2017 Fall Newsletter


Fall 2017

As we savor the final days of autumn foliage here in Walden Woods, we hope you will enjoy reading our fall newsletter.

The past few months have been busy as we wrap up celebrating Thoreau’s bicentennial. In September The Walden Woods Project joined the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation in unveiling new exhibits at the Walden Pond State Reservation Visitor Center. Also in September, we presented Dr. Edward O. Wilson with our Global Environmental Leadership Award. Dr. Wilson is the third recipient of the award, following President Bill Clinton and Robert Redford. In November we hosted the premiere of “Walden,” a documentary film executive produced by Ken Burns and created for the Walden Pond Visitor Center. Meanwhile, Thoreau’s Bicentennial Statewide Read continues with events in communities across the state.

For those of you who have been such great friends and enduring supporters through the years, we thank you for your generosity. Our mission-driven accomplishments would not have been possible without you – and we hope you will continue to support The Walden Woods Project with a charitable gift between now and the end of the year.

For those who have not yet made a tax-deductible contribution to The Walden Woods Project, we encourage you to take a few minutes and browse through our newsletter. It will give you a sense of the compelling nature of our work and our achievements.

“The possibility of the future far exceeds the accomplishments of the past.”
-Henry David Thoreau

With appreciation and warmest wishes,

The Walden Woods Project

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The Walden Woods Project preserves the land, literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Join our mailing list and get all the latest information, as well as invitations to our important events


On September 14th, Walden Woods Project founder Don Henley joined the MA Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs — Matthew Beaton, and Commissioner of the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation — Leo Roy, to unveil a group of innovative educational exhibits at the new, environmentally sustainable Walden Pond State Reservation Visitor Center. Several hundred guests attended this public event and enjoyed a sneak peek of a Ewers Brothers film, executive produced by Ken Burns. The 20-minute film, focusing on Thoreau’s life and legacy is now available for public viewing during the hours the Visitor Center is open.

The Walden Pond Visitor Center features a number of unique interpretive exhibits about Thoreau, his time at Walden, his influence around the world, and the geographic, historic and ecological features of the Walden Pond State Reservation, managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The Walden Woods Project was designated by DCR as the official “Friends of Walden Pond” group. In this capacity, our organization is working in partnership with DCR to raise funds for educational programming and interpretation at the Visitor Center, and to help support DCR’s stewardship of this internationally significant place.

A new, interactive “Where’s Your Walden?” exhibit was also unveiled and experienced by visitors for the first time.  Thoreau believed that we should each have a special place of refuge, beauty, meaning, or inspiration. His was at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. In this exhibit, the visitor is asked to consider, and then share with other visitors, their own special place in the world – their Walden – and their connection to it.

In his remarks at the event, Don Henley said, “Thoreau was a keen observer of the natural world.  His writings provide insights into some of the most urgent issues of our time.  These include understanding and protecting the biological diversity of life; living on a planet of limited resources; and the role of personal responsibility in today’s world.  After their experience at Walden, we hope visitors will leave inspired and ready to engage in the environmental and societal challenges of our times.”

This event was part of a worldwide celebration of Thoreau’s bicentennial.  Over 500,000 people from around the world visit Walden each year.

We thank our friends at Gourmet Caterers for donating the refreshments for this special event!

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Each year, the Live Deliberately Essay Contest invites youth from around the world, ages 14-21, to consider a selected Henry David Thoreau quotation and accompanying prompt. Contestants are asked to write a thoughtful essay that uses personal experience and observation to demonstrate how that year’s quotation and prompt relate to their own lives and to the world around them. Like Thoreau, these young people use the power of their words to convey vivid stories, personal conviction and human compassion.

The 2017-2018 Essay Contest asks youth to respond to the following quote:

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
—Journal, October 18, 1855

Essay Prompt: In an essay of 750 words or fewer, describe a time in your life when you pursued a path that was “narrow and crooked,” but felt like it was the right path for you. In what ways are/were you able to, as Thoreau advises, walk that path with “love and reverence?” How has navigating that path shaped you into the person you are becoming?
To participate in the 2017-2018 Essay Contest, please read the Contest Guidelines and then submit your essay here. The deadline for submission is Midnight (EST) on March 15, 2018.

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On September 15th, The Walden Woods Project held its Global Environmental Leadership Award dinner at Boston Symphony Hall.  The 2017 award was bestowed to the eminent biologist, Harvard Professor Emeritus and Pulitzer Prize winning author Dr. Edward O. Wilson.

Walden Woods Project founder, Don Henley, made the presentation in recognition of Dr. Wilson’s pioneering efforts to preserve and protect the biodiversity of the planet. This was the third time the award has been conferred.  The first recipient was President Bill Clinton in 2012.  The second recipient was Robert Redford in 2014.

The presentation ceremony was preceded by a fundraising dinner attended by 450 enthusiastic Walden Woods Project supporters.  Immediately following the awards ceremony, Paul Simon capped off the evening with a memorable performance.  Walden Woods Project board member, the actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. also attended the event.  Comedian Jimmy Tingle performed for the guests and auctioned off a number of unique travel and sports experiences that prompted spirited bidding.

In granting the Global Environmental Leadership Award, The Walden Woods Project seeks to recognize significant achievement in the areas of climate stability, biodiversity, natural resource protection, human understanding, and environmental policy.  It draws inspiration from the foundational thinking of Henry David Thoreau and builds upon his ageless principles of environmental stewardship, global interconnectedness, and personal responsibility.

The Walden Woods Project honored several other organizations with Environmental Challenge Awards, highlighting efforts that create new opportunities and solutions to a range of environmental issues.  The work and accomplishments of the Challenge Award winners is focused on initiatives at a local, regional or national level.  They represent many others who are engaged in similar endeavors.  This year’s recipients were Green Leadership Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and Fenway Farms (a project of the Boston Red Sox and Green City Growers).

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On November 8th, Don Henley and filmmakers Ken Burns, Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers hosted the premiere of a new documentary entitled “Walden” that was created for the Walden Pond Visitor Center and funded by The Walden Woods Project.  The film was shown before a full house at Boston College’s Robsham Theater.  Proceeds from ticket sales benefited The Walden Woods Project/Friends of Walden Pond and will support educational programs and interpretive exhibits at the Walden Pond State Reservation.

Following the screening, Burns, Henley and the Ewers Brothers, (who co-directed the film), discussed the short documentary and took questions from the audience.  The discussion was moderated by CNN Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley.

“Walden” is narrated by Robert Redford.  Kevin Conway is the voice of Thoreau. The film by Ewers Brothers Productions was produced by Julie Coffman, and executive produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

The 20 minute documentary explores the writings of Thoreau and looks at how his life and work continue to provide inspiration for an environmental movement that is critical to the health of our country and the world.

The film can be viewed on The Walden Woods Project by visiting our website.

“I’ve long been interested in Thoreau,” said Burns. “But like others, I’m increasingly drawn not just to the eloquence of his writings but also to the importance of them as we urgently look to create greater awareness and appreciation of nature and the environment.  His legacy, so beautifully preserved by The Walden Woods Project, is a call to action for all of us.  We must rethink how we as a nation treat our land and natural resources.  The awe and wonder that Thoreau found at Walden, and along his many walks, must infuse how we look at and experience nature.  It is critical to our ability to heal the planet.”

Don Henley stressed the importance of the film, saying, “There is no better way to encourage youth toward active engagement in the preservation of the planet than to awaken their intrinsic sense of wonder derived from communion with nature. Walden Pond – the birthplace of the conservation movement – is the ideal location to foster such an ethic of environmental stewardship in people of all ages.  This inspirational film will be seen by visitors from around the world who come to Walden Pond.  Following the example set by Thoreau, they will be urged to consider their own Waldens; their own special places; why these places throughout the world matter; and why we must strive to protect them, not only for ourselves, but for future generations.”

Thoreau is widely known around the world for his dual influences on natural resource conservation and passive resistance/non-violent protest. His essay, “Civil Disobedience” continues to guide global human rights struggles.  His timeless writings challenge the individual to lead a life of simplicity, principle and purpose, and derive a sense of spiritual renewal from nature. Thoreau’s thoughts could not be more timely or contemporary in view of the ongoing planetary challenges of climate change and loss of biodiversity.

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The Walton Ricketson portraiture bust of Henry David Thoreau is quite possibly the best sculpture ever produced of Concord’s favorite son and author of Walden. It represents a young, idealized Henry Thoreau much the way he looked when he was living at Walden Pond. When Edward Waldo Emerson saw the life-sized bust in 1898, he thought it spoke for Thoreau’s “clear eyed courage and directness, a suggestion of Nature’s ruggedness with Nature’s refinement and wholesomeness, and a hint, too, of the tenderness and faith that made him poet as well as naturalist.” It was, of course, sculpted by another “young friend” who was equally fond of his subject.

We are pleased to offer admirers of Henry David Thoreau this hand-crafted replica of Ricketson’s original sculpture, reproduced in exacting detail. This 5.75” statue is created using a high-grade proprietary bonded marble. While it can weather any season, these beautiful artworks are best displayed indoors where they can inspire Thoreauvians—on desks or shelves, in libraries, classrooms, or even a 10 x 15 foot house.

Each piece is designed and made in the U.S.A.

To purchase a bust, go to our website!

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Emerson said, “Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.” That is the role of a good translator.  And for anyone who has read a work in translation knows: translation matters. On October 19th, as part of the Concord Festival of Authors, The Walden Woods Project was proud to host a panel of five international translators who have been bringing Thoreau’s words to readers around the world.

Clodomir de Andrade, from Brazil, has been translating selections from Thoreau’s essays, journals, and correspondence into Portuguese for a reader called Caminhando com Thoreau(Walking with Thoreau).

Julia Xianju Du, originally from China, translated our curator’s Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition into Chinese in 2015. Her translation has done so well it has been reprinted four times.

Ernesto Estrella, from Spain, has recently translated selections from Thoreau’s Journal.

Jan Hokeš, from the Czech Republic, has translated several of Thoreau’s works, includingExcursionsThe Maine Woods, and Civil Disobedience.

Antti Immonen, from Finland, has translated Walden and several of Thoreau’s essays.

The idea for this event began at the Concord Festival of Authors in 2015 when we hosted the Iranian translator, Ali Taghdarreh, who was translating Walden into Farsi and which was published this year in Iran. During the Q&A, one of our panelists, Julia Du, happened to ask a question and the two translators began a dialogue about the joys and the difficulties of rendering the subtle nuances of one language into the equally subtle nuances of another, how to balance fidelity and literalness, and how best to convey the multiple levels of meaning that appear in Thoreau’s text. If two translators talking together was so interesting, then five translators would be that much more interesting.  And it was.

“I think a translation should never be too literal,” Jan Hokeš said, “A Czech theoretician wrote, ‘A translation should be… so free as to be faithful.’”

When working through his translations, Ernesto Estrella would stop and ask, “‘What am I translating?’ Not ‘What does it mean?’  But ‘What am I translating here? Is it the philosophical element? Is it the scientific position? Is it the poetic allure? Is it the mix of registers?’… Of course, at the end, it was a mix of all these, but I had to separate… to really get this marriage.”

For Clodomir de Andrade it was, as he said, “much more a personal project of self-knowledge, and I detected, in the previous translations in Portuguese, a sort-of more emphasis on the poetical side or the natural side, but the self-knowledge and the self-care side were a bit secondary… I tried to underscore those parts which tend to lead to… the possibility of self-transformation.”

Toward the end of the program Julia Du said, “The best translation, you don’t realize is a translation. Translator is a thankless job.”

The Walden Woods Project wants to thank, not just the translators who appeared on our panel, but all the translators who, for more than a century, having been bringing Thoreau’s writings to an ever-widening audience.

Go to our Facebook page to watch the program!

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The Walden Woods Project is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving the land, literature, and legacy of Henry David Thoreau through conservation, education, research and advocacy. Founded by recording artist Don Henley, the Project uses the land it has protected in Walden Woods to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility, both cornerstones of Thoreau’s philosophy. We are located in the heart of Walden Woods.

The Walden Woods Project
44 Baker Farm
Lincoln, MA 01773

We invite you to contact us at (781) 259-4700 or send us an e-mail using our Contact form.

Please consider supporting our mission. Thank you.

The Walden Woods Project

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