2018 Spring Newsletter

IN THIS ISSUE…

Spring 2018

Dear Friends,

At last, spring has arrived in Walden Woods and we are busy preparing for a full complement of summer activities and initiatives.

As the state-designated “Friends of Walden Pond” group, our organization is partnering with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation on programming and fundraising for stewardship projects, education/interpretation and universal access at Walden Pond State Reservation.  Among the forthcoming collaborative endeavors are new photographic exhibits at the Walden Pond Visitor Center, controlling erosion at the pond and improving accessibility to Walden for people with physical challenges.

Watch for our summer newsletter for more information on these projects, as well as exciting news on our land conservation initiatives that are underway in Walden Woods.

This spring and summer, at the Walden Woods Project’s headquarters, we will introduce an unprecedented number of visiting school groups to Thoreau’s environmental and social reform philosophy.  At the same time, we are finalizing the curriculum for our popular professional development seminar, Approaching Walden, which is already fully subscribed with teachers from around the country.

In March, we received a record number of 2,400+ submissions to our Live Deliberately Essay Contest that engages students in refection and writing about a specific aspect of Thoreau’s philosophy. Thank you to all the participants and sponsors who made this year’s contest such a success.

After a long winter, our farm crew has been working diligently to prepare The Farm at Walden Woods for its official opening in early July.  This will be our fourth year of organic certification and we again look forward to providing fresh, local produce for the region and for area restaurants. We encourage those who live nearby to visit our farm stand located on Route 2 eastbound in Concord, MA.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Walden Woods Project’s Thoreau Institute, we hope you will pay us a visit. At the Thoreau Institute library you can view exhibits in the reading room or take a look at some of our research collections.  The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10-4. The library has limited staff, so we encourage you to call ahead at (781) 259-4730 or e-mail our curator at Jeff.Cramer@walden.org.

As we enter our 28th year of preserving the land and legacy of Thoreau, we are mindful that your enduring support is instrumental in furthering our mission. We hope you will consider making a contribution to help us protect more land in Walden Woods and expand our educational initiatives.  Thank you once again for your friendship and generosity.

Sincerely,

Kathi Anderson
Executive Director

 

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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

 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: HENRY DAVID THOREAU AND THE HISTORY OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC LANDS

Join us on Tuesday, June 12, for a special talk by Douglas Brinkley. Professor Brinkley will offer his perspective on the vision of Thoreau, how he helped inspire the American land conservation ethic, and the current threats facing our nation’s public lands.

Douglas Brinkley is CNN’s Presidential Historian, a professor of history at Rice University and author of numerous best-selling and award-winning books, among them books on Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  His 2016 publication, Rightful Heritage, chronicles Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency and analyzes the tension between business and nature with respect to our natural resources.  Dr. Brinkley has written extensively on environmental history, policy and advocacy.  Examining the preservation of Alaska’s wilderness, Brinkley’s The Quiet World:  Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom earned him “The National Outdoor Book Award”.

Space is limited for this event!  Purchase your tickets now by clicking here.

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THE FARM AT WALDEN WOODS PREPARES FOR ITS ELEVENTH SEASON

The prolonged winter led to a delayed start at the Farm. We hope to have the farm stand open by the beginning of July.

We are immersed in prepping the fields for planting and getting seeds in the soil. The beets and carrots have sprouted and are well on their way for the season. We have just started putting onion seedlings in the ground, and our tomatoes are growing steadily. We are excited to continue working with Massachusetts farmers and vendors to offer the best local products to our customers. This year we will offer organic meat and cheese, grass fed beef jerky, local honey, and six different varieties of pickles.

In the off season, we have been working to build our Farm at Walden Woods merchandise, including new t-shirts pictured above. The design includes a tractor sketch by Matiu Parangi, one of our farm staff, who is also responsible for many of our signs and artwork. The organic cotton t-shirts are now available on our website, www.walden.org, and our farm stand as well.

The farm stand will be open in early July and will be open through the end of October-look for the “Open” flag. You can find us on Route 2 eastbound in Concord. We are open Wednesdays – Fridays 11:00 am – 7:00 pm and Saturdays – Sundays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm until the end of October. We will also be open on Labor Day and Columbus Day from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm. We look forward to seeing you!

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TEACHING THOREAU IN CHINA

Brandon Kruse teaches at the Utahloy International School Guangzhou in China and taught a class about Henry David Thoreau to eight students, aged 13-14, from seven different countries. “My students have a lot of real-life examples of people living in different manners all over the world,” he said, “and so they’re pretty keen to engage in the big philosophical questions about finding meaning in life.” Brandon saw Ken Burns’ Walden film on our website, and then discovered our Skype with Us program.

Students at the Utahloy International School Guangzhou in China.

Given the 12-hour time difference it was difficult to arrange a time that worked for Skyping so together we came up with an alternate plan: the students would film questions, posting them on a private YouTube station, and then our Curator, Jeff Cramer, filmed the answers for them.

Walden was chosen,” according to Brandon, “because of Thoreau’s dedication to human capability, as well as his views on power, privilege, authority, and freedom. We made connections between his ideas in Walden and ‘Civil Disobedience’ to burgeoning movements and campaigns active today, such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, as well as other historical movements of non-violent protest concerned with the well-being and development of modern society.”

Brandon also chose Walden for personal reasons. It was a book he was “forced” to read in school, like many students, but which he later “ended up really enjoying and getting a lot out of. I continually come back to it,” he said. “I thought I’d pass it on to my students.”

The class was structured around Walden as a reflection on what life means, and the impact of modern global development on our way of thinking and being. “This is all pretty heady stuff, especially for 8th graders,” Brandon reminds us, “but it is also a very vital part of the world in which we’re all growing up. I think anchoring the whole discussion in Thoreau’s writings framed the discussion well. We’re still struggling with the same issues that Thoreau did, and on some days it seems we’re not getting the correct answers with any more frequency than they did way back when. So, in a big way, it was about students finding their place in these difficult conversations. And I think that worked out quite well.”

The Walden Woods Project staff was pleased to help facilitate this dialogue through the use of video. “I wanted the students to actively participate in the discussion,” Brandon said, “searching for meaning and context in the passages they read. Some of this they picked up on right away; some was explained to them through your answers to their questions. The video responses were used in student-produced videos that they used to express the mood and tone of the ideas involved. In this way, students were able to provide meaning and context to the discussion and express themselves, even if they felt conflicted or angry or confused about the right and wrong behind the ideas.”

From an educator’s point of view, this is the ideal position: to be part of the dialogue. As Thoreau once wrote, “We should seek to be fellow students with the pupil, and we should learn of, as well as with him, if we would be most helpful to him.” The opportunity to discuss Thoreau with diverse students from different countries studying at Utahloy International School Guangzhou was inspiring. We’re already looking forward to doing it again next year.

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DISCOVERING BIODIVERSITY AROUND WALDEN

As air temperatures finally warm and trees are popping with flowers, nascent leaves, and the first blush of seed, the Walden Woods Project is looking back on a very busy spring season of outdoor adventures in Walden Woods.

Among the highlights of this past spring was a very well-attended walk to a local vernal pool, led by our Conservation Director. Co-sponsored by the Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, 45 people came out on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to look for amphibians, reptiles, birds, and invertebrates in a small forest pond in Lincoln. The weather was stunning, and the crowd was rewarded with some great opportunities to see wildlife that is sometimes very difficult to find.

At the end of April, several folks attended the the Friends of Walden Pond and Department of Conservation and Recreation sponsored bioblitz at Walden Pond, which was part of the iNaturalist City Nature Challenge. This event is an international competition that pits cities around the country and globe against each other in a three-day challenge to document as much biodiversity as possible using a smartphone and the iNaturalist app. We found lots of interesting organisms! Watch for opportunities to get outside and explore with our Conservation staff throughout the year!

As we listen to the chirruping of Gray tree frogs on Pine Hill, and the wide variety of birds flitting about the grounds of the Thoreau Institute, we’re looking forward to our upcoming public programs and anxious to get outside with folks to explore!

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RECORD BREAKING YEAR FOR OUR LIVE DELIBERATELY ESSAY CONTEST

The Walden Woods Project’s Live Deliberately Essay Contest had another record-breaking year; a record-smashing year, really. While last year’s Bicentennial-year Contest was the biggest up to that point (with 1,098 entries), this year’s Contest more than doubled that record, with 2,419 entries and drew participants from all 50 American states (last year, we were missing just one—oh, South Dakota!) and eight additional countries!

This year’s contestants responded to a quotation from Thoreau’s October 18, 1855 Journal, “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” They were asked to “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” and to talk about how they walked that path with love and reverence.

Results were announced in mid-May and you can read the winning essays here. Contestants shared moving stories about navigating difficult family situations, losing loved ones, coming out as LGBTQ+, making tough decisions regarding academics and possible careers, coming to the United States from other countries, living with mental health or learning challenges, and so many other significant experiences.  They wrote about the quest to stay true to themselves and their values throughout all of these circumstances—certainly a Thoreauvian ideal.

More than 50 volunteer reviewers engaged in this year’s Contest, including educators at both the high school and college level, published authors, Concord-area Thoreau scholars and historians, former Walden Woods Project staff, environmental educators, and even a past Contest winner! We are immensely appreciative for our volunteer reviewers, without whom we could not carry out such a thoughtful and thorough evaluation of so many essays.

Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners and for thanking all participants.  Our message to all of them is to keep going along your path! As Thoreau said, “the future is worth expecting.”

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THE WALDEN WOODS PROJECT RECEIVES TOP FOUR STAR RATING ON CHARITY NAVIGATOR

We are excited to announce that the non profit evaluator Charity Navigator has awarded the Walden Woods Project with a four star rating.

Since 2002, using objective analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. In 2011, Charity Navigator added 17 metrics, focused on governance and ethical practices as well as measures of openness, to its ratings methodology. These Accountability & Transparency metrics, which account for 50 percent of a charity’s overall rating, reveal which charities operate in accordance with industry best practices and whether they are open with their donors and stakeholders. On June 1, 2016, Charity Navigator upgraded their methodology for rating each charity’s’ financial health with CN 2.1. These enhancements further substantiates the financial health of their four star charities.

“The Walden Woods Project’s exceptional 4-star rating sets it apart from its peers and demonstrates its trustworthiness to the public,” according to Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “Only a quarter of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive the distinction of our 4-star rating. This adds the Walden Woods Project to a preeminent group of charities working to overcome our world’s most pressing challenges. Based on its 4-star rating, people can trust that their donations are going to a financially responsible and ethical charity when they decide to support the Walden Woods Project.”

This is the second consecutive four star rating the Walden Woods Project received from Charity Navigator. You can view our rating here.

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ABOUT US…

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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