Introducing betterArts Resident Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard

Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard is an award-winning playwright, certified yoga instructor, production manager for theatre events, and worker in the not-for-profit sector who has joined us at Better Farm for the month of August through a betterArts residency designed to give her time and space to work on a new, full-length play.

That play is, according to Sally Jane, "about an estranged family that must reunite at their family farm as the impending economic apocalypse draws near (actually being on a farm while writing about living on one will be very helpful!)." Her inspiration for the play comes from two main events: the 2008 financial collapse and its aftermath; and her own family and their family farm in Texas.

"My grandfather owned the farm for more than 60 years," Sally Jane told us, "and when he passed away he left the land to his children... unevenly. This has caused a great rift in our family, and the end result will be the total sale of the farm. So I am also fascinated by the idea of what would happen if they had to live together on the farm if that was their only means of surviving an economic meltdown."

And though she's worked among many writers in the past at summer writers' conferences, Sally Jane has this to say:  "The irony of working at a summer writers' conference is that I don't actually get any writing done. As a staff member I am 'on the clock' 24 hours a day, and most of my time is spent making sure events run smoothly... During the rest of the year, I work a full-time job at a non-profit organization, teach yoga, and stage-manage theatre productions for a young writers program. I try to write in the evenings or on weekends, but it's clearly not enough time. I have realized that I need to put my writing first, and I need a concentrated amount of time without outside distractions in order to make that happen... I want to spend time surrounded by the natural beauty and artistic energy that a betterArts residency would offer."

Now we've got her helping out in the gardens and with the chickens, cooking up jambalaya, and writing to her heart's content. Stay tuned for information on an upcoming reading from Sally Jane's play, and introductory yoga workshop taught by the writer!

For more information about betterArts' residency program, click here.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.