I had no use for a house; I already had one, on the adjacent Cooper farm. But I saw at once that the two hundred plus acres around this farmhouse, fairly flat and wide open—they had once been corn fields—and the proximity of the throughway would mean this farm would be developed.
It seems odd to call it “development” when what is really meant is destruction: destruction of land, trees, water and air for more of the malls and subdivisions that already cover hundreds of acres east of Louisville.
I couldn’t bear the thought of giant earth-moving machinery scraping and tearing and roaring over those fields. I couldn’t bear the prospect of more houses, more stores, more roads, more middle-class white people fleeing the city with its mixed population. And so I bought the house and its acres although I couldn’t really afford it. This happened before the sale of my father’s companies, allowing me to fund the Kentucky Foundation for Women, which has run the house as a retreat for women writers who are feminists (or some version of the same) for almost three decades.
The residencies are free. Those chosen must have transportation and bring food to cook together in the big country kitchen, one of the ways women bond. The farm is available for walking, the views from all the windows inspire day-dreaming. Laundry and housecleaning is taken care of—a rare luxury for most women—and our manager lives in a cottage next door to provide any help that might be needed. The aim is simple, and sublime: to give women space and time to write, space and time to connect and support each other across the lines of race and class that so often separate us.
I named it Hopscotch House because I want the women there to have fun.
[For much more about Hopscotch House, and the retreats and residencies offered there, visit the KFW Hopscotch House page.
For more on the founding of the Kentucky Foundation For Women, please read my post Birth: The Kentucky Foundation for Women.
More of Nicci Mecheler’s photos of Hopscotch House are available on her Flickr page.]