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by Hedgebrook Guest

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

At the core of Hedgebrook’s Writers in Residence program, Master Classes and weekend writing salons is the philosophy that we have lovingly coined “radical hospitality.” This translates into comfortable lodging, delicious food and a setting that provides complete control over how she spends her time, a peaceful setting in nature, and the company of other women writers. In short: everything you need to nurture your soul and your creativity.

Many experience radical hospitality with an intimate group of 85 other women writers at Vortext, our annual weekend salon (May 29 – May 31) which takes place at the bucolic Whidbey Institute and Hedgebrook. “To me, radical hospitality means giving without knowing what it is you’ll be getting back,” says Carole DeSanti, Vice President, Editor at Large at Penguin Random House, who is one of six workshop leaders. “It’s generosity without instrumentalism.”

Zen-Buddhist priest and best-selling author Ruth Ozeki, who is leading a Vortext workshop on medication and the writing process, describes radical hospitality as, “the complete permission to receive and to write, unapologetically.” She goes on say that this isn’t something women writers are particularly good at due to expectations and conditioning of our society. “We’re too tense and twitchy, always looking for a way to prioritize others’ needs, and feeling vaguely guilty if we’re on the receiving end of someone else’s care.” Vortext offers the perfect balance of workshops and free time to take long walks in the woods—alone or with new friends—and, of course, plenty of time to write.

Hope Edelman, author of the bestseller “Motherless Daughters” and a Master Class teacher last September, explains radical hospitality as, “the practice of recognizing that a woman released from her usual obligations to others, and given space and sustenance in a place of beauty, will tap into the wellspring of creativity that resides deep within herself.”

That’s exactly what happens at Hedgebrook.

“I’ve experienced the truth of the Hedgebrook phrase, ‘radical hospitality,’ ” Steinem writes in the forward to the Hedgebrook Cookbook: Celebrating Radical Hospitality, released in 2013. “It’s an umbrella of care that covers such things as fruits, vegetables, flowers straight from the garden and the attention given to preserving the long stretches of undisturbed hours that writers crave.”


About the Author:

This post was contributed by Jennifer Haupt, a writer based in Seattle and frequent attendee of Hedgebrook events.



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

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