Blog

High School Scholarship Recipient 2017

 

Emily Dean is a first-year student at Greenfield Community College studying liberal arts. Emily loves reading, writing, and taking pictures with her friends. She is very grateful to have been a recipient of the 2017 Straw Dog Scholarship.

 

When did you first begin to care about writing?

My father was an English major, and even to this day he enjoys spending time writing stories and reading so many books that take up so much extra space around our home. His love for reading and writing was also handed down to my sister, who is also an English major at Smith College. I inherited my love for writing from my family, and although the type of writing that I enjoy doing may be different from that of my father and sister, I truly believe that written word is the best form of communication.

 

How do you envision writing being part of your future, professionally and/or personally?

Almost every job requires some form of writing, especially at this point in time when the internet provides us with a vast array of knowledge on any topic that can be thought of. I personally prefer to get my news through reading articles as opposed to television or radio (although any form of media is helpful). I feel that it is extremely important to stay up to date on local, national, and international news, so the media plays a major role in keeping us informed. As someone who enjoys reading and writing, the use of written word will play a major role in both my professional and personal future.

 

What activities did you devote yourself to in high school?

During the first semester of my senior year, my closest friends and I created our schools “Button Club,” where we would meet once a week after school in the library to make buttons and pins for events at our school (football games, school clubs, etc.) and for our own personal use. It was a great creative outlet for the students who joined, and by the end of the year our club had grown so much in size and popularity. My only wish was that we would have created the club sooner so we could have had more time other than senior year, but Button Club will continue this coming year, thanks to some great underclassman who wanted to keep the club going.

I was also very dedicated to working after school at Richardsons Candy Kitchen. The store has a great sense of community and I feel very fortunate that I was able to work with such great people for my first job.

 

What are your plans for college? What do you plan to focus on there (as a major and/or extracurricularly)?

I will be attending Greenfield Community College as a liberal arts major this fall, and I am planning on transferring to UMass Amherst.

 

 

What was the subject of your college essay? Would you be willing to share it with us, so that we might quote an excerpt?

My college essay focused on my discovery of how to break through the structural boundaries that society has set up for girls, both in lifestyle choices and the professional sense. I am a firm believer in the fact that young women should be encouraged to explore any possible career paths and decisions that they like, not just be limited to traditional female gender roles. This is an extremely important time for young women to be able to express themselves and make choices based on how they feel rather than how society thinks they should act.

 

Tell me about a teacher who motivated/inspired you – why and how?

I am very thankful to have had so many wonderful teachers during my time at Frontier Regional School, but there are several in particular who really influenced me. The first would be my English teacher Mrs. Varnon, who I had as a teacher during my freshman year and senior year. Her kindness and love for writing helped orient me towards a possible career path in writing. I will always remember how clear and helpful her written feedback was, and how it made me into a stronger writer. Another English teacher who motivated me towards a career in writing was Mr. Costello, who always gave honest feedback to make sure that my writing was perfect.

 

Tell me about the place reading has in your life – it’s so often central to a writer’s existence too. What’s the best thing you’ve read recently? What childhood book did you love and have you returned to? What’s your favorite book (more than one is OK!)?

I always wish that I was able to fit in more time for reading, because whenever I can find a really great book I feel at home. I am currently reading Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I had originally chosen this book because I saw a friend reading it and I thought that the cover of the book was lovely, so it looked interesting to me. I am so glad that I finally started reading it because it is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I have also been reading Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood, a collection of short stories, which I love. My favorite writer is Truman Capote and my all-time favorite book is the classic true crime novel, In Cold Blood. I’m not usually drawn towards true crime novels, but something about the way Capote writes is different than anything else I have ever read. Some of my favorite childhood books were from The Mother Daughter Book Club series, which I enjoyed so much that I had to send an email to the author to tell her how much I enjoyed her books. I was also very fond of American Girl books, because I thought that there were not nearly enough books that told the story through the eyes of a young girl like me.

 

What is your writing process like? When do you do your best writing? Do you have a particular place or way of writing (e.g. in a journal vs. laptop, at a desk or sprawled on your bed)?

I have found that once I start writing I am almost unable to stop, which can be very helpful when I’m writing essays or assignments for class. I also often have a lot to say on any given topic, so something I struggle with as a writer is limiting myself to a certain number of words or pages.  I do my best writing when I am all alone in silence, because I like to really concentrate on what I am trying to say. I prefer writing on my laptop at a desk we have in our family room.

 

I know you are planning to become a political journalist. Can you tell me something about why that path is calling you? Are there any particular political journalists whom you take as your models, or whom you read regularly?

My interest in politics combined with my love for writing perfectly sets me up for a career in political journalism. I prefer writing on certain topics and writing opinion pieces rather than writing stories, and I have always thought that being a journalist would be exciting. The most recent presidential election was the first one that I was old enough to really feel invested in, and I noticed what a large role the media played in it all. I enjoy discussing politics with people, even those who disagree with me, because it’s helpful to see both sides of an argument. I also enjoy reading about politics, and my go-to news source is usually The New York Times, but I also enjoy reading articles from other sources as well to get different perspectives.

 

In case you were wondering about the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award….

I’d like to tell you the story of this award and why Straw Dog Writers Guild created it.

Like most stories, it’s not easy to know where to begin. Maybe in 1935, when a young Jewish high school teacher in the Bronx saw a photograph of a lynching. It haunted him and he wrote a poem about it which was published in a Teachers’ Union magazine. He set the poem to music and it was performed around New York City over the next few years by his wife and others.

That poet was named Abel Meeropol. In 1939, He sang the song, “Strange Fruit,” for Billie Holiday at Cafe Society in Greenwich Village. Billie started performing it and the rest is music history. “Strange Fruit” has been performed by dozens of singers and was named The Best Song of the Century by Time Magazine in 1999. More than 80 years after it was written, “Strange Fruit” continues to resonate, to move us and inspire us and remind us of the enormous power of art and resistance.

What does this have to do with Straw Dog Writers Guild? Abel Meeropol was my father-in-law. He and his wife Anne adopted my husband Robby and his brother Michael in 1953, after their parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were executed. In the last years of his life, Abel lived in western Massachusetts, to be near our family.

Over the past few years, there has been increased interest in “Strange Fruit” and increased royalties. In memory of Abel and his work to change the world through literature and the arts, we’ve donated these funds to organizations Abel would have loved, including Straw Dog Writers Guild.

I believe that Abel would have admired the work of Patricia Smith, poet and activist, and Straw Dog Writers Guild has selected her as the recipient of the 2017 Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award. Patricia is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets and Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist. A Guggenheim fellow, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam (the most successful poet in the competition’s history), our honoree is a professor at the College of Staten Island and in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College.

On November 12, 2017, 3:30 pm at Gateway City Arts, Holyoke, MA, Ms Smith will read from her work and discuss writing as resistance. For more information about attending the program, about our wonderful co-sponsoring organizations, about Abel Meeropol and Patricia Smith, please visit our website. I hope you will join my family in honoring Abel Meeropol and Patricia Smith on November 12.

Thank you,

Ellen Meeropol

Every Good Book is a Mystery, Even When it’s Not -By Heather Webb

 

I’ve been studying bestselling novels of late. I’m trying to get a feel for what is working and why; suss out the author’s special sauce that seems to be speaking to readers. I have to admit, sometimes I’m befuddled when the quality of the prose is lacking or the story drags in too many places. Or worse, when the characters are whiney and aren’t particularly sympathetic. But after some careful comparison, I think I’ve figured out the secret. Regardless of genre, what keeps a reader going is nothing more than a big question. A mystery.

Who among us doesn’t love to be tempted and tantalized with secrets, or burning desires, yet uncovered?

THE BIG QUESTION

As an author of historical fiction, I enjoy weaving in sparkling details—the frothy petticoats of a princess, a lamb bone used for buffing marble, or steam cars cranked by hand. But they won’t keep a reader going for the long haul through the novel’s twists and turns. In literary fiction, the beautiful writing is what you come for, but you keep reading to see how the character changes, how they confront the big issue the author has chosen for them.

You keep reading because you don’t know what will happen, but you must find out. I mentioned historicals and literary fiction because they can be less plot-driven than some other genres. The same goes for some women’s fiction, but the end result is the same: all good fiction is riddled with mysteries.

With my first few books, I set these mysteries up without realizing they were there. As I have evolved as a writer, I’ve discovered how important it is to create these questions on purpose and to plant them strategically. As you might suspect, the most important question is the HOOK or the mystery that is connected to the premise of the novel.

For example, in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, we worry whether or not Elizabeth Bennett will fall in love, or be a spinster in want of a home after her father dies, simply because her prejudice gets in the way? This is the central mystery. Once this question is planted, the author expertly layers in others to support the premise because:

ONE CENTRAL QUESTION ISN’T ENOUGH

Remember we are tempting the reader to keep going so we must weave in a series of smaller questions to keep the plot moving forward. Let’s look at Pride and Prejudice again. Austen peppers the narrative expertly with mysteries.

Will Elizabeth meet an available gentleman at Mr. Bingley’s ball?

Will she make amends with the proud Mr. Darcy?

Will the family’s farm be saved?

STORY THREADS CONVERGE

Though there should be a litany of unanswered questions, they must be connected to the protagonist’s quest and motivations in some way, or they will clutter the narrative and confuse the reader. In these examples below, note how these questions 1.) propel the plot forward, 2.) reveal important traits or desires about the protagonist and his/her motivations, and 3) support the larger mystery or hook.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Will Katniss survive in a dystopian hell? Will she choose Peeta or Gale? Can she keep Prim safe? Will the revolt against the Capital be successful?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Will Diana accept who she is and come to terms with her powers? What exactly is her witchy family’s past? Will she fall for Matthew? Will she survive the attack from her enemies?

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly: Can Andi find some semblance of peace again after her brother’s death and parents’ divorce? How did Andi lose her brother? What secrets will she uncover in that old diary from the French Revolution? Will she allow herself to fall in love? Will she ever grasp that her brother’s death isn’t her fault and forgive herself?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green:  What does it mean to live, truly live, and what is the emotional cost when we’ll just die anyway? Will Hazel relax into being a “normal” teen and allow herself to fall in love with Augustus? To meet her idol –an author–  in person is her dream. What is he truly like in person, and will she be satisfied with his answers to the burning questions she has about his work? Can Hazel recover enough to go into remission, or will she die of cancer after all?

YOUR WORK IN PROGRESS

What is the premise, or big hook of your novel?

What’s the big unanswered question of each act?

What smaller questions have you weaved into each act to support your mc’s motivations and goals? The story’s central mystery?

 Thank you, Heather Webb, for allowing us to republish your Every Good Book is a Mystery, Even When it’s Not blog.

To read more of Heather’s blog please visit Heather Webb

Becky Jones on Summer Writing Goals

Setting your summer writing goals  and our recent Roundtable Discussion

Eight of us met on Saturday, June 10th to talk about our summer writing goals. Our goals ranged from the basics of getting back to our writing to sending our work out for publication: goals within the group were varied and unique; such as brainstorm writing ideas, dip into each topic, and find a project; establish a regular writing schedule; finish a first draft of a short story or chapter of a novel; listen to one’s manuscript be read aloud by the computer and note places of repetition, bad grammar, or clunkiness; revise a short story and then submit it; incorporate research into one’s novel; write or edit five poems for submission to the Straw Dog Writers Poetry Anthology that Jane Yolen will be editing; write five children’s songs.

We enjoyed each other’s company so much that we will meet mid-summer for ice cream at Herrell’s to see how we’re doing on our goals (and possibly do a little writing together). At the annual meeting, which happens to be the next roundtable discussion on September 9th at Lilly Library in Florence, we will also check in with each other to see if we met our goals. We welcome others to check in with us too.

Becky Jones

SDWG Writing Residencies

WE ARE PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE
 a new benefit for our members—
the Straw Dog Writers Guild Writing Residencies at Patchwork Farm Retreat.

Patchwork Farm Writers Retreat

A Straw Dog Writing Residency will include 6 days, 5 nights, Sunday at 3:00 pm through Friday noon, in one of the lovely, unique places at Patchwork Farm Retreat in Westhampton MA.

Patchwork Farm Writers RetreatResidencies will be self-guided and residents will provide their own meals, with access to cooking facilities. Cost of accommodations will be covered by a grant from a generous Straw Dog member.

To apply for a residency, you must reside in one of the four western counties of Massachusetts (Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin & Berkshire), be a dues-paying member of Straw Dog Writers Guild (you may join at time of application for residency), and be working on a substantial writing project.

Application by email to Straw Dog Writers Guild, (jac.sheehan@comcast.net), to include:

–       a brief description (no more than two paragraphs) of your writing project in any genre: poetry, fiction, memoir, literary non-fiction, essays, dramatic writing, songwriting, journalism, etc.;

–       writing sample: 3-5 poems or 5-10 pages of prose, double-spaced;

–       how it would benefit you to receive a full scholarship residency at Patchwork Farm Retreat.

Residencies are awarded on the basis of merit and the extent to which it seems that the person will benefit from the residency.Patchwork Farm Writers Retreat

A small group of Straw Dog members, including the director of Patchwork Farm Retreat, Patricia Lee Lewis, will welcome applications beginning July 1, with residencies to be scheduled beginning September 1, no more than one per month.

Blog by Christopher J. Sparks

Like any writer, I know how important craft can be. Straw Dog Writer’s Guild, a group of the Valley’s own writing talent, offers workshops by our, often quite accomplished, neighbors. In mid-March, I attended a lecture on crafting Magical Realism with Andrea Hairston. Andrea is a playwright, novelist, and professor of theater at Smith College. Andrea knows that writing magic must live with or within the body, that shared experience between all readers. Even the magic of metrics, while cerebral, indulges in the physicality of sound which is where its real power lies. Were it anything less, meter would be mere word math.

Magic through the body allows the reader to use their senses and experience to make it real. I have read Sci-Fi and Fantasy that often suffer getting too caught up in their own ideas rather than the interior, rather than what we all share and can relate to. Magic then becomes an increasingly hollow cerebral task like phasers, lasers or whatever. Trained as a mathematician and physicist as well as a playwright, Andrea explained, perhaps more clearly than I can recount, how authors may have an interesting invocation or spectacular spell, but that the transmission fails or becomes stagnant because the writer must convince the reader to see as they see for even a simple summoning to have any real emotional impact.

Andrea introduced the works surrealist artists Remedios Vera and Dorothea Tanning, whom fame passed over because they were women, to illustrate magic graphically framed by the body. The paintings echoed some of Andrea’s own work, some of which is still in process, that she was kind enough to share with the group. Her descriptions are as beautiful as they are visceral.

Realism is the illusion of reality, tenuously strung between points of status quo. So like any world-building, there are steps and processes to fashioning the frame, even if the intention is that those underpinnings be invisible. Andrea demonstrated how important it is to balance what is perceived as realistic without getting too caught up in details such that the flow of the narrative is broken, potentially overwhelming the reader in one’s striving to seem authentic.

Andrea brought these lessons together in her own vivid writing. The workshop demonstrated how writing magic through the body allows the reader to use their senses and forces the writer to frame invocations in our common experience. So written, the spell only grows in power as it branches out into your world, not only shifting narrative but becoming a thread of the fabric of your characters. Valuable lessons.

— Christopher J. Sparks is a local writer with a passion for poetry and history.

Meaning awaits in the desert of truth,
blue and deep as deep can be.
— Christopher J. Sparks

“What sustains you as a writer?”

Two writers tell us what they got out of participating in Straw Dog’s first Writers Roundtable -held February 11th.

The topic was “What sustains you as a writer?” -  The next Roundtable will be June 10th.

Straw Dog Writers Guild, Northampton, Northampton MA, Western MA Writing, Writers, Local Writers Pioneer Valley, Straw Dog,  Sustain – once removed, by Jess Martin

How does one dart, weave and unwind words into some semblance of beginning, middle and end? Then revise until proclaiming: “done” or “I surrender” or perhaps “I must get on with my life”… only to return to the blank page to do dance again.

Sustain solution (7% success content, percentage variable to dilution / desperation): Writer seeks same. Isn’t that part of what brought writers to a Straw Dog-led roundtable discussion on a Saturday morning: the company and commiseration of/with other writers? Sustain through group support. Levels vary from groups that meet to write, to groups that meet to critique, to groups that evolve into something under “x” (unknown) indescribably more, a network of support, reader, confidantes, muses? Some groups also might like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Sustain solution (38% with delicate drips of self-acceptance): Joy. Pardon me, while I summon my Texas roots: You ain’t gonna do somethin’ you don’t like to do. Not having fun? Flip the switch. Before you jump two feet into blank space like someone’s hurtling flaming rocks at your face, do this: smile. Put on your favorite shirt, those fuzzy socks, whatever to get yourself to relish words spilling out of you. Sing’em. Sling’em. 

Sustain solution (72.6314% effective but do not operate farm machinery when under the influence): You are the writer of your own story. I learned last week that my first short story will be published. I took a ~20 year hiatus from narrative writing. In November, I deliberated: why am I making this so hard? Whose mold am I trying to fit? I scrapped it (it’s a daily practice to fight the temptation to dredge it up). I want to write lesbian stories, and oh, that other problem I have of never finishing a story? I will write short stories. I found an anthology call with a queer publisher, and I spent December in a mad dash to meet the deadline. Last week, the publisher says “we’re including it,” and I take my news to my social media enclave, and there, I found it: the mold waiting: “Now if you write sci-fi for young adults, you can be a real success!”

It reminds me of what I would avoid in a writer’s group when critique veers off the story I’m trying to tell and the one the critic wants me to tell.

I’m going back to my baseline: what do I expect of myself? Turn off the noise. What story is mine? Edit the well-meaning but cutting congrats. I must hold to the kind of writer I want to be. Because we all know this so well it could be written on our bodies: when you sit down to write again, there you sit and write: alone.

Sustain solution (100% with a grain of salt): Finding perfectly inspired moments captured in lyrical prose is like stealing a bit of manna from the muse’s table. It feels so good when the words are right on target and kick-ass gorgeous to boot. As hard as it is, though, cast a long glance at those imperfections too. The music falters, breaks, and pauses – imperfection must be there for us to aspire to the B-side of it. It still has the word ‘perfect’ in it, so it can’t be all bad. Get cozy with it. 

There are some thoughts. The only bit I would add is, as you continue to write, revise and read, you should be sure to keep some elemental part of you inspired, intrigued, blind-folded (maybe?), and open.

If we are channeling words, plots, and inevitable endings, maybe we should also remember to keep our writing radar flipped on, receiving, broadcasting and sometimes converging.

-- Jess Martin 

Jess Martin is a playwright by training and co-founded and co-created with Queer Soup Theater for ten years in Boston. Her plays have been produced around the New England area with a jaunt occasionally to the New York International Fringe Festival or a festival in South Dakota. After living overseas in Denmark for the past four years, she returns to writing once more with an eye towards story-telling in the narrative form.

Straw Dog Writers Guild, Northampton, Northampton MA, Western MA Writing, Writers, Local Writers Pioneer Valley, Straw Dog, Here’s what I took away from the roundtable discussion of what sustains writers, by Emily Nagoski

Writers are sustained by writing, other writers, and other writers’ writing.

 There are sources of sustenance that are universal to all humans – physical activity, affection, mindfulness, sleep, maybe music, maybe groups of people, maybe silence. Get those. And then there are source of sustenance unique to the specialized (weirdo) human known as “writer.”  Writing, writers, and other writers’ writing. Get those – and stay alive.

But suppose you sit down to write, and you find yourself lost in the question, “Why am I doing this? Why does this poem/novel/memoir/sentence matter, given the state of the world?” Answer: You write because you are a writer. “Why” is answered by “who.”

 The next question is, “what.” What will you write, given the state of the world?

There are actions anyone can contribute, to make the world a better place – be kind, resist autocracy, step forward when you notice injustice, step back when you can create space for someone who has had less opportunity than you. Do those things. And then there are the unique contributions made by the specialized human known as “writer.” Say something new, say something old in a new way, tell us what’s true. Do that – and help make life worth living.

You’re going to write anyway; you’re a writer.

What did I take away from the roundtable discussion of what sustains writers?

Read and write and talk to other writers, like your life depends on it. Because if you’re a writer, it probably does.

-- Emily Nagoski

Emily Nagoski, based in Easthampton, Massachusetts, is a health educator and New York Times best-selling author of "Come As You Are." - more info: http://emilynagoski.com/about/

 

New Member Benefits! Newly Redesigned Website!

Please check out our newly redesigned website!

Over the past month, I have had the pleasure of redesigning the Straw Dog Writers Guild website. It has been inspiring to design new pages and formats to celebrate and promote the excellent work you are all doing in the community. There are many new additions and exciting plans coming from the website too. Please take a look around at www.strawdogwriters.org, visit the updated 'Bulletin Board', the new 'About Us' and 'Our Story' pages.

We are thrilled/excited about new ways for members to promote your work, on our ‘'Meet our Members' page! (see below for more info). We also have a new resource, our new 'Literary Community Calendar', in which all local literary organizations are invited to submit upcoming events.

Below are our new guidelines for submissions for

Straw Dog Writers Guild members:

 

To have your book cover part of the Straw Dog Bookshelf moving banner on the website

Send image (jpeg/png) of your books (or literary magazines, anthologies in which your work appears)

To be added to the Straw Dog Members Page

Send one image, and a link to your work (Website, Facebook, Twitter, etc… )

Include your name & up to 30 words describing your work.

A great example to see what we are envisioning for our member's page, please visit http://clickworkspace.org/members/

Members Book Launch Page

We want to spotlight your new publications and make it easy to promote each other’s books on social media. Please send two months before book publication:

Title and image of book

Brief description (100 words)

Book blurbs 1 or 2

Link to your website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, (social media hashtags #yourbook)

Date and location of 3-5 local readings

Member News

We want to celebrate your publication successes. Please send”

Title of poem or story or essay and name/date of publication

Link to the magazine or website

Please send all submissions to - admin@strawdogwriters.org

We look forward to connecting with you soon, and promoting your work!

Thank You,

Laura Stone 

Straw Dog Writers Guild

Admin. Director

To learn more about non-member submissions, please check out our new

Straw Dog Writers Submission page.

 

Patricia Lee Lewis upon reflection …

Patricia Lee Lewis upon reflection …

By Patrica Lee Lewis

In the year that opens before us, I will turn 80, and recently in a writing circle of workshop leaders in training, I wrote a piece in the voice of a woman facing the mysteries and gifts of going forward in a well-worn life. Onward through the fog, as they say.  However young or old you are, as you reflect on your life and your world, I encourage you to write down your (or your character’s) thoughts and share them with someone. . . .

Here is what my character had in her heart that December afternoon –

            “Every day on the road she gets closer. It’s not clear to what, or from what she travels, but there is a road and there are trees alongside and there is a sun that arcs overhead and every day it is in a different place. She believes the sun, that it knows its business, she believes the trees, that they lean far, that their minds are enormous, that they can hear the life as it thunders ahead. She sets out every day when the sun shows itself to the trees and along the way she learns the lessons of the road, how family and friends and strangers create the world, how stones hold stories, how waters enter and leave the earth, how the night sky sends pricks of light onto grasses as they curve and rustle in the fields between trees. Some days it does not matter how long she walks or if she lies down in the crooks of fallen trees to rest. Other days she frets to think the end will be invisible; she may not know it when it comes, she may not awaken. But mostly, she is content to move along, to mosey, to skip, to run, to hobble, depending on the day, the year, the weather. Mostly, she is on the road and it is a place that suits her.”

Welcoming Big Changes for SDWG in 2017

 

Welcoming Big Changes for SDWG in 2017

By Elli Meeropol

2017 looms, and seven years after Straw Dog Writers Guild was conceived in Patricia Lee Lewis’ living room, we are poised for big changes. Two original members of the group, Jacqueline Sheehan and Patricia Lee Lewis, are stepping off the Steering Committee and moving to the SDWG Advisory Board. We are so grateful for their leadership and dedication, and do not plan to let them entirely off the hook.

Two big changes have already begun. Most exciting is our hiring first staff person for SDWG. After an exhaustive reviewing and interviewing process, we hired Laura Stone as the part-time Administrative Director. Laura started work on December 1. She has been getting acquainted with our mission, our members and committees, our website, and our plans for the future.

Laura Stone

Laura has worked in the arts and nonprofit community for over 10 years, as a Program Coordinator and Youth Arts Program Manager. She is an experienced writing group facilitator, fundraiser, social media marketer, web designer, events planner.  She has a strong passion for community building through the arts. She also writes and plays nature-inspired songs for children on her ukulele.

She recently received a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Marlboro College Graduate School. Laura is looking forward to meeting and working with SDWG members and is inspired and very thankful to be on board. She will be attending most Straw Dog events; please introduce yourself to her.

The second big change is that Straw Dog has joined Click Workspace in Northampton with a Community Membership for the organization and an individual membership for Laura. This gives us a home. We can use the meeting room for our second Saturday craft programs, the big downstairs space for larger gatherings, and conference rooms for smaller meetings, as necessary. Click is an exciting co-op working venue. Check it out at http://clickworkspace.org.

Change can be unsettling but it offers huge opportunity for growth. Please join me in welcoming Laura, exploring Click (you can sign up for their community newsletter to hear about the wonderful programs offered there), and adding your talents and energy to our local literary arts organization.