Dancing Rabbit Interview - Tereza

Tereza, a six-year resident at Dancing Rabbit, answered some questions for us about her experience at the Ecovillage.
This is an abridged version of the interview. Click here for the full interview.

B: What made you seek out Dancing Rabbit?

T: Before I lived in DC - and I lived there for a year or two - I had been in the Bay area, California, where it’s a lot more liberal. People have a lot more consciousness about recycling and basic stuff that in DC I did not find. I was part of this horrible system. I’d get on the train and go to work and everybody looked the same. They just didn’t seem to give a flying f**k about anything except their little jobs and their little lives. I was going absolutely crazy and feeling more and more disgusted about what I was doing in the world, and not doing what I really wanted to do. I was involved with someone at the time and we thought we were going to homestead, so I was looking up homesteading stuff. I got really into permaculture and I put in a search for permaculture, and Dancing Rabbit - oddly enough - was the first or second search result. Because I’m a pretty social person I realized homesteading would never work for me. I need to be around more people and I thought it would be a lot easier to do with other people who had a similar idea. I did the same thing that numbers of people do which is devour the entire website and read every single page before I came. I was super-excited about coming. I really felt like I needed to not be destroying the planet and hopefully actually helping.

B: What did you leave behind when you came to Dancing Rabbit?

T: At the time, indoor plumbing (laughs) and a great deal of physical comforts - I was living in Bella Ciao [ed. note: a one-room building at DR]. Actually when I first came I was living in a camper - so cold. I had mice leaving acorns under my butt when I would sleep (groans). When people talk about how cushy this [house] is, I’m just sort of “you have no idea. I paid.” Bella Ciao didn’t have much plaster and it was cold and sand would fall on me while I was sleeping and - not a very good wood stove. Anyway, what did I leave behind? Since I’d been in DC for such a short time I wasn’t really leaving a lot of close connections there, but I think that I did have good friends in California and think I sort of lost touch with them more significantly than I would have I think if I had stayed. So, mostly sort of relationships. I didn’t have a house; I didn’t have a car. I’d gotten rid of almost everything before I went to peace corps, so I didn’t have a lot of stuff. Another thing is that I really don’t care for the weather here. That’s one of the things I thought would be hard for me and I was right. I frickin’ hate when it’s cold. Now I’m ill, and my illness is affected by the weather. So when it’s damp - which it is most of the summer - or cold - which it is most of the winter - I feel pretty shitty. So that does not help. The climate I definitely left behind, and I miss.

B: What are some of the things you left behind that you don’t miss?

T: Don’t miss. Oh my god. Name one. Living in the city. I never thought I could not live in a city and still not own a car. I did not want a car. So that’s amazing to me that I can do that here. I do not miss the traffic, the nastiness of cars - their smelliness, the honking, the noise, the overwhelming input - that is just too much. I’m one of those people that looks at things and thinks about - well who made that? Oh, probably someone in pretty shitty working conditions. I’m using it anyway and I got it for cheap because it was on sale. I think about the paths and where it came from and the whole sort of story of these things. There’s so many, so anywhere I would go I would sort of think - bus - what’s fueling this bus? How did I get on it? Who made those rubber mats on the bottom of it? Where does rubber come from? How come I never thought of that before? All those. It was very overwhelming. I do not miss having to question and feel like I’m destroying something that’s pretty precious to me with every single thing that I do. I don’t miss that.

B: You mentioned physical comforts - of those that you feel you left behind when you were living in Bella Ciao or in the camper - what of those do you still experience?

T: Not very many of them now. But we don’t own this house so it’s not like my comfort issues are solved forever. Most of those comforts are not a problem. especially since I have help. I have a partner, so Tom can keep the fire going. If I were trying to do that by myself I would probably be frustrated with it, but I don’t have to do all that. That’s nice.

B: Do you have a typical day here, and if so, what is that like?

T: Before I was sick, I would spend part of the day doing income work. At one point I was teaching English over the phone to people in France. It was a cool job. The hours were hard because, you know, they want to learn at their hours, not mine. Fussy French people (laughs). I used to do freelance editing, or construction - I worked for Skyhouse - various things like that. I would also try and work in the garden some every day. So yeah, [a typical day would be:] eat breakfast, work, lunch, work, dinner, hang out with people, sing, chat, talk about ridiculous things, watch movies, those kinds of things. Now I eat breakfast, and then - I get 10 hours a week of paid assistance - so I work with that person to sweep, do laundry, help me wash my hair, whatever. I listen to a lot of books on tape (makes snoring sound). People do tend to come by pretty regularly to hang out. I think people see me as a pretty good support person. A lot of times people will come by and tell me what’s going on with them. I have some meetings sometimes. Usually Tom will go and get me lunch and go and get me dinner if it’s been made at Bluestem or we’ll just eat here. Its all dependent on my energy levels, so some days I don’t get out of bed. Some days I do one thing. Some days I do two things or three things.

B: What surprised you about Dancing Rabbit? In terms of what was different from your expectations?

T: (laughs) What *hasn’t* surprised me about Dancing Rabbit? When I first came I certainly didn’t know about the nudity, which was fine with me, because I had already kind of dealt with that in another context previously. I’m not even sure if it’s said in any of the information I got before I came that there might be nudity. I came with my boyfriend at the time and he was not ok with it. I liked it, but it was a surprise. I think I did expect more infrastructure than there was, so that surprised me. I think the biggest surprise was how frickin’ far away it was from the train station. I didn’t know that. I was so tired from being on the train and got in this big ugly van and I thought “are we ever going to get there I have to pee!”

B: Has it been difficult to adjust to more rural living?

T: I still miss really good book stores. I think it’s not just rural living, it’s rural living in north eastern Missouri. Nothing would have ever for a million dollars made me live in Missouri. I mean, I hate this state. The fact that we gave John ass-croft - oh, excuse me. I hate that part of it - the conservatism and the bible belt crap and the discrimination and racism-whatever. Especially coming from Berkeley. We eat really great food here, but - Ethiopian - I want to go to an Ethiopian restaurant. Indian restaurant. I mean yeah, we make curry but it’s not the same thing. Or Thai food - yummy. So I miss book stores and food. That’s been the biggest adjustment for me, which is pretty much what I thought I would miss when I thought about it. Where my mother and relatives live now is the same sort of conservative/rural kind of thing, so I kind of knew what to expect. When I first came and I talked to [another community member], I said “How on earth do you deal with it?” because I knew she was from cities too - New York and the Bay area. She said “well, I figure when I go to cities - I go a couple times a year to visit family or friends or whatever - I pack it all in then. I eat out every single night and I go to plays and I do everything and then I’m all done and I’m ready to come home.” I thought that was a really great way to do it, and that’s the way that I did it back when I had money and I was able to do that - go and get my city fix and let me out of here! So that, I think, is a very good method if you can afford it, and are OK with the traveling. Survival tip number 7.

B: If you could have one thing or step for the community - what would you want the community to have? Physical or organizational, maybe some kind of acquisition or input or change for the community?

T: Besides moving it somewhere else with better climate like Costa Rica? (laughs) I want to say housing, but that’s not my heart answer, that’s my sort of practical answer, because I think we could get more people here. People wouldn’t have to come and do that themselves. I think my heart answer would be more people with skills in emotional support/emotional connection. Less mind- and more heart-people. I think that there aren’t as many of those people here and that’s a piece that feels kind of missing to me.

B: How do you feel that that lack manifests itself?

T: It’s mostly a feeling, sort of a vibe. We’re all connected by some sort of force or light or stream – whatever. And I feel that people here either aren’t conscious of it or aren’t willing to be conscious of it because that doesn’t make rational sense. This is my image: all of these people connected by these bright shining glowing strings or streams. And I feel like some of the people here are like “I’m not seeing that. I’m not seeing that. I don’t want to see that. It scares me to look at that.” I guess that’s what I would say. So, is that manifest? It’s something I personally perceive. I think practically how it manifests is people not always communicating very clearly or people holding things in that they should really be saying, people not being able to be compassionate with each other when things are hard. People are pretty good at it when things aren’t hard, but when things get hard it’s much harder to be in that open space of “wow, what’s going on for that person that they’re having this reaction?”

B: What do you think has been most important to the continuation and success of Dancing Rabbit since you’ve been here?

T: Really really really really hard work. And people being willing to work that hard to make their dreams come true. Not just physical labor, but the hard work of realizing that other people’s dream is different and trying to come up with some common dream. Which has been challenging at times, but I think people believing in their dreams - wanting to live their dreams and really being willing to do it - kinda whatever it takes - a lot of energy and focus. Definitely it’s the people, but it’s that aspect of them.

B: How do you feel Dancing Rabbit has changed in the 6 years since you’ve been here?

T: Oh bloody hell. There are buildings, that’s kind of exciting. We’ve lost a number of members and we’ve gained a lot of members. So there’s that - turnover - just of personalities and stuff. We’re much less full-consensus or whatever you would call it when every little concern gets discussed and hashed out. The whole committee decision-making structure where people aren’t as in the loop about just practical things that are going on. I think we don’t know each other as well, because we don’t have to spend as much time with each other as we had to before. There really wasn’t any place else to go but the trailer. As much as I really despised being in that trailer… Did you come to the sing-along in the library the other night? Partly that was for acoustics, but partly it’s because I miss that sort of cozy squished-together everybody-on-each-other’s-laps singing-thing which was how we had to do it in the trailer. We don’t do that in that big old common house, so the cozy feeling seems to be sort of, not quite there. I’ve been noticing lately how the people that have been here the whole time - how we’ve aged. Looking at myself or looking at a picture of Tom from then, or especially for [with the folks who’ve been here the longest], I can really notice those ways that their enthusiasms have changed and their frustrations have been channeled and how they’ve grown.

B: What’s your favorite thing about Dancing Rabbit?

T: One? I think my first instinct is to say the food. That’s the short answer, but it’s being connected to what sustains us and knowing where it comes from and knowing - even if I don’t like the person - knowing who grew that thing and who pulled it out of the ground and who washed it and who cut it and who turned it into something that I can eat and continue to grow by. That’s my favorite thing about Dancing Rabbit. I think the people are second. I think we have good people here and I really love and care about them a lot. Which is funny because when I left [Dancing Rabbit after my first visit] and wanted to go back, people asked me, “Why do you want to go to that place? It sounds crazy.” I’m like “the food is so good and the people are so nice.” Those are the two things I said before and all these years later it’s still true.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.