Story

In 2006, PLAYA founders Julie Bryant and Bill Roach purchased the Summer Lake Inn, a bed & breakfast establishment, from its previous owner. After extensive construction and reconstruction of the buildings and grounds, PLAYA hosted its first residents in 2011.

Julie Bryant, Co-Founder, Summer Lake, OR
Julie and her husband Bill founded PLAYA in 2009. Former Board President, she continues to serve on the Finance Committee of the Board. Julie’s background includes a degree in Geology and a J.D. from Stanford University.  Julie’s work experience has been largely volunteer, focused on social, environmental and economic justice and progressive philanthropy.  She has also worked as a consultant to environmental engineering firms.  Her greatest joys are hiking through remote back country, working on the land, and spending time with her two daughters, Meg and Lindsay.

William Roach, Co-Founder, Summer Lake, OR
Over the past 40 years, Bill, an architect/designer, has been involved in all phases of designing and constructing mixed­ use developments, primarily in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. He enjoys collaborating with the many talented crafts people in the design and building trades. Bill worked on a prefabricated home project, the first prototype now housing the Executive Director on the PLAYA campus. As co­-founder of PLAYA , former Board Secretary and dedicated supporter of PLAYA, Bill is torn between his attachment to the desert and paddling his kayak on the coast of British Columbia. 

Since its founding, PLAYA has provided residencies to hundreds of artists and scientists. The 75–acre property includes six fully equipped and spacious cabins, two fully equipped live/work studios, three studio/research spaces (including one shared living quarters), a large open shed/studio, and outdoor field research areas. Access to most facilities is barrier-free.The Commons, a central gathering building, has a communal kitchen, dining room, fireplace room, an outdoor terrace, and two adjacent spaces for presentations, projects, or dance. The Commons also houses PLAYA’s office and laundry facilities. As the central gathering space, the Commons offers limited Internet, a landline telephone, a developing library, communal recreation area, and space for food preparation and dining.

Located at the northwestern edge of the Great Basin in south-central Oregon, PLAYA sits at the base of Winter Ridge, which rises to 7,200 feet. PLAYA’s campus, at an elevation of 4,200 feet, borders Summer Lake to the west and includes a large pond, wetlands, grass fields, and walking paths. Summer Lake is 20 miles long and five miles wide and is defined as a playa, which is a seasonal desert lake, shallow in the winter and spring, and dry in the summer and fall. Weather varies with wind, snow, rain, and sun.

At the north end of Summer Lake, the state-owned Summer Lake Wildlife Refuge is one of the finest desert wetlands in Oregon. It is a destination for birds and birders year-round. The surrounding semi-arid terrain has diverse wildlife and a varied geology. Fifteen-thousand years of human use of the Summer Lake basin has left a rich record of human habitation.

Lake County, with a population of about 8,000 and over 8,000 square miles, is Oregon’s only county without a stoplight. Ranching, outdoor recreation, government land management, and a developing alternative energy industry provide the region’s economic base.

PLAYA, rural and remote from many services, is located on Highway 31, two hours southeast of Bend, Oregon, one hour north of Lakeview and five hours northwest of Reno, Nevada. The nearest commercial airport is in Redmond, 17 miles north of Bend.