Bicentennial Read Photos and Coverage

Enjoy reading about and seeing pictures from some of the wonderful Thoreau Bicentennial Statewide Read events hosted across the Commonwealth in 2017!

Lincoln Public Library, January 26, 2017

Walden Woods Project’s Curator of Collections Jeffrey Cramer talked about “Civil Disobedience,” followed with a presentation by Jason and Jessica Packineau about their work with the Standing Rock water protectors.

Read an article about this event in the Lincoln Journal here.



Porter Memorial Library, Blandford, Throughout 2017

The Porter Memorial Library’s patrons read and discussed Walden on February 28th.  It was such a success that they requested another reading in March where they discussed “Civil Disobedience”. The library also held a Simplify! Simplify! challenge to declutter, donate, and recycle items throughout April. They read “The Bean-Field”, hosted a bean themed pot-luck dinner, and planted beans in the library garden.


Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, April-May 2017

Pembroke Public Library’s patrons of all ages read and learned about Thoreau. The youngest were read Henry Builds a Cabin by D.B. Johnson and then built their own cabins (pictured). Teens crafted beeswax candles and played trivia. And adults learned about Thoreau from John Kucich in his talk “From Walden Pond to Cape Cod”. The cooking book club, adult craft night, and movie night also highlighted Thoreau through Cape Cod themes.






Dennis Public Library, Dennis, Throughout 2017

The Dennis Public Library is celebrating Thoreau throughout 2017. April kicked off their celebrations with a program about Cape Cod (pictured). The celebrations continue through September.






Shrewsbury Public Library, Shrewsbury, June 2017

The Shrewsbury Public Library hosted 5 events to celebrate the life and legacy of Henry David Thoreau.  Dave Friedgen introduced patrons to Thoreau’s transcendentalism. Then Professor Robert Gross, Professor emeritus, talked about the relation between what Thoreau says in Walden and what he experiences growing up and coming of age in Concord. Richard Smith, a historical actor, portrayed Thoreau and read from “Walking”. Thoreau-inspired music was performed by Andrew Celentano, a Boston-based piano player and composer. And finally, a trip to Walden Pond was enjoyed by many patrons (pictured).


Lynn Public Library, Lynn, July 15, 2017 

The Lynn Public Library hosted a clean-up day at the “other” Walden Pond on July 15 to celebrate Thoreau’s 200th birthday. Participants were treated to a walk and readings from Thoreau’s works, while they contributed to their beautiful Lynn Woods Reserve and the “other” Walden Pond by picking up trash along the way. To learn a bit more, click here. 




West Bridgewater Public Library, West Bridgewater, Summer 2017 

West Bridgewater Public Library engaged people of all ages in celebrating Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday. Young adults wrote essays about “Why Thoreau Matters Today”; click here to watch the winners read their essays.  The library hosted a hootenanny concert and Thoreau reading at the beautiful, newly-acquired Pratt’s Landing, which combined music, Thoreau’s words, and audience participation in a natural setting on the banks of the river (pictured). Adults participated in a photo contest by using a Thoreau quotation to inspire the picture. And all town residents were invited to read  Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.


Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy, August 2017 

Thomas Crane Public Library teamed up with the Environmental Treasures program of the Quincy Park Department to celebrate Thoreau. An illustrated talk by Adam Gamble, author of In the Footsteps of Thoreau: 25 Historic & Nature Walks on Cape Cod, provided patrons with a look at Thoreau’s encounters with the ocean and images of the present-day landscape that Thoreau would have also walked. Local naturalists, Sally Owen and Peter Fifield, led a stroll along Squaw Rock where Thoreau’s words were read and participants were asked to imagine how Thoreau might have interacted with this environment.

Thayer Memorial Library, Lancaster, September 2017

Residents of Lancaster were invited to read “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau and come share their thoughts about one of Henry’s most famous essays. Kale Connerty, a UMass Lowell honors student, led the patrons in a thought-provoking discussion that only ended because the library was closing.

Tyler Memorial Library and the Sons & Daughters of Hawley, Charlemont & Hawley, September 10, 2017

The Tyler Memorial Library and the Sons & Daughters of Hawley collaborated to bring a day-long celebration of Henry David Thoreau to Charlemont and Hawley. The festivities began with historian and literature professor Michael Hoberman leading a reading and discussion at an outdoor site on the banks of the Deerfield River, about which Thoreau wrote. Then everyone was invited to attend Sons and Daughters of Hawley’s annual Harvest Supper at Stump Sprouts where diners were encouraged to read aloud their favorite passages from Thoreau. It was a well attended, successful event. To read more click here.

Elizabeth Taber Library, Marion, September 16, 2017

The staff of Elizabeth Taber Library invited residents to join them on a nature walk at Washburn Park. Throughout the walk participants heard quotations from Thoreau’s writing on nature, simplicity, and solitude. Click here to see a few photos from the day.

MEDITECH, Framingham, Westwood, and Fall River, September-October 2017

Walking With Thoreau by Mark Leibowitz

What happens when you take 36 MEDITECHers and ask them to do something to celebrate the bicentennial birthday of one of America’s greatest philosophers and writers? You get a group who spent a 30-day journey walking with Henry David Thoreau…from a certain point of view.

I visited Walden Pond last autumn with my wife and was overjoyed walking the trails that Thoreau himself sauntered. I kept wondering what sights from this beautiful trail inspired his writings? Was the tree with orange and yellow leaves in the sunlight that I was looking at the same one that he wrote about in “Autumnal Tints”? Were any of the rocks at the site of his famous home there when he wrote Walden? Did his “Walking” essay begin with thoughts that were born on these beautiful walkways?

Fast forward to this past April and I learned that The Walden Woods Project was planning a year-long celebration of the 200th birthday of this great transcendentalist weaver of thoughts and words which came together into a tapestry of essays and ideas over the course of his lifetime and are studied today more than ever. I wanted to be part of a public reading of one of his essays that were being scheduled throughout the year, but even more than that, I wanted to help organize a public reading of one his essays in my community. Even that would take time that was not available to me. What about my community at MEDITECH?

Over the past couple of years, I became involved in the Wellness Works steps-a-day and mile-a-day challenges. I began exercising more and even started running 5k races. I asked one of my colleagues about combining a physical challenge with some mindful goals. Walking itself is a great way to exercise and clear one’s mind. What if we organized a walk-a-day challenge that included the reading of “Walking” by Thoreau?

From this idea, the Wellness Works group came up with the “Walking With Thoreau” 30-day challenge. MEDITECHers signed up and committed themselves to walking at least 15 minutes a day, not only for the health benefits but the opportunity to become more mindful and aware of nature and its benefit as well. Participants also spent time reading “Walking” and each week were emailed passages from the essay to help inspire them the next time they set out for a walk.

After 30 days of walking through sunny days, rainy days, cool autumn days, and not-so-cool autumn days in local surroundings as well as places across the globe (one participant did some of this challenge in Japan!), we held a celebration in three of our offices. We walked the final 15 minutes together and reconvened to participate in an art project celebrating our amazing achievement.

We informed The Walden Woods Project of our walking challenge and they responded by sending us copies of Thoreau on Freedom, complete with a special bookplate and a beautiful bookmark. We also received the memories of completing a 30-day journey that inspired our spirits and enlivened our senses.

Thank you, Mr. Thoreau, for giving us a wonderful autumn!

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Stoughton Public Library, Stoughton, October 13, 2017

Three- to six-year-olds were able to hear about Henry David Thoreau through the story Henry Builds a Cabin, by D.B. Johnson.  Afterwards, they made cabin crafts to take home, were able to build a cabin out of blocks at the library, and created other nature art to take home too. Approximately 50 people attended these fun events!









Bigelow Free Public Library, Clinton, October 18, 2017

The Bigelow Free Public Library celebrated the bi-centennial of Thoreau’s birth with a presentation & reading of “Cape Cod”– a reenactment of Thoreau’s actual visit to Clinton in the 19th century. Reenactor Richard Smith played Thoreau and participants felt as if they were really there. You can read more about the program by clicking here.






Erving Public Library, Erving, October 22, 2017

by Becky Hubbard

Our event started on the porch of the Northfield Recreation Center where 3 Stations were set up and we sat the stage for the walk. Two stations posed a question to which participants wrote their response on large poster board for all to see and share. Question 1: What do you know about Thoreau? Question 2: What do you expect to do today? The third station was a journal making station which included materials for making a journal; paper, stapler, markers, colored pencils.

After giving everyone the opportunity to complete each station, I reviewed the information people knew about Thoreau and added information about his love of nature, journal writing, his botany box hat, and the family business of pencil making. I introduced myself as being “Thoreau” ready for the ramble through the woods. I showed my walking stick marked off for measuring, my hat where I could store specimens, music book from my dad for pressing flowers, and from my pockets I removed the following items: string, microscope, telescope, flute, pencil, and a journal then shared how or why Thoreau carried them. I also shared Thoreau’s journal entry on his observations of Erving when he traveled by train to Brattleboro, Vt. I then introduced the book, Henry David Thoreau for Kids by Corinne Smith and stated it was available at the library (a gift from the Friends).

To start our journey, we practiced our observation skills. Prior to everyone arriving, Beth had placed household items along a path where we would start our ‘observation walk’. She had people walk through the area in single file after giving the following instructions, “I have placed items from around my home along the path, some are close to the path while others are a bit further away but all within sight without leaving the path. I want you to walk along the path and keep count as to how many items you see. Don’t tell anyone or point out the items, we will see who saw the most items when we reach that tree.” At the end of the trail, Beth had people identify the number of items they saw by a show of hands, how many saw more than 2 items, how many saw more than 4 items, etc. It was at this time she informed us that 7 items had been placed along the trail. Then everyone walked back along the path to see if they could find 7 items, again with the instructions, “quietly, to yourself, see if you can find 7 items”. After going through a second time, she allowed the kids to each take a turn identifying an item and where it was located. Items hidden included: a hair clip, jar of honey, wire cutters, boat oar, coat hanger, clothespin, and green plastic knife. This was really a fun way to demonstrate observation skills. Everyone was engaged and no hard feelings if you missed an item. It was amazing how well these items blended in with the surroundings.

The group then set out on the walk, it was not a well-worn trail but was an area surrounding a large field located on a hill. We made our way through the growth surrounding the edge of the field and Beth had us work in pairs as we made observations and shared them with our partner. We stopped to make observations of the milkweed growing along the edge of the field. We continued the walk and were treated to finding an area of thick green growth that had been flattened, which we discussed as possibly being an area where deer had bed down. Some kids had to lay in it. Later, we observed animal scat which the group tried to identify using a scat scarf (a scarf with pictures of animal scat which Beth had in her backpack). Groups gathered items they thought could be used as tinder in a small metal box for use to build a small fire later. Once we reached the top of the hill, Beth removed grass from a small area and placed a metal pie plate in the dirt area. Tinder was placed in the plate and a couple of boys with directions from Beth lit a fire. Fire safety was discussed and an adult shared a story about her brother and his friend causing damage from a fire they had started using a magnifying glass, unaware how quickly a fire could spread. This led to my sharing the story of how Thoreau and a friend accidentally started a fire causing great damage. Participants ate their brown bag picnic supper, made observations of the sky and clouds, the horizon, foliage, etc. Heading back to the starting point, we crossed the cleared field rather than back the way we arrived since dusk was approaching. At the top of the hill, the kids decided to roll down the hill. And as we departed a family asked to borrow the book, which I gladly passed to them.

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