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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

69 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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

Matt116

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a conservation intern for WWP during the Spring of 2016 designing an interpretive trail on the organization’s Bear Garden Hill parcel of land. After interning for 4 months, I can confidently say that this is one of the most structured and worthwhile organizations I have had the pleasure of encountering. Every staff member, regardless of department or job function, is extremely passionate about the work they perform. Matt Burne, Conservation Director and my former supervisor at WWP, works hard to preserve and maintain many regional areas for public use and plans outings to educate the public on New England wildlife. He has such enthusiasm for his work and helped me realize my goal to work with amphibians in the future.

The organization balances important American history with their modern goals to preserve Thoreau’s legacy and land and to educate the public about his life and literature. You would be hard-pressed to find a more worthwhile and interesting non-profit in which to involve yourself.

(Many staff also own dogs which made every work day spectacular)

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was first introduced to this organization while working at The Farm at Walden Woods, a small organic produce farm that sits near Walden Pond. From my time working on the farm, I learned all about the good work that The Walden Woods Project does to conserve the land around Walden Pond and preserve the memory of Henry David Thoreau. I was surprised and delighted to learn about the many ways the Project works to promote conservation while also providing extensive resources for educational programming and historical preservation. This multifaceted nonprofit does more than just protect Walden Pond; it inspires others to "live deliberately", staying true to Thoreau's original intentions when he first came to live by the Pond so many years ago.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a public high school teacher in an experiential, field-based program.

This program has been successful, in large part, because we have sought out partner organizations which can help deliver an engaging learning experience to a diverse group of kids: the kind of work at which The Walden Woods Project excels.

As a direct result of WWP's efforts, I have seen students become much more deeply aware of Thoreau and of local history. But more than that; students have been pushed by Walden Woods Project staff and interpretive materials to consider Thoreau's legacy - and the relevance of this legacy to the contemporary world.

I have seen a walk around Walden turn into a meditation on ecological change - and a tour of Brister's Hill become a meditation on racial and ecological justice. The Walden Woods Project is able to nudge students (of all ages) from learning toward real reflection, and then to action. This organization is an invaluable part of the community. And by "community", I mean the broad and far-flung body of idealists, naturalists, and imaginative learners who will carry Thoreau's legacy into the future.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Doing research on Thoreau is very rewarding, but at times it can be a challenge, especially when you delve into the far corners of his life and writings not previously given extensive study. The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods has it all, books, letters, documents, and a curator who is extremely knowledgeable in the subject. Help and direction is always forthcoming. In addition, it provides excellent educational services and programs. Walden Woods represents the Top of the line; the Gold Standard in studies of Walden, Thoreau, and related subject material.

Robert222

Client Served

Rating: 5

Robinson Farm is a small raw milk, organic cheese dairy in Hardwick Massachusetts. The folks at Walden Woods understand their network of supporters and visitors and their interest in our local community. Working with this organization is such a pleasure. Being part of their select farm suppliers is a real honor and having their support of our farmstead operation makes for a wonderful relationship. Luckily winter is almost over and we get to again collaborate this year

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Well run library and research facility. Great resource for professional historians and history buffs. Actively seeks out volunteers. Keeping the spirit and inspiration of Thoreau alive in Concord for generations to come.