New Lewis County residents Johnny and Heidi Cowan are chasing their dreams in Toledo. After travels to Germany and the Netherlands with a mission organization, the couple became inspired to create a sanctuary in Washington. Aptly named Anchor and Earth, this is where Johnny and Heidi hope to leave people better then they found them.

Anchor and Earth is a culmination of what the couple consider a five-year calling. “We’ve always loved hosting and hospitality,” says Heidi. “Everywhere we’ve lived had people living with us, and we’ve enjoyed traveling and a missionary lifestyle.” The couple wondered how to make this lifestyle fulltime.

“We are new to the area and what we are doing,” says Heidi. “If there is a local need that we could eventually fill, what a beautiful thing it would be to pair up with someone locally.” Photo courtesy: Anchor and Earth.

Johnny worked for Apple for seven years. “We were so thankful, but that was all my time and attention,” he says. As an artist, Johnny’s dream was more time for art and music and less time working in the corporate world. Then the couple realized they could sell their house in Salt Lake City and have enough funds left over to chase their dreams. “We want to celebrate creativity, foster those who need care and provide for the underserved,” Johnny says.

The space is semi off-the-grid with solar power and wood burning stoves. “We’ve never done this before, so we’re learning,” says Johnny. “We’ve gotten a taste of what it can be.” The couple has planned phases of building cabins, their home, a lodge space, art studio, and room for animals and gardens.

Johnny is a photographer and musician under the name Johnny Betts. Heidi is a self-proclaimed people lover. As a ballet dancer, she looks forward to finding the time to dance again. The couple looks forward to discovering great events, artists and musicians in the community. Photo courtesy: Anchor and Earth.

Heidi and Johnny plan to create a refuge for the weary. Their hope is to help victims of sex trafficking with a safe place to be while they get on their feet. “It’s uncharted territory,” says Johnny. “There’s a need and we would like to fill it if possible.” The location between Seattle and Portland offers seclusion and nature therapy for victims.

The couple also plans to use their space as a respite for those who work in ministry and in humanitarian efforts. “We have the freedom to share this dream,” says Heidi. “We just want to love on people and provide a place of rest and sanctuary. It’s a safe place to be and stop and take a deep breath where they wouldn’t have the time otherwise.”

Johnny envisions a retreat setting for musicians that is personal, with small concerts and overnight stays. “It’s rich for the artist and the listener,” he says. “It becomes this amazing intimate experience. You could really do it with all kinds of artists, not just musicians.” The couple is all about supporting others’ passions. “We want to celebrate the art,” says Johnny.

Anchor and Earth is officially a charity with the state but is seeking community connections to help them file their 501c3 certificate and with tax advice. As a debt-free project, the couple has spent their retirement and savings on the initial infrastructure and land. They still need help with a developer, well driller, financial donations, and building supplies and lumber.

Giving up their comfortable life for one of hard work and service was less of a challenge than anticipated. “My family has been so brave,” says Johnny. “It requires a lot of patience. The kids are loving it way more than I expected. They adapted well.” Photo courtesy: Anchor and Earth.

The couple says they’ve been so encouraged by the community support they’ve received from people in the area. “So many little heartwarming things have happened since we have been here,” says Heidi. “We’ve been welcomed by nothing but love and support. There was real providence in getting us to this area. We are fortunate to be where we are at. We have been really blessed by the kindness and generosity of everyone here.”

When they needed some land cleared, friends of friends rallied and got a tractor to their property. A complete stranger then spent the next three days helping the couple. “I had this moment where I took a mental snapshot of that,” says Heidi. “I wanted to remember it because in years we will think back and know we had no idea how far we have come. Right now we’re dreaming, but I have this feeling that it’s going to thrive and be this awesome thing. I just love it here, and the people have been mind-blowingly amazing and so supportive.”

Over the summer, an artistic young man stayed at Anchor and Earth after coming from a difficult situation. “He was just now experiencing life and felt suppressed,” shares Johnny. “I just encouraged him. We stayed up late talking and looking at his work and exploring his vision. He was so grateful for the place to be.” When the man left to continue his spiritual journey, he gave the couple two drawings in thanks for their hospitality. “It was a neat catalyst for him,” Johnny says. “Those are the moments we want more of. An artist came, was encouraged and was able to leave encouraging others.”

Another guest wrote a poem about the creek that runs through the property as a thank you. Heidi plans to frame and hang it up in one of the cabins. “It’s so cool to be a part of somebody’s life and story,” says Heidi. “The artist giving a piece of their love and passion back to us is just what makes the world a beautiful place. That’s the beautiful part of humanity right there.”

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