Hannon starts new chapter at Writers' Colony
By Samantha Jones
The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow has a new leader.
Michelle Hannon has been working as executive director of the Writers' Colony for a little more than a month now, but she's lived in Eureka Springs since last fall. Hannon recalled what brought her to Eureka Springs, saying she lived for 14 years in Saranac Lake, N.Y., where she worked as director of development and communications for a bourgeoning nonprofit community art center.
"I loved it. It was a small town. We thought it was quirky until we moved to Eureka," Hannon laughed. "It was also very, very cold. I just couldn't take the winters anymore."
So she and her husband moved to Florida knowing they wouldn't stay there very long.
"We went there to thaw out for a bit," Hannon said. "We had places on our list we wanted to visit, and Eureka Springs was the second one."
The first time they came to Eureka Springs, Hannon said, was Nov. 30, 2018. They attended the Christmas Parade of Lights, she said, and knew Eureka Springs would become their new home.
"There's just something about this place. We knew right away," Hannon said.
On the way back from the parade, she said, they saw a "For Rent" sign and called the landlord. The landlord was nearby, showed them the apartment and they signed the lease on Dec. 2.
"That's just one of a long, long list of serendipitous things that have happened to us since we moved here," Hannon said, "one of them being this job, which is kind of my dream job."
The Writers' Colony shares much in common with the arts center she worked at in New York, Hannon said.
"It's the written arts instead of multi-arts, but I'm such an avid reader," she said, "and I'm absolutely enamored with the whole creative process."
Since she started working at the Writers' Colony, Hannon said, she has felt supported in every way.
"The new president of the board –– she's amazing," Hannon said. "So I'm continuing this run I have working for really wonderful women. It's just perfect."
Her husband has found a job he loves, Hannon said, and she enjoys volunteering at Flint Street Fellowship.
"That's something that's really important to me, to be part of the community I'm living in," Hannon said. "I come back from volunteering and I'm in such a good mood, because the people I work with are so amazing. It lifts you up. It's a great situation."
What's it been like working at the Writers' Colony so far?
"I'm really, really excited and a little overwhelmed," Hannon said. "But every day gets better. I have a long list of things I want to accomplish in this position. I really see this as a gem. I see so much potential. I want to see it grow."
In 2020, the Writers' Colony will celebrate 20 years of serving writers all over the country.
"It's a big milestone for us," Hannon said.
To celebrate the milestone, she said, the Writers' Colony is working to improve its services and offer more to those who stay there and the Eureka Springs community. There's an ongoing capital campaign, Hannon said, and several of the suites have been upgraded with plans to upgrade all of them.
"We've already got three of them sponsored out of the eight suites," Hannon said. "It's so much fun to watch."
Hannon described how the Writers' Colony works, saying the fellowships are funded retreats. The person who funds the retreat can select what type of writers they'd like to support, Hannon said.
"They can choose to help us select the candidate," Hannon said. "There's just so many types of fellowships you could sponsor. It's a great way, if you have the money, to really fund something you're passionate about."
All kinds of writers come to the Writers' Colony, Hannon said, including mystery writers, romance writers, LGBT writers, culinary writers and veterans.
"We have another one that's been funded we're going to be announcing soon on mental health," Hannon said. "There's just so many different opportunities."
She continued, "We're hoping because next year is a big milestone year to really work to build those up. When the fellowship recipients come and stay with us, they are required to do some community outreach. We're going to start meet and greets … to give the community a chance to meet all our fellowship winners."
The fellowship recipients will also be contributing to the online literary magazine eMerge.
"I've been so impressed with the magazine," Hannon said. "I just think it's so cool and it's just getting better, improving and growing. It's going to be fun to watch and see what it can become."
Hannon advised the community to stay tuned for happenings at the Writers' Colony.
"We're going to have a full year of events. One of my goals is to improve community outreach," Hannon said. "We'd love to partner with nonprofits and businesses. I'm open to suggestions. If you have an idea, I want to hear it."
For more information on the Writers' Colony, visit https://www.writerscolony.org/ or call 479-253-7444.