Friday, May 15, 2015

Construction Work Exchanger Needed at Milkweed Mercantile Eco Inn at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

Milkweed Mercantile Construction Work Exchange

Here's your opportunity to spend the summer at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage while learning about sustainablility and honing your cooking/building/life skills at the same time!

Become an integral part of the Milkweed Mercantile, a strawbale, solar & wind-powered Eco Inn and Organic Café located at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. You will have a huge impact upon the lives of our guests, plus have the opportunity to learn more about sustainable living and, of course, yourself. Guests often tell us that we have changed their lives.

  • We are looking for someone with basic construction skills, a solid work ethic, and a willingness to communicate and work through challenges. Can you swing a hammer? Are you easy-going and hard working? We'll teach you the rest!
  • Our goal is to match the tasks needing to be done with the passions and skills of the wexers. We want you to be happy, and we want to Mercantile to run smoothly. Sometimes, though, the work just has to be done. For example, we have yet to meet the person who would rather wash dishes than anything else on earth. As a result, we ALL take turns with the dishes. However, should you find that you abhor construction or despise pie making, we will do everything in our power to fill your time with more good stuff than "bad."
  • The job entails working 35 hours a week; your schedule will involve early mornings and/or late evenings. As our business opens early and doesn't close until late, weird hours are not optional. Additionally, we often get up early in the summer to do outdoor tasks (building, gardening) when it is cooler.
  • Your hours will primarily focus on the weekends, and may involve split shifts. Your days off will most likely be Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • We all wear a number of hats here at the Mercantile - you will most likely not work full-time in one area, but instead split your time between two or three (for example kitchen and construction, gardening and canning). We all work together and help each other; if a Mercantile staffer is in a jam, we all contribute to taking care of whatever needs to be done!
  • The ideal candidate will be responsible, flexible, hard-working, easy-going, open to communication, somewhat extroverted, friendly and a good listener. We encourage you to be open to new people and experiences. You will gain experience in interacting positively with people who might not have the same world view as you while at the same time be living among "kindred spirits.
  • While here you will have the opportunity to live as Rabbits do, and participate in (or observe, as appropriate) all aspects of our lives, including dance parties, pot lucks, music, conversations, seminars, yoga, nature walks, swimming in the pond, and much, much more.

Kurt working with reclaimed lumber during construction of the Mercantile.


  • Construction - This season we are completing a small "honeymoon" bungalow for guests. Kurt, a carpenter, cabinet maker and general contractor will be working with you and teaching how to do the tasks required. Plumbing for the hot tub and outdoor shower, and electrical are included in the building. Unlike the strawbale Mercantile, the cottage is built of more conventional (but green) materials; exterior is covered with "shingles" made from scraps procured at a local pallet mill, and all of the other wood is reclaimed. The door on the hot tub enclosure is made of oak from a tree that grew just a little too close to our house. The skills gleaned from this project will enable you to build just about anything. Construction work Exchangers can expect to spend approximately 50% of their work hours doing/learning about construction while working on the bungalow and assisting Kurt with upkeep and maintenance of the strawbale Mercantile building. 
The Bungalow, with the hot tub/outdoor shower enclosure on the left. The entrance is around the corner on the south side, facing the Grain Bin House (you can see it through the trees on the right). The garbage cans will soon find another home...
Two  house wren houses were added to make room for local songbirds. You can watch them come and go while soaking in the hot tub.

  • Cafe Kitchen
    • Dish-washing (we all pitch in)
    • Assist as we try to keep up with demand of jams, pickles and chutneys in the Mrs. Milkweed's Kitchen line (our best-selling Bourbon Pickled Jalapenos shown below). You'll become an expert at canning techniques plus learn how to make jam, pickles and more.
    • Keep kitchen spotless and organized
    • Interact with guests to ensure their food needs are being met, and more!

 Kurt, Alline and some of 2012's interns and work exchangers.

Friends hanging out at the bar  (at last count - 32 kinds of beer)
  • Bar/Pub - You must be 21 or over to work in the bar. We need help with keeping our inventory, re-stocking the cooler and shelves, creating food/beer pairings, keeping the bar area spotless, interacting with guests, more!

  • DOGtoberfest at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage - think Oktoberfest (beer, brats, music and fun) all to benefit shelter, rescue and low-cost spay/neuter organizations in the area. We need help with social media, contacting sponsors, publicity, planning, and everything else to make this second annual event a success.

Every Thursday is Pizza Night! The crust on our pizzas is made from scratch and are topped with homemade mozzarella and fresh herbs. Yum!
  • Eagerness to assume responsibility
  • Interest in sustainability, local and organic dining, and what is happening here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
  • Self-starting initiative and exquisite attention to detail
  • Comfort interacting with the public, including children
  • Willingness to communicate and work through interpersonal conflict; minimal drama.
  • Comfort with “specialty” diets – vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, etc. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you must be willing to cook and serve meat.
  • You must be at least 21 (for serving alcohol)
  • Two - three month (minimum) availability
  • Food - All of your meals are covered. You will participate in the Mercantile staff food cooperative, which means you will be part of a rotating team of cooks. Food will be largely local and whole-foods based. Soda and alcohol are not included but may be purchased.
A typical tent platform
  • Accommodations - Tenting platform is provided, you provide the tent (and sleeping bag, sleeping pad, rain tarp, etc.).
  • Your fees for use of the Community Building (primarily for social space and library). Mercantile interns may use the Mercantile showers, wifi and composting toilets.
  • Transportation: If you come to Dancing Rabbit by train or bus, we’ll pick you up at the nearest station (Quincy, IL; La Plata, MO; Ottumwa, IA) at no cost to you. Other travel to Dancing Rabbit and travel during your stay is at your expense.
  • Gratuities – A share of pooled tips.
  • Stipend After completion of the first month wexers will receive a stipend of $50 per month.

  • Work – approximately 35 hours a week, plus cook shifts with our eating cooperative (usually one lunch and dinner each week)
  • Additional responsibilities – Community rotational duties which are shared by all members of the community. Included are Common House clean, humanure, Common House firewood.
  • Communication - if there is an issue, we all do our best to take ownership and communicate!
  • Gear - Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, etc, appropriate clothing (details to be sent after you are accepted for the position).
  • Transportation: If you come to Dancing Rabbit by train or bus, we’ll pick you up at the nearest station (Quincy, IL; La Plata, MO; Ottumwa, IA) at no cost to you. Other travel to Dancing Rabbit and travel during your stay is at your expense.

The Milkweed Mercantile is a privately owned business created by Dancing Rabbit members Alline and Kurt. Designed as a bridge between the ecovillage and the wider community, the Mercantile provides delicious local and seasonal meals, comfortable rooms at reasonable rates, a family-friendly pub, and a variety of seminars. The Mercantile serves as a living demonstration of the comfort and beauty of sustainability, and is quickly becoming a social hub of the community.

To apply or to ask questions please email alline at milkweedmercantile dot com. PLEASE put "work exchange" in the subject line to keep your email from ending up in the spam file. 

About the Milkweed Mercantile staff:
Kurt Kessner and Alline Anderson arrived at Dancing Rabbit in June 1999. After building a house they launched the next part of their Dancing Rabbit Dream – the Milkweed Mercantile. Inspired to build the Mercantile as a way to support themselves and to help Dancing Rabbit grow, construction began in 2007. The Inn opened in April 2010.
Alline, with a background in customer service and retail (but whose all-time favorite job remains camp counselor) manages the day to day operations of the Mercantile. Inspired by fabulous ingredients, she takes great joy in feeding, hosting and nurturing others. She never met a baked good that she didn’t like, and is enjoying learning more about foraged foods. In her spare time she reads fanatically, hangs out with Kurt, and is thinking about entering a 12-step program for Dr. Pepper.

Kurt is the easy-going designer/carpenter/contractor responsible for the physical manifestation of the Milkweed Mercantile. Trained as a carpenter as well as a marriage and family counselor, he is happiest when he is building something or teaching someone else how to build something. He also enjoys a great beer, great food and great conversation. He is delighted to spend time at the Mercantile, where all three are in plentiful supply.

Nik Garvoille (left) arrived as a Work Exchanger in the summer of 2013. When we found out how talented he is, we offered him a ten-day Artist in Residence position. Nik also does all of our graphic design. In 2014 Nik will transition from being a wexer to actually getting paid. He is our main breakfast cook, co-creator of our Farm to Fork dinners and Pie Man extraordinaire.

 Mae Ferber, (right) one of the "Pizza Bellas," is a big part of what makes our pizza nights so great! When she's not playing with dough and cheese at the Mercantile, you can find her out at the Critter Collective with her partner Ben, daughter Althea, goats, two million ducks, several hundred chickens and a miniature donkey.

Katherine Hanson, the other half of the "Pizza Bellas," arrived to participate in one of Dancing Rabbit's visitor sessions and never left! After wexing for a year, she became the Mercantile's first paid staffer. She constructs a mean pizza, is part of the Critter Collective, and if you need a party thrown, Katherine is the co for the job!

Please explore  before applying. Additional photos may be viewed here: Milkweed Mercantile Flickr.

TO APPLY or to ask questions please POSITION CLOSED FOR 2015 

Saturday Lunch service at the Mercantile

A birthday party for folks from the wider community.