Blue skies and green trees…Hidden creeks and watering holes…The smell of nature and mountain air…A community who raised funds for her brother’s cancer treatment, her sister’s funeral, and her daughter’s adoption.
“These are my big memories of Paradise,” Jenni Goodlin, recently-returned Ridge resident and owner of This Life Videography, said. “The people and the overwhelming kindness and compassion of this town.”
In fifth grade, Jenni and her siblings and mother moved to Paradise from Southern California after the passing of her father, and the town quickly became home. “I just immediately loved it here. It was just a healing place.” College and marriage later took her to first Omaha and then Colorado, where she and her husband Brett spent the last 14 years raising their children. When the Camp Fire ravaged the town, the Ridge began to beckon her back.
“I felt helpless,” she explained. “There were all these people who had helped me when I was 10 years old, and from far away, I couldn’t do anything.”
On a visit to Paradise in spring of 2019, however, the solution came to her: “The way I can help Paradise the most is by moving there.” By moving her family of six to be a part of the community and support the local businesses, she and Brett agreed it was the right way to return the love once shown her own family.
After weeks of research, grilling friends, and asking questions, the Goodlins made an offer on a lot of land. Fast forward to today, and they’re now knee-deep in weed whacking and a life lived outdoors.
“Our life is so different. It just makes us laugh. Went from our nice beautiful home in the suburbs to buying Crocs (the shoes) and quads and baby chickens!” The family now lives in a trailer parked on a friend’s lot in Paradise, awaiting water and power hookups on their own lot.
“We come to the property and we work every Saturday, picking up sticks, hauling debris, getting the pool running,” Jenni said. “It’s a small glimpse of something being restored.”
The worst obstacle so far? “The weeds, definitely!” Another unexpected challenge: “I didn’t realize how trailer living would cut into my self sufficiency and independence and make me lean so deeply on others. It’s really hard to invite anyone over…‘uh hey, you wanna come hang out in our hot trailer that smells like toilet?’” Fortunately, she said, “people here just want to help!”
The Goodlins hope to apply for their permit in August 2020, as soon as the architect’s plans are done and their engineer determines the best location for the foundation. “I love that we get to be a part of the new Paradise,” Jenni said. “It’s really something special. Our hands are in it.”
And the kids? Their favorite parts of Paradise resonate with us all:
Levi (6) : “We have a pool.”
Sarah (8): “I love how we can swim in the pool in the springtime.”
Norah (11): “I like coming back because I get to know how much mom grew up here, and I get to see my family more. And I’m not stuck inside all day because it’s snowing all day.”
Maya (12): “I like how pretty it is and it’s green.”
If you’re considering Paradise, but not sure where to start, “just ask for help,” Jenni said. “Ask others who are in the process about their journey. Together, there’s something really beautiful about being part of the restoration process.”