Reflecting Pool link

Project Lulu's History

Project Lulu began when Minnesota artist and writer Lisa McKhann called on her childhood nickname, Lulabelle, as a touchstone for creative latitude. For 15 years, she worked under the auspices of Project Lulu, moving between media, through venues, and among collaborators.

In 2008, McKhann, age 45, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After the ‘hoopla’ of treatment, as predicted, she experienced the anxiety of waiting and worry. She began to envision a safe place to write and read among others in the same boat. She wanted to hear more and say more about the subjective side of this diagnosis.

With an arts grant from the Minnesota Legacy funds, McKhann designed and piloted an online reflective writing session with nine breast cancer survivors. She called it JOMMA: Journal of My Medical Associations, to highlight the patient's side of the healthcare story. In 2010 she attended a Narrative Medicine workshop at Columbia University, which further affirmed the direction of her work.

In 2010, a beloved, just-retired oncologist in Duluth pointed McKhann to the Caring Ways Cancer Resource Center, where director Colleen Baggs saw the potential for helping patients. Together with senior research scientist Dr. Charles Gessert, and biostatistician Brian Johnson, they conducted a two-year study using Project Lulu’s reflective writing groups with 100 breast cancer survivors.

In 2012, Project Lulu established its board of directors and was incorporated as a non-profit in Minnesota. In 2013, we received tax exempt status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3).

Along the way we have:

  • partnered for a study with Essentia Institute of Rural Health
  • brought Reflecting Pools to medical rehabilitation patients and families
  • led a writing & movement workshop at California State University Channel Islands
  • performed a staged reading at the Examined Life conference at University of Iowa
  • presented at the Minnesota Cancer Alliance annual conference
  • published in the July 2013 issue of Minnesota Medicine
  • introduced Arts Express workshops featuring Elizabeth Kuth and Sheila Packa

    Explore our current activities through the website!


  • Click above to view 6-min. interview with director Lisa McKhann on WDSE-TV's PlayList. Hear origins of Project Lulu and view clips from Sounding Duluth and more. Aired 2/19/2015.

    Get a participant's view of Lisa McKhann leading a mass-movement piece, "Scissors, Paper, Rock" at Tweed Museum of Art, 2003. Be prepared to laugh and be touched by the bodies in motion.