Category Archives: Residency

Short story contest winners 2023

Alison Braid Woodhaven Residency

Alison Braid of Summerland, took first place at the 25th annual Okanagan Short Story Contest for her short story “Two Day Summer”.

At an event held in April of 2023, contest judge Corrina Chong had this to say about Alison’s work: “Upon reading the very first sentence of “Two Day Summer,” I knew I was in the hands of an expert. Every sentence of this story is beautifully crafted, the characters are richly drawn, and the conflict is layered with delicate precision.”

As part of the top prize, we offer a one-week retreat at The Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre. Alison stayed at Woodhaven in the studio suite for a week in July of 2023, and said that she loved the tranquility of the area and the dedicated time away from distractions to work.

“Having the beautiful window was the highlight of my stay. I wrote most days on the bench, looking out at the trees,” she added.

Braid also said that she can see herself coming back to the studio for more time to work uninterrupted.

“Thank you for such a wonderful experience. I think it’s an incredible bonus to have as a prize along with the cash award – making space and time for your work is so difficult, and Woodhaven did exactly that.”

Read the intro to the story, The Young Boxer , that Braid started writing while at the Woodhaven retreat.

Alison Braid’s work has been shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year Contest, and The Bridport Prize in Flash Fiction. She is the author of the chapbook Little Hunches (Anstruther Press, 2020.) She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is currently working to finish a collection of short stories, titled Look Both Ways & Other Stories.

(image: Left to right: Jason (Darian Detta’s brother who accepted the award on his behalf), Kristen Burns, Alison Braid, and Corinna Chong. Not pictured: Madeleine van Goudoever)

Another productive, restorative residency

Nicola Harwood spent another two weeks at the Woodhaven Culture Centre. Nicola shared some words below about the time she spent working on her artistic practice; see below.

Another productive, restorative residency at Woodhaven Eco Cultural centre.

This year I made a point of connecting with some of the humans (rather than just the deer and quail!) who support the centre and the land conservancy next door. I attended a wildflower walk with Nancy Holmes in the conservancy and got know the history of the land, plans for the future and to meet several neighbours and women who help to steer the Conservancy Society.

On our walk we noted wild Blue Clematis, tiny White Blessings and lots of Oregon Grape in bloom. We also discussed the dying cedar in the forest and the issue of ground water management that badly needs to be addressed in order for the forest to stay healthy. It is heartening to see the care these folks put into the land and also worrisome that these trees are leaving us. I hope very much that the Regional District of the Okanagan and the City of Kelowna listen to these caregivers and start to strategize about how to make sure the groundwater, which is there, but being culverted and so unavailable to the trees, is brought back. I really hope the neighbours also get involved as I noticed that most of the cedars in the neighbourhood, not just in the forest, are dying due to this ground water engineering issue.

Thanks to UBCO and all the people who surround this residency with love and support. It continues to be an unmatched treasure in the valley. So necessary for the animals, birds, insects, plants and their strange companions, us artists and writers.

Some of the work I created there, working in monoprint.

View Nicola’s residency post from her previous time at Woodhaven in 2022. Find out more about Nicola Harwood:

Annie Furman Woodhaven Residency

Annie Furman

Annie Furman

As part of an MFA graduate course, professor Nancy Holmes offered all of the first-year MFA students a weekend residency at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre this year.

First year MFA student Annie Furman spent a long-weekend at Woodhaven in February of 2023. She is pursuing her MFA with a specialization in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on performing arts and sustainability. Annie shared a bit about her creative practice, and her time spent at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre.

Tell us a bit about your creative practice

Prior to moving to Kelowna for grad school, I worked as an environmental educator in New York’s Adirondack State Park and managed a remote lodge in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, and my time in those environments really helped shape my creative/research interests into what I’m working on now at UBCO, which is how local interspecies interactions facilitate community knowledge mobilization and climate solutions education—and how those interactions can be represented through the theatre as a means of community engagement.

What did you do during your time at Woodhaven

I’d been to Woodhaven previously for a couple FCCS and FEELed Lab programs that were very enjoyable and relevant to my work, so I was very happy to have the opportunity to spend some more time at Woodhaven. I’d intended to spend some time getting to know Woodhaven Regional Park better. My creative process usually starts with a hike (or a hack, if I’m on horseback), and the prospect of spending time in the park was something I was very much looking forward to over the weekend. The cougar in the area had other ideas, however, so due to recent sightings and suspected cougar kittens, I went with my contingency plan instead—lots of editing!

How did this residency benefit your writing and art practice

The atmosphere of Woodhaven is wonderfully relaxing. The natural light through the windows, the gurgle of Bellevue Creek outside, the great horned owls hooting at night—it’s my favorite writing soundtrack. As a grad student, my days frequently feel quite cluttered between classes, meetings, and travel to campus. Being at Woodhaven felt like taking a deep breath of fresh air.

Tell us what you learnt about yourself or your practice while you were there

I moved to Kelowna last August from a town with a population of about 500 people. The quiet of Woodhaven made me realize how much I miss creating in non-urban environments. It feels reassuring to know that there’s a space like Woodhaven so close to campus and downtown, where you can slip out of the hustle and bustle of the city for a moment.

What did you accomplish during your time at Woodhaven

I know I said I’m a performing arts person, but with the cougar limiting my time outside, I actually ended up editing several speculative fiction/solarpunk short stories I’ve been working on lately. I’ve been dabbling more in different forms of creative writing after taking a class with Chantal Bilodeau last term on creative writing for community engagement with the climate crisis, so this was a great opportunity to continue with some of that writing.

Woodhaven Riverbed

Photo that Annie took during her time at Woodhaven of the creek bed along the pathway.

Nicola Harwood Woodhaven Residency

Nicola Harwood

Artist and writer Nicola Harwood had the opportunity to spend time in the studio apartment at the Woodhaven Eco Culture Centre, giving uninterrupted time to work on her writing and artistic practice. Harwood is an interdisciplinary artist with a background in theatre and performance, particularly collaborative creation, feminist work and community engaged practice.

Harwood, who is originally from Kelowna,  grew up close by Woodhaven on Dehart Rd. She currently teaches Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She has been invited to UBC Okanagan in the past by FCCS professors offering an artist talk in an English class with Jodey Castricano, and was a guest on Michael V. Smith’s Soundtrack series in 2021.

“I like to come to Kelowna to see family and connect with artist colleagues from UBCO. Woodhaven is so precious as the sprawl engulfs the wild in the valley,” she says.

During her time here from June 25 to July 9, she created this large drawing in the detached studio on the property, pictured below.

Harwood says that she found the art studio cabin was very inspiring, adding that the light was beautiful as was being able to sit and watch the horses when she took a break.

“Walking from the apt/studio to my work studio with a coffee and knowing I had hours of quiet in this spectacular and precious place to work. I felt instantly inspired when I arrived and found working on both my writing and visual practice very satisfying and productive.”

Nicola Harwood’s drawing in the detached studio at Woodhaven, “It is true, it is true, it is true”, soft pastel, 2022

detail, “It is true, it is true, it is true”, soft pastel, 2022

Find out more about Nicola Harwood: