Northwest Writing Institute (NWI)

The Northwest Writing Institute (NWI) was founded in 1986 as a college-wide initiative at Lewis & Clark to bring focus to academic activities related to writing. 

From 1986 to 2023, NWI writing classes were offered to students, teachers, counselors, parents, veterans, and all community members interested in the power of stories as a means to understand and practice human connections for the good of all.

NWI is currently not offering classes. 

Kim Stafford’s aphorisms on the benefits of daily writing …

History of the Northwest Writing Institute


The NWI is founded at Lewis & Clark as a college-wide initiative to bring focus to academic activities related to writing. Early programs include the College of Arts and Sciences Writing Center; the Legal Writing Program at the Law School; and the Oregon Writing Project (founded in 1984).


The NWI helps to launch the Fishtrap Writers Gathering in Wallowa County (, writing classes at the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology (, and other local and regional projects. On campus, the NWI launches the “Fir Acres Summer Seminar” for high school students, in association with Bard College in New York.


With help from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission, the NWI establishes the Oregon Folk Arts Program—a program  supporting folk and traditional arts, and artists. This program now resides at the University of Oregon.

Early 1990s to 2000’s 

The NWI becomes part of Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education & Counseling, in an effort to focus on offering writing opportunities to educators, community writers, and current students.

The NWI offers courses for Forest Service and other government agencies (“Writing Wild”); sends writers to rural public libraries (“Writing about Home,” sponsored by the Oregon State Library); convenes seven “William Stafford Symposia” (with help from the Lamb Foundation); creates the Walden Residency in Southern Oregon; and works with PEN International to offer “Writers in Danger,” a project to advocate for imprisoned writers; and other projects. 


The NWI administers the William Stafford Center, which culminates in the donation of the William Stafford Archives, a collection of his private papers, publications, photographs, recordings and teaching materials, to Watzek Library at Lewis & Clark by the Stafford family.


The NWI launches the Documentary Studies Certificate program to offer graduate students and community writers an opportunity to work with radio, film, writing, digital storytelling, and other media.


Housed in the Graduate School’s Center for Community Engagement, the NWI continues to offer writing courses and opportunities for students, writers, readers, and cultural citizens of all kinds to tell their stories in thoughtful and evocative words. 

Kim Stafford is the Northwest Writing Institute’s ‘Writer in Residence’

Questions? Contact the Center for Community Engagement at 503-768-6040 or