Workshops & Retreats


Rabkin Workshops Photo

Give yourself an enriching adventure!  Write and learn, relax and explore—inspired by beautiful landscapes and good company. I offer field workshops and retreats based in California and Oregon, ranging from a few hours to several days in length.

See a quick list of upcoming offerings in the overview below; scroll down for details. I recommend early registration, as some classes fill fast.

Click the sponsoring organizations’ links and/or contact them directly for information about fees, logistics and registration. For details about program content or for help deciding if a class is right for you, feel free to contact me.

HCWR-2016-2A note on accessibility: Physical layout of facilities varies from one venue to another. The Pt. Reyes Lifeboat Station and SF State field campus, for example, have substantial staircases; others present fewer vertical challenges. If you have mobility issues, please communicate with the sponsoring organizations and with me to get a clear picture of whether the venue in question will be accessible and comfortable given your physical needs. We want to avoid unpleasant surprises, and we also want to make it possible for you to participate fully in your chosen program if at all possible.

Overview by Date

March 2-4, 2018: with Christian McEwen: Listening Out: Exploring the Nature of Place at the Mesa Refuge (Point Reyes Station, CA)

May 18-20, 2018Awakening the Vineyard Muse: A Weekend of Writing, Sketching, and Wine!  (Condor’s Hope Ranch vineyard & olive orchard, Cuyama, CA)

August 5-10, 2018High Country Writing Retreat (San Francisco State University Sierra Nevada Field Campus, North Yuba River, Sierra County, CA)


March 2-4, 2018

Listening Out: Exploring the Nature of Place in Point Reyes Station

co-taught with Christian McEwen

mesa1To request registration info, email

Join us for a gentle transformative weekend at the Mesa Refuge, with a focus on listening and creativity. Christian and Sarah are both experienced writer-teachers with a passionate interest in the natural world. We will introduce a series of short writing, drawing and contemplative practices, making sure to allow plenty of time for solitude, as well as for reading, sharing and discussion. This retreat is especially suitable for writers and artists, at any level of expertise, but everyone is welcome. Expect to emerge with a renewed understanding of your own true nature, as well as the nature that surrounds and sustains us all.

The retreat will begin with an introductory session, including a light meal, from 6:00pm to 8:30pm on Friday evening. We will reconvene from 10:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday and from 10:00am to 3:00pm on Sunday.

Comments from 2017 participants:

“I loved the place, the space, the group interactions, the time spent writing in balance with time spent sharing. Most of all I loved the spirit, wisdom and generosity of Christian and Sarah.”

“The two of you work together beautifully, and I appreciate your warmth, the sense of welcome & receptivity, and all the resources you so thoughtfully shared.”

“The workshop put me in touch with the love that can be generated in community… It put me in touch again with my writing self. It put me in touch with the wind again. Just those three things alone made the weekend such a valuable experience.”

The $315 fee includes supper on Friday evening; participants bring lunches on Saturday and Sunday. Registration, limited to 13 participants, is on a first-come, first-served basis, with full payment by check required to hold your place at the time of registration. For cancellations requested no later than two weeks in advance, the fee is refundable, minus a $25 administrative charge.

Suggestions about local lodging options are available for participants traveling from beyond commuting range.

For more information and/or to register, please contact Sarah Rabkin via email ( or at 831-475-7548.


mcewan-300x225Christian McEwen is a Mesa Refuge alum, a British writer and workshop leader, currently based in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. She has edited four anthologies, including Jo’s Girls: Tomboy Tales of High Adventure, and has written for the Nation and The Village Voice. Her book World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down is fundamental to the theme of our retreat.

rabkinSarah Rabkin is the author and illustrator of What I Learned at Bug Camp: Essays on Finding a Home in the World. A teacher of composition and environmental and science writing at UC Santa Cruz, she also leads workshops and retreats for the Point Reyes Field Institute and other outdoor education organizations. Sarah grew up in Berkeley and currently lives near the shore of Monterey Bay with her husband, poet Charles Atkinson.


May 18-20, 2018 (Friday lunch through Sunday brunch)

Awakening the Vineyard Muse:  a weekend of writing, sketching, and wine!

Condor’s Hope Ranch vineyard & olive orchard, Cuyama, CA

For more info and to register:

Cultivate an intimate connection with the land through a series of gently guided practices to enhance your powers of attentiveness and appreciation. The weekend includes camping or rustic lodging, catered meals, tours, walks, relaxing and wine tasting at a solar-powered, off-the-grid vineyard, where five acres of dry-farmed grapes and olives are grown and harvested in harmony with the natural surroundings. Grapevines are head pruned in the traditional Mediterranean style; rows of olive trees are interspersed among the vines. The climate is similar to those where vineyards and olive orchards were first planted centuries ago.

For people at all levels of writing and drawing experience, from absolute beginners to longtime practitioners. 

Condor’s Hope Vineyard nestles among blue oaks and chaparral at the foot of the Sierra Madre, in the Cuyama Valley of northern Santa Barbara County, adjacent to Los Padres National Forest. Oaks, manzanita, juniper, deer, coyotes, bobcats, and rabbits live on an average rainfall of 15 inches per year. Condors have been released in this region to soar again after returning from the brink of extinction.



August 5-10, 2018

High Country Writing Retreat

San Francisco State University Sierra Nevada Field Campus, North Yuba River, CA

HighCountryWritingThis is a great opportunity for both new and experienced writers to take inspiration from the spiced air and rushing waters of the northern Sierra. Group sessions provide a stimulating setting for writing and sharing work without judgment, while unstructured periods allow plenty of time for individual writing, recreation, and optional one-on-one conferences. Prompts and exercises are conducive to poetry and/or prose. Bring a writing project in progress, an empty notebook ready to be filled, or both. For more information and to register, go to the SFSU Sierra Field Campus website