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Yesterday myself and artist Barbara Hengstenberg hosted a retreat for artists and writers in Bynum, North Carolina – a community just south of Chapel Hill and north of Pittsboro. We held Creative Connections at the Bynum Front Porch, the same historic space I used for my magazine writing class earlier this year. I’m including a short video above from UNC-TV’s special on the Front Porch Music Series.

bynum front porch

Bynum Front Porch

We were worried the space would be uncomfortably warm because we had been warned the AC only works well if you’re next to it. The high yesterday was 93F and we had 12 people, including ourselves, some from nearby and one from the D.C. area. Fortunately, a half dozen fans helped circulate the cool AC air and two people actually complained they were too cold. Success!

bynum bluegrass picking

Justin playing the mandolin.

We started the day out with talks about creativity and fear, then Barbara led us through a breathing and meditation session into the first creative prompt. During one of our prompts, a musician arrived. On the second and fourth Saturdays of every month the Bynum Front Porch hosts a bluegrass pickin‘. Anyone can come and play, and anyone can come and watch. Justin had his days confused and arrived on the first Saturday. I invited him to come sketch with us and he was happy to participate (and partake in the doughnuts!). We broke for lunch after the morning creative prompts and Justin played his mandolin while we ate!

Clydes Critters

Clyde’s Critter Crossing

Some folks who were ready to brace the heat joined me for a stroll around Bynum. We walked past Clyde Jones’ home and visited his Critters.

clyde jones home

Amber and Laura visiting Clyde Jones’ house.

Then we explored the graffiti art along the Bynum Bridge and saw a few kayakers and fishermen.

Bynum Bridge

Bynum Bridge

Our afternoon was full of more creative prompts, plus sharing time on stage. We are fortunate to have both an indoor and an outdoor stage available to us here, but since it was only getting hotter outside everyone voted to keep the session indoors!

retreat

Create, create, create…

writing retreat

A sketch, story, and poetry.

At some generative workshops that I lead I choose not to participate. Organizing, planning, getting the space ready, and presenting usually drain me of energy to produce any creative work, but yesterday I forced myself to write and stretch outside my comfort zone. Not only did I write two poems and a piece of flash fiction, but I also spent time drawing during a stretch-to-sketch session Barbara led.

We’re in the midst of brainstorming future events–keep an eye out for more! And read a guest post about planning your own writing retreat.