I was saddened about my writer friend: holding down a job and looking after her kids left no time for her to write. Her creativity just dried up, and she herself kind of dried up. At the time I heard of her dilemma I was reading a book by Tillie Olsen about women's voices being silenced. I related to Olsen's premise that the perspective women bring to problems--community problems, world problems--needs to be heard. She spoke of how we, as women, tend to give so much of our time and our lives away to others. I identified with that.
I was going through a mid-life crisis, figuring out what to do with my life after 25, years as a mother, community volunteer and fundraiser. I wanted not only to follow my own interests but also to offer my re- sources towards something truly needed in the world. One of my questions at this time was what to do with a tract of land I loved. Suddenly it all came together. I could create a retreat for women writers!
We opened the Hedgebrook Retreat in 1988. Women come from all over the U.S. to write in this wonderful space at no cost. Twice a year, a committee of writers select twenty-five women to attend from the applicant pool. They represent a wide variety of cultures, ages, genres, and writing experience. Six writers work here at a time, for an average stay of 5-1/2 weeks.
My writer friend helped me co- found Hedgebrook. The book she worked on during her stay has been published, and once her children were out of high school she became a full-time writer. Retreats change people!
To buy the land, build the center, fund an endowment and pay the operating budget for all this time has taken $5 million. We are seeking new funders to help the endowment grow. I continue to work closely with everyone on the staff and on the board, and plan to donate 33 acres to the Hedgebrook in the near future. I've united my dream of being close to the land, with a mission in which I believe serves many others.
- anonymous author
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