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  • Irma Herrera

Refugio @ Mesa Refuge

Updated: Dec 13, 2022


@Mesa Refuge with Rita Cameron Wedding and Clayton Aldern, photo by Kamala Tully

I am writing this at Mesa Refuge in Point Reyes Station in Northern California, where I am spending two weeks at a beautiful writer’s retreat center with two other writers. Each of us is provided a bedroom with private bath and a dedicated writing space. Since its founding in 1992, Mesa Refuge has hosted over 1000 writers focusing on “ideas at the edge.” People writing about nature, economic equity, and social justice. I am honored to have been selected for this two-week residency. Mesa Refuge alumni include Heather McGhee, Michael Pollan, Krista Tippett, Natalie Goldberg, Raj Patel, Daniel Ellsberg, Rebecca Solnit, Van Jones, and many other writers whose work I love and value. Click here for more info about Mesa Refuge and to see photos of this beautiful place.


My fellow writers in residence are Rita Cameron Wedding and Clayton Aldern. Rita is an internationally recognized speaker and scholar on implicit bias, and a professor of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies at Sacramento State University, where she was Chair of the Women’s Studies Department for over two decades. Learn more on Rita's website. Clayton is a writer and data scientist interested in science and society and is currently working on a book about the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on neurochemistry, behavior, decision-making, and mental and emotional health. More about Clayton here. Although our days are spent in our separate writing spaces, we prepare and share nice meals and have interesting conversations in the evening.


Two quiet weeks are a fitting end to this year, as September, October, and November were especially busy. Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? was back on stage at The Marsh Theater in Berkeley for five weeks, and well received by audiences. Thanks to all of you who attended and brought your friends, or told others about my play. I presented my show on zoom for a variety of organizations ranging from employees of the State Bar of California to folks attending the annual conference of Healing Beyond Borders.




And in early October I participated in a fundraiser for a wonderful organization, Courageous Girls, in a program titled Mt. Everest Diaries. I interviewed author and Everest Summiteer Silvia Vasquez-Lavado about her memoir, In the Shadow of the Mountain, which is being made into a movie with Selena Gomez portraying her. I highly recommend the book. The evening featured various comedians including another Everest Summiteer and co-founder of Courageous Girls, Shailee Basnet. A good time was had by all at San Francisco's Sydney Goldstein Theater.



I also took two quick trips in the middle of all this. The day after my show opened in Berkeley, I flew to Nashville. My one-woman show is part of a three-show Perspectives Series and I was eager to see the opening show and the space at where I will be performing at Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC). So glad I went, as I got to meet TPAC folks and several leaders in Nashville’s Latino community. My Nashville shows are February 10-12. Tickets now available here. Know anyone in Nashville? Please let them know.


Two days after my last show at the Berkeley Marsh Theater, I headed to Austin where I performed live for Ascender, the annual conference for Catch the Next, Inc, celebrating its 10th Anniversary. The mission of this Texas-based organization is to “empower faculty, staff, and institutions to increase the educational attainment of Latinos and other underserved communities in order to close the achievement gap.” I love performing for groups promoting educational opportunity.



Back in the Bay Area, I was invited to present at Santa Clara Law School, Golden Gate University Graduate School, the East Bay Community Foundation, and Meta. These months were as demanding as they were rewarding. I am grateful to all the folks who suggest me as a speaker to their organizations, non-profits, colleges and universitites and coporations.


And on November 1st, I headed to Tokyo for a 17-day trip visiting Japan with friends, that had been postponed because of COVID and Japan’s very strict travel bans. Japan is beautiful and the fall colors were spectacular.


I welcomed December at Mesa Refuge and as I ease into this year's end, I get to reflect on what I’ve done, and turn my attention to writing new stories in a place that is providing me refuge from the busyness of my life. I am grateful for this and so much more.


I didn’t get to know my maternal grandmother who died shortly after I was born. Her name was Refugia.


View from my deck on rainy morning @Mesa Refuge


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