Seedlings in the Cinders: Wide Open Studios Writing Workshop

May 11-22, 2021 (remote workshop) / May 23-26 (optional self-directed campout for regional participants)

Location: Your home bioregion! The campout will occur in the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion / Klamath, Modoc, Tolowa, Karuk, Takelma, Hupa, Shasta, Yurok, and Wintu territories

Meetup: remote

Application: January 5 – April 15

Instructors: Daniela Molnar and Ryan Pierce

Price: $550 (four scholarships of $275 available) Cost includes supply delivery by US mail. *Costs for the optional and conditional in-person component are not included in this trip.

Activities: distance learning and camaraderie

Level of Difficulty: The core (remote) component involves only the level of physical challenge that you arrange for yourself.

Description: These last seasons have been marked by a shared sense of catastrophe. Seedlings in the Cinders looks to the catalytic power of wildfire—and the regeneration that ensues—as a metaphor for how we, as artists, can incorporate trauma and grief into powerful creative growth and how writing and art-making can facilitate this resilience.

This is a writing workshop for all types of artists, emphasizing the power of thinking through and with words to nurture creativity across disciplines. The structure is unique, and the format represents a bridge from lockdown-life to a cautious resumption of in-person camping. Spanning the cycle from new moon to full, we will meet remotely for the duration. An optional coda to the experience is a three-night meetup-style campout in the Siskiyous, pending an acceptable level of COVID risk.

Content: Incorporating Signal Fire’s sustained theme “Rise from the Rot,” we will engage in the science and poetics of wildfire. Our course readers integrate essays, fiction, poetry, and myth as we attempt to detach the dominant Western notion of fire as a solely destructive force from a more complex reading. How did Indigenous communities manage fire? What important role does fire play in Western forest ecology?

From there, we will discuss wildfire as an analogy. We all face hardships and traumas that can derail and disrupt our work. How do we find resilience for ourselves and our communities? What can we gather from the ashes, the upheaval, to build upon for the future? As climate chaos accelerates, how do we change our habits and creative practices in response?

Structure: The structure of this course is modeled on the arc of one of our “normal” backcountry trips, with each student joining from their own home landscape. Our challenge is to create an intimate and supportive cohort across the distance demanded by current conditions. Although we will use Zoom, we will not mainly use Zoom, relying also on phone and mail and, most of all, on discrete, guided individual experiences. The Instructors will work with each student leading up to the workshop to help them set aside as much time and space during our term to prioritize their own creative practice: setting goals for individual growth and output in any discipline. The course will commence with each participant receiving their “backpack,” a package in the mail containing a reader and a suite of prompts and objects to galvanize each day’s experience.

Each day will involve approximately two hours of synchronous activity and the rest will be self-directed. We will have one or two longer synchronous sessions to share work and feedback.

If health advisories permit, regional artists are invited to convene for a three-night socially-distanced campout after the trip. Instructors will provide logistical advice and shopping lists, but unlike other Signal Fire trips, students are responsible for their own transportation, food, and most of their gear (we can loan some items), so that we can enjoy a socially-distanced camping experience.

COVID considerations: Signal Fire designs safe programs in coordination with rural and tribal communities, trip leaders and participants, outdoor recreational industry leaders, and regional and national health guidelines. This rigorous evaluation applies to seasonal risks such as wildfires, as well as novelties like COVID-19. Signal Fire maintains open communication with program participants and emergent needs will be addressed transparently. We are grateful to our trip leaders, staff, Board, community and program partners who tirelessly collaborate with us to manage these risks. To learn more, contact your trip leader or Our Director of Field Programming,