A few months after graduation, Brian Liloia ’06 found himself living in the hills and prairies of northeastern Missouri, a stark contrast to many of his fellow graduates who stayed in New Jersey or flocked to big cities like New York and Philadelphia.
But Liloia was drawn to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage because it offered something greater than financial stability and paid vacations. While in school, Liloia developed ideals regarding environmental sustainability after learning about issues such as climate change, energy conservation, pollution, and urban sprawl.
Knowing he wanted to take a “holistic, active approach” to living these ideals, but not sure of what his next move would be, Liloia stumbled upon the Dancing Rabbit’s Web site in the middle of his senior year. After further research on the self-sufficient community, he was “immediately enamored,” and just three weeks following graduation he visited to see what it was all about.
A few months later, he moved in.
Now Liloia is an integral part of the community, whose members work to ensure their ecovillage is a self-reliant town dedicated to environmental sustainability. The “off-the-grid” community grows its own food, generates its own solar energy, and utilizes natural building in construction.
While each member of the town has his or her own jobs with individual income, many duties are shared, such as rotating cooking and cleaning shifts. Liloia often finds himself helping with the gardening and harvesting of the food that the community grows.
Summer and fall are the most active seasons, whereas things generally slow down in the winter. Even though the self-sufficient nature of the community often ensues a vigorous work schedule, the members still find downtime to enjoy leisure activities.
With no shopping malls or movie theaters nearby, Dancing Rabbit members rarely leave the grounds. Instead they provide their own entertainment by watching movies, playing board games, or engaging in creative activities like art and music.
Only ten years old, the community has expanded from just six members to 40. Still growing, the community strives to eventually accommodate between 500 and 1,000 people, all dedicated to self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability. Members come from various backgrounds, Liloia said, and range from young children to adults in their 60s.
Despite a radical approach to addressing environmental sustainability, Dancing Rabbit does not isolate itself from mainstream society. In fact, outreach and education are two important objectives the community has enthusiastically embraced.
“Not only are we trying to create this alternative lifestyle, we want to share that with other people. We want other people to have the opportunity to learn what we are doing,” Liloia said.
The community members offer outsiders the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the ecovillage lifestyle through internships, a visitors program, and tours. Dancing Rabbit members also spread word of the community through speaking engagements writing for various publications.
Liloia’s family was at first skeptical of his decision to leave New Jersey, he said. However, they have opened up more after seeing how happy he is.
“Living here as a community and being surrounded by people that are all dedicated to preserving the environment and looking out for ecological issues is very rewarding for me,” he said.
Some members stay at Dancing Rabbit for a few years, eventually parting ways; however, others remain there for a much longer periods of time. While Liloia cannot say for sure how long he will stay, he said that he is very happy with dedicating his time to the ecovillage for now.
“Being here, I’m really able to act on my ideals and live it out. I feel very satisfied being part of this lifestyle.”
Visit the Dancing Rabbit Web site: http://www.dancingrabbit.org
Watch the Dancing Rabbit video blog: http://drtv.dancingrabbit.org