Not Hibernating (Yet)!

Like rabbits in the wild, those at Dancing Rabbit do not hibernate in the winter.  Sure, there’re fewer visitors and less outdoor work to do, but there’re always board meetings!

Zach here, reporting live from somewhat of a flurried week.  No, not snow.  It’s been unseasonably warm, which has meant extra time for building and a longer-than-usual growing season.  In the latter of those two, I can speak to a bumper crop of radishes, mustard greens, and bok choy at the Thistledown kitchen.  Mild weather has meant fewer fires and less hot cocoa – so far.

In the former of those, our “Rabbit of the Week” this week, Hassan, held a gravel moving party to fill in the foundation trench around a new house he just broke ground on.  The spirit of community (as was mentioned last week) pitched in, and quite a few people showed up to help.  It’s not a barn-raisin’ but it sure shows how many hands make for quick work.  He also called for a gathering, per our burgeoning three-week-old tradition, to tell his life story on Friday night.  It was a winding tale, one where he described having lived in dozens of different places and rarely settling down for more than 9 months at a time… until he came to Dancing Rabbit.

Here is more home than anywhere else, it seems, to him and many others.  More people have moved here recently who will add to that book of tales. Brent, from Chicago, sold his laundry business and has been brainstorming entrepreneurial ideas here while pounding dirt into tire walls.  He’s trading in one glamorous career for another, I suppose. Roshana is making an attempt at retirement, dropping her full time job at a newspaper in rural Kansas in favor of part time online work and the promise of community. Our membership and residency committee has been busy as well, interviewing several new candidates who want to immigrate soon. As a newbie, I’ve been told that things slow down as the days get shorter. But so far that doesn’t seem to be the case.

This week I hosted a trivia night at the Mercantile.  It was a rousing evening that included place name anagrams, famous historical deaths, science, and a round I called “World Herstory” in homage to the vibrant feminist activism here.  Speaking of trivia, do you know what the word “lop” means when describing a rabbit (I mean the animal lagomorpha, not the villagers)? It designates those breeds with downward-facing ears!

Perhaps the foremost happening of this past week in the community was the annual in-person meeting of the Dancing Rabbit Board of Directors. Over the course of three days, and in collaboration with Rabbits, this dedicated group debated important issues that set the course for much of what the village will do in the coming year: budgets, program planning, staff re-organization, and addressing the mission statement were among the major topics this year.  But perhaps the biggest of all was discussion of a potential name change for DR’s non-profit outreach and education arm. Dozens of suggestions were submitted by friends and supporters of the community, which the Board narrowed down to less than 10, and which a committee will now narrow down to one.

The village has no plans to change its name any time soon, though.  We will continue doing what we’re good at — natural and green building, organic gardening, sustainable consumption practices, and a commitment to loving and growing with each other every day. The re-naming is meant to reflect DR’s intent to have an increasing impact on the world around us, which has been a goal since the beginning.

But we do have plans to always get better at the things we do. DR is, if nothing else, a laboratory for sustainable lifestyles. With that in mind, this coming week holds for us an economic summit, where prominent thinkers on alternative and sustainable economics from around the country will gather to discuss ways to develop guiding principles for our economic system and development and to explore some practical applications of these principles.

What is the best way to be sustainable both ecologically and economically? How can we demonstrate to others the practices we have found success in, and how can we import successful ideas from elsewhere?  These questions have been on my mind this past week, and hopefully a few answers will arise in the next few days from these well-trained economic brains.

Rabbits don’t hibernate in winter — we have that in common with lagomorpha. In fact, sometimes I feel busier than ever as the cold approaches.  But I’m still awaiting those days of sitting by the fire with cocoa, nestled tightly among friends and braced against the chilling northeastern Missouri winds that push us out of the fields and into our burrows.

In support of the Faculty walkout

In support of the walk out at MU today, I sent this email to my students this morning:

"Class – As many of you may be aware, the faculty have decided that Monday and Tuesday this week they will walk out in support of the ‪#‎ConcernedStudent1950‬ movement and the ongoing campout/hunger strike on the MU campus. I fully support this action, though the way it will manifest in this online class is somewhat different than me not showing up to teach. Also, unlike the walkout in support of the graduate students earlier this semester, simply making the course invisible is not an option because I haven’t had the opportunity to give you fair warning. Plus, we’re at a point in the semester where nothing much really happens on Monday or Tuesday except the posting of the week’s discussion threads. Instead, I’m sending this email to let you know my thoughts.

I’ve been at Mizzou a while, long enough to remember when someone threw cotton balls on the lawn of the Black Culture Center and when a group of students got the name “T.A. Brady” removed from the student center during its major renovation (because Brady, a former Dean, fought to keep black students out of the University in the 1940s). The issue of race and inequality is something that has long gone unaddressed on campus, or addressed only in fits and starts, and it is not simply a Mizzou problem but a symptom of something much larger and deeply integrated in to American culture.

I hope that, if nothing else, you take some time today to think about what would lead the black student population to feel aggrieved enough to take the actions they have. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, or just want to know more, the Maneater has had surprisingly good coverage of this entire semester, and has produced a great timeline of events:

Again, nothing will be different in this class during the walkout. I’m trying to tie what’s happening back in to the major themes of the class. If, as a sociologist, I don’t give you some tools to interpret current events like what’s happening on campus, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m supposed to."

Zach Rubin, 2018