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Dancing rabbit eco-village: The pros and cons of publicity

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  1. Introduction
  2. The basics
    1. Finding of the Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
    2. Dancing Rabbit's communality
    3. Two levels of commitment at Dancing Rabbit
    4. The monetary sacrifice
  3. Outreach
    1. Dancing Rabbit's second-biggest goal
    2. The other media outlets
    3. Compromises by the Rabbits
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works cited

One dilemma that faced intentional communities of the 19th century was balancing the communards' desire for their own, secluded place and their drive to educate the rest of society by example. Dancing Rabbit, an experimental intentional community, is taking a decidedly 21st century approach to that problem: though their location in rural Missouri allows them to remain extremely luminal, the Rabbits have embarked on a program of visits and dissemination of information through various media that exposes their message to greater society.

The residents I spoke to think that their system of outreach via the internet and television as well as physical visits is working well for their community, but they have had to make certain compromises to get the publicity they feel they need. Though this will certainly be a challenge for them in the coming years, the way they've controlled their portrayal in the media thus far indicates to me that they'll be able to balance their radicalism with their need to get the mainstream culture to accept their ideas.

[...] All the Rabbits are celebrating, the settlement looks spotless and friendly, and one of the founding members, Tony, says that the only thing he'd change about the place years after its founding, is that he'd like to ?expand the outreach part of things, telling the world and sharing our ideas [Dancing Rabbit Website, 2007].? This is probably something of an exaggeration: the Dancing Rabbits I met were quick to admit that communal living is sometimes frustrating, always hard work, and not usually utopic. [...]

[...] They teach music to local children, write a weekly column for the town paper, hold dances, have yoga and meditation groups, play Ultimate Frisbee, host work parties, and are constantly occupied by chores like construction and gardening: until their population expanded, Dancing Rabbit grew 90% of the food it consumed. The Rabbits have been extremely innovative in their building: though the settlement has few if any TVs, a new kitchen building is being constructed to include ?chicken a glass panel built into an adjacent chicken coop, through which members can watch their animals while they eat [Thomas 2007.] Different subsets of the community eat together, but they gather the whole community for two weekly potlucks, one with only Dancing Rabbit members and one that includes Sandhill Farm. [...]

[...] The 30 Days page of the Dancing Rabbit website includes a special paragraph explaining that the composting toilets are perfectly sanitary, and Thomas told me that they still don't use humanure on crops due to the ?freakout factor [Thomas, 2007.]? The Rabbits had to compromise their ideals in other ways in exchange for press. The first six days of Vito and Johari's visit were especially difficult and contentious because the solar panel for their grain bin apartment supposedly hadn't arrived yet, but Thomas told me that they uninstalled and reinstalled the panel for the sake of the show [Thomas 2007]. [...]

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