There and Back Again: Our Trip to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

 

This past week our family embarked on quite the adventure. We attended the Sustainable Living Visitor Program at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, a sustainability demonstration community in Missouri. Not sure what that means? Perhaps it would be best to let them explain it in their own word.

Pretty cool stuff, huh? Besides just getting away for the week, our goals while at Dancing Rabbit were to learn as much as we could about all things sustainable living and see if living in a close knit intentional community seemed right for us. We definitely learned A LOT that we will be carrying forward with us and we are still digesting the community experience. Perhaps more on that in the future. But back to last week!

After a 6.5 hour drive from Kentucky to the prairies of northern Missouri, we arrived during the afternoon on Sunday, May 21. Kendal and Sloan were quite eager to get out of the car and take this picture for you all.

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After a meet and greet with the other visitor program attendees we settled into our accommodations in the two story, 6 bedroom, straw bale structure known as Skyhouse. The days that followed featured educational sessions of everything from Communication and Conflict Resolution to Alternative Energy and Construction, the later being of far more interest to me personally. We were given tours of most every structure at Dancing Rabbit along with detailed information of their construction methods. For me, it was fascinating to be able to see all of these examples in one place. Below are just a few of them.

We were also able to get some hands on education and stimulation. One afternoon we had a garden work party where we weeded the strawberry patch (compensated with tasty little berries as we worked) and built some new beds. Surprisingly, it turns out Kendal loves tenderizing manure with a pitch fork. Who would have guessed?

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Another day we were taken on a property walk and learned about Dancing Rabbit’s prairie restoration and conservation work. They own close to 300 acres of depleted agricultural land that they are working to bring back to it’s native glory. Part of that program includes prescribed burns to replenish the soil and eliminate non-native plant life. The area below was burned this past winter and is bursting back to life.

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And then there was the social element. Our days were filled with amazing conversation……

……impromptu ukulele lessons from one of the other attendees…..

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….and lots of great food and drink!

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The amount of social interaction was both rewarding and at times overwhelming. In modern society we have really lost the close connections with our community that for millennia were not just the norm but necessary for survival. These moments where what really made the experience. Well, that and the occasional miracle….

YES, that is a wild bird. It just hung out for about 15 minutes. Where else does something like that happen except an ecovillage or Disney movie? It was crazy and the kids loved it.

As you can see, we had a great time and learned so much. If you get the opportunity to attend their visitor program or even just visit Dancing Rabbit I highly recommend it. They are doing great work and passionately want to share it with everyone they can.

Have you visited an ecovillage or other intentional community? Comment below and let us know.

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Baby Steps Towards Sustainable Living

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

Whether you just want to take small steps in your current lifestyle to live more lightly and sustainably or you are planning to radically change the way you live, you have to start somewhere. Chase here and in this post I will go over some baby steps anyone can and, in my humble opinion, should take. Keep in mind these are just a few examples and is far from an exhaustive list. Feel free to contribute more ideas in the comment section below.

Finances

Wonder how many of you were expecting me to lead off with that. Getting your personal finances in order is a critical element of overall sustainability. There is no economic theory out there that can argue that the US economy, which is currently carrying $60+ trillion in public and private debt (by the way, that is approaching $175,000 in debt for every man, woman and child), can continue on indefinitely. You can not sustain infinite growth on finite resources so, at some point, simple math is going to force us to reevaluate how we live and spend in Western culture. In 2008-2009 we got a sneak peek and our solution was to delay the inevitable with…………..more public and private debt.

I could write a book on this topic but the book I would write has already been written. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey is that book. It was immensely helpful to Victoria and I and helped put us in a financial position to be able to make more significant lifestyle changes.

Food

For most people it is not feasible to produce 100% of your food. That is a HUGE undertaking but even a simple herb and veggie garden is a step in the right direction. If you have a little bit of room like we do, a raised bed garden is a great option. If you are a limited on space something like a counter top AeroGarden or an AquaSprouts Garden might work for you.

You can also take steps towards reducing the impact of the food you consume. Rather than going to the national chain grocery store and buying commercial food that is often produce hundreds and even thousands of miles away, buy local. Do more of your grocery shopping at local farmers markets and look into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Check out localharvest.org to find our what is available in your area. The food will be fresher, healthier and you will be supporting your local economy rather than stock market prices.

Energy 

Spend $20,000 on a solar power system for your home. Just kidding! There are so many simple low-to-no cost things you can do to reduce your energy consumption and save money in the long run. A few examples are:

  • Reduce the temperature you set your heater on by 2 degrees.
  • Increase the temperature you set you AC on by 2 degrees.
  • Add insulation to your home.
  • Seal any cracks and gaps around doors and windows.
  • Turn off the light switch when you leave a room like your momma taught you.
  • Turn off and unplug appliances and electronics when not in use.
  • Install high-efficiency LED light bulbs.
  • Install thermal curtains on your windows to keep heat in or out depending on the season.
  • Install a tankless water heater.
  • Carpool, ride your bike, or take public transportation.
  • Keep your vehicle well maintained and running well.

Water

Water usage is becoming a pretty serious issue in some places. Just like energy consumption, there are a not of low-to-no cost steps you can take.

And there is so much more you can do, these are just baby steps. If you have any other recommendations, drop a comment and let us know.

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