By Rebecca Lawton, featured author and Hedgebrook alumna
“Isn’t it the perfect evening?” That remark made on July 21st Pepperwood Preserve could not have been more true: we had balmy weather and the Dwight Center courtyard buzzing with conversation. We brought the magic of Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers on Whidbey Island, Washington, to readers and writers in Sonoma County, and we shared equal voices for the planet.
Hedgebrook’s brand of radical hospitality was right at home in Pepperwood’s spectacular setting. Three sustainable wineries, Moshin, Tres Sabores, and Wellington, offered generous pours of whites and reds, while Copperfields Books ran a pop-up bookstore featuring titles by the evening’s readers and Hedgebrook alumnae. Guests loaded up on enticing titles as they sipped Syrah, Marsanne, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Lisa Micheli kicked off the evening with a welcome to Pepperwood, with a slide show and highlights of the research, education, and restoration programs at the preserve. She then introduced the readers: poet Farnaz Fatemi, whose metaphor-rich insights and images covered many things from Iran to birding; science and culture writer Mary Ellen Hannibal who read from The Spine of the Continent, in which she makes a case for connecting up our wild lands to preserve biodiversity; novelist Lillian Howan whose first novel The Charm Buyers, about Tahitian life and death, will be out in 2017; and myself (a Hedgebrook alumna!), reading from my research-inspired collection of stories, Steelies and Other Endangered Species.
In perhaps the most exciting part of the event, Lisa moderated a panel discussion on how we each can get involved in helping our imperiled planet. The way forward is clearly different for each of us, but it is something we must talk about. The conversation is aided by the voices of women writers who are quick to point out the connection between a healthy Earth and a healthy society.
And then, after all was said and done, the event ended with the rising of the Thunder Moon over Pepperwood—blood orange, nearly full, and casting a promising glow on the beautiful land.
Hedgebrook is a global community of women writers and people who seek extraordinary books, poetry, plays, films and music by women. A literary nonprofit, our mission is to support visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. We offer writing residencies, master classes and salons at our retreat on Whidbey Island, and public programs that connect writers with readers and audiences around the world. Learn more at Hedgebrook’s website.
About Rebecca Lawton
Rebecca Lawton is a scientist and writer whose passion is communicating about nature, science, conservation, water, and climate. She was Director of Research, then Director of Programs, for a community research, restoration, and education organization in northern California. She envisioned, founded, acquired and maintained funding for, and oversaw a U.S. EPA-approved laboratory and program for monitoring stream flow and sediment. She has designed and delivered many outreach efforts through citizen science, media relations, newsletters, school projects, and public presentations, working with partners to involve community members from widely divergent backgrounds. Becca is the author of books including Steelies and Other Endangered Species, Junction, Utah (2014 WILLA award winner). Learn more at Becca’s website.
Top photo: Hedgebrook Retreat reading at Pepperwood, photo © www.melindakelley.com