Dancing rabbit visitor questionnaire

This questionnaire will be posted for all Rabbits to see before your arrival and will likely be all they know about you. For this reason, we ask that you be descriptive enough in your answers for us to get a good sense of you without being overly elaborate.

So tell us about yourself!

Full Name: Karl Daniel Kappus

Nickname (If you want us to use it): “Dan” or “KD”. I respond to both equally.

Age: 39

Gender: male, sometimes sparkly

Preferred Pronouns: he, him, his

How did you hear about Dancing Rabbit?

I originally heard about DR when it first had a website in the late 1990s.

How would you rate your interest level in DR?

XXX   Moderate interest in membership (can imagine moving to DR if visit goes well)

XXX   Other (explain):

I think that DR’s values are great; now I just need to need to figure out if there are people I get on well with and ways I can be useful. If there are, and I don’t get pulled in some other direction, I’ll probably eventually apply for residency.

Are you planning to visit DR with friends, family, or a partner? If so, what are their names?

Nope, I’m coming by myself.

Have you visited and/or lived in other communities? If so, tell us about your experience:

I have stayed for short visits of a week to a month at a Presbyterian house of hospitality called “The Open Door” (1996), a Catholic Worker house in Pittsburgh (1998), Moonshadow (1998?), IDA/Short Mountain/Pumpkin Hollow radical faerie farms (1999), Twin Oaks (2009), and Dancing Rabbit (2009). I have lived several months at a Buddhist monastery, Tassajara (2001, 2014) and its related center, Green Gulch Farm. Other places I’ve visited, but not spent much time, include Emma Goldman’s (2004ish), Chrysalis (2013), Apex Community (2004ish), Lake Claire Community Land Trust and Cohousing, Acorn, Sandhill Farm, The Farm (Summertown)

Briefly, I’ll comment on some of these:

Open Door. I learned a lot about privilege and living with the homeless at Open Door. It was a real shocker for me. I had a true religious experience there. Most importantly, I learned that when people live in community, commit to living carefully, and form institutions, we can make new ways of being economically possible.

Pittsburgh Catholic Worker/Duncan and Porter. It looked very promising, but it turned out that no one lived there except for a single peace activist who was a little loopy. Though I harbored dreams of living there long term, I just couldn’t hack it with the peace activist, who threw a telephone at me.

Moonshadow. I was involved with EarthFirst! at the time, and we’d have Katuah solstice gatherings there. I liked the natural building and natural medicine and the salvia divinorum that we shared. It was a wonderful introduction to permaculture and appropriate technology. I liked dancing naked. I liked debating whether self-sufficiency on a farm was possible. I couldn’t figure out how to move there, and ultimately, it’s mostly Patrick and his family who stay there anyway.

IDA and other TN fae farms. One solstice at Moonshadow, I met a couple, Tomfoolery and Mina(?), who lived at Pumpkin Hollow. They took me back to their lair, Pumpkin Hollow. They introduced me to their child and their child’s father, Sunfrog. This was my introduction to polyamory. I then ended up over at nearby IDA for Christmas and New Years. There was a horrible ice storm; I was fascinated by the wood heat. I really liked the radical faeries for their free gender expression, highly-decorated outhouses, and avoidance of hard-and-fast rules about who should be held to account for dirty dishes. “Someone will want to do dishes!” said MaxZine, scrubbing away. I thought it was great that someone could live off seasonal work and creativity, and have a lot of time for personal exploration. That was so novel, I had a hard time putting my head around it.

Twin Oaks. When I was accepted for a visitor program, my girlfriend was afraid I’d meet someone whom I wanted more than her, so she convinced Valerie to let her come, too. I fell in love with most aspects of Twin Oaks. I liked the balance of income-generating work, domestic work, and leisure. Labor assigning fascinated me. I thought having families and relationships where everyone still got his or her own room, regardless, was just right for my relationship style. I saw that when many people lived together, they could improve their lives by sharing the most amazing amenities, like a sauna or a woodshop or industrial kitchens. I was perversely impressed by the fact that TO can continue to survive even when there are members who haven’t been on speaking terms for years, and/or agree about very little. I appreciated the freedom that their version of egalitarianism produced. Ultimately I concluded that in the absence of an effective system for holding people accountable for resolving their conflicts with each other and the community, Twin Oaks was run by various mobs, sort of like my high school. I saw some bullying (e.g. anonymously crushing a raw egg in the personal mailbox of a party to a community-wide dispute) and social pressure while I was there that didn’t sit well with me. More importantly, they rejected me! Score: six reject, six visit again, twenty-five accept, with the result that I was rejected by one vote.

Dancing Rabbit. I was a Work Exchanger with Ziggy/Brian. I felt shy and socially unskilled. I was emotionally tender because I had just been rejected by Twin Oaks, and was in the middle of a breakup with the woman I visited TO with. I helped Ziggy cob a rocket stove. I ate with the former Skyhouse FEC community and camped out near Milkweed, which was still under construction. Brian was a bit worn out of WEXers, though, so his efforts as a host were desultory at best. When he decided he didn’t have work for me to do, Ted kindly took me under his wing to work with him, and to eat in Sunflower. I was joyous about the commitment that people had. I loved listening to people debate the merits of the structures they were building, from Andy, with what would become the gnome dome, to Ziggy’s cob structure, which still seemed like a great idea. I cherish memories of playing capture the flag, deep conversations, and the ways people had created social lives together. After the TO scene, it was calming to see people walking around with books on NVC. I called my first contra dance at a Beltane celebration at Sandhill, with Tamar fiddling. I couldn’t figure out how I would ever economically be able to move to DR with the student loan debt I had then. I came back for the 15th anniversary, which rekindled a feeling that maybe I should figure out a means towards my goals, especially since my finances had changed.

Tassajara/SFZC: These are religious communities in the Soto Zen tradition. People live together and practice together. I enjoyed the community more than the religion. Tassajara is down a dirt road two hours from anything else. Since people can’t come and go, there is no place to go to run away from difficulties. There is no escape. People have to work it out with themselves and others. There’s too much to say about these places, and not enough time to write it. I couldn’t settle here because I don’t have a vocation as a religious practitioner, but I love Tassajara and SFZC more than words.

I don’t know what information is really most useful here. I’ve learned a lot, and have a lot more learning ahead. The biggest change for me is that I have space in my life now to explore community and other lifestyle possibilities until I find something that fits. In the past, I had a lot more restrictions on time and money, and never really understood how people made living in community work for themselves in relationship to money and work.

What is your personal approach and style in regards to communication, conflict, and sharing self-reflectively with others?

“Assertive” is the name I give to a place that is halfway between the violent extremes of passive and aggressive. I try to express what I want without impinging on other peoples’ ability to get what they need.

First, I’ve got to be clear about what I think and want. Then I have to boldly ask for what I want. I have to let my yes mean yes and my no mean no, or else I will not get what I want. My partners or interlocutors have to do the same thing. I have to listen carefully for “yes,” “no,” “answer unclear.” I’m solicitous, and I listen, but I tend to feel insecure or anxious when other people aren’t honestly reporting their yesses, nos, and maybes.

I tend to think of every relationship, however mundane, as a series of negotiations and agreements. If I take the time to collaborate with someone, we can usually negotiate a solution that is better for both of us than if we didn’t process. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that not all relationships or moments are amenable to interpersonal process. Similarly, I have to remind myself that people are complex, and that kindness is more important than any agreement we might have come to.

I prefer confrontation over avoidance—“Can we talk? I think we have a disagreement here.” My most serious meltdowns around conflict or communication tend to be when someone I think I have business with isn’t interested in hashing it out. That said, I’m really quite aware that no one else has an obligation to me; sometimes, I have to let it go.

I can remember that anyone I run into, even those with whom I have significant conflict, is my teacher. No one likes conflict, but there’s something really juicy about it. If I can manage conflict well with those I disagree with, I learn a lot. But I screw up a lot. I have many flaws. Aware of this, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt since we’re all fighting a hard fight.

What excites or interests you about what we are doing here?

I’m excited that there is a place where systems have been developed to make it possible to live within certain ecological rules.

While I could try to live out my values as a single person, it’s to find a group of people who want to live together with the same restrictions. DR limits fossil fuel use, car ownership, and the use of newly cut wood from outside the bioregion, among some other restrictions. There are necessary adaptations, like a car-sharing cooperative, bartering with garden produce, using a local currency, or building homes out of hay bales, that require a small society of people who are all living by the same rules. Dancing Rabbit is a place where I can find encouragement to live by my convictions.

What do you hope to get out of your visit?

I think the systems are in place for at DR for me to live the sort of life I’d like to have. I want to see if I connect with the people who are there now, and if there are ways that I can contribute. If there are people I vibe out with and ways for me to be a part, I will likely consider applying for residency. If not, I will continue on in my orbit of possibilities with a better sense of what my options are.

There are many interesting people who want to visit DR and we receive many requests from potential visitors. We think that a good attitude, willingness to work, and an interest in learning are important qualities. However, if you have any other interests, hobbies, talents, or knowledge that could potentially benefit DR, here is your chance to tell us about them!

I can teach and call American folk dance (squares and contra), though I’m not great at it. I’m a beginning blues dancer.

When Nathan, who has been egging me on in my attempt to visit, talks with me about the contributions he thinks I could make, I often hear him claim that I could contribute to Dancing Rabbit’s petty administration. I don’t mind paper or office projects. I’m a career bureaucrat. I know a lot of people go to DR to build houses out of haybales or grow food, but I’m just as happy to be a bean counter and process manager as I am to be a vegetable gardener. (He hasn’t quite sold me on the idea that there is a lack of petty bureaucrats yet.)

What are you personally looking for in a community? (Examples include: self-sufficient, private, communal, highly spiritual, income sharing, close-knit, etc.)

As I indicated above, I want to live where my lifestyle choices (anticonsumerist poverty, leisure, personal growth, concern for environmental impact, non-normative expressions of gender) are the norm. After decades of consideration, I’ve ruled out, for the time being, income pooling with a large group; I want independent finances. I think I prefer private dwellings (leaseholds) to other ways of doing things. My key interest is in living with people who have the same commitment to owning less and living more, and personal growth.

What is your education background?

I mostly hated school, but somehow graduated 18th grade with a Master’s in sociology in 2009.

What is your employment background?

I’ve administered programs, enforced rules, investigated compliance issues, wrote reports, interpreted regulations, and suggested new policies. I have seven years in as a Federal employee. Not unrelated was my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic.

Previous to my entanglement with Federal bureaucracy, I worked in Internet startups. I managed servers and provided desktop support.

Otherwise, I’ve sold trinkets in a tourist market, driven for uber, washed dishes, worked odd jobs, sanded drywall, painted houses, and bought and fixed up a house to use for AirBnB.

What are you doing when you feel you are at your very best?

When I involve my entire being in any activity, be it listening to a friend, washing the dishes, sitting on a meditation cushion, dancing, digging a fencepost hole, making a meal, or writing this to you right now, I am at my very best. If there seems like there is nothing else possible for me to do at that moment, that’s when I am at my very best.

If you were to move to Dancing Rabbit, how do you imagine you might create income for yourself and meet your financial needs?

I own a duplex apartment building in Nashville that generates passive income. I have another house in Nashville that I have listed on AirBnB, and someone takes care of it when I’m gone.

Additional possibilities include working seasonally off the farm, teaching English online, being an online task assistant (Task Rabbit), proofing audiobooks, being a life coach, or developing new skills for distance employment. In that last category, I’ve considered living at DR while finishing a postbac in computer science, which would gain me a skill I could contract with while living wherever.

Anything we forgot to ask that you would like us to know about you?

After so many words, I hope that I’ve said everything that needed saying. Please contact me  if there’s something else you’d like to know.