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Om Away From Home… Yasodhara Heights

February 4, 2009 by Lightwaves

The idea known as “Om Away From Home,” born out of discussions at last summer’s AGM around the need to explore new ways for people to be close to the Ashram, has been evolving into the “Yasodhara Heights” development project.

At the Ashram’s AGM last August, Swami Radhananda spoke in her opening remarks about the present need to gather more people around the Ashram, the need to explore new ways that people could feel at home close to the centre of Swami Radha’s teachings.(see a video of Swami Radhananda’s opening remarks at the 2008 AGM).

A round table discussion on the subject, playfully called “Om Away From Home,” brainstormed a number of ideas on how this could be accomplished. (for more background information, see our previous post: “Om Away From Home”) The group explored different options for potential alternate living situations, among them the possibilities of Ashram Society members purchasing land close to the Ashram, and of making existing Ashram buildings usable for families and members who would like to be renting within the Ashram while maintaining a semi-independent lifestyle.  A third idea which generated enthusiasm was to build cabins on the Ashram’s property above the Riondel Road which could be available for the use of Ashram Society Members.  With the help of a number of our Members, this idea has been evolving into the “Yasodhara Heights” development project.

The Ashram is entering into the concept and design phase of the project, with Swami Sivananda acting as the interim project coordinator.  He explains that “Most of the work at this stage is being done by people outside of the Ashram.”

Marlene Roza lives and practices Law in Calgary, and has been involved with the Ashram and the Teachings for over two decades.  She has been able to help by putting together the initial legal and administrative guidelines for the project.  The first draft of the legal document states that

“The purpose of the project is:

a. to expand the community-living opportunities for Members of the Ashram Society, the FRF and the ADHP by providing self-contained, affordable accommodation where Members have the choice of maintaining an independent lifestyle for themselves and their families; and

b. to help sustain Swami Radha’s teachings by bringing more Members who wish to be involved in the work closer to the Ashram on a long-term basis, and by increasing revenue from the existing Ashram Society lands.”

The site development plan for the project is being done by Kootenay Bay geologist and land surveyor Sonni Greene.  For over two decades Sonni has been involved with the ashram, helping with various projects including the construction of Mandala House.  He also made the beautiful stained glass Kuan Yin that now lives over the front of the Mandala House front entrance.  He has drawn up preliminary site development plans from air photos – click on the images to view the full size pdf’s.

Tim Tewsley first got involved with the ashram in 1997 through the Young Adult Program, And is now helping Radha Yoga and Eatery in Vancouver to plan their green renovations.  He is currently enrolled in the National Sustainable Building Advisor Program at the Sustainable Building Centre in Vancouver, where he brought Yasodhara Heights forward as a design project for the class.  The project was accepted, which is great for us as it means we have the benefit of the students, many of whom are already professionals in fields such as engineering, architecture, and energy auditing, giving their creativity and expertise to this project.

The project proposal describes “…up to 12 new, residential-style, all season cabins ranging in size from approximately 500 to 1000 square feet. They will be located within the 10-hectare parcel in sequenced development over several years.”  The Ashram is looking at various proposed options for building and infrastrucure, including cob/strawbale building, green roofs, passive solar and ground-source heating, electric composting toilets, and solar hot water panels (like the ones we now have on the roof of Mandala House).

This is the beginning of a process.  Work on the project is ongoing, and the network of Ashram Society members who have been working on it hope to have the final proposal in place for the upcoming Annual General Meeting in August.  About the timeline for building, Swami Sivananda says “…site development could begin as early as this fall, and if there’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy around the project, we might even get some foundations built.”


No Comments »

  1. I’m interested in getting involved with the Yasodhara Heights project. I’ll be away until March 1, but please contact me at the above email or at 250 368-3378 when I return (to my current home in Trail).

    Comment by Nola Landucci — February 7, 2009 @ 12:12 am

  2. This is an inspiring project.

    Comment by Rebecca — February 7, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  3. This is very exciting. This is a of thought I had years ago… to have cabins nearby where ashram supporters could live independently yet still be an integrl part of the community!

    Comment by Jo Ann Hamm — March 31, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  4. Great idea!

    An extra powder room (sink & Toilet) would work for the larger homes. As some of us get older, the extra commode comes in handy. See you in May.


    Comment by Dona Duckmanton — April 3, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

  5. What an awesome concept! I have been trying to figure out as well how to be closer to the Ashram! Any guidelines worked out for whom lives there?

    Comment by Noni — May 5, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

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