So it appears that I have done that thing that many people do when they are writing a blog–start a blog, get all excited and write a ton, and then drop it for weeks or months.  I keep thinking that maybe I’ll write again soon, but then I don’t.  It’s a combination of a few factors–just general busyness with gardening and homeschooling, doing lots and lots of writing about teaching stuff to try to get people to buy the curriculum that I am selling going to all of the fun social events around here.

writing about the crazy people here

Crazy hat parties. Just one of the ways that we have fun around here.


But I think that another factor is that I don’t feel totally comfortable promoting our life here.

We have visitors here again, which I always enjoy.  My favorite part is all the talking.  Yes, I have learned that I am an extrovert, but I also like all of the reminders of why we’re here doing what we’re doing.   In the most recent Q & A, we got a question that I didn’t think much of at the time.  It was about areas where we are not living up to our environmental ideals.  There were a few good answers about fossil fuel use or electricity.  I didn’t think that I had an answer–we have reduced our use so much by living here that I think we’re doing okay on that front.  But then I started thinking about the question some more, and I realized that I do have this nagging feeling about a few areas of our lives.

It comes back to the money thing again.  I guess that we could have done better at supporting ourselves here, but it has been eight months and we are still barely making twenty percent of our expenses.  Last month, my husband flew back to Massachusetts to work for a few weeks.  And with that one flight, he probably undid months worth of efforts–unplugging appliances, ride-sharing, coordinating those ride shares, hauling water to the garden, pooping in a bucket.  And there are other people here who have to leave every few months or once a year to go make money somewhere else.

It comes back to the idea of sustainability.  Is it really sustainable to live somewhere that we don’t actually support ourselves?  How much money is coming in from the outside world, and how was that money made?  Does the whole thing fall apart when we are relying on plane travel or people driving hours away to make a living?

When I get all anxious about this stuff, I try to buckle down and keep working. I think that we will figure out a way to support ourselves, though it might take a long time.  I have been researching grit and growth mindset and the importance of perseverance recently, and I know that people who succeed are in it for the long haul.  But we wouldn’t be able to work at it for the long haul if we hadn’t come with a bunch of money at first.

I guess what really keeps me going is the daily stuff.  Yesterday, the kids played outside for two hours before dinner.  I went out to help milk the goats and I saw the sun go down behind the trees.  The other night, we sat in a circle for an hour and a half singing songs while I held the kids in my lap and laughed and looked around at other people who were also singing and smiling and stumbling through tricky lyrics or melodies.  I get to walk on paths when I go places.  I get to watch my kids eat food that I prepared for their lunch.

I still love just about everything about living here.

I still haven’t figured out how to live a life that is sustainable in every sense of the word.

Written by Sustainable Family Living


Desiree Peterman

This is one of the main reasons why, after visiting DR twice, my husband and I have decided that it just won’t work for our family to live there because there is no reasonable way for us to support ourselves financially from such a remote location. It seems to work out great for folks who can do their work online etc but that just isn’t us. We did consider the option of having my husband come home to Pennsylvania every few months to work , but that didn’t settle well with us either for the reasons that you stated…and including the fact that we would want move to community to be together more, not have one of have to travel half way across the country for weeks at a time to work. It’s a shame that DR is where it is. In a better location, I think the village would have greater success and attract significantly more people. I know that one of the big reasons for choosing that location was that there are no building codes there and that they wanted to be a demonstration village, but those building styles etc don’t transfer to most people’s lives anyway where most of us realistically do have to deal with codes etc. Seems to me that it would have made more sense to be near an area with jobs, colleges, etc and to show that you can live in a sustainable way in areas that do have codes/regulations etc…or show how to fight/change codes so that others can learn to do the same. If DR were in a better location, we probably would have moved there years ago!


I hear this. And as someone who lived at Dancing Rabbit for an accumulated total of about a decade of my life, I have some broader context to offer. The reality is, most of America is not making it financially. At Dancing Rabbit, I feel like people personalize that in an unhealthy and unhelpful way. Something like 60% of the US population couldn’t survive a $500 emergency, and the average debt load of American households is $132K. The problem is much bigger than DR can fix on its own.

Because Dancing Rabbit is really working hard at being sustainable, this kind of failure can overshadow a lot of incredible stuff happening in the community. The ecological gains are incredible. And so, frankly, are the economic ones. Average debt at DR the last time we surveyed was about 10% of the US average. That’s amazing. And still, there’s more to be done about economic viability and having incomes that are livable and values aligned. Still, you are in it very consciously. Just… please don’t be too hard on yourself about it. The state of the US economy is NOT your fault and it is a ginormous factor in this struggle you describe, even though I get it is personally hitting you hard right now.

Love from Wyoming!


Including the comments posted these are all really interesting perspectives on money, livelihood, work/life balance, and personal values. I really appreciate your honesty in sharing your experiences with this blog. As a couple in our late 40’s with no children we seem to be constantly thinking about our financial future, and although we haven’t visited DR yet, it is on our bucket list to do so. My fear is that by the time we have secured the money we would need to sustain ourselves (hesitant to move with no online job prospects and not enough financial cushion) it might be “too late” to embark on the joyful work of life in a community. At the same time, financial “security” may not be as secure as we perceive it to be. Money comes and goes, debt is a very real condition, and what seems to be a permanent financial situation can change at the drop of a hat. Every day I try to feel gratitude for the abundance we enjoy and the ability to choose our own adventure. For right now we are working towards our modest pensions, thinking that it is the best way to proceed while we figure out what the future might hold. Your blog continues to provide food for thought and allow us to chew on ideas, continue to try things on mentally, and figure out our own proper balance in it all. Thanks for keeping it real! Your courage is inspiring, and I wish you the best as you find what works for your family.

Gregg Zuman

Thank you for touching on a core issue!

My wife is smitten by Earthaven, and we plan to visit DR soon. We’ve been to EH multiple times and are headed back for a spell soon.

What is sustainability? The ability to sustain something. Who wants to sustain the status quo? Hmm.

What if the ongoing mission were to maintain conditions for continuation of something besides the status quo? Cheerio.

Know that you’re maintaining a space of reality and possibility in the states that is of tremendous value to more people than you may ever know – IMHO.

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