News Home & Design This Buddhist Meditator Is Living Van Life and Building a Spiritual Community By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published March 6, 2023 10:48AM EST Share Twitter Pinterest Email Tiny Home Tours News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive No matter where and how you live, the importance of community cannot be understated. For those living alternative lifestyles—such as the tiny house community or the van life community—that kind of communal interconnection is vital for helping people transition and adapt more easily, to swap tips, or even to find spots to park their homes. For van dweller Stacey Polacco, community not only means getting together with other van lifers like herself but also working to build a spiritual community of like-minded nomads. Polacco is a Buddhist who practices meditation regularly, often in and around her cozy home that's been converted out of a Ford Transit cargo van. Under the banner of Buddhist Boondockers, Polacco shares her practice with other travelers who are looking to meditate together and also organizes dharma talks, meditation sessions, and longer retreats. We get a tour of her simple but welcoming van home via Tiny Home Tours: Tiny Home Tours Polacco explains how the idea for living a nomadic lifestyle was actually not a new thing for her, but something that she has thought about for years, despite some missed opportunities: "I dreamed about going mobile many years ago, way before it was trendy or popular. But it did take me a good ten years, maybe more, to do it. What happened was that someone was selling a Promaster [van], and it was a really good deal, but I had never had a van before. So I hesitated, and he sold it. I was so disappointed, [so that] when I saw an ad for this [Ford Transit] van—[even though] it was not built out, it was just an open cargo van—but the price was reasonable, and I just went for it. And I'm really glad I did." In working with a professional builder to realize her project, Polacco's van conversion features a simple layout and includes a kitchenette, a multifunctional seating area, a platform bed, as well as nice extras like a built-in shower stall. Tiny Home Tours The kitchen is condensed into one side of the van, with Polacco choosing not to have a big counter sticking out halfway in front of the sliding side door—a common configuration in many van conversions. Polacco says that she opted for a smaller, less obtrusive kitchen off to one side, as she doesn't cook much, and that she wanted her door open and unobstructed to chat with people. The kitchen counter has enough space for a small sink, and a one-burner stove, which Polacco uses to heat water for her tea and coffee. To brighten the area up, she's put some plants in little planters above the counter. There is a mini-refrigerator under the counter, which is the perfect size for her. Above the sink, there is an open shelf with a rounded corner, which is one of the van's decorative elements. Tiny Home Tours Beside the kitchen, there is the shower stall which Polacco says she doesn't use much for showers, as she often uses gym showers whenever they are available. However, she says that she finds the built-in toilet useful for emergencies, and the space also serves as a place to hang wet clothes or to store other things out of the way. Tiny Home Tours Back in the main living space, the van's seating area is made with a multifunctional, L-shaped bench that not only acts as a place to sit or lounge on, but also has storage integrated underneath. Part of the bench top lifts up to make more leg room, and underneath this part is where Polacco's dog has its bed. Tiny Home Tours Hidden in the bed platform is this long table that slides out. Tiny Home Tours Built into part of the bench is this storage drawer that opens to the exterior of the van, which is used to store shoes and tools. Tiny Home Tours The rear of the van is reserved for the bed, the width of which is just perfect for Polacco to sleep on. Tiny Home Tours Under the bed, there is the "van garage" for storing various larger items, as well as other Polacco's water supply, a propane tank, on-demand hot water heater, and the equipment for her solar power system. Tiny Home Tours Polacco's long-term goal now is to nurture a spiritual community of fellow travelers with workshops, retreats and meditation sessions centering around mindfulness and Buddhist traditions. All in all, Polacco says that van life has suited her well: "I've been in the van now for about two years. I love it. I have no interest or desire to stop doing it. I have lived overseas, and when I'm overseas, I don't necessarily need to live in a van, or to be mobile, but when I am in America, this is the only way that I'm interested in living. I mean, like spending the entire summer on the beach, looking at the ocean... I just love it. I'm interested in nomad communities, I might be interested in land, but really, for me, it's about being mobile." To learn more, check out Buddhist Boondockers on Facebook and Instagram.