Ridgelines Language Arts_art by Alyssa R

Founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2017, Ridgelines teaches and celebrates language arts that lift up under-heard voices in the ridges and valleys of central Pennsylvania. Through programs, events, publications, and podcasts, we empower new language artists and ensure that our region’s language arts run strong with many voices, experiences, and imaginations. Our work is four-fold:

community members write poetry together through Ridgelines Language Arts

We provide expert language arts instruction to those who are impacted by stigma and injustice in our region. We teach language arts—from poetry and creative writing to songwriting, civic writing and speaking, and storytelling—in settings outside of academic institutions. Our programs take place (or will take place!) in low-income nursing homes, prisons, youth shelters, immigrant and refugee communities, LGBTQA centers, veteran’s centers, and more.

nursing home residents write poetry in central PA

We create ways for our program participants to share their work through readings, performances, and other community events. We also occasionally host open writing workshops and fundraiser readings to benefit our core programs, and we partner with other organizations in our region to create informal ways for people from all walks of life to enjoy diverse language arts. 

poetry by low-income older adults in central PA

We design and publish broadsides, chapbooks, and zines that feature the work of our program participants. We share our publications through local libraries, coffee shops, community centers, living rooms, stores, museums, and other gathering spaces.

poetry recording booth for national poetry month in central PA

We bring the stories, poems, songs, and voices of our program participants to the central PA listening region and beyond through our podcast series, Use Your Words!

"As they become known and accepted to ourselves, our feelings, and the honest exploration of them, become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas, the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action." 

--Audre Lorde, "Poetry is Not a Luxury"


Writing History

A Roots & Blooms poetry workshop with Shara McCallum

in honor of Black History and Women's History Months

Saturday, February 5th 2022 ~ 10am-12 noon

The Makery, State College

123 S. Fraser St. on MLK Plaza

State College, PA 16801

more information and register here!



poetry by older adults in central Pennsylvania

Read the latest poems and stories from Being Heard


This latest Being Heard booklet celebrates stories and poems written through 2020 Window Visits, designed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Centre Crest nursing home participants used cell phones to read, write, and revise poems with their teaching artist through a ground floor window.

To order your copy, please email us at RidgelinesLanguageArts@gmail.com

Booklets are free this year for Ridgelines donors; if you're not already a donor, you can easily become one by making a donation of any amount!

Julie Swarstad Johnson-CCYC-2_square.jpg

Ridgelines is honored to have received the PA 2020 Library of Congress State Literacy Award!

The Library of Congress State Literacy Awards Program is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.

Library of Congress Award 2020_StateDigi