Episode 80: Life After Childhood on a Commune ft. Phoebe Pilaro

Episode 80: Life After Childhood on a Commune Featuring Phoebe Pilaro

Phoebe Pilaro spent her early childhood on a commune in the Redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains with very little adult supervision. Her parents had an unstable relationship and her father, likely bipolar and manic, was kicked out of the commune. Phoebe and her mother soon set off to other places and though her mother was a social and happy woman, she never set up boundaries during Phoebe’s childhood, gave her advice on growing up, or taught her about sex and protection. During her teenage years Phoebe did anything she wanted– drinking, smoking weed and having sex. She was about to turn 16 when she found out she was pregnant and had 2 STDs and she became suicidal. She couldn’t see a way forward and decided that ending her life was the only option for her. But then, something shifted and she decided she wanted to become a new person.


Phoebe Pilaro lives in Ketchum, Idaho with her two teenage sons and her fiancé, Justin.  Originally from Santa Cruz, California, she was born on a “commune” deep in the redwood forest.  When she was five, her parents divorced, and she and her mom moved around quite a bit, always living with other moms and kids.  After going down the path of too much partying and dropping out of 10th grade, she had an epiphany and decided she wanted to change her life and go to college.  She was able to do what it took to get accepted and find grants and scholarships to UC Santa Barbara, graduating in 1994.  The summer before college, she went on a 30-day mountaineering course with Outward Bound, and decided on that trip that someday she wanted to be an Outward Bound instructor.  So during college she also developed the skills in order to apply.  She worked as an instructor for Outward Bound in the Sierra’s throughout her 20’s and that’s where she met Chris Pilaro, her first husband and father of her children.  Meanwhile another passion of hers was yoga, so from 2000-2002 she completed a two-year yoga teacher training at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco.  When she and Chris moved to Idaho in 2002, Phoebe began teaching yoga and doing ceramics and selling at art fairs.  Sadly, Chris passed away after a 5-year battle with cancer in 2017.  She continues to enjoy teaching yoga and doing ceramics, as well as being a parent, enjoying her partner Justin, and skiing and hiking in the mountains. 



I’m a writer, a teacher, a native New Yorker, and I love hearing about people’s lives. When I think back to my elementary school days at PS 20 in Flushing, Queens whenever we began social studies or a history lesson I wasn’t that interested in learning about battles, topography, or politics. What I wanted to know was how people lived: What their families were like, how they adapted to their circumstances, what they ate, how they celebrated, how they felt.
Sociology became my major at Binghamton University and in my life so far I’ve been an actress, a salesperson, a Zoo Keeper’s Aid, a volunteer animal trainer, an ELL teacher, a mother, and a wife. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, all of which led me to create this podcast which is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve undertaken. I couldn’t ask for a better job than having in-depth conversations with survivors, thought leaders, authors, social justice warriors, and people who believe that we are all connected and then getting to share their stories, insight, and vulnerability with listeners.
I’m so glad you’ve landed on this page. I hope you find stories here which resonate with you and that you’ll tune in every week. 
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