Walden Woods Project welcomes new staff
2014 Global Environmental Leadership Award
2014 Environmental Challenge Awards
Remarkable new collection acquired by the Walden Woods Project
2014-2015 Live Deliberately Essay Contest underway
The Farm at Walden Woods has its best season yet
Whitney Retallic, Director of Education
The Walden Woods Project welcomes Whitney Retallic as our new Director of Education. Prior to joining us, Whitney spent twelve years in higher education, teaching interdisciplinary courses and facilitating service-learning and leadership programs for middle school, high school and college students. She most recently directed an organization that brings people of different faith backgrounds together for environmental and social justice initiatives.
About joining the Walden Woods Project team, Whitney says, "The themes of personal reflection, social responsibility, environmental stewardship and experiential education have been consistently woven throughout my life both personally and professionally, and I am very excited for the opportunity to continue to engage deeply with these themes at an organization as wonderful as the Walden Woods Project."
Since joining us in May, Whitney has enjoyed connecting with a wide range of people interested in working with and supporting the educational programs at the Walden Woods Project. If you would like to talk with her about our programs, she would love to hear from you! Please contact her by email or call her at 781-259-4721.
Samantha Corron, Social Media Coordinator
Communicating with you, our supporters, is one of our most important responsibilities, and we are excited to welcome Samantha Corron as our new Social Media Coordinator. She is taking a lead role in reaching out to our members and supporters through our newsletter and social media outlets, and is also managing our farm stand during the late summer and fall months.
Samantha first joined the Walden Woods Project in 2011 as our education Intern, and has been working periodically in the Education Department and at the Farm for several years. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2013 with a B.A. in American Studies and spent some time working in environmental education in Maryland before returning to the Walden Woods Project to take on the role of Social Media Coordinator and Farm Stand Manager. Samantha is "excited to be back at the Walden Woods Project and explore yet another avenue of the organization."
Since returning in July, Samantha has been busy at the farm and introducing the Walden Woods Project to new forms of social media. She encourages you to follow us on Instagram and Twitter, and like us on Facebook so that you can keep up to date with our organization! If you have any questions or would like to speak with Samantha, you can e-mail her or call her at 781-259-4740.
The Walden Woods Project held its Global Environmental Leadership Award Dinner on September 16th at the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston. Over 600 generous donors enjoyed a sumptuous meal followed by an outstanding concert by the Eagles. An additional 3,000 people attended the concert with all proceeds donated to the Walden Woods Project. The event netted $1.2 million to support the organization's mission. Robert Redford was honored with the 2014 Global Environmental Leadership Award. He delivered an inspiring speech about the environmental challenges we face and the opportunities that exist for the global community to work together in addressing some of these urgent issues.
The Walden Woods Project Global Environmental Leadership Award recognizes significant achievement in the areas of climate stability, biodiversity, conservation, human understanding and behavior, and global environmental policy. The Award draws its inspiration from the innovative thinking of Henry David Thoreau and builds upon his ageless principles of natural resource stewardship, universal interconnectedness, and personal responsibility.
The recipients of this prestigious award have demonstrated a singular ability to motivate the people and institutions necessary to effectively address the environmental challenges of the 21st century. Their achievements serve as a powerful model for all who are concerned about the future of our planet and, ultimately, the earth we convey to future generations.
Our 2014 Global Environmental Leadership Award recipient is Robert Redford. Robert Redford is recognized the world over for the roles he has played and the projects he has directed or produced throughout a distinguished stage and film career. His passion remains to make films of substance and social/cultural relevance, as well as to encourage others to express themselves through the arts. Believing that it is the unexpected and uncommon which ultimately enlivens the cultural ecology of a society, Redford has nurtured several generations of innovative voices in independent film through his non-profit Sundance Institute and Film Festival. Harvard Business Review observed, "Sundance has become to Hollywood what Silicon Valley has been to the high-tech industry."
He is an ardent conservationist and environmentalist, a man who stands for social responsibility and political involvement and an artist and businessman who is a staunch supporter of uncompromised creative expression. His life-long passion for nature and issues of justice has resulted in Redford being widely acknowledged as a highly effective and dedicated political and environmental activist.
In addition to the Global Environmental Leadership Award, the Walden Woods Project's Environmental Challenge Awards recognize individuals and organizations that have focused on environmental challenges and unique solutions at a local, regional or national level.
The Challenge Awards highlight a focus of purpose and effort that have allowed the recipients to create new opportunities and solutions to specific pressing questions. Their efforts serve as a model for others facing similar challenges and who seek effective, constructive and sustainable outcomes.
This year, we honored one individual and three organizations. Drawn from a wide range of possible winners, the Challenge Awards are given to those individuals and organizations that represent a broad array of approaches to problem identification and solution.
Deepika Kurup is a High School junior from Nashua, New Hampshire, who has been passionate about solving the global water crisis since she first learned about it at a young age. Deepika developed a novel pervious composite that both filters water and harnesses sunlight to purify it through a process known as photo-catalysis. It is hoped that lessons learned from this research can create economically viable ways to provide clean water to the more than one billion people who currently lack access to it. In 2012, Deepika was named "America's Top Young Scientist" by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and was honored this year at the White House with the President's Environmental Youth Award from the EPA.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) empowers America's young people to plan, act, and lead while having a tangible impact in conserving our nation's natural and cultural resources. The nation's first and largest youth conservation corps, SCA was founded in 1957 by Liz Putnam, who first proposed the idea of a "Student Conservation Corps" two years earlier in her senior thesis. From there, SCA launched a nationwide youth conservation movement and this summer the organization marked a milestone by deploying its 75,000th member.
Gardens for Health International (GHI) works to bridge the gap between malnutrition in children and the agricultural economy in Rwanda. Founded in 2007 by three college students, GHI trains caretakers on how to provide adequate nutrition to children and advocates for policies and programs that include agriculture in the treatment of malnutrition.
The organization currently partners with 18 health centers in Rwanda. This year, they will reach 2,160 families, helping ensure that an estimated 10,800 children have the healthy food they need to grow and thrive. One year after enrolling in the program, 71% of these formerly at-risk children were at a healthy weight.
Sky Island Alliance is dedicated to protecting and restoring native plants, animals and wildlife habitat in New Mexico, Arizona and in northwestern Mexico. This multi-national organization protects and restores biological diversity through citizen science and reconnecting people to nature.
Important achievements this year include:
On my first day as Curator of Collections at the Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute, someone had left on my desk a copy of Firsts: The Book Collector's Magazine.
It was the September 1999 issue, otherwise known as the "Thoreau" issue. The entire issue was written by Kevin MacDonnell, a book collector from Austin, Texas, who described the art of collecting Thoreau. At the time Firsts came out, Kevin had been collecting rare books since 1968. He started his career as a rare books cataloger in the University of Houston before working for a large book firm and then branching out on his own rare books business in 1987. As I got acquainted with the collections that in combination formed the most comprehensive gathering of Thoreau material available in one place, I couldn't help but read a few of Kevin's descriptions and wish that somehow we could add this or that item to what we already had.
We had first editions of Walden but none as pristine as the one Kevin described. We had first editions of Thoreau's first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, but none that contained penciled corrections by Thoreau himself-something he sometimes did when he personally gave or sold a copy. We had several Thoreau manuscripts-the complete 2nd draft of the "Sir Walter Raleigh" essay, Thoreau's earliest extant letter, and leaves from Cape Cod and "Life without Principle"-but wouldn't it be amazing to add a leaf from Walden, the holy grail and rarest of Thoreau manuscripts, or leaves from "Walking"? Each item Kevin described was a curator's dream. It was the best-known Thoreau collection still in private hands.
And then in April of this year a two-page prospectus came outlining this very collection as being for sale, with a complete inventory following, and after several discussions I found myself on a plane to Austin to see if, what I had read about, was really what it purported to be. Kevin opened the glass doors to one of the bookcases and took out one item at a time. He handed me a first edition of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers that belonged to Thoreau's Aunt Maria. Kevin remembers his "astonishment" when this book came his way. "I'd seen it described," he said, " in an old issue of The Month at Goodspeed's, despairing that all of the truly wonderful things had long ago vanished from the market."
It was not a book Thoreau's aunt read with joy and understanding. In one place, where her nephew wrote, "Give me a sentence which no intelligence can understand," Aunt Maria caustically penciled, "A needless prayer for the author."
There were two books from Thoreau's personal library, Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature and Jacob Houghton's Reports on the Mineral Region of Lake Superior, a brick from the Texas House (the family home Thoreau built with his father), and the 1852 Walling map-which notes "White Pond and Walden Pond from Surveys by H. D. Thoreau, Civ. Engr." -in its original rollers and wall hanger
There were curiosities like this early example of exploiting Thoreau's name in advertising...
Or the unique only-known-copy of a brass plaque portrait of Thoreau by the anarchist Jules Scarceriaux who was also an artist.
Kevin showed me a copy of Thoreau's posthumous A Yankee in Canada owned by Ellen Sewall, the only woman Thoreau is known to have loved. As she read it in 1869 she made light pencil markings next to lines that clearly showed what she thought Thoreau gave to the world.
But it was the final piece I was shown, the manuscript leaf from Walden, but not only because any manuscript leaf or fragment from Walden is extremely rare, but because as I stood in Austin, Texas, reading the words on the manuscript, and thought of the Thoreau Institute Library on Baker Farm in Lincoln, Massachusetts, I knew that there was only one place where this collection should be housed-
of confidence in the gods enterprise & faith men are where
they are, buying and selling, owning
land, following trade, and spending
their lives ignobly like slaves serfs.
Oh Baker Farm!
"Landscape where the richest element
Is a little sunshine innocent.
The Walden Woods Project's newest collection, the Thoreau Collection of Kevin MacDonnell, will be ready for viewing in early 2015. A fully-descriptive catalog with illustrations will be available soon on our Thoreau Collection of Kevin MacDonnell page.
In Walden, Thoreau wrote, "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." Thoreau's words have provided inspiration to generations of people the world over. The Walden Woods Project sponsors an annual essay contest to seek the best examples of youth writing inspired by Thoreau.
For the 2013-2014 Live Deliberately Essay Contest, youth from around the globe were asked to consider their own conscious endeavors by sharing how they make a difference. This question sparked hundreds of responses from participants ranging in age from 13-21, who wrote about actions they take to reduce their impact on the environment; ways that they demonstrate care and compassion for others; and plans to pursue careers for the common good. While the essays were all inspiring, we recognized one "Winner" in each of the three age categories, and presented a new "Honorable Mention" status for a handful of other entries. You can read the full winning essays from the 2013-2014 winners here.
We are pleased to announce the 2014-2015 essay contest. In a partnership with the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum and their Walden, revisited exhibition (running concurrently with the dates of the Essay Contest), this year's contest will, for the first time, incorporate a visual image! We hope that pairing a thought-provoking Thoreau quote with a visual image will appeal to a new audience and stimulate even more creative writing submissions.
"Many an object is not seen, though it falls within the range of our visual ray, because it does not come within the range of our intellectual ray, i.e., we are not looking for it. So, in the largest sense, we find only the world we look for." -Journal, 2 July 1857
In 750 words or fewer, using your understanding of the quote and the image above as inspiration, discuss and expand on their shared meaning while integrating your own experiences and observations of the world.
The 2014-2015 Essay Contest is now underway. The Contest closes on March 1, 2015. The full list of guidelines can be found on the website. We will be looking for volunteer guest readers to help us review the submissions in March. Please contact Whitney Retallic, Director of Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more!
It has been another great year at the farm! Thank you to everyone who supported us this season. It was wonderful to see some old faces and many new ones! This was a year of major improvement projects, all resulting in the farm having one of its best seasons yet.
We have put a great deal of effort into developing the soil to replace the nutrients that had been stripped away. Attending a soil conference in January provided a lot of insight, and this summer we experimented with new cover crops--sudan grass and buckwheat--to increase the nutrient content of the soil and decrease erosion. Half the farm was left fallow this season to rest and prepare for next year. We also began an extensive composting project that will improve our soil significantly.
This spring we constructed a deer fence around the back wetlands to protect our crops. Our furry friends seem to love the one stop shopping in our fields, particularly our beet, carrot, and broccoli crops. We also started construction of a 20' x 24' hoop house that will be completed in the spring of 2015. This gives us the opportunity to further extend our season and try our hand at a variety of new crops. Lastly, we cleared a hefty amount of invasive species on the property and increased the size of our fields.
If you have driven by, you may have noticed some changes in our appearance! We improved the utility and look of our entrance. Our colleague, Matiu Parangi, spent last winter painting new signs that made their debut this season. We added two new flower beds by the side of the road and lighting outside so you cannot miss us in the dark! We also built a separate exit to increase the ease and safety of merging back onto Route 2.
In addition, we made improvements to our crop variety. This year, for the first time, we grew french string beans, horseradish, and onions, expanded our tomato crop to 600 plants of 30 different varieties, and experimented with several types of eggplant, including white eggplant. Despite half the farm being held in cover crop, we found ourselves with an abundance of summer squash, zucchini, cucumber, and tomatoes. We marketed many new products this season, most notable milk, maple syrup and honey. We also expanded our fruit inventory, selling five varieties of peaches, six types of plums, and 24 varieties of apples.
We enjoyed hosting two volunteer groups this summer, the Interfaith Youth Initiative from the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries and a youth group from the Citi Performing Arts Center. Their hands on assistance was much appreciated!
We are NOW planning for next year and look forward to an even better season. Keep your eyes peeled for the "Open" flag in July!