Communal living minimizes carbon footprint

March 12, 2015


Nestled in the fields of rural Missouri, the entire Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage uses only 10 percent of the resources used by an average American.

The 280-acre planned residential community produces its own solar and wind power needed to run and rent is $200 a month, according to the Dancing Rabbit website. Its 62 members eat food either grown directly on site or purchased from local, organic co-ops.

Ma’ikwe Schaub Ludwig, executive director of Dancing Rabbit Inc., is coming to Bellingham to show how fewer resources doesn’t mean living anything short of a 100 percent life.

Ludwig will be sharing her experience of sustainable living within the Missouri-based Dancing Rabbit intentional community as a part of a larger national tour 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, at Explorations Academy at 1701 Ellis St.

Her talk will focus around three main topics: How the Dancing Rabbit operates sustainably, the importance of cooperative culture and the urgency of climate change.

Ludwig’s father was an ecologist, so she has always had a heightened environmental awareness. She was teaching composting classes and advocating for climate change when she was 20 years old, and thus began her journey into living more sustainably, she said.

“When I visited some friends living in an intentional community, I saw that people living there actually found a way to embody the values I was talking about and advocating for,” she said.

Since then, she has lived in seven different intentional communities and has been an environmental educator game for the past 25 years.

The Dancing Rabbit has been her home for the past eight years, which she calls a “special sweet spot” between reality and idealism.

Shifting to an ecovillage lifestyle can be made across a spectrum, she said. Choosing to walk instead of drive, grow a garden or just share a space with multiple roommates can make a big difference.

Her favorite aspect of intentional living extends past just environmental benefits.

“I have hugs available whenever I want them,” she laughed, referring to her close community. “I live a life where everything is moving in the same direction. A lot of times in modern society we have work, school and church pulling us different directions, and they aren’t necessarily based on the same values. [In an intentional community,] my whole life works together.”

Intentional communities can exist in either rural or urban environments. According to the Fellowship for Intentional Community, three communities are officially listed in the Bellingham area, though many more exist that aren’t officially registered.

Western alumnus Zachary Robertson is on a team working to found the Cascadian Homesteaders Community Land Trust, a non-profit organization that will hold multiple properties with the hope of facilitating eco-centric intentional communities.

He sees the Land Trust first purchasing urban communities and helping them transition from a one-owner structure to collective ownership, Robertson said.

Robertson’s passion for the environment started on a bike ride home from work where he saw perfectly fine tomatoes lying on the path. When he took them to dehydrate them on his roof, a thought occurred to him: What if there were lots of people working together instead of him just feeding himself?

He later came to Western, and that’s when he discovered the Sushi House.

The Sushi House on North Forest Street has been an intentional living community for more than seven years, housing students and community members that carry out the tenants of eco-living, such as growing a garden and communal living.

“In urban cooperative house, it might be hard to find personal space sometimes, but you have your best friends right there, and you can connect people so easily,” Robertson said. “That’s so much easier when you live in an intentional community instead of living on your own.”

Robertson graduated in 2012 and now only lives part time at the Sushi House. Living there as a student, however, helped him not only live sustainably, but create deep connections with people, he said.

“I come home and I’m home,” he said. “Home is more than a house. Home is a structure of people and the shared history and all of the friends who have lived there.”

For more information about the event and the Dancing Rabbit ecovillage, visit or the Facebook page, “Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage Reaches Out!”

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