Making a Home
As told by Andy Eckl (left) and Taka Kondo (right) ∙ Photograph by Cole Buckhart
We don’t know that we have any friends here with secure housing. The best situation involves coworkers at Red Top Meadows [a residential treatment center for troubled male teens run by Teton Youth & Family Services] who live in a house for eleven months a year, until its owners come out, and then they need to find something else for that month. I [Andy] had been looking to sign a yearlong lease since getting here in August 2015, but wasn’t able to find that until April 2017. It’s amazing what a lease does. Aside from giving you housing security, it’s proof of residency. You can’t get a driver’s license here or library card without proof of residency. I finally got my Wyoming license this past May. When I [Taka] first moved out here last summer to work as a direct chair worker at Red Top—I’m one of the few who did not come to Jackson for the plethora of outdoor activities; I came for the troubled teens—I did live out of my car for a week or so before finding a month-to-month situation in Victor, Idaho. But that place was an absolute sty. I eventually found a place in Jackson, but it was month-to-month. Now it feels really great to have the security of knowing we have somewhere to live for a year. The fact that it’s in East Jackson—where the wilderness is so close, but so is downtown—makes it that much better. When we were looking, we were hoping for East Jackson, but our first priority was getting our names on a lease and being in charge of who we put in the house. Now that we’re in, we’re finding it nice to have a home we can help improve and decorate. We got all of our furniture for less than $100 total! In Jackson, furniture, like work, is easy to come by. We painted the whole place, too. I [Andy] have painted professionally before, but I’ve never had the chance to live in a space where I’ve been able to paint for myself. We’ve never been in a place before where it’s been worthwhile to invest our time.