The Mineral School

posted in Happenings

The Mineral School

Mineral, Washington is a small community nestled into the foothills of Mount Rainier. Surrounded by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, it was originally a logging and mining town, but over the past 50 years the population has shrunk from a high of 4,000 to a meager 500 residents. The town retained a quirky charm, though: it’s home to the smallest post office in the country, and rumors say that this is where pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted a UFO in the 1940s. And, as of 2014, it’s home to the Mineral School—a 1947 elementary school building that has been converted into a nonprofit artist residency.

Thanks to the hard work of some fantastic volunteers, they’re running their first programs this summer, including three two-week residencies for writers of poetry and prose. During each residency, the Mineral School invites guest writers from the Pacific Northwest to visit the residency and present work on a nature-related theme.

This July, I’ll be one of the visiting lecturers! We will be presenting on the broad theme of “Next to Nature,” which works for me—after all, the Mineral School looks out at Mount Rainier, where I’ve spent a fair amount of time. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading, but I promise that it’ll be something juicy.


Here’s what they say about the residency:

We’ll be providing accepted applicants with space and time to create new work without the interruptions of normal life and with the bonus of healthy meals prepared by two culinary volunteers from Bastyr University graduate programs and a volunteer chef who helps run a nearby organic farm.

Each resident will live in an 800-square foot former classroom that offers peekaboo views of Mineral Lake and Mount Rainier, and that will double as their writing studio, with desk and chair, lighting, bookcase, etc. The main school building has bathrooms, and showers are available in the neighboring gym’s former locker rooms. Residents will be served three meals and snacks daily, and they will have the opportunity (but no duty) to share work at public readings. The town of Mineral features a swimmable fishing lake, a tavern, a B&B, a general store, two churches, and a post office. It’s a 20-minute drive to Mount Rainier National Park.

Sounds amazing, right? Applications are open until February 25th via Submittable. If you’re not eligible or interested in being a resident, you’re still welcome to attend the readings—just keep an eye here or on the Mineral School website for more details.

Header image is courtesy of Amanda Castleman.