a story about
the common room
Chelsey Everest Eiel is a writer and teacher originally from Portland, Maine. She moved to Philadelphia in 2013 while completing her MFA in creative nonfiction, and upon earning her degree began facilitating a trauma-informed workshop for college women at the University of Pennsylvania. The workshop has since been taught and presented at the University of Southern Maine, Bowling Green State University, Rutgers University-Camden, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where Chelsey currently teaches composition.
Following the 2016 presidential election, Chelsey felt an urgency to make the workshop more accessible to women in the community, and began searching for commercial space that could host it. By March 2017, she decided to build the space herself. Thanks to the hard work of friends and volunteers at a handful of pop-up events, as well as a microloan from the Women’s Opportunity Resource Center, Chelsey was able to raise the modest capital needed to open the space at 1509 N. Front Street in Fishtown.
The Common Room celebrated its grand opening August 1, 2017 and featured work by sixteen artists. Today, The Common Room has worked with over 150 artists and currently features fine art and handmade wares by 95+ womxn and nonbinary artists and artisans. Chelsey is currently collaborating on a children’s book series with one of her artists, as well as a book proposal that will allow college campuses across the country to replicate her writing workshop as a response system for campus sexual assault. She lives just outside the city with her husband, Tom, and their dog, Rue, while their cat Lady Magnolia holds down the fort at the gallery.