By Dan Haag
Education in the 21st century often means more than brick-and-mortar classrooms. There are a bevy of online opportunities for all ages and interests.
Online students can learn from wherever and whenever they want, making “e-education” an attractive option for those with busy work and family schedules.
Or for those who prefer learning from the comfort of their favorite chair and a cozy bathrobe.
With that in mind, Manzanita’s Hoffman Center For The Arts (HCA) Writer’s Series is launching “Online and at the Beach” on May 1.
Part of Hoff Online, the program will offer writing and visual arts workshops.
While Hoffman Center has always offered a broad range of workshops, HCA President Vera Wildauer says the time has come to expand their repertoire beyond the half-day, in-house format.
“It allows for a more in-depth learning experience,” she says. “Students appreciate the flexibility and can work on their own schedule and from anywhere.”
“Online and at the Beach” will reach people who might only come to the beach for holidays and weekends, but also coastal residents further south or north.
Wildauer says people in Clatsop, Tillamook and Lincoln counties often try to participate in HCA programs but aren’t always able due to work or weather conditions.
“Tillamook County is a very long county and while we regularly get participants who live in Pacific City or Neskowin, offering online learning makes it easier for them to connect with us,” she says.
The five-week online course culminates in an optional writing retreat weekend in Manzanita the weekend of June 2, a gathering that will allow students to meet their instructor and fellow students and enjoy additional craft writing sessions.
Participants will also have an opportunity to read their work at an open mic, try “Yoga for Writers,” go on hikes, and dive into a “Prompt-O-Rama.”
Wildauer says the intention is to complement the online courses with a weekend retreat as often as possible.
The initial series instructors will be prominent Pacific Northwest authors Megan Kruse and Jennie Shortridge.
Kruse will teach “Creativity Catalyst” while Shortridge will teach “Putting Your Prose to Work.”
Both Kruse and Shortridge are “veterans” of previous workshops and readings at HCA and were natural fits for the pilot program.
“We’ve always had great response to Megan and Jennie here as workshop teachers,” says Writer’s Series organizer, Kathie Hightower.
Kruse, the author of “Call Me Home” and recipient of a 2016 Pacific Northwest Book Award, is excited to be on board.
“Life so often gets in the way of our work,” she says. “I want this class to be a creative hothouse for dormant ideas and a jolt of energy.”
Shortridge, author of five novels – including “Love Water Memory” and “When She Flew” – thinks the program will offer a necessary push to writers.
“I’m excited to work with students who’ve been writing for a while, but aren’t quite sure how to go to the next level,” she says, adding that the class will provide clear, concrete practices and methods that aren’t necessarily taught in classrooms in her experience.
For HCA, this program is an exciting step in a new direction. It has the potential to reach writers on the Oregon Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the country.
The hope is that future classes will expand to include other artistic endeavors such as painting and music instruction.
But writing always seemed like the natural component to start with as it combines the best of both worlds: e-learning with workshopping.
Hightower says that over the years, HCA programs such as the Writers Series and PoetryFest have offered valuable interaction time between writers and teachers.
She thinks that – along with the renewal and healing aspect of the beach setting– will make “Online and at the Beach” successful.
“It’s hard to beat the beach for inspiration and learning,” she says.
Classes begin May 1. To register, visit www.hoffmanblog.org/hoff-online.
“Online and at the Beach” was supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust: Oregonians sustaining, developing and participating in our arts, heritage and humanities.