It’s October, which means that the Frederica Cabin is empty for the first time in four months. Since June 1, there has been a woman writer sitting at the desk, looking out at Mt. Iliamna, and writing her heart out.

Mairéad, Megan, Bea, and Ruby. Four gifted women who have been gifts for Dana and I this summer at Storyknife. And just this Friday, we received word of another gift. The Atwood Foundation has awarded Storyknife a grant for $50,000.00 to be used to build one of the cabins.

This cabin will be named after Evangeline Atwood, a third-generation Alaskan, who fought for statehood, organizing the group “Operation Statehood.” In 1950, she started the Anchorage League of Voters and then the Alaska Statehood Association, with a mission of bringing a favorable popular vote on statehood by informing the public of the pros and cons of territorial status vs. statehood. In addition to authoring seven books about Alaska, Evangeline was instrumental in establishing the Alaska World Affairs Council, the Parent-Teacher Council in Anchorage, and the Cook Inlet Historical Society.

One of the most difficult parts of running a nonprofit is asking for support. Sure, we believe in the mission; it’s pretty easy to tell you that we believe that women’s stories matter in the world, more than ever. We’re just starting out, and so we’re just developing the track record of putting our shoulders to the wheel to make that mission come true. So far, five women have had the opportunity to spend a month listening to the words bubble up under the vast Alaska skies. In the future, we will be hosting a minimum of 47 women each year. Think of the novels, poems, essays, stories around the dinner table, walks along the path that looks out over Iliamna. Season after season of women listening the sandhill cranes and rain on the roof, projecting their stories on the drift of fog off the ocean or the far snowy peaks of the Alaska Range.

This is what stands between us and putting Dana’s full vision of gift of Storyknife into the hands of all those women writers, money. We need to raise the $100,000 for two more cabins, and another $400,000 to put in the infrastructure, furnishings, and some site work. We need folks who are willing to commit to donating a bit each year that might pay the chef for her time making rhubarb cobbler, or for potatoes at the Farmer’s Market for the dinner table, or for electricity to keep that desk lamp burning into the early morning while the words spill out on the page.

We are so grateful that the Atwood Foundation will help us closer to helping women trust their stories and make the connections that will fuel their writing lives forever. Won’t you join us as well? You can be part of the Mount Iliamna Founders Circle, or you can be sustaining donor who gives just a bit each month (we can bill your credit card monthly), or you can give whatever is comfortable. There is no amount that won’t go directly into building and running Storyknife. You can be part of the vision where women’s stories matter.

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