Christina giving a talk at one of our past Open House events.

One of my mottos for the past few years has been: “just show up and you’ll figure it out when you get there”. Christina here, writing about some of the ways that I have muddled through the past week, and how life at Dancing Rabbit has helped me to be okay with not always knowing what I’m doing.

Last Saturday was Land Clean Day, a biannual tradition in which we gather together and spend the morning cleaning things up. We did it a little earlier than usual this year to get the village ready for Singing Rabbit, and so we weren’t quite as prepared as usual. What really threw me off this year was the lack of mulch. (My love for spreading mulch really can’t be understated.) Add to that my complete lack of knowledge or ability for fixing things like picnic tables, docks, or flower beds, and I was a little worried about what I would do.

I decided to show up to the courtyard with my water, hat, pitchfork, and cart and then figure out the best way to fill my three hours once I got there. I started off trying to scrape what mulch I could from last year’s pile and I decided to focus that precious mulch on supporting Cat’s efforts to weed the raspberries. But when Cat got called away to mow, I took over the job of weeding and pruning.

I wasn’t super excited about weeding for three hours, as I have plenty of my own weeding that I have been neglecting, but working off of what Cat had already done, and getting lots of help from Catie, who has returned for another visit after recently attending our July visitor session, made it much more bearable. Then I started pruning the raspberries; as it turns out, pruning dead raspberries stalks is my new true love. The click of the pruners, the clean look of the newly shorn raspberry plants, the fresh mulch covering the weeded beds — it was so satisfying. I ended up working away until the official noon end time, when I went home hot, tired, and very content with my new go-to Land Clean task.

The following day marked another important occasion for me. The new Village Council members were selected in a meeting on Sunday, meaning that as of September this year, I am no longer on the Council. While it might sound like the kind of position that wields lots of power, and that you get to make glamorous decisions about the future of a shining ecovillage, it’s usually much more about dealing with all the stuff that somehow slips through the cracks of our other committees. The other big piece of the job is having to show up to Village Council meetings every week. While Village Council meetings are generally open to everyone, and all members and residents are encouraged to come as often as they can, people here are busy, just like they are everywhere else, and sometimes that’s not their first priority. But as a Council member, I had to come every week.

I got some training when I started the VC, but really, I had almost no experience in my life with governance of any kind. The skills that I acquired in my past life for wrangling twenty teenagers into analyzing a poem don’t often apply here, at least not directly, but I showed up every week and did my best to serve the village and the people who live here, trying to take into consideration different viewpoints and values, as well as staying on top of spreadsheets, budgets, proposals, and lots and lots of meeting minutes.

I’m not sure that I was the ideal person for the job, but I think I served the village just fine, and the support and encouragement that I received from the other council members and villagers helped me, most of the time, to be okay with trying new things and working way past my comfort zone. It wasn’t always easy, but I got by with a little help from my friends.

When we first decided to move here three and a half years ago, we didn’t know how things were going to turn out. We knew that life here seemed to offer a lot that we had been missing, but there was just so much that was uncertain. It was essentially stepping into the unknown. My sister told me a phrase that came to define that leap of faith: “Jump first and the parachute will come”. Maybe not the best choice for everyone, but still, it worked for us. 

In spite of all of the expertise, research, and wisdom that goes into creating this ecovillage experiment, there are many times that we are just figuring it out as we go along. We show up to Land Clean or a Village Council meeting, or we decide to move halfway across the country, and we hope that things will fall into place. We can lean on each other when we’ve decided to just show up without much of an idea of how to get the job done, and we muddle through and figure it out together. What makes those crazy leaps of faith more tenable is the support of community. We’re not doing it alone.

Our annual Open House is coming up on September 7th, with free tours starting every half hour, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. We invite you to come see our village firsthand, see the interesting projects we are engaged in, and meet a few of us along the way. Search Google Maps for Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage to find the best directions from your location.