THE RHYTHM OF RUTLEDGE: a tiny town attracts big thinkers
You can certainly be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Rutledge, Missouri. The Mennonite town of about a hundred people is miles from anything resembling a major highway, and surrounded by thousands of acres of farmland in Northeastern Missouri (though it’s kind of famous for its flea market, I hear). Despite being tucked away in a pretty conservative part of the state, you might call Rutledge the hub of a (relatively) quiet revolution: three alternative communities, all with an ecological bent, have been founded (and are running just fine) within 1-2 miles of the town in the last 40 years.
How did the kind of folks who founded intentional communities like Sandhill Farm (the oldest, and smallest of the groups), Red Earth Farms (a community of 3-5 acre homesteads) and Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage (a planned sustainable small town, of which – disclaimer – I’m on the Board of Directors) end up 20 miles south of the Iowa state line? Abundant and relatively cheap land certainly helped, but the lack of a building code in surrounding Scotland County made a huge difference. Members of these communities are free to build according to the ecological principles they embrace. And, of course, there’s that coveted “tucked away” quality.
It’s a unique part of the state, and pretty unusual compared to anywhere else in the United States: three intentional communities sitting basically side-by-side, and supporting each other even with their different visions. That’s probably what drew the filmmaking group, The Last Volunteer, to the area this Summer to shoot the second part of their “Finding Community” series. The group has now finished filming THE RHYTHM OF RUTLEDGE, but like we’ve seen a number of times before, The Last Volunteer needs funds for post-production, and have gone to Kickstarter to raise them. It’s getting down to the wire. They’ve got four days left, and are just over 75% of the way there (and would be grateful for anything above their goal, as they set it at the bare minimum).
Check out the film’s trailer on the Kickstarter site, as well as the photos and news they’ve collected on the project’s Facebook page. And take a look at the communities being featured. I have no doubt you’ll be inspired, so consider contributing a few bucks to get the stories of these unique communities told.
I’ve spent a number of weekends at Dancing Rabbit over the past couple of years, and enjoyed every visit (including the occasional stop at the Rutledge General Store). If you’ve had the good fortune to check out any of these communities, share your experience with us.
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Image: One of Dancing Rabbit’s resident families Credit: Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage