June was a big month for birthdays and celebrations at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, as well as our neighbor communities: Red Earth Farms and Sandhill Farm. Avi here, still digesting all the homebrewed beer, freshly baked cake, grilled meat, and scrumptious potluck dishes.
In the last week alone, I helped host a birthday party for my wife Anna; attended the Red Earth Farms Land Day celebration (the anniversary of the day they bought their land, and thus established the community); another birthday party; and a going-away party for Javi, a beloved community member who is heading out to eastern Washington state to fight wildfires for a couple months. Sandwiched between these happenings was a party thrown by Pet Committee to reward the community for civic participation: filling out a lengthy survey to help inform the details of some new pet policies.
One of the huge benefits of living in an ecovillage, despite its accompanying challenges, is the amount of people that are in my life on an everyday basis. There are over 50 people, conservatively, who I see on a near daily basis in passing and multiple times each week in some kind of social setting. As a result, we’re more invested in each other’s lives than folks in the wider culture might be.
When someone has a birthday, or a going-away party, it’s an opportunity to show up and express appreciation for the ways that person contributes directly to my life. Living in a city or suburban environment, it seems to me that social connections are more often rooted in whether or not I “like” that person’s personality and whether we share common interests. At DR, common interests are also a part of the equation, a source of connection and the reason why we’re all here in the first place, but there’s another very prominent foundation for social connection: appreciating what a person does for the community and the ways in which we’re interdependent. Living at DR, we all witness the sacrifices each of us make to contribute to the whole and reap the benefits of each other’s work and efforts in a very direct manner.
I have a deep appreciation for Bob, who is currently diligently climate controlling the common house, tending the curtains and AC units to provide a respite from the sweltering summer heat. There’s Mae, Christina, Andrea, Ted, Prairie, Arunje and Anna, who move the fencing for the goats and cow, do the milking, and help me make cheese so I can have delicious, healthy dairy products. There’s Nathan, who has been a tremendous source of marketing and sales advice for my personal business and for the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture (DR’s education and outreach organization), which I also work for. There’s Dee, Carolyn, Matt, Alannah, Benji, and Vick, my co-workers at CSCC. There’s Hassan, who built the house I live in. There’s Taylor, Freddi, Ange, and Kim who garden with me a few times a week. And Ben, who procured straw bales from a local farmer that are getting used to mulch our plants in the garden. I could go on and on, literally naming everyone in the community and things they contribute directly to my quality of life.
Celebrating feels easier and more natural here, on many levels. For one, we all live within walking distance of each other, making it easy to drop by for a party or gathering without a lot of advance notice or blocking out a significant amount of time in the day’s schedule. Without a culture of going out on the town to celebrate, our gatherings are almost always much more affordable D.I.Y. affairs — the food, drinks and fun are often homemade, which is another opportunity to appreciate the contributions of others.
There is a party every Thursday night at Dancing Rabbit, because that’s when we do Pizza Night at the Milkweed Mercantile, our eco inn and tavern. They have a wide selection of beers and other beverages (my favorites are the fruit ales, made from berries or apricots) and the desserts alone are worth the drive: last week, Alline made a chocolate cheesecake flavored with kahlua. The bridge between Memphis and Rutledge on M is open again, so swing on down for summer fun from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.. Check Google Maps for the best directions from your location, and if you’re coming with a large group (we had about a dozen students visit us from Truman State University in Kirksville a couple weeks ago), consider calling ahead: (660) 883-5522. Don’t miss out on the fun; we can’t wait to see you there!