Vinni Chomeau lives in Fish Creek with her husband and daughter. She holds degrees in Outdoor Education and Natural History from Northland College, Environmental Education from Hamline University and has completed graduate courses in Environmental Science from UW-Green Bay. She has worked as a teacher and wilderness guide for the Audubon Residential Environmental Learning Center in Minnesota and at the Team Leadership Center in Door County. She also worked as conservationist for the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department. She is currently the project coordinator for Friends of Gibraltar, which provides experiential learning opportunities for students PK-12 at Gibraltar Area Schools. She has written articles for both the Peninsula Pulse and Door County Living. She has served on the Peninsula State Park research grant committee, the Door County Land Trust membership committee and on the board of directors for the Door County Green Fund and Crossroads at Big Creek. Her interests include hiking, skiing, biking, paddle boarding, bird watching and painting.
Write On is important to me because it provides a beautiful and positive way to encourage and empower people to come together and share their stories. Visitors and residents of Door County have the opportunity with Write On to learn the art of communication and discover the benefits of writing as a healing tool and means of self-discovery and growth, share and record intergenerational stories with family and friends, and experience the power of voice.
Anne Haberland Emerson lives in Fish Creek with her husband, the architect and artist Minnow Emerson. She studied at Lawrence University and UW-Madison and worked as a writer at the University of Chicago Press before coming to Door County to open Edgewood Orchard Galleries in 1969.
It was through raising their children in Door County that she became involved with the local k-12 school and developed a deep commitment to the wider community. Anne was a founder of the effort to build the Door Community Auditorium at Gibraltar School in Fish Creek, and she has received statewide recognition for her advocacy of the arts, receiving the Governor’s Award in Support of the Arts in 1987 and the Visual Arts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. She is also honored be among those who have received the Door County Community Foundation Philanthropist of the Year Award.
Anne is passionate about education and the interconnectedness of all the arts. She loves reading and writing, being in the great outdoors, and most of all being with her family, which now includes four young grandchildren growing up nearby.
What makes Door County such a wonderful place to live and visit? The natural beauty, the people, and the profusion of the arts truly nurture the human spirit. Write On will place the literary arts alongside the visual and performing arts to bring even more opportunity for human expression and connection.
Bill Guenzel grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, and currently resides in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He majored in art history and design at Williams College and studied photography and filmmaking at Columbia College. He worked in the Chicago area movie business before relocating to Door County in the mid 1970s to embark upon a career in carpentry. A founding member of Great Northern Construction, he took leave to collaborate with other independent builders while helping his wife, Josephine, establish and maintain the Community Clinic of Door County.
My interest in Write On, Door County began with a casual conversation with longtime friend Anne Emerson, who was working with a small group of people to develop a county-wide initiative to focus on writing. We could name numerous venues available for the performing and visual arts but few options for people interested in learning how to write or advance their writing skills. She soon had me convinced in the abundant potential for developing programs aimed at writers of any ability coming from near and far.
When we became aware of the possibility of bringing Jerod Santek from the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis to Door County to lead this initiative, we knew we had found someone with national credentials to build our program. When I learned that two beautiful pieces of property were for sale in Juddville, I felt the stars had aligned and I leapt at the chance to purchase the land and help create a writing center that would be both locally loved and nationally recognized.
I started writing for newspapers as a teenager. At large Chicago daily newspapers I was a reporter and a metro, financial and features editor. At a small Chicago newspaper I was a publisher/editor. In 1980 I joined the faculty of the journalism school at Northwestern and taught writing, reporting, economics, liberal arts, public relations, marketing, etc., until 2011. My education ended with MBA. In addition to all types of news journalism, I have written for magazines, newsletters, books and the web. I am a director of Paddock Publications in Illinois and have been on boards of not-for-profits and commercial publishing. I am a nonfiction person but read much fiction and poetry. The mechanics of poetry are a mystery to me. Judy and I have two children, three grandchildren and homes in Winnetka, Ill., and Ephraim.
Anne Emerson, Jerod Santek and Maggie Peterman were among the first to hook me on Write On. Then I witnessed what the organization does for the young. Write On is a catalyst and an essential part of Door County’s matrix of creativity: theater, painting, sculpture, photography, journalism, music and formal education. If you subscribe to the premise–as I do– that writing is thinking, then you have to believe in what Write On accomplishes.
Cynthia Kraack is a Midwest author of fiction and short stories. The High Cost of Flowers won two 2014 Midwest Book Awards taking first in Literary Fiction as well as Contemporary Fiction. Her debut work, Minnesota Cold, won the 2009 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Fiction. She also wrote the Ashwood trilogy, a speculative fiction family saga. Glimmer Train, Big Muddy Literary Journal and the Hal Prize competition have recognized her short stories. She has a MFA from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Program in Creative Writing, a Masters in Industrial Relations from the University of Minnesota and Bachelors in Journalism from Marquette University. She divides her time between Fish Creek and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Her blog can be found at www.cynthiakraack.com.
Caitlin is a 2006 graduate of Gibraltar High School. She attended Eugene Lang College, The New School in New York City obtaining a B.A. with a concentration in history in 2010. She then moved to Edinburgh, Scotland where she obtained a Masters of Science in Nationalism Studies in the School of Social and Political Science from The University of Edinburgh in 2011.
Moving back to Door County in 2013, Caitlin planned to begin a nationwide job search. Instead, a 6-month fellowship with The Brico Fund integrated her back into the community where she grew up.
In May of 2015, Caitlin was contracted by the Door County Economic Development Corporation to develop and launch a young professionals network. This past November NexGen, Door County’s Young Professionals Network, was launched at a trivia event attended by 80+ young professionals.
As of July 2016, Caitlin is working with UW-Green Bay to explore potential partnerships around research and education in the region.
In her free time, she also enjoys working with Mary Witteborg and Gibraltar High School’s DECA club.
I’m proud to serve on the board of an organization that serves residents and visitors alike with programming to help them share their story and increase literacy. Whether you’re an ecologist, aspiring poet, artist, or entrepreneur, our programming will help you find your voice and share your truth. Our programming crosses geographical lines offering participants a chance to experience something out of the ordinary. Whatever your age, you have a story to tell!
Dee Paulsen has lived in Sturgeon Bay since 1982, with her husband Eric. They have two grown married children, son Nels and daughter Annika, two grandchildren and one granddog. Dee has a B.S. in Elementary/Special Education from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and an M.S. in Education with an emphasis on children’s literature from Viterbo College. She has taught for 23 years in grades 2, 3 and 6, (her heart is still in 6th grade Language Arts) and has worked as an office manager for Crown Life Insurance and Door County Eye Associates. Her interests include travel, reading, writing poetry, visiting elementary classrooms to read and do writing projects, and organizing gatherings with friends.
“I love encouraging folks of all ages and abilities to ‘write it down.’ I love words! I believe writing can be interesting, humorous, serious, and healing. I think every person has something to learn about themselves through writing – just to keep to themselves or to share. Everyone indeed has a story to tell.”
Stuffed in a back corner of the attic is an old box filled with some of the newspaper stories Maggie Rossiter Peterman wrote during the three decades she spent as a newspaper reporter and daily columnist at The Saginaw News in Saginaw, Michigan.
She also has a collection of freelance stories from publications, including the Wisconsin State Journal, The Capital Times, Isthmus, Madison Magazine, the Capital Region Business Journal and Wisconsin Builder. Then while living in Madison, she served as Regional Director for FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international nonprofit after-school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program for students in 1st-12th grades designed to build knowledge and confidence in the next generation of science, technology and engineering leaders. She and her husband, Jim Peterman, a Madison dentist 50 years, have five children, five grandchildren, two cats and a therapy dog. She is a member of the Door County YMCA Board of Directors & Northern Door Rotary Club & Leadership Door County Class 2017.
Maggie is passionate about writing, reading, learning and people! Everyone has a story to tell! It’s a tremendous privilege to have an exciting career filled with meeting engaging people and delivering a slice of their life to readers. Every day is a new opportunity to learn, especially when it includes talking to interesting people and helping them craft their stories! She is excited about the opportunities Write On brings to Door County residents! And she looks forward to assisting in the nurturing of those connections!
As a student at Southern Door High School, Cameron signed up for a Saturday Write On class taught by Liza Wiemer, whose YA novel Hello takes place in Door County. This was the first time he was able to work with a real author and talk about his dreams of becoming a writer. When the day was over, he knew he wanted to be part of Write On, Door County, and soon after he was invited to serve on the board.
It’s been an amazing journey to work with people of so many backgrounds who all have the same love of writing. My current role is to organize Write On’s Teen Council to involve all five Door County high schools and offer programming suggestions. My personal mission with the group is to offer interested teens the chance to share their stories. After all, isn’t that what writing is all about?
Deborah Hagman-Shannon retired as Executive Director at Chicago Child Care Society (CCCS) in January 2016. CCCS is the oldest nonprofit in Illinois and its work is to provide social services and education for vulnerable children and youth, most of whom live on the south side of Chicago. Programs and services during her 10 year tenure included family literacy to Early Head Start/Head Start to foster care and programs for pregnant and parenting teens. Prior work experience includes teaching English to middle and high school students; coordinating distance and continuing education programs for several universities; consulting with Fortune 500 companies in implementing total quality service and continuous improvement; managing the Olympic Velodrome for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games; and serving as the chief quality office for Firstar Corporation. She has a BA from St. Olaf College, an MA from the University of Nebraska, and a PhD from the Claremont Graduate School. She is married to Dan Shannon and they have a daughter Sarah. Deb loves to read, travel, do needlepoint, cook, stay fit, and be a responsible citizen. She is a life-long visitor and resident of Door County; her great-great-grandparents, the Goodletsons, settled here in the 1850s and her house is built on land that was once part of the family’s homestead in Ephraim.
I love that WODC is for everyone. We help people of all ages, from all backgrounds, find the words to tell their stories. What a gift! And we are also bringing accomplished writers to Door County to learn from them, and about them, again through the varied stories that they tell. In this time of tweets and texts, it feels good to reflect and to take the time to carefully choose our words – and to have no limits! WODC opens the doors to all of this and I am very grateful to be part of the WODC story!
By Jude Genereaux
I shared earlier that The Clearing had declined the offer to take stewardship of it, for reasons only they might know, but the writing muses were at work conjuring up their magic, for in the end, the most perfect place for the Coop turns out to be: in Juddville.
Anne Emerson of Edgewood Orchard Gallery stepped forth, urging the new Write On, Door County be considered for the Coop’s continuing home. After serious deliberation, Norb’s son Christopher and daughter Bridget, agreed. On August 26, 2014, the Coop made its way from Ellison Bay to Juddville with great thanks to Jeff Weborg and John Fitzerald and his crew, all donating their services.
The rightness of this placement is profound: not only does Write On sense the way in which the Coop should be preserved and honored – but used! Here, the Coop will live on as a place for writers to work in the alchemy our beloved Norbert brewed within the cedar scented walls. As well, the surrounding “woods totems” & wonderment Norbert set about the grounds on Europe Lake Road will be moved and placed in continuing fellowship with the spirit therein.
Norb had spent time with Anne as she developed & defined her dream for Write On, offering not only his insight and vision, but his teaching in a future he could not stay to share. There is no question in my soul that this is the spot he would want the Coop to be–where it will continue as a working, loving space.
Write On, Door County began as a dream bringing together a small group of people sensing a hunger within our community to explore writing and reading more deeply. It was the winter of 2011 and there seemed to be a renaissance of writing in our schools, our senior centers, and in reading and writing groups forming up and down the peninsula. Door County’s natural beauty has long attracted creative people, and the visual and performing arts in particular have thrived. Now it seemed time to shine a light on the literary arts.
After-school writing clubs formed, local writers circled in and volunteered with students young and old, and most remarkable of all, someone felt the power of this dream and purchased 39 beautiful acres of land mid-way up the peninsula with a house that could be remodeled to bring the dream to life. That first year we helped bring poet Billy Collins, novelist Emma Straub, and children’s author/illustrator Nancy Carlson to Door County to kindle the Write On flames.
As this was happening, Jerod Santek, Program Director at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, was dreaming his own dream of moving to Door County some day to establish a retreat for writers. He knew no one here and his was a far-off dream. But fate intervened, a chance meeting took place, and he moved to Door County in 2013 to shepherd the Write On idea into an official non-profit organization. We got our 501(c) 3 status in January 2014.
Since then, under Jerod’s guidance, hundreds of classes, programs, and events for all ages and experience levels have taken place. More than 60 visiting writers from all over the county have come to stay in our Write On home, finding a place of peace and inspiration for their work.
As word has spread, our residency program has grown and our little house now bulges at the seams. So our next dream is to construct a beautiful writers residence with five separate spaces and a common kitchen and gathering area that will also allow for public programming. And beyond that, we dream of a Writing Center across the road with rooms for these visiting writers to teach and inspire those who come here to learn.
To Write On’s founding board—Bret Bicoy, Michael Brecke, Vinni Chomeau, Anne Emerson, Bill Guenzel, Cynthia Kraack and Dee Paulsen—thank you for pursuing a dream. To all who have joined in and brought their own gifts along the way, thank you for continuing to make dreams come true!
July 30, 2016
Just returned from a fish dinner in Baileys Harbor and a glimpse of the marina there. What a wonderful week it has been visiting this beautiful peninsula and all it has to offer. At the beginning of the week, so many apologized for the heat. After nearly a month of 90-95 F days in St. Louis, our time at Write On and Door County was idyllic.
We loved the wonderful staff at Write On. Jerod, you are amazing and so attentive and helpful to us. We appreciate it.
The best day for me, of course, was Thursday. The young people I interacted with were spirited, imaginative, and filled with a desire to write, write, write. The poetry they produced during our activities at the water, at The Coop, by the barn, were beautiful and heart-felt. I was excited when they left saying the day was “so much better than [they] had expected.” They promised me to keep writing and to share their work with you all.
I hope I can do this again. I begin my new school year in less than two weeks. What a wonderful jumpstart for me. I have many pages in my journal to bring back to my students. I am both revitalized and ready for what lies ahead.
Joe and Sally Master (St. Louis, MO)
July 23, 2016
Write On, Door County – thank you for offering writers like me the gift of space and time in an environment of great natural beauty.
In the bustle of what is called a “normal life” at home, sometimes, in the bustle, I lose track of the heart of me, what really matters. Here, away from regular routines, I can get a new long view of the things I want to be as a writer and as a person.
At Write On, I feel life’s gorgeous openness because time is not tight. I can be dreamy and absent-minded with no errands to run – or I can plot my day and focus on starting or finishing a poem.
With few obligations this week, I have found and followed new rhythms. Some days have awakened me early and pointed me to my desk. Other days invited me to sleep in, then go out for a long walk to look at fields and ditches full of the royal beauty of Queen Ann’s lace and the remarkable blue of chicory.
I appreciated the honor of “giving back” by writing a poem for your collaboration with Midsummer Music Festival. The poetry potluck was a sweet parting party, followed by a soothing cool rain.
Thanks to you good-spirited people—board, staff, funders—who make Write On possible.
Margaret Hasse (St. Paul, MN)
Poet, author of the collections Milk and Tides, Earth’s Appetite, and more
July 15, 2016
Thank you for the privilege of this place.
Spent most of my time in Mr. Blei’s coop, finishing revisions to the stage version of Population 485.
I was intermittently pestered by a hummingbird, two fawns, and a gopher.
There were sun-warmed breezes through the screen.
Norb’s chair was uncomfortable, which made for good writing.
Mike Perry (New Auburn, WI)
Nonfiction writer and humorist; author of Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Visiting Tom, and others
July 6, 2016
Nothing inspires a writer more than a change of scenery, a change of pace, a change of lifestyle. To write from a new perspective, to have a new reason to see the world, to sample it afresh by the handful – it’s a physical extension of the metaphysical work we are called to do: to see the world anew.
Thank you, Jerod.
Todd Boss (Minneapolis, MN)
Poet, author of the collections Yellowrocket and Pitch