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Guest Rooms for Estrella Vista Retreat

30 US kids each year kill a parent due to abuse. We provide a permanent home for them, healing, and spiritual hospitality to visitors.

Guest Rooms for Estrella Vista Retreat

30 US kids each year kill a parent due to abuse. We provide a permanent home for them, healing, and spiritual hospitality to visitors.

$525
Pledged OfPledged Of Goal
2
Backers
Funding Unsuccessful
Funding Goal Not Reached
Last Updated

About

I operate The Redemption Project from the mountains of West Texas, and the program is devoted to supporting juvenile parricides, who are symptomatic of a crisis in American families. This is a phenomenon that is thankfully small. There are approximately 300 murders of parents in America every year, but only about 10% of these are committed by juveniles under age 18. We are all hard-wired not to fatally harm a parent, and child must be forced into this act by severe sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, etc. (Only about 10% of parricides happen because of mental illness or sociopathy.)

Even though the law enforcement/legal/correction system persists in treating parricides as acts that cannot be differentiated from other violent crimes, the truth is that over 95% of parricides never go on to reoffend in any way. Once the abuser is out of the picture, parricides can become model citizens--if society permits them to do so.

Unfortunately society makes it very difficult for these young people to succeed. They are typically given extremely long sentences (40 to 99 years is not uncommon), and those who are released after more reasonable sentences, face a lifetime of discrimination in employment, housing, etc. For this reason, I offer the support of a worldwide network of people through every phase parricides encounter: legal defense for the original crime or legal appeal; commissary infusions, tuition payments, books, etc. for those who are incarcerated; assistance with the purchase of vehicles, computers, housing security deposits, tuition assistance, etc. for for those lucky enough to make the prison-to-freedom transition. (So far, only 2 out of 11 of my kids have gotten short enough sentences for this to have happened, thanks to the intercession of actor Rosie O'Donnell.) Thanks to our involvement, 2 are scheduled to be released at age 18, and one will be released at age 21--but those are still several years in the future.

All parricides in my project are already designated to inherit "Estrella Vista," an 80-acre spread in West Texas that can always provide a home base for these kids who (in most cases) have cut themselves off from anyone or any thing resembling permanence in their lives. Anyone living here will accept the mission of providing "spiritual hospitality" for any visitors who come here. Spiritual hospitality is about seeing the godness in others and serving their needs.

Staying at Estrella Vista does not involve a charge for either the kids or visitors. The core purpose of the facility is to be of service to the needs of humanity, whatever they may be.

But what a magnificent setting for working it out! This is one of the premier camping/hiking destinations in the world.

I am building a worldwide network of support through my daily blog, Wandervogel Diary at http://wandervogeldiary.wordpress.com/. The Redemption Project has a websitete at www.redemptionforkids.org.

This project will create a 2-bedroom, library, and greatroom addition to the main house.

Risks and challenges

This is an extremely isolated place that has the benefit of having no zoning or other restrictions. Accordingly, construction will be in stone and adobe, which are already on the property and available at no cost. Concrete, lumber, lime plaster, windows, doors, etc., plus wiring, are the only materials which need to be purchased. A solar power system, telephone/DSL system, and rainwater catchment system are already in place. The biggest component needing to be purchased is labor competent in sustainable/green building methods. Such expertise is available in the area. A LEED-certified green architect has already volunteered to be of service. The greatest potential obstacle to this project not being realized is not being able to coordinate all these resources.

I am the best person in whom to entrust the responsibility for overseeing this task because I have the vision and determination to see it through. The last comparable project I initiated was the creation of "Cedar Lake Park and Trail" in Minneapolis MN, a nature park and 4.3-mile commuter biking trail that took 15 years of determined effort to create.

The Cedar Lake Park Association, a group of which I was a founder, over time raised over a million dollars in private funds, bought the land that is now Cedar Lake Park, and built the award-winning Cedar Lake Regional Trail, which stimulated an extensive network of pedestrian and biking trails which now extend from the park to all parts of the city and its first-ring suburbs.

In addition, thousands of native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees have been planted in the park. Reclamation projects are restoring the landscape and providing new habitat for wildlife. Chipped paths and water pumps have been installed for humans.

All this is within walking distance of downtown Minneapolis. First-time park visitors return again and again to have their own experience in this natural setting.

The Redemption Project, though in existence since only 2005, has been similarly successful. We have been involved in several groundbreaking cases in youth justice and have made a substantive difference (against daunting odds) in the lives of all the young people we have supported.

In Indiana, we mounted an appeal for a 12-year-old named Paul Gingerich who had been sentenced to 25 years (and 5 years' probation) to incarceration in an adult prison. He is now incarcerated in a youth prison and will probably be released at age 18. Furthermore, his case led to the passage of a new law named after him that allows for blended youth and adult sentences.

When five years ago I first took on the cause of 11-year-old Jordan Brown, a boy who we believe to be innocent, it seemed that the whole town of New Castle PA was against him. I know that this was not literally true, but the people who were not allowing themselves to be manipulated by the victim’s vengeful family, a corrupt county prosecutor, and dishonest police were hanging in the background. I think I was the first writer to have defended the 11-year-old, and though the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has still not treated Jordan justly, Jordan has won every appeal since he was unjustly incarcerated, and the boy is still able to hold his head up high as one who has defied mob rule. I am proud to have played a small part in lessening his ordeal.

These are just two of eleven stories, a number which will probably increase over time.

When we first take on the causes of particular youths, there is no guarantee that we will be able to do much of anything for them except provide moral support. Sad but true, some may have to serve the greater parts of, or their full, sentences. For a kid looking at decades of being caged, this is a devastating prospect.

The first thing we do is designate each youth as a beneficiary of the Estrella Vista Trust (which owns the Texas property) so the youths at least have the hope of something after prison. Furthermore, having a place to live after prison can have an impact on parole boards to encourage release of the young men or women before their full sentences have been served.

Yet, we have won every case we have adjudicated. This has resulted in more reasonable sentences. For those cases that have not been adjudicated, we have helped transform incarceration into a more constructive experience.

What can be achieved in the future is anyone's guess. It is our vision to establish a green building school and an online camping/hiking supply business at Estrella Vista so these young people will develop some skills necessary for their survival as free persons.

You can be on the ground floor of realizing this vision by supporting the construction of guest rooms, which will make Estrella Vista a more hospitable place for these young people, plus a welcoming, comfortable place for all visitors in need.

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1

    144 million years ago, this area was all ocean bottom, and the fossils of ancient sea life are still here to prove it. Backers in any amount will receive a fossil as a souvenir.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Estrella Vista is available as a camping, sightseeing, and hiking destination to any backer and up to 4 of his/her friends. Value: $75/day/person. Limit: one week at a time.

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Funding period

- (45 days)