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by Mary Volmer

Can you replicate the experience of a Hedgebrook Residency? In a word, no. We knew that in 2016 when we founded Bridging: A One-Day Hedgebrook Writers Retreat for Women.

What we could do, however, was embrace the concept of radical hospitality by opening the doors of our little campus and inviting women writers of all descriptions and disciplines, from all over the vast network of communities that make up the San Francisco Bay Area. We could offer them a taste of Hedgebrook: hours of uninterrupted writing time, great food, camaraderie and connections, and inspiration to propel them onward.

This was the dream that guided our first year. But it was the generosity of writers like Cherrie Moraga, our first keynote speaker – whose book This Bridge Called My Back lent us our guiding symbol – who offered the support we needed to build the retreat. Ultimately it was Moraga, and Anzaldua and Steinem and Hooks and Fowler and Robertis and a panoply of other feminist writers who brought us, over many byways and waterways to the college. They are all part the bridge on which we now stand. They offered us the language to express our intellect, our love, our outrage, and our hope.

In each successive year, in these terrible years, we have come together to kindle that hope, and to grow hope into action. We created a taste of Hedgebrook in the San Francisco Bay Area to support, as best we could, women authoring change.

About MaryV
Mary Volmer is the author of two works of historical fiction set in the United States in the 1800s. Both of these novels shed light on women in roles largely ignored by standard history books. In Reliance, Illinois, the teenage protagonist enters the service of Miss Rose Werner, a suffragette and purveyor of black market birth control. In Crown of Dust, Alex Ford, a young woman disguised as a man, arrives at a California settlement to pan for gold. Kirkus Reviews stated, "Volmer paints a moving portrait of outcasts and nonconformists who build their own community." Volmer grew up in Grass Valley, a rural community in California that was a key location during California's Gold Rush of the 1800s. She completed her undergraduate work at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California, as a scholar-athlete, playing basketball. She then earned a master's degree from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, where she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Returning to Saint Mary's College on a Chester Aaron and Agnes Butler Scholarship, she completed a master of fine arts and currently teaches there. She lives on the campus with her husband and son.

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The Vision Guiding the Bridging Retreat