The Sustainability Journey: Life in the Yoga House

There's a certain art of chaos that operates at the Venice Vibe Tribe and things just happen, not always on reliable schedules.
Written by Evan Kopelson, Contributor on

Evan Kopelsontook the plunge two weeks ago to be sustainable. That leap meant he said “So long!” to his Beverly Hills lifestyle to live in a yoga pod in a communal environment. “The Sustainability Journey” is a window into Evan’s world. Here’s his third journal entry. (Read the first and second.)

Life in the pod is never dull, and with eight people in the house, I never know what’s going to happen from one minute to the next.

For example, I was sitting down to write an assignment when the house manager Bobby Israel showed up with six worker bees from one of his other houses and called an impromptu work party to clean up the yard.

Israel (known as “Bobby-I” and spelled “Bobbyi”) runs the three houses comprising this vibrant and eclectic community spanning ages from 18 to 50 or so and including artists, musicians, engineers, writers, teachers, and worker bees who trade labor for rent credit.

The three houses are known together as the “Venice Vibe Tribe” and include Yoga House where I live, named for the large bamboo yoga dome in the backyard, Permaculture House which features an ongoing project of organic farming, and the Penmar House named for the street where it’s located.  Penmar House can accommodate up to 30 people between the bedrooms and pods.

When I was looking at the place before deciding to move in, Bobbyi said, “We’re attempting to create our own reality here and learn to live together as a community in the sense of how people have lived communally throughout history, sharing tools and resources, and bartering and trading products and services as well as cash for purchases – communal living is a skill we need to relearn.  This works on all sorts of levels, from sustainability to bonding together during tough economic times.”

I was impressed by that, and from the looks of things at Penmar House, it was working.

The Dome at Yoga House was a big draw for me, being a yoga teacher and looking for a place to practice daily.  At my old place, I had two mats down at all times and could practice and teach privates without having to move furniture.  Here in my pod, it’s only about 8 ft. by 9 ft. and I’m sitting now at my computer, which is on the built-in desk unit right under the platform where I climb up to sleep in the single-size futon.  I can stretch my arms overhead if standing in one spot, facing in one direction. It’s not about space here, living in the pod.

And yet, the pod where I live is fantastic.  It’s made from reclaimed wood and covered with reclaimed vinyl from old billboards.  Yes, I have pliable walls made of vinyl, stretched over a frame made of plywood.  I don’t know why, but I feel right at home here.  It kind of reminds me of my old dorm room, with a slanted ceiling (here more sloped than slanted).  Only my freshman dorm room, which was maybe one-eighth the size of my Beverly Hills bedroom, was still about three times the size of this pod.

“My pod is a very very very fine pod.”  And to complete the butchering of one of my favorite songs, there actually are two cats in the yard, and life did used to be so hard.  I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment, but I do have seven new housemates and there is a cute pod chick living next door.

I may not have come here were it not for the Yoga Dome.  The floor isn’t in there yet, we just built the bamboo dome last week, and it’s not even covered yet.  But the dome is huge, a full 24 ft. across.  The frame is made of 40 ft. bamboo splits woven together.  The floor materials were reclaimed from gymnasiums.  We need to plane and sand the floors to get the red stripes off, and then we’ll have gorgeous wood floors in the dome. I kept my old bedroom stereo to put in the dome.

I’m excited to teach classes to the community by donation, and to bring other teachers here, and experience the gifts of other healers. We’ll have dance and movement workshops, “Mommy and Me” classes, Kundalini Yoga, Hatha/Vinyasa Flow, Thai Yoga Massage and more.

But there’s a certain art of the chaos that operates at the Venice Vibe Tribe and things just happen, not always on a reliable schedule. I was writing on a deadline, but Bobbyi came in with six worker bees from the Penmar House and called a work party to clean the yard, so we can continue work on the Yoga Dome and also build a new pod outside next to mine.  These are exciting things that will enhance the community, so I’m happy to help -- but I could have used some more advance notice.

When you’ve given up your predictable lifestyle to live communally, you’ve got to be there to lend a hand when the time arises.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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