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We Make Penland, on Giving Day and Everyday!

WOWOWOW! We did it, friends!

What a day! On Tuesday, October 19th, the Penland community came out of the woodwork to show their love and commitment to helping people live creative lives. On Penland’s fifth-annual “Giving Day,” the goal was to reach 350 gifts of any size in 24 hours and to engage with our community near and far on social media, using the hashtag #WeMakePenland. We asked our Penland family to share their stories and to tell us what the school means to them.

The day was a whirlwind of heartfelt posts and grassroots giving. Around midday, we received some exciting and surprising news: an anonymous donor would make a gift of $20,000 if we met our goal or 350 donors by midnight. And we did, with your help. By the end of the day, we had blown our goal out of the water, generating a total of 478 individual gifts for Penland! All of these gifts added up to $51,286 was raised. With the challenge grant, we reached a grand total of $71,298 for Penland! We are so honored by each and every gift. Small gifts and those from new donors carried the day and helped us reach our goal! 38% of Giving Day donors gave under $25 and 25% of Giving Day donors were first-time donors to Penland.

These funds will support scholarships, community outreach, and Penland’s mission to help people live creative lives!

Penland Stories

On Giving Day, you gave the gift of your stories! So many of you took the time to reflect on your experiences here, sharing them with us and with your personal networks. We heard from past and present students, teachers, staff members, board members, and community members. By early evening, our printers were running constantly, printing out more than 70 thoughtful posts and stories, which we hung up at the Northlight building for everyone on campus to view. By midnight, there were many more!

The outpouring of support shown by the Penland community reminds us that we are doing important work here. Here are a few of the wonderful posts from the day:

Creating Families

Many of you met your spouse at Penland! We love love love catching up with you, seeing how your love and your families have grown over the years, or hearing about the start of your journey together. Highlights from this year included two beloved staff members who took the occasion to make their pregnancy announcement and a former instructor who met her spouse in 1989 while teaching in the Penland Textiles Studio! 

Courtney Dodd annd Nick Fruin are pregat!
Courtney Dodd and Nick Fruin are pregat!


Families start at Penland!
David and Michelle met at Penland in 1989!
Creating Community

Many of you shared how being immersed in the Penland community has touched your lives and art practices. We heard from those who are on campus right now as students, staff, and resident artists, as well as those who have experienced the magic of Penland in years past. Folks on campus expressed themselves in a photo booth at The Pines during lunchtime!

Creating the Future

It is an honor that artists, teachers, and friends will lend their voices to advocate for our school, and we are truly touched by your messages. What we heard, again and again, is this: You support Penland because you believe others should have access to the transformative experiences you have enjoyed here. This year, there is no one who captured this sentiment better than our friend and neighbor, Joe Lee:

“One cannot ever truly answer “what if” questions about how one’s life would be different if events had played out differently. However, we can recognize events that significantly influenced our lives. For me, my experiences at Penland were life changing in the most literal sense. The school is one of only a handful of places where the traditions and frontiers of craft media are actively explored and expanded, and being immersed in an environment where one is surrounded by others with similar pursuits primes them to make unique breakthroughs in their creative practice.

My hope is for as many people to be able to access the same life changing experiences that I had, and continue to have. In these times where we are increasingly outsourcing much of our lives, making something with one’s hands for one’s self is increasingly rare; but the experience of doing so is like nothing else I have encountered. It is so affirming that I wish for everyone to be able to experience it, especially those who, like me, have felt or been told that these fields and these experiences are not for them.

We need more people of all backgrounds to weave, mold, shape, and forge, the chain of craftsmanship. We need to repair the links that have been broken and to continue to build upon the foundations that have been laid by every generation that came before us. Humans are makers, and to deny it to any of us is to deprive us all of something that is at the very core of our beings. So go check ‘em out. See if there are any classes you might be interested in taking and if you can, help them keep the place going.”

With those inspiring words, we thank you humbly for being a part of Penland’s past, present, and future. Together, and with the support of each and every one of us, we are Penland, working to make immersive craft workshops more enriching and accessible. THANK YOU, FRIENDS!

Your posts, hung at Northlight!