Oregon State Penitentiary
An innovative healing garden for a maximum security prison.
- Salem, Oregon
- 12,940 square feet
- Completed in Fall 2019 ← Back to All
But that is exactly what a small group of inmates and Department of Corrections leaders at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) dared to do: follow their inspiration and innovate. With nothing but hope and a vision, they reached out to Kurisu.
As Japanese gardens have done for thousands of years, the Memorial Healing Garden at Oregon State Pentitentiary offers unique opportunities for self-realization, tranquility, and peace. For inmates experiencing depression, anger, stress, and total disconnection from natural elements, recovering a sense of awe and appreciation for nature’s beauty can inspire transformation at the deepest levels.
Kurisu broke ground on the Memorial Healing Garden in Spring 2019 and completed the garden in the fall of that year. Approximately 200 inmates volunteered their time to help build the garden alongside Kurisu's team, some of them every single day, rain or shine. Some of these men had not touched soil or a tree for decades. On November 6, 2019 the garden officially opened. Since then, the Healing Garden has been maintained by inmates trained by Kurisu LLC and with help from Kurisu and community supporters.
Funding for the Memorial Healing Garden project at Oregon State Penitentiary was made possible entirely by donations from individuals both inside and outside the walls and generous grants from community supporters including the Oregon Community Foundation, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Social Justice Fund and Meyer Memorial Trust. No tax-payer dollars were used. This inmate-initiated project began with a vision from Asian Pacific Family Club (APFC) members at OSP. Persisting through a concept and planning stage lasting five years, the garden team overcame countless obstacles, forging new and often unprecedented collaborations along the way. To learn more about the APFC's mission and efforts to make the healing garden a reality, click here.
To learn more about the collaboration between Kurisu, the APFC and Oregon's Department of Corrections to create this truly unique prison healing garden, download this PDF.
Constructing the garden was just the beginning. Now it is the daily work of nurturing the Healing Garden's plants, trees, and koi that will ensure the integrity and beauty of the garden for years to come. Securing garden access for the over two thousand men incarcerated at OSP and discovering how to best support therapeutic experience will define the garden's success.
The Memorial Healing Garden project at OSP continues to seek support for maintenance and development. To make a tax-deductible donation now, please visit the project's partner organization, The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) at www.nakasec.org. Thank you.
To me, this [garden] will be the first place where it's all-inclusive, where everyone can go there, of any culture, of any power structure, staff, inmates. We can all go there and feel some sense of safety, some sense of peace. In this type of place, that's almost unheard of.
Johnny Cofer, Adult in Custody and Asian Pacific Family Club Garden Project Coordinator, 2017
It is amazing to see how this project and its story is inspiring people to see beyond the typical perspective of prison. We are very grateful and appreciative for all the blessings and positive responses. Hoichi Kurisu had said this to us upon our very first meeting with him, concerning how we were supposed to raise the money and gain support from the community. HK calmly expressed 'believe in yourself and in your heart that it is the right thing to do, it has a meaning.' HK's blessing has given us the strength to overcome all the challenges and barriers through this process.
Toshio Takanobu, Adult in Custody and Asian Pacific Family Club President, May 16, 2018