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The Walden Woods Project

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Environment, Historical Organizations, Land Resources Conservation

Mission: The Walden Woods Project was founded in 1990 to protect land of ecological and historic significance surrounding Walden Pond. At that time nearly half of the Walden Woods' 2,680 acres remained unprotected from development. Two large tracts of land (a total of 43 acres) were under immediate threat as developers sought to construct an office park and a large condominium complex in close proximity to Walden Pond. In January 1991, the Walden Woods Project raised enough money to buy the 25-acre Bear Garden Hill site. A few years later, the Project acquired a second parcel, known as Brister?s Hill. In 1998, the Walden Woods Project opened The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods containing over 8,000 volumes and 60,000 items of Thoreau-related materials and launched its two trademark teacher education programs, Approaching Walden and Finding Walden.

Programs: Conservation:the walden woods project preserves and protects walden woods and thoreau country in recognition of their worldwide literary, historical, and environmental significance and their capacity to motivate others to identify, study, and protect the environment and historically significant areas that exist in their own communities. In 2014, the project purchased two houses and appurtenant structures on three acres of land that completes our acquisition of the farm at walden woods. The land and structures will provide increased capacity for our organic farming operation, new meeting and program space, facilities for farm staff, housing for program participants and maintenance facilities for farm operations. Land management:the walden woods project manages conservation restrictions on 61 acres of land, which prevents development of sites not owned in fee. Annual conservation restriction monitoring is done to ensure that the protections prescribed in the conservation restrictions are in effect. Invasive exotic plants are a major threat to the ecological integrity of our land. The project actively manages our properties to reduce the prevalence of invasive plants and to minimize the threat they represent. The project's programs support ongoing collaboration between a wide variety of civic and environmental groups who regularly provide volunteer invasive species management to our organization.

education:the education programs of the walden woods project serve an audience that includes students, educators, and life-long learners from around the globe. Our signature programs include our guided tours for groups visiting walden woods and the pond; the live deliberately essay contest for youth ages 13-21 from around the world; a week-long summer professional development program for teachers, approaching walden, and other professional development workshops throughout the year; vernal pool workshops; skype in the classroom sessions; the stewardship lecture series; and world wide waldens, an on-line community of youth working to conserve places in their own communities. All of our programs are inspired by the writings and philosophies of henry david thoreau and ask people to explore their own sense of place-their connection to their own community and other places in the world-and to develop an environmental ethic. As thoreau himself is a highly interdisciplinary subject, we address the topics of transcendentalism, social reform, writing, natural history and 19-century history in our programs, as well. In the 2014/15 academic year, we hosted over 600 students (plus nearly 100 teachers/coordinators with them) in our guided tours of the walden woods area (including the pond). We also host groups in our library at the thoreau institute at walden woods, which maintains the world's largest collection of thoreau-related documents, books, and artifacts, and serve approximately 1,000 students each year through our skype in the classroom program (for those who are too far away to visit the woods). Our approaching walden summer professional development program brings in 25 educators from across the country each year for an intensive, immersive study in thoreau's words and place. There is a competitive process to attend this program that receives high acclaim each year from its participants, with the 2014 feedback being no exception. Participants have the option of completing additional readings and assignments to receive 3 graduate-level credits for the course through fitchburg state university. Our 2014 stewardship lectures series included the following presentations: "walden's shore: henry david thoreau and nineteenth century science," with author of the book of the same title, robert m. Thorson; "who's watching you? : owls of the world," a presentation for all ages with live owls conducted by mark and marcia wilson of eyes on owls; "the transformation of american community," with mark dunkelman, author of the vanishing neighbor (this event was a festival forum as part of the concord festival of authors).

research and library:the thoreau institute library/archives, is owned and managed by the walden woods project and is located in walden woods. The library houses the most complete research collection by and about henry david thoreau, as well as other collections by american writers, including ralph waldo emerson. Staffed by a full time curator, the library is the premiere resource on a global basis for thoreau research and scholarship. Each year the institute welcomes a steady stream of interns interested in pursuing a career in library science, as well as volunteers with an interest in the history and literature of thoreau's time. Every year brings new people to the thoreau institute library, whether in-person or virtually. In 2014, we hosted visitors from canada, europe and asia. Translators from china, czechoslovakia, and iran have worked with the curator to provide accurate and representative translations. "skype in the classroom" sessions bring our curator into classrooms around the country via skype, reaching more than 1,000 students in 2014. We continue to publish many works electronically and update finding aids to our collections. In 2104 we acquired the kevin macdonnell collection, adding rare and unique items to our library.

Community Stories

75 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Walden Woods is a treasure maintaining the importance and currency of the work of Henry D Thoreau and maintaining / preserving the land in Concord that he has made holy. The dedicated work of the Walden Woods Organization is a gift to people from all over the world. I had visitors from India who insisted that I stop, so that we could dip our feet into "the holy Ganga." Very cool, I thought.
Jerry & Gaby, Chair, Jhamtse International Inc.

Alida Vienna O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

In July 2019 we had a very special customer visit us in Concord. It was Kara's life's dream to come to Walden Pond and experience the environment in which Henry David Thoreau lived. Our challenge was to create an itinerary that could meet the needs of Kara, who is legally blind, and still find a way to allow her a meaningful experience without being able to see Thoreau's Concord.

This is where Jeff Cramer at the Walden Woods Project came in. He arranged for a private viewing of Thoreau artifacts and allowed for Kara to delicately handle several items. This granted her the unique opportunity to connect with Thoreau via a tactile experience, making up for what her eyes couldn't take in.

It was tremendously moving for us to watch as Kara encountered each of these items and alternately teared up, or exclaimed, or beamed with excitement when the artifact was explained. Jeff was infinitely sensitive to Kara's needs and we can hardly express our gratitude at the way he organized and handled the entire visit.

I wouldn't hesitate to contact The Walden Woods Project for any of our customer visits in the future, and know that anyone we bring there, be it a large group or a single person, will have an unforgettable experience thanks to Jeff, his impressive skills as a curator, and his overall warmth. We felt so welcome and can hardly wait to plan another visit!

Thank you, thank you for all that you do at Walden Woods Project - we will continue to support and spread the word about your work in any way that we can!

Kind regards,

Alida V. Orzechowski
Owner and Founder of Concord Tour Company

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I were fortunate enough to take a year off of work and travel to all 50 states. We made it a goal to volunteer with at least one non-profit organization in each state, intending to experience the beauty and diversity of our country and immerse ourselves in all the good that was being done in local communities around the nation.

For our 40th state, Massachusetts, we knew immediately what organization we wanted to contact in hopes of spending a day volunteering. That organization was the Walden Woods Project. As a Henry David Thoreau enthusiast, I’m inspired to “live deliberately,” and I could think of no better way to show my appreciation than to give back to a place that preserves and protects his legacy.

After reaching out via email, Juliet Trofi responded immediately to my request to volunteer and we were able to spend a gorgeous fall day in Mid-October working beside the informative and courteous crew at The Farm at Walden Woods. My husband and I have spent several years learning and working on sustainable farms and we were thrilled to get our hands in the sacred soil, knowing that this was one of the many ways this organization preserves and extends Walden Woods.

We were overwhelmed with the kindness we received from all the staff including Juliet Trofi, Jeffrey Kramer, Dan Schmid, and Robert (Bobby) Friberg. This experience could not have been better. The multi-faceted work that is being done was inspiring and brings so much positivity to the community.

During our year long journey, we ended up volunteering at 71 different organizations. I can say without any hesitation that our time spent volunteering at the Walden Woods Project, and interacting with the knowledgeable staff was at the top of our list!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We partnered with the Walden Woods Project on a recent event and had a fantastic experience with WWP staff and a successful evening at their beautiful venue. The mission of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI), founded by descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, is to combine lessons from the legacies of both men to "advance freedom through knowledge and strategic action." We found a natural fit with WWP and their commitment to education and social responsibility in all they undertake.
All of our interactions with WWP were positive. Prior to the event, we were interested to learn- through the excellent resources and research of WWP staff- of connections between Frederick Douglass and Concord previously unknown to us. The event itself was well organized and seamlessly run by cheerful, efficient staff who listened to our objectives, recruited and connected us with local partners and participants, and built an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience. We continue to engage in follow up activities with both WWP and the additional partners they helped us establish. We look forward to working with the Walden Woods Project for many years to come!

kj-mclean

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Walden Woods Project is a phenomenal organization which not only treasures and protects the "land, literature, and legacy" of one of America's greatest pioneering thinkers and citizen scientists -- Henry David Thoreau -- but fosters education, wellness, and research in students, teachers, and anyone who wants to "live deliberately."

I first visited The Walden Woods Project in July of 2017, when I was fortunate to be chosen as a participating teacher in their annual Approaching Walden week-long professional development program. To say that it was life-changing would be an understatement, and the lessons I learned that week are continuing to be passed on to my students and those they choose to touch. It was a phenomenal, priceless experience that I will never forget.

Since then I have traveled to The Walden Woods Project to do my own research at the Thoreau Institute's Henley Library and picked the brain of its curator, the incredibly knowledgeable (and patient!) Jeffrey S. Cramer (who has been described as the world's leading expert on Thoreau, and I would totally endorse that opinion.).

The Walden Woods Project is a wonderful, inspiring place. I cannot possibly recommend it enough.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Jeffrey Steen. I am a photographer living in Wilmington, Delaware.
Over the past several years, I have been photographing places and items related to Mr. Thoreau.

Recently, I became aware of the Walden Woods Project, a jewel of Thoreau related literature and items seemingly hidden in close proximity to Walden Pond.

After learning of the Project, my initial meeting at the Project's offices resulted from a "cold call" knock on the office's front door.

From the beginning, Project staff have been kind, inquisitive about my interests, and responsive to my requests.

They have provided insight about public use of Mr. Thoreau's words, shown me artifacts related to Mr. Thoreau's life and times, and introduced me to others involved in the Thoreau world.

Most importantly, I have been encouraged in my photographic aspirations, including a collection of Thoreau related images that will serve as a platform for Thoreau related themes.

It has been a pleasure associating with them; their support has been invaluable.

In the event that a reader of this review is inspired to support interest in Mr. Thoreau and his intellectual contributions to society, including his wonderment at the intricacies and value of the natural world, the Walden Woods Project would be at the top of organizations deserving of consideration.






Client Served

Rating: 5

I participated in the Approaching Walden professional development opportunity for educators. This experience was incredibly fulfilling, both personally and professionally. I learned more about Thoreau, improved my teaching, and reflected on ways to incorporate deliberate living into my own life. The knowledgable, passionate staff at the Walden Woods Project created engaging and thought-provoking activities and were able to meet the diverse needs of our large group. Because of Approaching Walden, I feel fully equipped to engage my students with Thoreau's philosophies, and I will forever appreciate The Walden Woods Project for this life-changing experience.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was among the lucky few to get invited to attend a professional development course led by The Walden Woods Project called Approaching Walden. Not only did I gain valuable resources for my classroom, but I learned about myself and how to better interact with my world. Everyone there helped me to completely change my outlook on life and how to share that with my students. I can’t wait to bring my experiences back to the classroom. I wish I could experience Approaching Walden over and over again!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization. The staff at Walden Woods Project has a true and visible passion for their mission. They treated the 20 of us educators like respected family from the moment we arrived. The weeklong program was an exercise in living out the ideals of Thoreau. Cannot say enough about how valuable they are to educators, students, conservationists, and beyond!!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

American Heritage Trees is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor American history and promote environmental stewardship. We accomplish this through the cultivation and sale of descendent trees related to famous people, historical sites and events.
The work of American Heritage Trees is undertaken in partnership with the parent tree owners, which provides an opportunity for mutual promotion of the organizations. Our nonprofit serves as a catalyst to educate Americans about their rich national heritage, including Presidents, writers and poets, and others, as well as seminal events in our nation’s history.
Partnerships are the key to our organization and its success. We have been partners with Walden Woods Project since 2015, working closely with Juliet Trofi and Matt Burne. They are wonderful!! Walden Woods Project is one of the most organized and structured organizations we have as Partners, always staying on top of each facet of our partnerships. You can always count on them to identify the most relevant and best trees to represent Walden Woods and the essence of Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy. Then they are very prompt at collecting the seeds at the proper time and sending to American Heritage Trees for propagation. Currently, the Walden Woods Red Maple is one of our most popular trees. As a small token of all their work and effort, American Heritage Trees shares a portion of the sales with Walden Woods Project.
We hope to continue this great Partnership with Walden Woods Project for many years to come!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Having visited Concord on a number of occasions and toured all of the prominent writers houses it was great to visit the Walden Woods Project. I first visited the project in 2000 and met the curator of collections and toured the facility. I have returned a number of times since, over the years and have enjoyed using the facilities and talking about Thoreau with Jeffrey Cramer, the curator of collections. The archives are amazing and host so much Thoreau related material. The reading room or ‘Henley Library’ is and amazing beautiful room with original copies of Walden on display as well as other Thoreau related items.

In addition to all this their biggest achievement is the work they have done and continue to do over many years to protect the beautiful woods at Walden Pond. Almost all of the woods are now protected thanks to the Walden Woods Project and they are working on the last area that remains under threat. Testament to this work is the 600,000 Visitors who visit Walden Pond each year.

The Project also run an education programme for students and teachers. And is well known for its education programs.

In short the Walden Woods Project is a professionally run non profit organisation that promotes Henry David Thoreau through education, conservation, as well as protecting the land that Thoreau loved for generations to come.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The walden woods project is an ambassador for being at one with nature, protecting conservation namely land surrounding Walden Pond, and promoting Henry David Thoreaus' legacy.
I have been lucky enough to attend some events with the walden woods project over the years and the work they do is highly credited.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our church's high school youth toured Walden Woods June 1, 2018. This tour was one of the highlights of our visit to Concord. After visiting the Alcott and Emerson Houses, Walden Woods brought us back into nature. It brought to life some of Thoreau's thoughts to life in a way no indoor experience could.
The tour guide was exemplary. She drew the connections between Thoreau's thoughts and our Unitarian Universalist faith. She guided us toward deep thought with a journaling exercise and Thoreau quotes that spoke to our Seven Principles.
This is a tour we will want to repeat when we bring our next group.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have had a strong relationship with Samantha Corron and The Walden Project for 4 years as a placement site for high school interns.

Over those 4 years Samantha /TWP have exceed their role hosting interns and have become a premier site for students. Past students rate their intern experiences at " 10" .

Thank You Samantha for your great contribution to the students and the community.

Peter J Bagley, Managing Director CLI

Mark G.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Walden Woods Project is well known for its important conservation work, as a steward of Walden Pond and the surrounding environment. It also committed to promoting the legacy of Henry David Thoreau through its educational outreach programs and as home to the Thoreau Institute, a world-class academic research facility. Over the past ten years, I have had the pleasure of working with Jeffrey Cramer on a number of different Thoreau-related projects. Jeff is a respected scholar and a friend to educators and researchers alike. Whether you are an elementary school teacher or a college professor, Jeff and his staff are dedicated to helping you bring Thoreau's life and works into your classroom. And as a Thoreau scholar myself, the depth of the Henley Library's holdings and special collections, and its proximity to Harvard's Houghton Library, makes the Thoreau Institute at the Walden Woods Project the destination for anyone who is writing about Thoreau.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had a great experience at the Walden Woods Project as an archives intern from Simmons College. I was able to learn about Thoreau, the Institute, the collections, and enjoy the beautiful location.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Sitting peacefully inside the woods of Lincoln, Massachusetts, the supporting institutions of The Walden Woods Project are an ideal setting for the study of all things relating to the American author Henry David Thoreau. Central to these institutions is the Thoreau Institute. The Institute’s Henley Library is rich in archival resources, and ranges in its coverage from the nineteenth century into the twenty-first century. Jeffrey S. Cramer, Curator of Collections, is a knowledgeable Thoreau scholar, and a gracious guide to all that the Library contains. The Library’s facilities are impeccably kept and comfortable, and they sit but a short distance from the hallowed ground of Walden Pond. Whether a visitor is interested in the New England region’s historical past or the environmental imperatives of the present, The Walden Woods Project has much to offer.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Walden Woods Project has been unfailing in its support of the Vernal Pool Association, a Massachusetts nonprofit environmental outreach organization. WWP continues to share with us their beautiful facilities, tucked into the tranquil woods where Thoreau once trod, for our board meetings and day-long environmental programs for educators.
-Susan Ranney
Member, VPA Board of Directors

Client Served

Rating: 5

American Heritage Trees is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor American history and promote environmental stewardship. We accomplish this through the cultivation and sale of descendant trees related to famous people, historical sites and events.
The work of American Heritage Trees is undertaken in partnership with the parent tree owners, which provides an opportunity for mutual promotion of the organizations. Our nonprofit serves as a catalyst to educate Americans about their rich national heritage, including Presidents, writers and poets, and others, as well as seminal events in our nation’s history.
Partnerships are the key to our organization and its success. We have been partners with Walden Woods Project since 2015, working closely with Juliet Trofi and Matt Burne. They are wonderful!! Walden Woods Project is one of the most organized and structured organizations we have as Partners, always staying on top of each facet of our partnerships. You can always count on them to identify the most relevant and best trees to represent Walden Woods and the essence of Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy. Then they are very prompt at collecting the seeds at the proper time and sending to American Heritage Trees for propagation. Currently, the Walden Woods Red Maple is one of our most popular trees. As a small token of all their work and effort, American Heritage Trees shares a portion of the sales with Walden Woods Project.
We hope to continue this great Partnership with Walden Woods Project for many years to come!!

Charlie19

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Have you ever stumbled? Falling backwards only to land right in the middle of your childhood? There I was, once again wandering the wild woods of my childhood and my only companion was Thoreau. The feel of pine bark under by hands, or my feet as I climbed to the very top of my world. Safe within the arms of a pine tree’s limbs, I would spend hours reading the wisdom that was Thoreau. It all came rushing back to me that very first day I connected with walden.org.

In going to the walden.org web site, a person can find Thoreau’s works easily downloadable for reading. Additionally, the stewards of Thoreau’s works have translated his words into life experiences that they readily share on the site. The vast and continually updated information and programs at walden.org is an endless wealth of all things Thoreau. Even their Facebook page enlightens and engages.

The daily immersion of Henry David Thoreau helps me to become the inquisitive child once again within the arms of my favorite pine tree. I will be forever grateful to walden.org and those who strive and succeeded in protecting Thoreau’s legacy.

Cherry "Charlie" Pride