Million Miles Away: Alderdice & Childs, Rhythm + Writing Workshop, 7/7 – 7/8

Million Miles Away: Alderdice & Childs, Rhythm + Writing Workshop, 7/7 – 7/8

Million Miles Away is a place on the outskirts of Norwood CO to create, think, reset. The inaugural workshop, Rhythm & Writing with percussionist David Alderdice and writer Craig Childs, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 7 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) & 8 ( 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.). Interested in attending? The cost for the intensive is $265 and includes a catered lunch. Lodging is available in Norwood. There is a fabulous camping near the rim of Naturita Creek up on Thunder Road or stay with friends that call the West End of the county home. Registration requests to or by Message on MMA’s Facebook page.




The pace of the story, the change of episodes, the sudden action, the pregnant pause; these are beats of the story, the beats that soothe the crying baby or wake it straight up.

Percussionist David Alderdice and author Craig Childs are your instructors at the very first Million Miles Away intensive, teaching as a duet about how to create and find your own rhythm in story, poem, or essay.

Students will bounce back and forth between musicality and the craft of writing.

With Alderice, attendees will explore solkattu, traditional rhythmic vocalizations from southern India, along with frame drums, and a selection of exotic instruments. Stepping and clapping patterns will embody the rhythm inside you, and it can come out in whatever you do, be it drumming, driving, walking, or writing.

With Childs, you will turn rhythm into words and story. He will take you through writing prompts using beats, punctuation, pace, and flow.

The two-day workshop is open to musicians, writers, poets, journalists – really anyone who puts one foot in front of the other. And it takes place in a beautiful environment at the edge of a canyon that looks from Colorado into southern Utah. Weather permitting, the work will be done both inside and out. Bring pencil or pen and paper, or computer if you must.

You will write and you will play.

You will leave with percussive stories in your hands.

Million Miles Away, an introduction (by co-founder Daiva Chesonis):



What’s with the name Million Miles Away (Retreats and Residencies)?

When I first visited—invited for a cocktail and a sunset—I said I felt like I was a million miles away. It’s scruffy high Colorado desert with Utah on the western horizon. Thirty-five sloping acres mostly manicured by nature; not a lawnmower in sight. It’s a neat thing when you can feel so removed from the hubbub and yet ice cream is a mere four minutes away. Million Miles Away pretty much stuck and now even our kids call it MMA.

What do we plan to do at MMA?

Basically, workshops with a view. Workshops for writing, but so much more. By pairing a writer—not always Craig—with a second instructor coming from completely different expertise, we’ve taken to calling this 2-instructor model Writing+. The combinations will include astronomers, magicians, photographers, bakers, hypnotists, archeologists, and the like. Endless possibilities. The duo, riffing off each other, would also be required to work each other’s prompts, stepping into the student role and sharing with the group what they came up with.

How did the idea to do this come about?

Aside from Craig’s long history as a writing instructor, the location is set up for it. The previous owner was an artist so there’s a detached studio space plus plenty of nooks and crannies to inhabit with small groups and create. Having been friends with the previous owners, they often spoke about wanting this property to become some kind of artistic retreat center, bringing folks to Norwood to experience that small town, big sky feel. I even spent a few late nights out here with them coming up with solid budgets and wild curriculum. And as an adjunct professor for two low-residency MFA programs—at Southern New Hampshire University and University of Alaska Anchorage—Craig’s thrilled to offer and have that great experience without getting on a plane.

Why a musician for the inaugural workshop?

Featuring music and rhythm for the first workshop was a natural choice. Craig very often brings in musicians of all ages, all styles, for his presentations. In the past, that’s included cameos by local teens on violin, marimba, or tuba. Himself having been a professional trombone player in a past life, music and the discipline it requires has always been a draw. Even though it was a meager living, he recalls those days fondly.

“I believe place has a lot to do with creativity. The location for this workshop looks out on the horizon I see where I do most of my writing. The shifting quality of light, how far you can see, and the shape of the structure around you inform the words and stories you assemble. For me, this is the perfect space. I believe the company has just as much influence, which is why I’m teaching with David. He and I have worked together for a decade on collaborative stage performances with rhythm and spoken word. He’s a magician on percussion and knows how to tell a story with beat the same way I do with sentences. For students, this will be an opportunity to learn and practice rhythm from different perspectives, which will help drive it home on the page. Coincidentally, David’s website is called Embodying Rhythm,” said Childs.

Why does Childs like teaching the craft of writing?

“Teaching is another way of telling the story. Writing in itself is a story. The way words and ideas come together, the framework of narrative, is it’s own narrative. When I think of teaching, it is another form of assembly, a creative process that gets down to the core of why I do it. Which is to convey creatively, beautifully.”

Future dreams for MMA?

A steady schedule of writing + workshops for six months of the year would be an amazing next chapter for both of us. Craig will still write books and I’d get to dream up phenomenal pairings for two-day or week-longs and then make them a reality, offering slow-paced/high creativity experiences on the edge of a canyon.

Way off in the distance is fixing up some of the weathered outpost-type buildings and turning them into small artist residencies for rent, temporary homes for those finishing a manuscript or buffing out an art project.

And then there’s the possibility of building a bunkhouse so that we can lodge 12 participants, giving them an around-the-clock immersion, complete with cocktails and sunsets …

More about the instructors:

DAVID ALDERDICE is a multi-faceted percussionist, musician, educator, recording artist, performer, sound accompanist, speaker, composer, arranger, ethnomusicologist, musical coach, and enthusiastic rhythmist. He is the founder and main teacher for Embodying Rhythm in Hotchkiss, Colorado, which offers many different types of musical and educational opportunities and performance adventures. David gives inspirational talks on living a musical life and delivered a TEDx Talk entitled “Rhythm and Shifting our Perceptions” in February of 2016. David is also the artistic director of the World Music Concert Series at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia, Colorado. Alderdice has had the honor of studying privately with many great teachers including Ed Soph, Glen Velez, Layne Redmond, and Jon Seligman. (

CRAIG CHILDS is known for following ancient migration routes on foot, pursuing early Pueblo passages across the Southwest and most recently the paths of first peoples into the Americas during the Ice Age. He has published more than a dozen books of adventure, wilderness, and science. His new book, “Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America,” examines the dynamics of people moving into an uninhabited hemisphere in the late Pleistocene, documenting arrivals from Alaska to Florida to southern Chile. He has won the Orion Book Award and has twice won the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, the Galen Rowell Art of Adventure Award, and the Spirit of the West Award for his body of work. He is contributing editor at Adventure Journal Quarterly, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, and Outside. He has a B.A. in Journalism from CU Boulder with a minor in Women’s Studies, and from Prescott College, an M.A. in Desert Studies. An occasional commentator for NPR s Morning Edition, he teaches writing at University of Alaska in Anchorage and the Mountainview MFA at Southern New Hampshire University. Childs is an Arizona native, and he grew up back and forth between there and Colorado, son of a mother hooked on outdoor adventure, and a dad who liked whiskey, guns, and Thoreau. He has worked as a gas station attendant, wilderness guide, professional musician, and a beer bottler, though now he is primarily a father and a writer. He lives off the grid in Western Colorado.(

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