Friday, October 7, 2011

Milkweed Mercantile Eco Inn "Library" - Bathroom Art at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

When the Mercantile was just beginning its construction phase (back in the digging in the mud phase) I attended an auction at a school in Ewing, Missouri, which was being closed down. In addition to the card catalog (now used to display merchandise, see below) and the swings from the playground (still to be installed) I found the door to the school library. Laying on its side and leaning against an exterior wall, the door was like a forgotten step-child. I paid $1.00 and walked away with my prize.

Prize? You bet. My late father-in-law, Clyde Kessner was a character of the first order. Along with a plethora of maxims, adages and bromides, Clyde announced his departure to the bathroom with a rustle of a newspaper and the comment "well, I'm heading to the library." Thus, the Clyde Kessner Memorial Bathroom came into being.

Danae and Kristen snap the chalk lines.
Clyde's granddaughter (Kurt's niece) Danae Howell has been working here at the Milkweed Mercantile all summer. When I told her about wanting to add a wall of books to the downstairs bathroom/library she got a huge smile on her face and went to work.

The finished "library."

Danae added a few of our favorite eco books (Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk, A Reasonable Life by Ferenc Mate, The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins) and made up a few (Baloo's Guide to Happiness, Queen Alline's Guide to Life, and Exploitation or Education: the Life of a Wexer). She also added Work Exchanger Robby's (aka Dr. Bob) doctoral thesis, and a list of the 2011 Work Exchangers.

Homage to Baloo

Dr. Bob's Thesis

Our 2011 Work Exchangers

Come visit our library soon!

PS Here is the card catalog, put to use as our "apothecary."
Milkweed Mercantile Apothecary

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage Featured in a COOL New Documentary - Help with a Pledge on Kickstarter!

This summer, during the hottest, brain-meltingest days of July, three filmmakers came to visit. We had no idea what to expect - we get approached all the time by folks who want to film us. Occasionally we say "yes." This time we definately made the right call.

Tamer, Armand and Tom are not only supremely talented but also extremely respectful and thoughtful human beings. They do a lot more listening than they do talking, and while they were here they spent a lot of time getting to know us before ever turning on a camera.

When we saw the trailer they put together we were stunned (in a really good way). These guys get it. They are presenting the three communities of Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Red Earth Farms and Sandhill Farm in a clear, thought-provoking, positive way. The film itself is beautiful - the transitions are striking (I love the blueberries in a food processor turning into a cement mixer...) and so many Rabbits and Sandhillers and Red Earth Farms folks are represented.

The clip is below.

As one listens to the first 30 seconds, which was filmed at Sandhill Farm, one is immediately transported to Rutledge, Missouri in the middle of the summer, early in the morning - can you hear the birds and the train in the distance? This is what our life is like here. At 1:12 we see Thomas, working on his hand tools; at 1:23 we see Stan of Sandhill Farm, chopping cabbage with his earthy farmer's hands; at 1:35 we see Alyson, a former Rabbit and current DR Board member, with her daughter Cole; I can be see chatting behind the bar of the Milkweed Mercantile at 1:42; Laird, of Sandhill Farm who is one of the founders of the Fellowship for Intentional Community and a huge supporter of DR and the Mercantile is at 1:46; Ziggy, who is co-creator of Gob Cobitron and author of the A Year of Mud blog is seen tamping the floor in his house at 1:49.  At 3:00 you can see Kurt with Rabbit Tom Cowen and our work exchangers Robby and Jordan working on our wind turbine....

Help The Last Volunteer get this film made! As of today it is 54% funded. In eight short days the party is over. Please help!

How's this for an incentive: Contribute $1,000 and you get a night's stay (and dinner!) at the world-famous Milkweed Mercantile. It's a bargain at twice the price!

I realize that most people who read this blog are interested in simple, sustainable living, and therefore may not have a lot of disposable income. I know I certainly do not (although with our latest accounting Kurt thinks we may be making $4.75 a day now!). But this project is so worthwhile - I would love to see the story of Dancing Rabbit and other commuities told by someone who clearly understands and has a gift for story-telling. Even $5 or $10 will help.

Thanks for considering!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers - Secret Friends Everywhere!

Gifts come from the most astounding, unexpected places, and miracles are everywhere. This morning I opened my email and found this:

"Hello Aline, Kurt and everyone!

By bizarre and convoluted means (arent they always!) I found myself on your site.

I have a small organic garden and was reading up about composting seaweed and came across a post by Aline on the Ventnor Permaculture site.

There was a link to The Milkweed Mercantile and Ive spent a lovely hour looking through your site and various blogs and Im staggered at what you all have accomplished.

I looked backward through Aline's photostream on Flickr and travelled back in time through the building of the Mercantile. First I saw the cheery guests and beautiful rooms and eventually made it  through to digging out the basement with your enormous digger!

Initially when I spied beautiful floors, fireplace and the lime plastered walls I assumed you had converted a barn at *considerable* expense. However as I travelled further back through your photos, I discovered to my intense joy you had fulfilled your very own self built 'Grand Design' from scratch!

Oh well done everybody! What a journey! It looks FABULOUS and so warm and inviting. But my goodness what a lot of work- I mean crazy amounts! Kurt and Aline, I have so much respect for your vision and energy. To envision the possibility of 'what could be' from 'what was' is rare gift!

And you had so much help from your community! So many smiles and waves to camera throughout the process Aline and Kurt are truly blessed with friends and neighbours who have gone above and beyond to help create the amazing guesthouse and cafe.

I never knew of you until an hour ago, and probably couldn't find Rutledge, MO with an hour, two hands and a paper map! My life is very different, I have a a busy urban life in London,  but Im genuinely proud of your achievements:-

The wonderful cafe kitchen, the PV panels, wind turbines, the strawbale construction, reclaimed doors and floors, Tamar's beautiful mosaic swirls... all created with such good grace and a passion for quality work. Its absolutely shines through in everything you've done.

Congratulations one and all!

Have a good day!"

Wow. I'm considering printing this out and carrying it around in my pocket, as a touchstone of sorts, on those days when all I can see is what hasn't yet been done, when I forget what we've actually accomplished. 

This is also a very good reminder of the power of connection, and how a kind word can make a world of difference.

I really am speechless. I'm sitting here at my computer with a big smile on my face. Words are pretty much failing me, so I'll just finish by saying Thank you Anne-Marie. You made my day!