Creating Connection

What an unexpected year 2020 was!  While no one would likely choose to repeat it, the year wasn’t all bad though. Reflecting over the past 12 months, we’ve found moments that affirmed the importance of our combatting disconnection — between individuals and a community. Jordan Chaney provided one of these moments. 

Jordan moved from Tierra Vida this December, but his time with us highlighted the healing power that a sense of safety and belonging can provide and demonstrated the transformation that can happen to a person in such a space.

In need of respite, Jordan came to Tierra Vida in 2019, feeling alienated and trepidatious trusting others. What he found, he said, was a community that “meets the person exactly where they are without judgment, prejudice, or short-sightedness. In one of the hardest years of our lives, this community worked tirelessly and lovingly to keep the spirits of the residents up. I don’t say this lightly, Tierra Vida is the first place I ever felt at home in the Tri-Cities.”

As the year progressed, Jordan’s talents became apparent, and staff asked how he might consider sharing his gifts with others. What came of this was our new Art Dojo. In Japanese, “dojo” means “place of the Way” and is used as a place of learning or meditation. Tierra Vida’s Art Dojo provides a space for individuals to come together, express themselves through art, and build relationships where often none existed. 

With community youth, Jordan converted our maintenance garage into a studio. From late Spring through November, the Dojo became a healing space for many who felt isolated due to COVID restrictions.

This community did not make Jordan an artist, nor did it equip other community members with their gifts. Rather, it provides a place of refuge. It offers connections to people who nurture the spirit of service to others. In this, residents often find meaning, belonging and purpose.

Asking Jordan about his experience, he said, “living here has been a heart-opening and spiritually transformative experience. They invited me to create a space for making art. Here, they invite your talents and make space for your contributions. And you know what? That is the very essence of family and community — a true sense of belonging.”

In a year that had many of our youth feeling anxious, sometimes depressed, and uncertain about their educational future, one young man said of his time at the Art Dojo, “it’s the best hour of my entire day!”

While not the year we planned, it was the year we received. We give thanks for these lights like Jordan who shone when COVID shut us in, and we are so grateful to those with whom and for whom we work to continue building community and neighborliness. 

Happy New Year!

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