welcome to wherever you are


On Friday I received a letter from David McCullough, one of our parricides, saying that he accepts our invitation and intends to come to Estrella Vista if he is paroled from prison in two years. His release is not a sure thing, but its possibility is enhanced by the fact that he will have a job and a stable place to live.

So this is how it all begins.

We will have a lot to learn and do between now and then to be ready for him. At a minimum, we will have to build a guestroom onto the house. He will have a lot to do to be ready for us, as well.

I can tell from David’s letter that he has an inflated idea of our capacities. I will have to write and impress on him just how rudimentary every aspect of life at Estrella Vista can be. David is used to an environment, however lacking, where all his basic needs are provided for. The biggest change will be that he will have to devise a sustainable existence of his own, merge it with that of a community, with some help from the outside.

Right now, Alex and I share a single room. Alex had to dust and clean out his sleeping loft himself before it was truly habitable. If we had to put up a third person tomorrow, I don’t know where we would put them or how we would do it. But I have no doubt that we would figure something out.

The one saving grace of Estrella Vista is that the property is already owned by the young people who will live here. Whatever they have to do to make it work, no one will ever be able to take it away from them. It is their permanent home, whether they choose to use it or not.

At this time, Alex is building a frame for our solar panels to raise them off the ground and face them towards the sun. We have also purchased a new charge controller and plan to install it in our system of solar panels, windmills and batteries. Hopefully these two improvements will give us more hours of electrical function from our system, which always craps out on us by about 3:00 am ’til about an hour after sunrise.

Every new person who arrives at Estrella Vista will bring with him/her their own particular baggage and skills. David is a talented artist. He has done construction and a little electrical and plumbing. He’s a whiz on the computer, and he says he can probably fix any vehicle built before the year 2000. He says if he doesn’t know how to do something else, he says he can learn it pretty quickly. I don’t really know what baggage he will bring, but you can believe that after two decades of incarceration there will be some.

Adjusting to the human dimension will be the biggest, most constant challenge.

I have made up my mind that it will happen with Alex at his pace and his initiative. When David McCullough comes here, change will happen at his pace, too. It will be up to him to figure out where he’ll fit in. No one will tell him what to do. Freedom, self-responsibility, and adventure are the by-words here.

Lots of ways to fit in. The hard part will be actually doing it.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Bonjovi performing “Welcome To Wherever You Are”


PS: In the same mail I heard from Tennessee parricide, Ethan Self, who accepted my invitation to be helped by the Redemption Project. He is serving 51-year sentence for having accidentally killed his abusive father, a troubled cop, in 2010. He was convicted of first-degree murder in an incident that should have more rightfully construed as manslaughter. He was charged of the more serious crime under pressure from police who were a constant presence at the trial and lobbied retribution for the death of one of their own, flawed though they knew him to be. Ethan was represented by an attorney who was incompetent due to a stroke (he couldn’t even remember Ethan’s name at the trial). Ethan is a likeable, clean-cut, well-mannered, intelligent kid whose prison staff’s and inmates’ nickname for him is “Captain America.” He is our 12th kid. More about him as I learn his story.

ethan self


PPS: Alex’s glasses arrived in the same mail, and he has been commenting about how all the fuzzy edges have been eliminated from his world. As promised, here is a picture to show you the glasses he selected:


Hard to see, aren’t they?

1 Response to “welcome to wherever you are”

  1. November 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Not related to Dan’s post.

    For those who remember, a few months ago a reader of this Blog had called our attention to the case of a young resident of Utah, sentenced to 1 to 15 years. According to this site, the young Cooper – now 17 – has seen its situation improve and can now look forward and start a new life:
    Finally, the punishment did not lasted longer that what were initially expecting the young man and his parents. But it is regrettable that, contrary to other young people involved in this case, this kid will linger throughout his life the burden of a felony record.

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