Dancing Rabbit was a very good fit for me for a very long time.
I was attracted to Dancing Rabbit because it promised eternal change. We were growing a demonstration of whole new society. More than a life’s work.
I threw myself into this endeavor. I thrived. I relished the constant evolution and unpredictability, planning and envisioning that came from a never-ending evolving social and physical landscape.
I didn’t know it at the time, but moving to Dancing Rabbit would help me unleash my power. It was also at Dancing Rabbit that I learned how to wield that power, learning the skills of harnessing that power (and the emotions that fed it) so that my energy could be put to best use for the greater good.
Years later, as my children grew into young adults and the community settled into the next generation of family-making, I longed for something bigger, bolder, more alive to wrap myself up in. So I ventured away from home, and led myself into open waters.
Moving to New England was not an easy transition. Culturally, I’d just come from a place where a high value is placed on welcoming newcomers, and where deep connections are supported and encouraged. It was hard to adjust to this cool and reserved social structure, one where busy-ness dominates the consciousness and communities of social interactions are separated by dozens of miles.
I set out to understand this new place. To get a feel for the vernacular of the region. It took a long time for me to begin to understand the patterns, to feel comfortable in this new place. To build a relationship to this new landscape.
3 years later, I am still learning.
Inherently, my work is place-based. In order to design and build, I need to understand this place – how the sun moves across the sky – How the land is shaped, shifts, and evolves – and I must build a relationship to all of the elements; rock, plants, water – I must understand what the land yields to its inhabitants, and how those resources influence the architecture. There is so much to learn.
Anyone who has solidly stepped in the shoes of foreigner probably understands what I’m saying. There is so much that we take for granted about learning, and knowing, our own culture. It’s not until we are expected to integrate into a different culture that our assumptions become apparent.
For Example: Why are the bulk of 200 year old houses in this area some rambling 3,000 square foot endeavors, while the neat brick post-WWII era homes I pass in Lincoln, Nebraska have only 900 square feet and reside on postage stamp lots? Both homes likely have the same number of people living in them. Which is more sustainable? Which is more resilient? Learning how these buildings came to be, how they are used, and what potentials there are for these homes in the future – this is the inherent understanding that (architecturally savvy) native would have. And this is what I must learn, in order to do justice to sustainable architecture in this place.
In my view, Do what you do well, or not at all. Thus, I strive to learn. To understand.
Dancing Rabbit helped crystallize my priorities. I value deep and meaningful engagement. I long to be part of group that is doing something worthwhile. I want to feel cared for, valued. I want my contribution to matter.
Thus, I am choosy about where I place my time and attention. Where I place my life energy matters. There is an abundance of opportunity for sustainable architecture in New England. By focusing my energy, I’ve found a place for myself in Natural Building. Architectural Vernacular. Ecological Design. Community. Doing so, I have found meaningful engagement, my current definition of home.