There once was a lady who lived in an ecovillage. Then one day she drove away. This is what happens next.
It’s great that the people who live at Dancing Rabbit are having a much less disruptive impact on the global environment than most USians. Kind of the point of DR, though, is to be an example of what others can do to also be nicer to the planet. Here’re some things you (non Rabbit) can do to help them (the Rabbits) achieve that.
When I moved back to suburbia after five years in an ecovillage, one of the first things I did was check Facebook, Craig’s List, and the local farmers’ market for information about a UNFI buying club near my new home. I eventually hunted it down and when I arrived for my orientation it was like a little slice of my rabbity home.
Buying clubs take different forms, but what every UNFI (or other bulk natural or organic food company) buying club has in common is the access it offers to food and other products that may otherwise be hard to find. 50# bags of organic whole grain flour, for your weekly sourdough? Check. Vegan Worchestershire sauce for your popcorn? Check. 11# bags of organic popcorn? UNFI has you covered.
Plus, it’s a way to meet other people who might share your interest in simpler, more cooperative living. Or at least quirky enough to want an alternative to the local supermarket.
Dancing Rabbit’s Pièce de Résistance (in my opinion) is their vehicle co-op. More than 50 people sharing a small handful of vehicles was both effective and easy to pull off. We coordinated, we shared space in the car, and we ran errands for each other. Or, I mean, they still do.
Starting a car co-op will require a great deal of finesse, gregariousness, or bravery. What I’m trying to say is: I’ve lived “out here” for about a year and I still haven’t managed it. But I will… and you can.
I can hardly wait to have that kind of efficiency in my new neighborhood, but it’s a challenge. Insurance is the real issue, I think. Creating a car co-op from scratch among people who have never heard of such a thing and who keenly value their transportational independence seems like an uphill battle, too.
If you want more information about how DR does their car co-op to help you organize one in your neighborhood, you can check out their website.
As a shortcut, if you live in an affluent area, RelayRides.com might be an option. Folks can sign up to have their car be rentable by the day, and then you can get rid of your car, with its upkeep, insurance, and loan payments and rent a car whenever you need it.
You could used taxi’s when a rental doesn’t work, ride a bike (an ebike, perhaps?), or even hitchhike.
If you’re like me, and can’t quite manage to share a car with your neighbors or otherwise get rid of the personal motorized vehicle in your driveway, there are some things you can do to make it a little less impactful. Be efficient with your trips to town. Work from home, if you can. Walk or bike as much as possible or practical, depending on your level of commitment. Take the train. At very least consider fuel type and fuel economy choosing a vehicle.
Maybe slowly you can start making arrangements with your neighbors to run errands together. If you’re less shy than I am, that’ll help. If your neighborhood has a notice board of any kind you could put up a sign letting people know that you’re open to running errands for them, or that you’d like an occasional lift in exchange for gas money or whatever. Bobbie suggests that starting a little business picking up groceries for a small fee could put a little money in your pocket and get fewer cars on the road.
Insulation, ground contact, passive solar gain, efficient heating and cooling, and thoughtful design of living spaces is a huge part of daily life and everyday conversation at Dancing Rabbit. They think a lot about efficient design that takes advantage of the assets that are bountiful and conserve those that are scarce.
All well and good when you’re building a village from the ground up (literally) but what about those of us who buy or rent houses that have already been built? We can add insulation, or put in windows or add greenhouses. At least we could use a passive solar window box heater.
For those of us less financially or energetically endowed, there are other hacks that can make life in our intrinsically less efficient homes a little more efficient. Mindful use of insulated curtains, for example, keeps the heat of the sun out on a hot day and lets it in on a cold one. Cooking outdoors in the summer (like in a solar oven) keeps the house cooler. Wearing warm clothes in the house in the winter mitigates the effects of keeping the thermostat turned down.
stuff. Making stuff uses resources and creates pollution. Getting stuff into our hands from wherever it comes from uses resources and creates pollution. Consumables are one thing: we can grow our own food, or have it shipped in, we can make less impactful choices of food type and preparation, but there’s no way around eating. More persistent objects, like clothes, furniture, and vehicles can be purchased (or found) used, with little inconvenience and even less financial cost than purchasing something new.
It’s kind of a no brainer.
(On the off chance you’re thinking that buying used stuff is bad for the economy, unsanitary, or unpatriotic, or have some other argument against it, go ahead and let me know. I have given those matters more thought than you might imagine and still the buying used stuff comes out on the “yes” side of “should we do it?” but I’m happy to talk about it one on one. Maybe I’ll do a post on it someday.)
Does this sound crazy? Maybe I’ve lost touch with my audience here, I’m not sure. I, personally, really, really, dislike cold showers. They make me angry. I like my water really, really hot. But in the summer, it’s hard for me to justify having a tank of hot water sitting in the basement every second of every day when it’s hot out. If someone in your home needs to shower every time your hot water tank gets up to temperature, by all means leave the heater on all year. But if they don’t, doesn’t it make more sense for those who do shower to do a pre-shower workout so the cool water feels nice?
And when I say someone in your home “needs” to shower, I want you to seriously consider what constitutes a “need.” oooh. That’s a nerve, there, sorry. Seriously, though, and this is as serious as I’m going to be and then we’re done here: Seriously, consider carefully and honestly, privately and for yourself, what you really need. That’s a big part of being a rabbit, and what I think is really causing a lot of the problems humanity is facing.
Some things will be easier to reconsider your need for than others, and the reconsideration of some is more efficacious than others. Do you need tampons? Do you need to shave your armpits? Do you need to eat animal products? Do you need a personal vehicle? Do you need a new (thing)? Do you need to drive (places)? Do you need to mow the lawn? Do you need to wash that shirt? Do you need a tomatoes in January? Do you need a separate bedroom for each kid? An air conditioner? Two incomes? Packaged dinners? Lunchables? New sneakers? You get the idea. Sorry I had to do that list thing.
If you want to live like a Dancing Rabbit, get together with your friends and dance, swim, make crafts, talk about your feelings, watch Netflix, eat a meal, build a thing, or sing a song. That’s really what makes a Rabbit a Rabbit.