Vermonters will be delighted on April 12 to wake up to decorated eggs hidden in their lawns and chocolate bunnies and carrots safely deposited on their doorstep. The rabbits pulling this out of their hats are known as “Rabble Bunnies,” a work crew from local chocolate manufacturer, Rabble-Rouser Chocolate & Craft Co. The chocolate cooperative is also offering special items for this one-time event from their (otherwise-dormant) Montpelier and Middlesex locations, including half-gallon jars of maple chai tea and lentil dal soup, Marta’s samosas in seven flavors, and Manghi’s hot cross buns and cinnamon rolls. Other offerings include Vermont granola, CBD chocolates and medicinals, seven limited-edition Pandemic Art prints by Ryan Geary, locally made egg-shaped lemongrass soap, and all-natural hand sanitizer, while supplies last.
The initiative was developed by a seven-person leadership team steering the company through the COVID-19 dance of economic preservation. In the interest of public safety, Rabble-Rouser shut the doors of its 4,400-square-foot Montpelier community space on March 16, the day before the Governor ordered everyone to stay at home. It simultaneously closed its chocolate store and art gallery at the Camp Meade artisan complex in Middlesex. Nonetheless, “our express goal since March 15 has been to ‘ensure the economic safety of all workers,’ and this was particularly important for workers’ actual and perceived sense of security, prior to the rollout of recently declared federal relief,” says rising co-owner, Liz Knapp.
Facing economic dissolution like many other cafes, bars, manufacturers, and stores, Rabble-Rouser has sought and implemented various pivots to keep the business intact. Through a combination of rapidly enacted intiatives, the company has been able to retain 65 percent of its diverse staff, which includes folks from other parts of the globe, people of color, LGBTQ+, neurodivergent, neurotypical, and cis members of the community. The other 35 percent of workers either chose unpaid leave for family reasons or opted to be laid off.
The “Bunny Resurrection,” as it is now being called, emerged in response to comments by the president on March 24 about resuming normal life on Easter. Recognizing the danger of this assertion, and the backward flow of momentum toward quarantine that it could incite, Rabble-Rouser leadership felt that specific Easter homestay messaging and services would support public health in Vermont. According to co-owner Rauli Fernandez, “We are doing this to uplift the spirits of people who are staying home and exercising discipline to prevent the spread of the virus. We want to make it so that they can maintain a positive mental health and they don’t feel forgotten. We want to remind everyone that we are all a Vermont family, even if it’s just a little scavenger hunt in your front yard with eggs, so that something else can be happening in their lives.”
The organically farmed eggs will be hard-boiled and decorated. Central and Northern Vermonters can order a Bunny Resurrection delivery by calling 229-2090 before Friday, April 10 at noon.
Text submitted by Rabble-Rouser. Order Contact: Maia Castonguay email@example.com 802-229-2090.