Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winter solstice writing workshop

Get creative at the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens

Express Staff Writer

Are you looking for some inspiration to write but need a little guidance? Perhaps the Winter Solstice Writing Workshop on Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden in Ketchum can help. From 9 a.m. to noon, Jan Daniels will conduct a series of writing exercises for adults to unleash their environmentally creative minds.

Daniels has a degree in writing with an extensive background in journalism and started a program, Eco Expressions, for children in San Diego. Her workshop for adults is based on that endeavor. She has worked in environmental education for the past four years and freelances on the side, writing mostly on environmental issues.

The workshop will be a non-judgmental course encouraging creative writing, although it is scientific because of the nature of the subject matter.

"In San Diego, we focus on restoration of species and endangered species," Daniels said. "Here it is more about land use and land management, and not as much on policy. Environmental issues are definitely what is happening in the area, but the focus of the workshop is very much on the creative aspect."

Daniels organizes her workshops on "place-based learning," which is observing the environment in the space one occupies. Since it is the Winter Solstice, she wants to observe the winter environment in the garden and look at what is actually growing in the community plots.

Using what Daniels refers to as writing prompts, writers are given directions to observe a situation or action with a few minutes to study it, and then they are asked to write on the observation.

"It's amazing what they write in a small amount of time. Some people do a paragraph, and some people do a poem," Daniels said. She would like to have workshop attendees write outside in the garden if it's not too cold and focus on land size and the neighborhood from the third person point of view.

"It is the first time for this workshop in the Wood River Valley," Daniels said. "I live in San Diego and started it there. I am just here for December and January. We are doing it after school with middle school kids, and each month it is a different session. The funding for the workshop is from the Peco Foundation."

Daniels is working on a program with the Wood River Middle School and will be doing workshops at the Carey High School and the Silver Creek Alternative School. The Winter Solstice Writing workshop for adults costs $30. For more information, e-mail

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