Blue River Writers Gathering | 2006-present
Location: H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest
Set in the old growth of the Oregon Cascades at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, the Blue River Writers Gathering is a biennial assemblage of environmental writers who live in or have deep roots to the Pacific Northwest. It’s intended to be an inspiring and restorative weekend for writers — a chance to meet one another, share our stories, give each other courage in difficult times, and find solace and insight in the deep streams and ancient forests of the Blue River watershed in Oregon.
Our purpose is to take counsel from each other and from the forest, to deepen our sense of community with other writers and with the natural world, to walk, to talk, to read aloud, to inhabit that seam between the world’s deepest need and our own sources of gladness, and find ways to sow with our works effective seeds of hope. The invited writers all have two things in common— geography and grounding. We all come from the Great Northwest, from wherever the Salmon swim, from the Yukon to the Sacramento and deep into the interior, right to the edge of the Great Basin. And we all ground our work in careful attention to the environment. This attention takes many forms — from writing about environmental justice and decolonizing science to poetics about natural history and place.
Responding to climate change and healing from a series of wildfires, the Blue River watershed has changed over the years and so too has the gathering itself. Each gathering responds to the moment with a new line of inquiry, such as: How can we write just and joyful futures into being?
The gathering is intimate, convening less than 30 writers, allowing for rich conversations and deep connections. Some writers have attended each gathering from the start, a time-tested cohort. Others come new, asking new questions and adding fresh perspectives to old inquiries. The result is a dynamic writing community, an ecosystem of writers supporting each other through the difficult task of writing in defense of the beautiful, endangered world.
If you are interested in attending the next Blue River Writers Gathering, please contact Spring Creek Project Program Manager Shelley Stonebrook at [email protected] to learn more.
History of the Gathering
Inaugurally convened in 2006, the gathering was compelled by the question: How can we live right on a fragile and imperiled earth? From that first gathering came “The Blue River Declaration,” a guiding ethic for the anthropocene.
The Blue River Writers Gathering is a companion to two others: Glenbrook, in the Vermont hills, and Crestone, which draws writers from the Rockies and Great Basin, both inspired and originally organized by J. Parker Huber, Thoreau scholar and long-time editor of the newsletter Nature's Writing.
Past special guests of the Blue River Writers Gathering have included Ursula K. Le Guin (writer, 2006), John Keeble (writer, 2008), Sarah Van Gelder (editor of YES! magazine, 2010), Jennifer San (editor of Orion, 2012), Kim Stafford (poet laureate of Oregon, 2018), Emma Marris (writer, 2020), and Molly Gloss (writer, 2022).
Tom Jay Memorial Scholarship
The Tom Jay Memorial Scholarship is awarded to two writers attending the Blue River Writers Gathering in a given year. Tom Jay was a long-time participant in the Blue River Writers Gathering, as well as a highly regarded bronze sculptor in the Northwest, poet, essayist, salmon restorer, wise elder, and a beloved community activist in his home of Chimacum, Washington. He cared deeply about words, language and place.
In his essay “Familiar Music: Reinhabiting Language,” Jay wrote: “We must reinhabit our language as well as our ecologies … Then our reality might once again resound with ancestral echoes and the myriad voices of the weather and the land.”