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Principia Students Visit Eco-Village and Learn About Sustainable Living

On a mild Saturday afternoon in mid-September, six Principia College students from the Sustainability Club embarked on a journey to learn about Eco-villages.

Dancing Rabbit is an intentional living community in northern Missouri with about 70 people who are dedicated to living more sustainably. They are founded on the principles of mutual understanding, cooperation and consensus based decision-making to make Earth-friendly choices that lower their total resource use and carbon footprint. The average “rabbit”, as community members call themselves, uses 90% less energy, water and resources than the average American.

The community members can create this positive impact through a variety of innovative and cooperative living strategies. These strategies include, but are not limited to, off grid solar power, wind power, passive solar heating and cooling, solar hot water heaters, rainwater collection, solar ovens, composting toilets, growing food, raising livestock, increased development density and shared infrastructure.

Upon arriving at the village, the students were greeted by a delicious vegan lunch made with locally sourced fruits and vegetables at the village store, The Milkweed Mercantile. Some students bought handmade goods to support the community, which doesn’t see too much economic interaction from the outside world.

Immediately following lunch, the students attended a two-hour-long open house tour. The tour stopped at different community buildings with presentations by “rabbits” on various topics, ranging from renewable power to shared infrastructure and alternative sustainable building materials. Some highlights from the tour included a solar oven baking bread, a house with a flower garden on the roof, and a waterless compost toilet that senior Anna-Zoë Dorette said, “smelled really good.”

The Dancing Rabbit member’s intentional choices to foster community are of interest to students at the Principia. “It was great to see how they build community while understanding the importance of privacy”, said Dorette. “I felt that they struck a great balance between individual expression and community commitment.”

What the students found surprising were the varied forms of sustainable living they encountered at the eco-village. “Sustainability spans a broad spectrum of expression. There is no perfectly sustainable way to live. It depends on the person and what works for them,” said Alline Anderson, a founding member of Dancing Rabbit. “Over the years I have learned to be accepting of all different types of people with varied backgrounds and their individual choices.”

This level of communal love and acceptance impressed sophomore Forest Andresen. “The people here are just so happy and pure,” he said. “They are so confident in what they are doing and who they are in their lives.”

As a school, Principia works hard on being a sustainable campus. It is a growing part of the atmosphere of the college with fresh ways of going green popping up all the time. It will be exciting to see how the new ideas sprouted by the “rabbits” from the Eco-village become apart of our community here on campus.