Mission

Write Place is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and supporting literary and artistic projects that examine and inspire appreciation for humanity’s intimate relationship with the natural environment. Write Place is committed to supporting writers and artists, and facilitating dialogue and exchanges between the humanities and sciences.

Vision

We want writers and artists around the world to celebrate, explore, study, preserve, protect, and reclaim the natural environment.

The natural world is under threat, and Write Place believes humans must aid in its rescue. The first step in saving something is often an awareness and appreciation that it exists and needs saving. “Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better,” Robert Frost reminds us. Literature and the arts can awaken us to the brilliance and beauty of nature, alerting us of its needs and its role in our survival. “Pay attention and you feel,”  writes Abby Phillips Metzger–“You begin to hear the land and learn its scars. Pay attention, and things beneath you become visible.” Writers have power. “If you believe in the power of words,” N. Scott Momaday contends, “you can bring about physical changes in the universe.” Let’s wield that power to reconnect humans with the land, water and sky, with the living things with which we share this planet.

Together, with your help, we can ignite imaginative explorations through a number of projects, platforms and publications, creating new ways to think and live, new pathways to a sustainable future.

History

The Write Place was founded in 2013 by John Purdy, a professor of literature at Western Washington University who envisioned an organization that would braid his lifelong interests in literature and the environment. Purdy specializes in Native American literatures, edited Studies in American Indian Literature and the American Review of Canadian Studies, authored several critical studies, including Writing Indian: Native Conversations, and over forty articles. Later in his career, Purdy turned to writing novels steeped in place.

Write Place produced two documentary films, Writing Oregon (2019), which looks at the region through the work of several literary figures, and Bearheart: the Gerald Vizenor Chronicles (2020), exploring the writings of Gerald Vizenor, an Anishinaabe author of over forty books, including the prophetic eco-novel, Bearheart (1978). Proceeds from these films helped fund new projects and contributed to the Western Rivers Conservancy and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.  

In 2023, Write Place moved its offices to Western Oregon University under the directorship of Henry Hughes. “I want to continue the great work of John Purdy and the board, and maintain their commitment to the Pacific Northwest and Native American writers,” Hughes says. “But I’d also like to connect with more scientists and enlarge our scope to national and international interests.” 

 

Western Oregon University’s Land Acknowledgement and Discrimination Policy

Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon, is located within the traditional homelands of the Luckiamute Band of Kalapuya. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855, Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to reservations in Western Oregon. Today, living descendants of these people are a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians.

WOU prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national or ethnic origin, age, religion, marital status, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in all programs, activities and employment practices as required by Title IX, other applicable laws, and policies.

People

 

Board of Directors

Henry Hughes, director

John Purdy, founder, emeritus director

Kristiana Kahakauwila, president

Abby Phillips Metzger

Daniel Shilling

Carl Purdy

Danielle Gauntz, art & design director

Board of Advisors

Kenning Arlitsch, director of the Central European Library, Vienna, Austria

Kimberly Blaeser, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Richard Bunse, artist, conservationist

Geffrey Davis, poet, professor

Rita Dove, former U.S. Poet Laureate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

David James Duncan, writer, environmental activist

Eugene Jones, partner in life sciences & technology, IBM

Rick Hafele, entomologist, writer, photographer

Gordon Henry Jr., writer, professor

Kathleen Dean Moore, philosopher, writer, environmental activist

Simon Ortiz, poet

Jesse Peters, president of Western Oregon University

Fred Viebahn, novelist, playwright, translator

Elizabeth Woody, former Oregon Poet Laureate