on the Ironweed Kitchen, home of the eagerly awaited “chicken TV.” Dan and Mary Beth continue to work on their building, and are now applying lime plaster to the straw bales. Last but certainly not least, Jeff finally moved into his house.

A group of Rabbits (Matt, Liat, April, Tom, Tereza, Bob) arrived home after ten days of hard work doing deconstruction for a Quaker group. While the work was hard, they had a wonderful time – the organizers thoughtfully prepared ten days worth of vegan food, and labeled and froze them all so that the Rabbits could dine divinely.

To close out the week with a bang, we met and finally chose the dates for our 2010 Visitor Program. We hope to have details posted on the Dancing Rabbit website soon!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is a nonprofit and a residential community that demonstrates ecological sustainability in Rutledge, MO. Our tour schedule and Visitor Program will resume in the spring of 2010. Please call us at (660)883-5511 or visit dancingrabbit.org for more information.
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