Ecovillage Enlightenment

Somewhere in rural Montana and North Dakota.
Rural Montana/North Dakota

52 hours via train + 4 hours driving, crossing 1 international + 7 state borders = roughly 3,500 km

This year I embarked on an adventure from Vancouver, BC to Rutledge, Missouri. I stumbled upon a natural building opportunity while researching the idea of transitional communities; in fact I was looking at this list when I saw the name. I felt drawn to this sustainable living demonstration village situated halfway across North America, even though BC has a high volume of newly formed and existing communities. I wanted a unique experience, and I was seeking an established place. With a resident count of around 70 people and growing, I felt confident that there would be myriad learning opportunities at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Why?
I was eager to experience harmonious living.

The first days were a blur of names, smells, animals, children, ultimate Frisbee, hyper-vigilance (for ticks), questions, and detoxification. My hosts placed great emphasis on eating locally and organically, with every meal including something foraged from the emerging spring abundance. I was shown which plants to avoid, which ones were safe to eat, also learning to identify a few that had medicinal properties. I had a generous day and a half off for the initial tour, to set up my new tent home, and get oriented with the project.

Then, I jumped right into the flow of working hours:

  • Awake between 6-7 am
  • Breakfast and tea
  • Morning coordination on daily building tasks
  • Work, lunchtime, work

Followed by evening, and the many social events that go with it:

  • Potlucks (often with folks from the surrounding Red Earth and Sandhill Farms)
  • Common house gatherings for games/music
  • Impromptu juggling lessons
  • Pizza night at the Milkweed Mercantile
  • Swimming in the pond/stargazing on the dock
  • Moonlit meditation
  • Fireside conversations

Right away I knew that I could call this atmosphere ‘home’.

Top left - first DR sunset, Bottom left - train view, Right - tree @ Sandhill.
Top left – first DR sunset, Bottom left – train view, Right – a nifty tree @ Sandhill Farm.

I have attended 11 schools in 6 cities, and lived in 21 houses in 6 countries. But never in my life had I felt so curious, inspired, excited, eager to learn, and welcomed by the wider community than when I woke up at Dancing Rabbit. I hazily meandered on a train for 52 hours halfway across North America, just to emerge in a shimmering spring wonderland of integrated people and ecosystems. My musings of what society could look like were suddenly not only possible – but real.

After the initial days of adjustment, my mind went to work to figure out how I could reproduce any piece of my experience in the cityscape. I started dreaming of resource connections back home, and what could be possible. I was sketching vertical farm systems, roughly looking at cost analysis and the job opportunities it could create. I started designing my ideal natural home, what my garden would produce, who I could invite to live in my personal utopia. If only this vision could break traditional thinking to reveal the immense value of integrating natural systems into daily life. I was immediately drawn to the vast trove of knowledge that the small library that the common house had to offer. There were books on subjects I had never heard of, but was eager to read. Had I stayed longer, I know there were mentoring friendships I could have built that would have allowed me the first-hand knowledge I crave.

From here my new lifestyle direction was born.

“Are you tired of stress, anxiety, unhealthy food, chlorinated water, traffic jams, air and noise pollution, paying rent, not having time to pursue your real interests and passions?”- Project Nuevo Mundo.

There are many things that led me to the revelation that we, as human beings, must live differently here on Mother Earth. Seeing real-life solutions and a community living in harmony with each other and the planet kicked my inspiration into overdrive.

Coming home after only a few weeks was painstakingly difficult to do. My father had not been doing well before I left, and I returned as a support system through the uncertain times of diagnosis. But part of me changed while away in this remote ecovillage. Seeing what was possible when the right people came together to co-create was breathtaking, and I realized I have the power and creativity to create the life I desire. Essentially this truth has led me to the blogosphere, and on the path of experimentation with small projects that are making a difference in daily life, like growing my own food in unconventional ways, reaching out to create community ties, and taking a closer look at where my everyday products come from to at least become a conscious consumer.

As my projects unfold, I will share them in detail. Next up: my home aquaponic system.
What motivates you to achieve a better tomorrow?

3 thoughts on “Ecovillage Enlightenment

    1. Oh, to be sure, I died a little bit. Thankfully I had a few ebooks to read, a ukulele to play, and a beautiful landscape to photograph. The food was almost as bad as an airline, but I made it alive!
      What did you do to cope with such a long train ride?

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    2. Well, it was our grade 12 graduation trip (which was stupid because it was the first 40 people to get their money in, meaning 1/4 of the grade 12s came).. Luckily enough I had a big enough group to talk to. We had a whole cart to ourselves which resulted in singing.. Unfortunately the long haul through New Brunswick was awful as there was no cellphone reception. Sleeping was by far the worst part of it. Horrible experience but amazing memories. But I would never do it again.

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