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by Hedgebrook Staff

Collaboration is the essence of growth, and we sorely need both. But I think we need something beyond “growth”.

It’s clear to me that what we need is a sustainable revolution. A revolution founded on truth-telling and dialogue. A revolution that provides radical hospitality while centering the experiences of disenfranchised voices.

Hedgebrook can only host about 45 writers each year at our retreat. So, we are partnering with our alumnae community to help spread this model of radical hospitality.

First, we distilled Hedgebrook into a “special sauce” that anyone can use:

Hedgebrook Collaborations Pipeline

Mindful preparation & intention hosting is the way Hedgebrook prepares for writers. Each cottage has a long, spacious desk, and there is a stained glass window that perfectly catches the sunlight. We ask each writer about her comfort foods. Everything that happens at Hedgebrook is part of an environment of thoughtful hospitality.

A balance of solitude and community is essential to what happens at Hedgebrook. Writers have no schedule and no obligation other than a communal dinner each night. She can spend the whole day alone, napping, walking, writing, in her cottage or in nature. When writers come together for dinner, they partake in community. They see that other writers are struggling! They share ideas, enriching one another’s work, before returning to the solitude of their cottages for the night.

Diversity & equity can be challenging to articulate, but we seem to know when we have succeeded. Hedgebrook writers are diverse – emerging and established writers, from Seattle and from abroad, representing various iterations of class, race, and LGBTQ identity. But we know that diversity is only part of the equation. We also need equity to ensure that diverse voices also have equal footing in the conversation. The Hedgebrook farmhouse table is a place of equity.

Mutual investment is how writers support each other after their residencies. They leave with a commitment to equal voice, and an intimate understanding of what support can look like. This mutual investment tends to manifest not only toward other Hedgebrook alumnae, but toward all women’s voices. My success is connected to your success.

Trust is shorthand for every element on this list: trust that you are safe, that your work is valued, and that you are the expert in yourself. Hedgebrook trusts women.

Momentum is the work that is left to do, both individually and collectively. Writers tend to leave Hedgebrook with a deep sense of well-being, and purpose. I must finish this book. I can complete this collection of poems before the summer. The world needs my voice. Hedgebrook seeds in writers the self-confidence to keep working.

After articulating these values, we partnered with alumnae organizers to launch an initiative called Collaborations.

In 2014 – 2015, Collaborations projects reached more than 30,000 people in cities around the globe with Hedgebrook’s message of radical hospitality and equal voice.

Here is a sampling:
Alumna Bahar Mirhosseini organized an evening of readings by Palestinian women writers in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Alumnae Dorothy Randall Gray & Tamar Halpern led a team of alumnae in hosting a popular mini writing retreat in Los Angeles.

Alumna Kate Gray taught a series of workshops for female veterans, culminating in a chapbook sponsored by the Multnomah Library in Portland.

Alumna Tania de Rozario and Etiquette SG produced a video series of 50 women writers sharing their work, culminating in a radical hospitality dinner party in Singapore.

Alumnae Michelle Goodman & Sierra Golden organized a reading called “Wage Slaves: The 78 Cents Edition” at Hugo House in Seattle.


Sonya Lea, alumna Storme Webber, Tele Aadsen, Michelle Peñaloza, Jean Burnet, and alumnae organizers Sierra Golden and Michelle Goodman at Hugo House, January 2016.

As we embark on another year of incredible alumnae projects, we are extending the Collaborations sentiment to you, the greater Hedgebrook community. The Hedgebrook “recipe” is available to all!

Not everyone can have time in a cottage, or home-cooked meals every night, but we can all take small steps to bring more radical hospitality to our corner of the world.

Follow the recipe above. What can you do to advance equal voice in your community? How do you bring radical hospitality into your home, to your friends, to yourself?

Let us know what you come up with. And thank you for walking the path with us.
*The proposal window for the formal Collaborations program closes on Friday, February 12th. Alumnae may contact bonnies@hedgebrook.org to apply.*

About the Author:

Bonnie StinsonBonnie Stinson is a filmmaker / editor / poet. She is part of a network of creative women working outside the binary, at the nexus of queerness, radical education, and creative resistance. Currently, Bonnie is working on a short film, UNACCOMPANIED. She was born in the Pacific Northwest, four days after Christmas, and lives with her partner in Portland, OR.


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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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  • Sandra Bradley
    2:02 PM - 4 March, 2016

    How and where do I apply to be part of the international women who may to be selected for the writer’s workshop? Thank you!

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