WHAT WE DO
PLAYA offers residencies of space, solitude, and community in Summer Lake, Oregon. Artists and scientists from all over the world apply through a blind-juried application process for two- to three-week stays in private cabins in an oasis setting on an ephemeral lakebed, or playa. Those accepted through the competitive process reside free of charge, enjoy communal meals provided by PLAYA twice weekly, converse or remain private as suits their work needs, and explore the surrounding high desert when desired.
PLAYA takes pride in creating a growing community dedicated to collaborating in arts and sciences to advance systems thinking and the problem-solving necessary to bring about positive change in our environment and world. During their stays, residents are inspired to tackle today’s toughest environmental issues—issues such as climate change and water scarcity—and challenging social issues, including diversity and equality. We strive to elevate each resident’s work, knowing that it is critical to our planet’s survivability. We continue to support art and science, especially in times when their value is questioned.
PLAYA nurtures innovative thinking in the arts and sciences through its residency program on the edge of the Great Basin, to promote dialogue and positive change in the environment and the world.
We will transform the world through creative inquiry by providing a model residency program that encourages investigation, immersion, and exploration in the arts and sciences.
We strive to be a role model for the larger community. To that end, we are updating our processes to reflect an organization that at each turn lives and communicates with fairness, sensitivity, and inclusivity. We are also updating our facility to live lightly on the land and its resources.
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.