The final three-day section of our annual retreat ended last Sunday (whew!), smack dab in the middle of a discussion of Goals and Priorities. That evening a group of us gathered to watch HBO’s miniseries “John Adams” (via NetFlix). I found the contrast between the two both interesting and just a tad ironic.
Perhaps it is the way that history was presented to me, or perhaps it is just the way I took it in. But when I originally learned about the colonies making the break from King George and England it all seemed rather dry and, well, not such a big deal. The revolution came across more like: let’s throw some tea off a ship, meet in Philadelphia, write a really cool document and sign our names in big letters. “Revolution” was just a song by the Beatles.
What I’m beginning to understand is that the founding fathers (and the many women, who, though behind the scenes, were incredibly influential and important) were literally risking their lives in order to fulfill their dreams of a better way of government and a better way of life.Am I comparing the founding of Dancing Rabbit to the founding of the United States? Well, perhaps, but only in the most superficial way. What we’re doing here at Dancing Rabbit is neither life-threatening nor treasonous, and it doesn’t involve breaking any laws. I’ve certainly never felt as eloquent as Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine while crafting a proposal to present to the group. We are, however, making a huge values-shift from “the American Dream,” are utilizing ecological principles, and prioritizing goals other than “bigger is better.”
Which brings us right back to Dancing Rabbit’s 2009 Goals and Priorities. The G&P topic has been an ongoing process, and over the years we’ve tried various ways to approach it. By setting Goals and Priorities as a group, we are agreeing (by consensus) to put our energy and focus towards these issues. Here are some examples of what we’re probably going to tackle in 2009: revamping The March Hare, our quarterly newletter; building roads on Main Street and West Road, alloting time to handle a crisis, because one invariably arises; nurturing the thousands of trees that we have planted in our CRP bottomland; and support of a conflict resolution committee. When combining those tasks with the myriad of other tasks involved in daily living – building/maintaining a house, planting and harvesting a garden, rasing children, earning a living, maintaining relationships with friends and loved ones – the list seems almost reasonable and do-able.
Unfortunately, that is only a smidgen of what is proposed to be on our plate this coming year. There are also the items (website overhaul; village-wide graywater; a design of the DR entrance and parking area; preparing for media exposure; and putting together a building committee) that have only limited support. No one is saying that they aren’t important; however, we’re all spread pretty thin.
And then there are the items that we would dearly love to consider but simply have neither the time or energy for: visitor housing; a constitutional convention to make sure all of our founding documents are in order and support each other; a more vibrant visitor program; a better way to handle our landfill trash; and viable alternatives to biodiesel.
Being an idealist has never been an easy task. I take comfort in knowing that it took two long years (1774-1776) of meeting, discussing, trust-building and compromising for the Continental Congress to create the Declaration of Independence – after that they still had a war to fight. Here at Dancing Rabbit we will continue our meetings; our “war” is, thankfully, non-violent and largely idealogical. We will continue to live our lives the best ways we know how, as lightly as possible, and to share what we’ve learned with others. If you’d like to join us, please do – we’ve got a seat waiting for you in our next meeting!