At the Heart of the Matter

aac16Earlier in October, I attended the Alliance of Artist Communities Conference in Portland, Oregon. It was an incredible experience to spend three days with the leaders of artist and writers’ residencies. Such residencies take so many different forms, and yet at the heart of each is the conviction that the stories we tell through art and writing are important and have the capacity to change our culture and heal individuals.

I’d like to tell you a little about what I learned at the conference and how it relates to the way Storyknife is unfolding. The conference began with an incredible poem by Washington Poet Laureate Elizabeth Woody followed by a keynote address by the incomparable Lidia Yuknavitch.  Lidia spoke of her bent path to published writer, and reminded all of us that we don’t know who will be the next important voice, that stories come from every quarter, and that art and story are a way to make sense of the world and form community.

In the many sessions I attended, I learned about raising money (tough during the current economic climate), strategic plans, boards, legacy giving, place-based foundations, “green” building, supporting writers in residence, creating equity, and developing a supportive community. Some of what I came away with is very nuts-and-bolts, but I also have pages and pages of notes highlighting what those of us behind the scenes at Storyknife are already doing and how to do it better (and maybe faster).

More than ever, I see Storyknife as a social transformation organization, one that will create space for women’s writing and a community which shares in their dreams. Women’s stories are of the utmost importance, and our culture has yet to effectively recognize that.

Over the past few years, Dana has fostered an idea. Over the past six months, Dana and I have taken that idea and turned it into concrete plans and budgets. Everything I learned at the Alliance of Artist Community Conference leads me to believe that Storyknife is not only important, but that we have put down a strong foundation.

All of us can help make Storyknife a reality. We’ve updated our Support page, and I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to support the building of Storyknife. There is room for big gifts and small, one-time support and ongoing. Or pledge now via email so that we can remind you in a month or two that you also want to help foster women’s writing. By supporting Storyknife, you can build a culture where women don’t have to fight for the legitimacy of their stories. Let’s get moving down the road to the moment when I can post a photo of Dana with her shovel breaking ground at Storyknife. Our builder, Scott, is only waiting for us to give him the go.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or ideas.

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