School navigation

Fir Acres Workshop

Writing and Living on Campus

The Fir Acres Community

At Fir Acres, you will be part of a residential community of approximately 60 peers, all of whom have recently completed from 8th through 12th grades.

We do not use usual measures of academic achievement (school grades, grade point average, standardized test scores) as criteria for application or admission to Fir Acres. What binds our community is a common interest in the relationship between writing and thinking. We join in the quest to find our voices as writers and to notice and to trust the power of our thinking skills.

A Typical Day

You will join a workshop group with 14-15 participants, plus a faculty workshop leader and residential staff. Each workshop group meets three sessions daily, Monday through Friday, for 90 minutes each. Multi-aged groups are created to dismantle the often counter-productive use of birth date as a criterion for participation in a lively, mutually supportive peer writing environment.

One workshop group each year focuses on women writers. If you are interested in that themed group, note it on your application form.

Daily writing includes reflective journals, stories, poems, and personal and persuasive essays. The foundation of our work is the informal, exploratory writing that generates drafts, defines questions for discussion, shapes subsequent inquiry, and helps make connections between what participants already know and new ways of thinking.

Participants create original work, both generative and in response to assigned readings.

The workshop groups nurture a shared willingness to utilize a range of writing habits, to experiment with form, and to take risks as writers. Through this process, each participant is encouraged to find his or her authority as a writer and a critical thinker that each of us can take with us as we return to our lives and assignments elsewhere.

Thus, as writers and learners, we:

  • explore the relationship between informal, exploratory writing and more formal, audience-directed writing, and learn how to sustain that relationship on our own without losing a commitment to it;
  • experience how poetry, narrative, and essaying are not exclusive expressive genres, but instead different habits of mind which foster a more comprehensively engaged imagination;
  • master a variety of prompts and strategies that prepare us as writers and readers to gain access not only to the kinds of texts routinely required by our schooling, but also to the quantity and difficulty of reading you will eventually meet in college and may wish to pursue throughout your life.

Transformation Over Two Weeks

Over the course of two weeks, participants assemble two portfolios containing informal writing, works in progress, and finished pieces in various genres. After you compile each portfolio, you will have a one-on-one student-teacher conference with your workshop faculty leader, to receive comments and suggestions on your work.

Participants also present their thoughtful work at two community-wide readings (Saturday of the first week and Friday of the second week) and in a final anthology.

Your portfolios, readings, and anthology provide opportunities to share what you have discovered about writing and thinking during the workshop.

Why Lewis & Clark? Why Portland?

Lewis & Clark College is an ideal setting for the Fir Acres Workshop in Writing and Thinking. Lewis & Clark is a private college with a public conscience and international reach. Our alumni, faculty, and students are recognized as global thinkers and leaders. Lewis & Clark is committed to exploring new ways of knowing and developing innovative collaborations.

Lewis & Clark is located on a beautiful 137-acre campus just in suburban Portland, Oregon. Enjoy the sunshine on the grassy hills and wooded paths around the historic mansion at the heart of campus. Sit on the lawn and write your journal while nestled against a giant fir tree. Or perch on the steps near the reflecting pond in the estate gardens and catch the view of Mt. Hood, with its snow cap even in mid-summer.

Lewis & Clark is only 10 minutes from the excitement of the urban core of progressive Portland. Fir Acres Workshop participants travel to some of Portland’s best attractions for inspiration and for fun, too. Workshop participants frequently visit the world-class Portland Japanese Garden or classical Chinese Garden. The Fourth of July features an all-American picnic at a local park where we watch the fireworks over the Willamette River.

Fir Acres Workshop

Contact Us