Radical Hospitality: The Leap of Faith

By Christine O'Connor

“When you are served with so much love and nurturing, from the garden to the table to the cottages—someone believes that what we have to say is important.”

– Suheir Hammad, poet

At the core of our writers in residence program here at Hedgebrook is the ethos we refer to as “radical hospitality”: each writer who comes to the retreat is offered her own comfortable cottage, delicious food and complete control over how she spends her time, with the only requirement being that she gather for dinner in the evening with the other women in residence. Women are selected for our residency program from all over the world and from all over the career spectrum: published authors and beginners alike. All who have competed for and won a residency are offered the chance to explore their own creativity at their own pace.

Gloria Steinem serves on our Creative Advisory Council, lucky for us! She describes Hedgebrook this way: “It’s as if women have taken their 5,000 years of nurturing experience and turned it on each other.”

Women are often in roles in which they are expected to offer hospitality, where the gifts of nurturing and support have in a way been robbed from them, demanded rather than honored as gifts. Whether it be the woman who works in the “hospitality industry” cleaning motel rooms at one end of the economic spectrum or the trophy wife who must open her home to guests who will criticize her taste behind her back on the other: both are robbed of what should be theirs to give.

At Hedgebrook, we reclaim this work as gift and offer it to women. We are confident that this honoring inspires the amazing experiences that our alumnae often share with us.   Read more

Hedgebrook Writes

By Amy Wheeler

The six cottages in the woods at Hedgebrook are situated in pairs, so that at night, when a writer is burning the midnight oil, she can see the lights from another cottage glowing through the trees and know that she’s not alone.

Writing is a solitary act. But for me, just knowing that someone is nearby when I’m floating in that creative space gives me a sense of being tethered. I can relax and focus. I always get more writing done when my wife is in the next room!

This balance – of being in solitude and in community with a small group of other women writers – is one of the unexpected gifts of a Hedgebrook residency. Alumnae often talk about how to recapture and recreate that experience in their life-after-Hedgebrook.

So we tried an experiment over Memorial Day weekend:   Read more

2012 Writers in Residence Application Now Available Online!

By Vito Zingarelli

Hedgebrook’s 2012 residency season application is now available.

I am pleased and excited to share with you that we have now shifted to an online application process and I can’t say I will miss the mountains of paper I hosted in my office for months.  After last year’s beta-dabble into an on-line process with our application, it became clear that a full transition was warranted.  If I had any doubts, they were quickly dispelled when the tubs of application packets avalanched into my office with close to 800 applicants last year.  The environmental impacts involved with the creation, shipping and recycling of such an incredible volume of paper were clearly excessive and unnecessary.

So began the transition to create an on-line process that would provide an uncomplicated experience for our writers. To accomplish this, we partnered with SlideRoom, a leading online applicant management system, and believe that we have been successful in our efforts.
I hope you find the process smooth and simple.  We have certainly worked to make it so. 

For more information about the 2012 Writers in Residence Application, please visit the application page on our website.

Spring Arrives at the Retreat

By Vito Zingarelli

The sun has finally begun to grace us with more than an occasional appearance here at Hedgebrook.  The result is that beauty abounds and the blossoming of orchard, garden and forest brings forth both bounty and sustenance for all the residents of our 48 acres.

It is always around this time, end of April/early May, coinciding with the Hedgebrook

Women Playwrights FestivalTM, where we hope and expect the sun to return, allowing us the pleasure of al fresco dining and dramaturgical exchanges around the retreat grounds.  This year was no exception, although it was touch and go right up to the last minute, and we enjoyed a glorious opening weekend of play readings and community here for this year’s five playwrights and our theatre guests from around the country.

This week saw the departure of our playwrights and dramaturgs-in-residence and we have once again welcomed a new roster of writers of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir and screenwriting.  The writers-in-residence program is once again back in full swing and the cottages are filled with the diverse creative energies fueled by brisk sun-filled late spring days that are elongating towards the solstice when the last light of day here in the pacific northwest lingers until 11pm.  Perhaps a month away but the inevitability is apparent.

We have long awaited the ‘great drying-out’ from this year’s record rains and will now bid farewell to the overflowing ponds and running brook that came alive this year as Nancy, our founder, had envisioned 24 years ago.  It seems these wet days are now ending and we welcome the lush aftermath of such intense moisture now encouraged by the returning sun.

Hedgebrook is in a full court press to summer………….

The Power of Women Telling their Stories

By Christine O'Connor

I serve on the Hedgebrook board. And it all started with a book.

The book, in this case, was a slim volume of essays called “After Patriarchy.” The editors, one woman and two men, organized a volume of eight essays written by women from different religious backgrounds. Each writer made the case for the idea that their tradition was robbed of its full potential by how it treated women. Misogyny was equated with self-sabotage: if humanity’s spiritual traditions could overcome their own misogyny, their expression would be true to their own teachings.

If books are the ignition, stories are the fuel. The headliner of the New York Times online edition on Saturday, March 26, was an example of what Hedgebrook means to me: a place that makes sure that women get to tell their stories.

The photograph was stunning: a woman, disheveled and clearly upset, had broken into a hotel meeting room where Libyan government officials were debriefing a group of international journalists. She refused to leave: she had a story to tell.   Read more

Welcome to Hedgebrook’s Much-Anticipated Blog!

By Amy Wheeler

Several years ago, Hedgebrook friend, local writer and owner of Whidbey Island’s iconic Clyde Theatre, Lynn Willeford, asked me point blank (in true Lynn fashion), “When is Hedgebrook going to have a blog? I’m interested in knowing what’s on your writer’s minds.”

Lynn was, characteristically, ahead of the curve with her vision! But she planted a seed in my mind about how we could begin to communicate the growing impact of Hedgebrook with our community. And not just on the impact on the writers who come here, but on the world-at-large because of those writers and the work they produce here.

In short: the idea that what happens at Hedgebrook doesn’t stay at Hedgebrook.   Read more

There’s No Place Like Hedgebrook

By Hedgebrook Guest

14 years later, on a teasingly sunny newly spring day, sitting at a desk in Hedgebrook’s office, I’m remembering my first trip out to Hedgebrook. I remember the feeling traveling over here from Seattle, where I was then the Literary Manager/Dramaturg at ACT Theatre. We were partnering with Hedgebrook on producing the first annual (then called) ACT/Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, which, in two weeks, will now be in its 14th year. I remember then my curiosity, excitement, anticipation…venturing into the unknown that was Hedgebrook.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember boarding the ferry, and feeling an energy shift midway out on the water as the ferry approached Whidbey Island. A calmness set in, a peacefulness, a pause. I remember approaching the farm, riding through Hedgebrook’s welcoming gates, and feeling the energy around me—the quiet and peace, yes, combined with the spirit of all the generous work and gifts left here from hundreds of women residents before me.

14 years later, on this teasingly sunny day, I remember the face of one of the playwrights who, after an amazing dinner of food prepared from the garden, rose to take her plate to the sink, and was told by the chef, “Sit down, you are here to be a writer. Let us take care of that.” The writer’s face froze in mid-reaction, mouth open, eyes beginning to well up with tears. That image remains with me: a poignant example of what it means for a woman to be given the gift of nurturance, space and time.        Read more

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