Welcome 2020 at Storyknife!

Welcome to 2020 at Storyknife! We hope that you all had a peaceful holiday season and that this new year will be filled with all good things.

There is so much good news at Storyknife that we’re pinching ourselves to make sure it’s real. First, 318 people applied for residencies during our 2019 open application period. Folks, going to be honest here, we were thinking that we’d receive 100 applications the first year. We are so pleased with the diversity and strength of the applications we’ve received. Right now, they’re in the hands of the adjudication panel. We’ll be sending out the results on 2/4 at the very latest. So if you’re waiting to hear, expect an email on or before that date.

Second, we are welcoming a new Advisory Council member, Jo Michalski. Jo is a vibrant and incredible part of many nonprofit organizations in Alaska. We are incredibly grateful to have her energy, fundraising savvy, and experience on our Advisory Council moving forward. Please check out her full biography to learn more about her.

Finally! Storyknife has hired a chef. We knew what qualities we wanted to find in a chef, not just an amazing cook, but someone who understood that preparing food is part of nurturing our writers. The dining table at Storyknife will not just be a place to stop in for a bite to eat, but a place where the Storyknife writers form a community, share ideas and support. So, when we had the opportunity to hire the amazing Maura Brenin, we jumped at it.

Maura grew up in Vermont. Her mother introduced her to the kitchen when she was too small to hold a knife. Her mother, a devout Macrobiotic, spent hours preparing food with tremendous intention and love for their family. They ate locally, organically and holistically. Maura learned early that a simple meal could contain magic, to heal the soul and uplift and comfort the body.  She has always sought opportunities to work closely with food.

Maura moved to Southeast Alaska in 1998 and fell in love with the land and its wild primal nature. She found Homer shortly after her arrival in the state and knew she had found her forever home.  Maura opened her first restaurant in 2003, Maura’s Cafe and Fine Catering which was located in Historic Old Town Homer nestled closely next to the Bunnell Street Arts Center.

Maura raised her son Asa in her kitchen, amidst bubbling cauldrons and sizzling pans.  She joyously spent fourteen years with her doors wide open to the amazing community of Homer.  In 2016, she welcomed her second son Henry and sold her restaurant. She has been privileged to continue cooking in Homer as a private chef.

Look for more news as we furnish and decorate Storyknife. We’ve been opening all of the boxes that streamed in at the end of the year from our Gift Registries. Maura will be organizing the kitchen, while I work to make sure that each cabin has everything the April 2020 residents will need. Your generosity has made Storyknife what it is.

Thank you all again! We love having you as part of the Storyknife community.

Sincerely,
Erin Hollowell
Storyknife Executive Director

Introducing Jo Michalski

jo_michalski_webStoryknife is pleased to welcome in 2020 with a new Advisory Council member, Jo Michalski.

Jo is an entrepreneur, community activist and philanthropist.  She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and taught 9th grade social studies for the Minneapolis School District.  She moved to Alaska in 1971 and traveled the state developing environmental education curriculum for the Alaska Department of Education and organized the first and second Governor’s Conference on Environmental Education in the mid-70’s.

In 1980 she launched her business career creating and running multiple  successful retail businesses over 32 years.  She is the recipient of the Athena Award and the YWCA Woman of Achievement award.

In 2015 she was inducted into the Alaska Business Hall of Fame.

Jo was a Trustee and Chair of the University of Alaska Foundation Board for 10 years.  She also served on the Alaska Community Foundation Board and chaired that board. She chaired a successful 100 million dollar Endowment Campaign for the Alaska Community Foundation that concluded in January 2019 with the creation of the Alaska Fund.  She was a founding board member and chair of the Anchorage YWCA and in 1998 received the Women’s Entrepreneur Award given by the YWCA of the United States.  She has served on and chaired numerous non-profit boards throughout  Alaska and is known as a highly successful fundraiser.  In 2016 she was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.  Jo currently serves as a member of the Smithsonian National Board.

Jo and her husband Peter have two sons, two daughter-in-laws and two grandchildren.  Peter is a retired Judge and their sons are attorneys in Anchorage.

Celebrate the light.

Bishop’s Beach, Solstice 2017

In Alaska, we pay very close attention to the light. On Solstice, we’re slated to get about 5 hours and 58 minutes. Every year, I try to be on Bishop’s Beach in Homer to see the sun come over the mountains on Solstice. Last year it was cloudy, so the picture above is from 2017. I’ll be there this year to celebrate the light, because 2020 is going to be filled with light at Storyknife.

In April, we’ll have our first full cohort of women and nonbinary writers in the cabins. Between then and now, we’ll be furnishing and decorating, but as of this week, the construction phase is complete. So, tip your hats to Scott Bauer of Creative Carpentry and a host of other craftsmen who have worked so hard to build Storyknife. (Especially Fred Pfiel and Eric Fenger whose attention to detail can be seen everywhere.)

As of today, there are eleven days remaining in our application period. The window closes on December 31st at midnight Mountain Time, so don’t delay. The application and information is here. Knowing the vagaries of technology, I’d suggest getting your application in sooner rather than later. 

Also as of today, there are eleven days remaining in our 2019 Capital Campaign and for items to be purchased from our gift registries. In this season of light, please give to Storyknife. There are still gifts at many different price levels and we need them all! Remember, every dollar donated to Storyknife directly supports women and nonbinary writers. You provide the space and time they need to truly devote themselves to their writing. 

Storyknife is Dana Stabenow’s dream. You, the many people who support Storyknife, the many people who will write in the cabins, eat at the table in Eva’s House, are the reality.

Thank you for being part of the Storyknife community.

Sincerely,
Erin Hollowell
Storyknife Executive Director

Apply to Storyknife Writers Retreat
Donate to Storyknife Writers Retreat
Give a Gift to Storyknife Writers Retreat

Peggy’s Cabin in Winter

Peggy and Katie Cabins enjoying some snow

Winter weather has turned into the slippery sort. We think that we’re going to have some of the white, and then the rain comes back. But I did manage to snap a shot while we had some snow. Storyknife sure is peaceful every time of year, but there is something about the snow-laden spruce and the expanse of white.

Construction of the Peggy Cabin is complete, even if the fundraising isn’t.  We have currently raised $29,634.35 toward the $50,000 goal. That includes 79 separate donations. 

I had been hoping to wrap up the fundraising for Peggy’s Cabin by the end of the year, but it may have to continue into 2020. Do not worry; I am not daunted in the least. I know that we will raise the remaining $20,365.oo!

Many people donate to nonprofit organizations at the end of the fiscal year, and guess where we are! So, if you do have an opportunity to speak with anyone y0u know whose life has been touched by Peggy, please share with them the donation link (https://donate.keela.co/storyknife-writers-retreat/peggys-cabin). Also, when you see Storyknife promoting this campaign on Facebook, a little sharing and liking goes a long way!

I’m so grateful to all of the people who have been part of this portion of the project. I’m so grateful that we are able to honor Peggy this way. I’m so grateful that women writers will sit down in the Peggy Cabin at Storyknife, pull one of Peggy’s books off the bookshelf, and feel enveloped by the generosity and kindness that exemplifies her. 

Incredible People doing Incredible Things for Peggy’s Cabin
Adrian Elizabeth Koesters
Alberto & Lupita Rios
Angela Allen
Ann Batchelor Hursey
Ann E Beman
Anne McDuffie
Anne Thomas Donaghy
Annette Alleva
Barbara Baugh
Bill Capossere
Brenda Miller
Camille T Dungy
Carol Kaynor
Carol Swartz
Cathy Rasmuson
Charlotte Fox
Cottonwood Fund
Cynthia Hogue
Darien Hsu Gee
Debbie Clarke Moderow
Dinah Lenney
Emily Wall
Fleda S Brown
Francesca Bell
Gretchen Weiss-Brooks
Heather Lende
Holly Hughes
Jeanne E Clark
Jennie Goode
Jenny Apostol
Jeremy Pataky
Jill M. Johnson
Jo and Peter Michalski
Julie Filapek
Kate Carroll De Gutes
Katharine Coles
Kathleen Flenniken
Katie Eberhart
Katrina M Hays
Kelli Russell Agodon
Kes Woodward
Kim and Eric Steutermann Rogers
Linda and Larry Martin
Lisa Morin Carcia
Lita Kurth
Margaret Ann Flaherty
Margaret Baker
Margo Klass and Frank Soos
Mari L’Esperance
Mark Rozema
Michael Schmeltzer
Nancy Lord
Nicole Stellon O’Donnell
Northwoods Book Arts Guild
Pamela M Uschuk
Paula J.S. Martin
Rebecca McClanahan
Richard Chiappone
Rick Barot
Robert Davidson
Ron Koertge
Ronald Smith
Sara Loewen
Sherry Nanninga Walker
Sherry Simpson
Susan Campbell
Susan Sugai
Susan Walker
Susanna Mishler
Tina Schumann
Tobi Harper, Kate Gale, and Mark Cull of Red Hen Press
Tom Kizzia
Wendy R Willis

Open the door….

Last week, I gave a little pep talk about Giving Tuesday. I asked you to think of all the women writers whose books never got published. Heck, those books, plays, poems never even got written, because the laundry needed doing, kids needed feeding. Or worse, women writers were actively prevented from becoming literate. How many women’s stories were taken away from them? How often were they told that their story was unnecessary, or that it was too bold, too shrill? How many times was their very language and culture deemed illegal?

And now that women and nonbinary writers are getting their words on to the page, how many don’t get published? Can’t find an agent? Can’t get taken seriously? How many of them can’t get their book reviewed or placed on the front table of the bookstore because that space has been reserved for the “big names” who happen to be men? How many screenplays languish because they feature strong women and are written by them? Because they won’t appeal to the “market”?

By fostering women and nonbinary writers, Storyknife wants to open the doors for those stories, elevate them, create a community that supports them.

Today, December 3rd, Americans come together for Giving Tuesday.

All of you are part Storyknife’s family. If you haven’t yet donated this year, let me assure you that every dollar that you give Storyknife is used to nurture women and nonbinary writers. It creates a generous and intentional space in which they have a chance to write their stories, poems, plays, movies, essays, memoirs, and more.

So, please include Storyknife in your year-end giving, today on Giving Tuesday or any time. You can donate online or the tried-and-true check to PO Box 75, Homer, AK 99603. If you donate early in the day on Tuesday on Facebook, Storyknife could have the chance to have those funds doubled.

Storyknife is Dana Stabenow’s dream. You, the many people who support Storyknife, the many people who will write in the cabins, eat at the table in Eva’s House, are the reality.

Thank you for being part of the Storyknife community.

Sincerely,
Erin Hollowell
Storyknife Executive Director

Storyknife Writers Retreat
PO Box 75
Homer, AK 99603
info@storyknife.org

Be Part of Storyknife
Give
Apply
.

Thankful

Thankful for so many things….

You. We are thankful for you.

You, who care about women writers.
You, who read women writers and support their work by buying their books and watching their movies and plays.
You, women writers who show up to the page with your stories and sculpt them into art.
You, contractors, craftsmen, and artists who are making Storyknife a beautiful haven for women writers.
You, foundations and individuals who have trusted us to use your donations to build Storyknife.
You, Storyknife board members and advisory council members who are creating the stable foundation upon which Storyknife is built.

You, who have given of your time, of your money, of your talent, of your heart to Storyknife.
 

As we unpack items from the gift list, as we deposit donations, as we put the shine on the floors and window sills, we are thankful.

As we look over the applications from all around the United States and the world, as we answer questions from curious writers, as we communicate with Indigenous and Alaska Native women writers, we are thankful.

As we stand on the porch of Eva’s House and sweep our eyes to the left and see three completed cabins and then sweep our eyes to the right and see three completed cabins. As we look out on Mt. Augustine and Mt. Iliamna. As we feel the rightness and usefulness of Eva’s House behind us, we are thankful.

Storyknife is growing. We’re hiring a chef. We’re putting together adjudication panels. Applications are rolling in. We’re learning more and more about the ways we can support the writing of women and nonbinary writers.

And we’re thankful. Thank you for being part of the Storyknife community. If you’ve given this year already, thank you. If you are considering including Storyknife in your year-end donations, please know that every donor matters to us. If you are holding us in your heart and wishing us success, thank you; we feel your enthusiasm and care.

In this season and all seasons, Thank you.

Sincerely,

Erin Coughlin Hollowell
Storyknife Executive Director

Storyknife Writers Retreat
PO Box 75
Homer, AK 99603
info@storyknife.org

Be Part of Storyknife
Give
Apply
.

Announcing Open Application Period and Requesting Your Support

Desk with open notebook, laptop computer, and coffee mug

As autumn begins to feel a little more like winter, Storyknife planning for 2020 is swinging into full gear. We have so much to tell you, but we’ll break it into three bite-size chunks.

 1. Residency applications will go live on November 1. You will find the link on this page of our website. If you want to get a jump on it, you’ll need a single document of up to 10 pages of writing that you’ve produced in the last two years. You’ll also have to answer the following questions in 2000 characters or fewer:

  • How have you sought to educate yourself as a writer? (Formal education not a prerequisite, but evidence of curiosity and learning in your applicable field is.)
  • What is your experience with publishing your work? (Publishing is not a prerequisite, but is considered a goal for writers who attend Storyknife.)
  • What project will you pursue while in residency? (Please note that you will be free to work on whatever writing you wish during residency. We simply are interested in what you think you’ll be pursuing.)

2. Gift Registries for Storyknife are now live! If you want to be the person who gives a writer her fluffy towels, you can do that. We’ve registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Amazon.com. It’s quite a varied list, so please take bit to look around, and then be part of our HOUSEWARMING, or perhaps I should say Residency-Warming.

 3. We have $59,000 left to raise for our annual fundraising goal this year. Dana and I know that this is the season of charitable giving. We hope that you will consider donating to Storyknife and helping us reach our goal.

Your donation makes it possible for women to write. Plain and simple, every dollar you donate to Storyknife makes it possible for a woman to be given the gift of undisturbed time and space and an uplifting community.

For instance:

  • $1000 donation pays for one month of facilities maintenance including groundskeeping and landscaping.
  • $500 donation pays to feed one writer for a month.
  • $250 donation pays for one round of housekeeping for the cabins (done at the end of each residency period).
  • $150 donation pays for one month of phone and internet.
  • $50 donation keeps the lights on for one writer for a month.
  • $25 donation connects one writer to the internet for a month. 

Please help us reach our goal this year. You can donate online, or send a check to Storyknife at PO Box 75, Homer, AK 99603. Donations are tax-deductible.

Remember, the community of Storyknife is what makes it all possible. THANK YOU. Dana and I are beyond thrilled that April 2020 will be the first residency of what we hope is a long legacy of fostering women writers.

Sincerely,
Erin Coughlin Hollowell
Storyknife Executive Director

The Cabin without a Name – No Longer!

If you’ve been following along, you know that five of the cabins at Storyknife are named: Carol, Betty, Diana, Evangeline, and Katie. For awhile, we’ve been waiting to announce the name of the final cabin, and now we can do so.

The final cabin will be named after Peggy Shumaker.

Peggy Shumaker
Peggy Shumaker

Peggy began her teaching career in Arizona as the writer in residence for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, working with prison inmates, honors students, gang members, deaf adults, teen parents, little kids, library patrons, and elderly folks. She served as poet-in-residence at the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. Shumaker was chair of the English department at University of Alaska Fairbanks and director of the MFA program in creative writing from 1985-2002. She teaches in the Low-Residency Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. Each year she has been able, Peggy has taught at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference (since 2002) and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival (since 2003), programs that she was instrumental in founding and fostering.

Her students are myriad. In the state of Alaska, it would be difficult to find a single successful writer or poet who has not been in her classroom at some point or been her colleague. Her students have gone on to win prestigious awards, publish books, and foster writers in their own classrooms. She reaches writers of all ages and skill levels. Every student leaves Peggy’s workshops and classes infused with a love of language.

She has been more than a teacher to us, she has been a mentor and guide in the way to live a generous writer’s life. In 2014, when she won the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award, she turned around and put that money in a fund to establish the Alaska Literary Awards recognizing Alaskan writers of merit. As part of her service as the Alaska State Writer Laureate (2010-2012), Peggy began the Alaska Writers Directory, a website featuring over two-hundred pages spotlighting individual Alaskan Writers.

She is the founding editor of two imprints to help Alaska’s poets and literary nonfiction and fiction writers be published. The Alaska Literary Series is an imprint of the University of Alaska Press established in 2012. Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, was established in 2008 to publish literature and fine art from Alaska.

Front view of Peggy's Cabin, a green cabin with white trim.
Peggy’s Cabin

The fund toward Peggy’s Cabin contains a little over 50% of the $50,000.00 specified to name it for her. If Peggy has touched your life in any way, please consider donating to close up this campaign. You can donate through Storyknife’s secure server here or send a check to Storyknife at PO Box 75, Homer, AK 99603. All donations will be tax deductible. Donors will get a tax receipt. Storyknife is a registered 501(c)3.

Please share this information with everyone you know who might want to take part. And thank the folks listed below who have already contributed to make Peggy’s Cabin a reality.

Adrian Elizabeth Koesters
Alberto & Lupita Rios
Angela Allen
Ann E Beman
Anne McDuffie
Anne Thomas Donaghy
Barbara Baugh
Bill Capossere
Brenda Miller
Camille Dungy
Carol Kaynor
Carol Swartz
Cottonwood Fund
Cynthia Hogue
Debbie clarke Moderow
Dinah Lenney
Emily Wall
Fleda S Brown
Francesca Bell
Heather Lende
Holly Hughes
Jeanne E Clark
Jennie Goode
Jenny Apostol
Jeremy Pataky
Jill M. Johnson
Jo and Peter Michalski
Kate Carroll De Gutes
Katharine Coles
Kathleen Flenniken
Katrina M Hays
Kelli Russell Agodon
Kes Woodward
Linda and Larry Martin
Lisa Morin Carcia
Lita Kurth
Margaret Ann Flaherty
Margo Klass and Frank Soos
Mari L’Esperance
Mark Rozema
Nancy Lord
Nicole Stellon O’Donnell
Northwoods Book Arts Guild
Pamela M Uschuk
Paula J.S. Martin
Rebecca McClanahan
Rick Barot
Robert Davidson
Ron Koertge
Ronald Smith
Sara Loewen
Susan Campbell
Susan Sugai
Susan Walker
Susanna Mishler
Tina Schumann
Tobi Harper, Kate Gale, and Mark Cull of Red Hen Press
Tom Kizzia
Wendy R Willis

Won’t you join us in honor Peggy Shumaker, to thank her for all she has done for writers?

The End of Summer

There’s a new movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women coming out in December. (I’ll wait here if you want to go watch the trailer.) Little Women is one of the first books that I read that was written by a woman about women and girls. I loved the book. I took it out of the library in fifth grade so often that the librarian bought me my own copy so that the book could be on the shelf for other starry-eyed, would-be writer girls.

Even in the 70s when I read it for the first time, there were parts of the book that maybe hadn’t aged as well as others, but who wouldn’t fall in love with all those girls and their dreams. And if Jo wanted to be a writer, wanted to be independent, wanted to live a life where her dream mattered, well, I understood that. In the novel, Jo says, “I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle—something heroic, or wonderful—that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.”

Who doesn’t want a magic inkstand? If not for fame or riches, but to have their stories written and read. I like to imagine that Storyknife will be the magic inkstand for the women who come for residencies. For those weeks, the words will flow from them. In the evenings, they’ll gather around the dinner table like the March sisters to talk about the creativity of the day. 

Oh I know, it seems like a dream. But Storyknife is becoming a reality. As of yesterday, the cabin interiors were being painted and the flooring laid. In Eva’s House, the drywall is going up and the solar panels were installed. And now we turn to how the residencies will be managed and how the funds will be raised to run the place.

Residencies will start in April 2020 and run from the 1st to the 28th of each month until October (or 1st to the 14th for those staying only two weeks). The application period will open on November 1st and close on December 31st. In January of 2020, we’ll begin the in-depth process of adjudicating applications and when that is complete, we will schedule the women writers in residence for the 2020 season. 

Between the moment that those first women arrive for their residency, we’ll need to hire a chef/manager; purchase furniture, soft-goods, and equip the kitchen; decorate; and raise money. Phew, that sounds like a lot of work. Good thing we’re excited to do it!

Here’s how YOU make a difference in the lives of women writers:

  • If you are a woman writer, get ready to apply and change the world with your words.
  • If you can help support Storyknife with a donation, please consider doing so. You can learn all about the ways to support at our website

Give the magic inkwell! And stay tuned for more information on applications, gift registry, and more!Thank you for being part of Storyknife. For #LiftingWomensVoices.

Sincerely,
Erin Hollowell
Executive Director of Storyknife

Breaking Ground and Groundbreaking!

Dana Stabenow wields the shovel!
Scott Bauer laying a cabin foundation.

On May 4, a bright and windy day, Storyknife progressed into a new phase – the Building Phase!

Among a crowd of supporters, Dana Stabenow, Storyknife founder, put her decorated shovel into the dirt and broke ground for Storyknife. There was champagne and cupcakes. The first Storyknife fellow, Kim Steutermann Rogers, spoke about the meaning of a writer’s residency in her life and in the lives of all women writers. We were honored to hear also from Nancy Nordhoff, founder of Hedgebrook, the seminal women’s writing residency in the United States. Dana spoke about Storyknife being a dream come true, now fourteen years in the making. 

And what a wonderful dream it is, a place where women have the opportunity to write without distraction, form a supportive community, and are told at every possible opportunity that their writing is important. 

Women writers still struggle for the same representation as male writers. For example, in the last twenty years, Pulitzer Prizes in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have only been awarded to women 28% of the time. If the Pulitzer is the considered the top of the prestige ladder, it’s distressing that women are so poorly represented. 

I hope that you are as committed to elevating women’s voices as we are here at Storyknife. As we build, there will be a great number of opportunities for you to be involved. It is my hope that you will reach out to others that you know would be interested in supporting Storyknife as well as attending a residency here. As Storyknife grows, you can help us grow our community. Feel free to forward this newsletter, or share our website (www.storyknife.org) or Facebook page.

Shovels in, walls up, women writing!

Sincerely,
Erin Coughlin Hollowell
Executive Director of Storyknife