Featured Writer’s Residency: The Mesa Refuge, A Writer’s Retreat on the Bluffs of Tomales Bay

The Mesa Refuge, writing retreat and residency
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This is part of our series on writer’s residencies, co-produced with the Alliance of Artists Communities. We feature residencies around the world, so you can learn about opportunities that might be a good fit for you! To search, compare and read about hundreds of residency opportunities, use the Alliance’s free online Residency Directory

On the misty bluffs of Tomales Bay sits a residency unlike any other. The Mesa Refuge is a place for “writing at the edge,” one of few retreats in the world that focuses on writing about nature, economics and social equity. The breathtaking scenery, inspired spaces and supportive staff create an ideal setting for creative breakthroughs and productive work.

Three writers are awarded no-cost residencies for each two-week session during the fall and summer. Writers are given private rooms, as well as the use of a shared kitchen, a library and a deck overlooking the bay. Since 1998, Mesa Refuge has hosted over 500 writers including Michael Pollan, Terry Tempest Williams, Frances Moore Lappé and Rebecca Solnit.

Image: The Mesa Refuge


Where: Point Reyes Station, California; overlooking Tomales Bay about one hour north of San Francisco.

Who: The Refuge invites writers across disciplines to apply: essayists, journalists, economists, naturalists, screenwriters and authors of memoirs. Nonfiction projects are generally preferred.

Size: Three writers are invited each session.

Facilities: Each resident enjoys a private bedroom in a spacious shared house. There’s a shared printer but residents must bring their own computers and writing supplies. Dial-up internet access is available for a fee.

Image: The Mesa Refuge

Time frame: Two week sessions offered in the fall and spring.

Cost: There is no cost to residents, though donations are accepted.

Food: Most dinners are provided and residents can access the shared kitchen.

Application deadline: June 2, 2014 for September to November residencies.

Application requirements: Project statement, bio, resume, references and work samples, plus a $25 application fee. Here’s where to apply.

Image: The Mesa Refuge

What residents have said: “The landscape of sky, marsh, and bay flowing to the sea helped concentrate my mind. I loved the quiet. I loved the wild garden overlooking the wetlands below and the hundreds of birds circling above. It is rare and wonderful to feel so quietly cared for — so completely supported and encouraged.”

Plus: Residents can take advantage of the spectacular setting with opportunities for hiking, kayaking, beachcombing, bicycling, bird watching, yoga, gardening, tennis and table tennis.

Would you consider applying to The Mesa Refuge?

All photos are courtesy of The Mesa Refuge and were taken by Sarah Hadley.

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Flannery Patton is Communications Director at The Alliance of Artists Communities.... .

Alliance of Artists Communities | @artistresidency

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  1. This looks like a fabulous refuge for writing. It’s interesting that they prefer non-fiction projects but have limited internet access. You had better have all your research done before you go and hope you don’t need to check any facts. But, I guess total immersion in your project is ideal without the distraction of the internet. You can check facts when you get home.

  2. Dial-up Internet? That would be a problem for me. While the Tomales Bay area is beautiful (the landscape changes practically every mile), it’ a bit too far off the beaten path for me. Even when I get away, I still want places to go to get distracted for an hour or two that aren’t an hour or more away.

  3. I really appreciate you guys posting these. I’ve found it very difficult to research writing retreats. It gets overwhelming very quickly, particularly for someone with limited means. These posts are extremely helpful.

  4. Cool..!

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