Howdy friends and neighbors. Ben here bringing you the latest happenings in our ecovillage. I’ll try to make this brief, because I have fallen into a time-bending vortex which we Rabbits colloquially refer to as “Retreat”, and from within this temporal twilight zone I have been unable to distinguish which day of the week it is. In all fairness, there is a retreat schedule posted in the Common House which, if I were to apply deductive reasoning, could tell me exactly what was going on. Instead, I’ve decided to fling myself in freeform fashion, rescinding all control over my physical whereabouts and intellectual preoccupations for a couple of long weekends. I just bet the inquisitive reader wants to know what retreat is all about. Having just ended the first weekend and thus feeling exhausted, (and all I did was serve snacks once) I do not wish to seek out anybody in this village with the historical context that I need to give you the most correct answer, so I’m just going to tell you what I think happened instead.

Well, we started our weekend on Wednesday, or as some of you may know it, Validation Day, which as far as I can tell is a day when people share with all their loved ones something that is truly appreciated about them. Validation Day is traditionally celebrated on the same day as that other V holiday, but we decided to alter that to accommodate the retreat schedule. Valentine’s Day, in contrast to Validation Day, seems to be about keeping florists, dentists, and balloon makers busy while people declare appreciation to their more specifically loved ones. Withstanding any possible helium shortages* you may enjoy whichever, or both V-days as you choose, but I recommend Validation Day.

But oh yeah, retreat. To be succinct about it, so far it has been a mix of deep check-ins, talk of governance, bonding, visioning, (different from envisioning) prioritizing goals, dreaming, scheming and other business schmizzness. The closest analog I can reference in regards to the business stuff was my home economics class. There were budgets and schedules as well as the occasional game or snack. Some folks were even mending clothes, knitting, and making towels during the presentations. Luckily for myself the discussions about tasks and phases and procedures were punctuated with concepts like smarter solar shower systems and pedal powered private jets. I also liked looking at the colored graphs. Juggling, yoga, and hacky sack were also sprinkled into the mix, which I can shamefully admit are all things I’ve never done right.

I know that a lot of people on the planet spend a lot of time in organizational meetings (some of them might even look like ours, but I’m not sure) but this all felt very unusual and unique to me. Also differing from our day to day ecovillage life was the kid scene. Many of the children packed together for fun time and bonding with our friends Joan, Liat, Michael, Bobbie and Gigi, to whom I am so grateful. In fact, as I write this right now I look upon my own child sleeping soundly and can hardly believe how little I’ve seen her as of late, outside of meals, storytime, and taking an afternoon to craft a dried flower and feather bouquet for Valentine’s Day/Mae’s birthday. Which reminds me that there were also three birthdays and a birthday dance party this week. Whew!

Outside of retreat it seems that the rhythms of life continue. The chickens peck and pick, cardinals scuffle in the dead leaves, and geese and honeybees herald the coming warmth of spring. At times this week it seemed amazing to me that the outside world existed at all, but I am reminded that so much of the work happening here and now is not only about relating to ourselves as an ecovillage, but relating to the rest of the world as well. A particular moment comes to mind for me during a meeting which centered on how this community reaches out beyond its property line to impact our local/global neighbors, when Sheriff Wynn suddenly dropped in for a quick visit during his patrol. It helped me recall that we have neighbors who are reaching out towards us too. As much as I appreciate the importance of retreat, I am so thankful for things like the radio, and our view of the neighbors’ cows to remind us of all the other happenings in our neck of the woods. Some of us still carried on with our daily routines, traveling on foot and bicycle wheel to Rutledge and Memphis, some even going to the Bible Grove Historic Schoolhouse breakfast fundraiser to hear local lore and partake in the bottomless coffee. At night I still hear the coyotes and owls, prompting me to look both inside and out at the state of the world we are all helping to build, but for now I have to go to sleep.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit in northeast Missouri, focused on sustainable living. Our free tours start up again in the spring. Meanwhile you can find more information at www.dancingrabbit.org, read our blog at blog.dancingrabbit.org, or give us a call at (660) 883-5511. You can also find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/DancingRabbitEcovillage.

*en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium