Johnny's Journey

is creating a blog about transformation within a maximum security prison

11

patrons

$65

per month
Hello, and thank you for finding my page. My name is Johnny Cofer. I am 46 years old, and for the past 21 years I have been serving two concurrent 26-to-life sentences in Oregon prisons, a result of some tragic choices I made in my youth. After 13 years of incarceration, I made a choice to begin changing my life. I began taking self-growth classes and university classes, and got involved in the Asian Pacific Family Club here at the Oregon State Penitentiary, in an effort to connect to my culture, which is Vietnamese and Chinese on my mother's side.

Through the club, I developed an idea to build a healing garden in the prison, based on the design principles of traditional Japanese gardens. My idea for the garden was to create an oasis of nature within a place that is mostly barren and cold. (Steel and concrete surrounded me; I had not seen or touched a tree in decades, much like many other prisoners here.)

Over the next five years, the idea for the garden became much more than this. My and my colleagues' vision for it became a place of healing and self-reflection. We wanted it to be a place that could unite people in our common humanity. There are so many social divisions within a prison: race, age, gang affiliations, as well as inmate vs. staff. But we are all human, and we all need healing for our wounds and traumas. The garden can also serve as a place to consider our own accountability for the harms we may have caused to others, and how we wish to move forward, making amends as necessary and where possible, and contemplating who we want to be as we step into our future.

Over the course of this journey, an incredible community has come together to make the garden possible: prison administrators and other staff, prisoners from many different backgrounds, and wonderful outside supporters, including world-renowned Japanese garden designer Hoichi Kurisu and the staff of his firm Kurisu International. Inmate members of the Asian Pacific Family Club raised more than $500,000--including many generous in-kind contributions--so that we could build this garden without spending any state/taxpayer money.

As I write, the garden is under construction, and I am overjoyed and humbled to see it finally taking physical form after five years of dreaming and planning. We have many ideas and plans for how the garden can help people within our prison community, as well as outside it. We will continue to find ways to raise funds to maintain the garden over the long term. I feel confident we will find ways to do so effectively.

This blog, however, will serve as my personal blog about my own life journey and the insights I continue to develop as I work to heal and transform myself as well as my (prison and world) community. I hope you will follow along to read about my process, and I hope you can find some inspiration for your own life, through my particular journey here.

If you wish to sign up as a patron, you will receive email notifications whenever I post new blog entries. The funding will help me to financially prepare for life on the outside, if I am fortunate enough to be granted parole. (This could potentially happen as early as 2024.) Whether or not you join as a patron, I hope that you will find some inspiration in my writings here. In some ways my journey is unique, but I believe that we are all united in our humanity, so I hope that you may find some resonance with the experiences I share here.

Here are a few news articles about the garden project:

https://www.naportland.com/resources/community-spotlight/a-japanese-healing-garden-offers-resilience-to-men-in-custody-the-power-of-the-human-spirit-to-transform/

https://www.naportland.com/featured/a-japanese-healing-garden-offers-resilience-to-men-in-custody-the-power-of-the-human-spirit-to-transform-part-2-of-3/

https://www.naportland.com/featured/a-japanese-healing-garden-offers-resilience-to-men-in-custody-the-power-of-the-human-spirit-to-transform-part-3-of-3/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/inside-oregon-prison-club-seeks-healing-through-culture-n906866

https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2017/09/inmates_push_for_healing_garde.html

https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-prison-healing-garden-state-penitentiary/

And from Kurisu International's website:

https://www.kurisu.com/project/oregon-state-penitentiary

If you wish to contact me directly, you can send postal mail to 
Johnny Cofer
SID #8676205
2605 State St.
Salem, OR 97310

Or you can set up a Telmate account for email and/or phone (background check and some fees apply) at gettingout.com

Hello, and thank you for finding my page. My name is Johnny Cofer. I am 46 years old, and for the past 21 years I have been serving two concurrent 26-to-life sentences in Oregon prisons, a result of some tragic choices I made in my youth. After 13 years of incarceration, I made a choice to begin changing my life. I began taking self-growth classes and university classes, and got involved in the Asian Pacific Family Club here at the Oregon State Penitentiary, in an effort to connect to my culture, which is Vietnamese and Chinese on my mother's side.

Through the club, I developed an idea to build a healing garden in the prison, based on the design principles of traditional Japanese gardens. My idea for the garden was to create an oasis of nature within a place that is mostly barren and cold. (Steel and concrete surrounded me; I had not seen or touched a tree in decades, much like many other prisoners here.)

Over the next five years, the idea for the garden became much more than this. My and my colleagues' vision for it became a place of healing and self-reflection. We wanted it to be a place that could unite people in our common humanity. There are so many social divisions within a prison: race, age, gang affiliations, as well as inmate vs. staff. But we are all human, and we all need healing for our wounds and traumas. The garden can also serve as a place to consider our own accountability for the harms we may have caused to others, and how we wish to move forward, making amends as necessary and where possible, and contemplating who we want to be as we step into our future.

Over the course of this journey, an incredible community has come together to make the garden possible: prison administrators and other staff, prisoners from many different backgrounds, and wonderful outside supporters, including world-renowned Japanese garden designer Hoichi Kurisu and the staff of his firm Kurisu International. Inmate members of the Asian Pacific Family Club raised more than $500,000--including many generous in-kind contributions--so that we could build this garden without spending any state/taxpayer money.

As I write, the garden is under construction, and I am overjoyed and humbled to see it finally taking physical form after five years of dreaming and planning. We have many ideas and plans for how the garden can help people within our prison community, as well as outside it. We will continue to find ways to raise funds to maintain the garden over the long term. I feel confident we will find ways to do so effectively.

This blog, however, will serve as my personal blog about my own life journey and the insights I continue to develop as I work to heal and transform myself as well as my (prison and world) community. I hope you will follow along to read about my process, and I hope you can find some inspiration for your own life, through my particular journey here.

If you wish to sign up as a patron, you will receive email notifications whenever I post new blog entries. The funding will help me to financially prepare for life on the outside, if I am fortunate enough to be granted parole. (This could potentially happen as early as 2024.) Whether or not you join as a patron, I hope that you will find some inspiration in my writings here. In some ways my journey is unique, but I believe that we are all united in our humanity, so I hope that you may find some resonance with the experiences I share here.

Here are a few news articles about the garden project:

https://www.naportland.com/resources/community-spotlight/a-japanese-healing-garden-offers-resilience-to-men-in-custody-the-power-of-the-human-spirit-to-transform/

https://www.naportland.com/featured/a-japanese-healing-garden-offers-resilience-to-men-in-custody-the-power-of-the-human-spirit-to-transform-part-2-of-3/

https://www.naportland.com/featured/a-japanese-healing-garden-offers-resilience-to-men-in-custody-the-power-of-the-human-spirit-to-transform-part-3-of-3/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/inside-oregon-prison-club-seeks-healing-through-culture-n906866

https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/2017/09/inmates_push_for_healing_garde.html

https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-prison-healing-garden-state-penitentiary/

And from Kurisu International's website:

https://www.kurisu.com/project/oregon-state-penitentiary

If you wish to contact me directly, you can send postal mail to 
Johnny Cofer
SID #8676205
2605 State St.
Salem, OR 97310

Or you can set up a Telmate account for email and/or phone (background check and some fees apply) at gettingout.com

Recent posts by Johnny's Journey