Taryn VanderPyl

Home » The Lotus Project



The lotus grows from being deeply rooted in mud and scum. Despite these challenging circumstances, it makes its way through the murky water until it finally breaks the surface in order to bloom. It emerges and blossoms in the sun, rewarded for its efforts, beautiful and whole.

The color blue in a lotus flower represents wisdom and common sense, usually depicted only partially open with its very center unseen. This symbolizes a continual need to gain wisdom, learn and expand the mind, and to seek knowledge and understanding.

It is for this reason that multiple initiatives focused on rehabilitation and reentry are housed under The Lotus Project within this Western Restorative Justice and Reentry Center.

REGROUP is a new twist on the traditional support group model, specifically for people who have recently returned to the community after time spent behind bars. The members of this group help one another celebrate their new freedom, get established in the next chapter of their lives, refocus when life becomes distracting or overwhelming, learn valuable life skills to help ease reentry, and provide a support system for various areas of need. REGROUP capitalizes on the valuable lived experiences of the members to help one another from a position of genuine understanding.

“Without community, there is no liberation.”
– Audre Lorde



In the spirit of making vision possible, Light Letters seeks to center, prioritize, and amplify the voices of those with lived experience in the criminal justice system as a means to help others to truly see. Light Letters connects adults in custody currently residing in prison with students in undergraduate or graduate colleges and universities to teach them what life is really like on the “inside.” This professional letter-writing relationship benefits students by providing them with an education that is beyond any textbook or classroom and benefits the adults in custody by giving them a voice to teach future change agents.

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