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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

58 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In 2010 I became acquainted with the Walden Woods Project when visiting the Thoreau Institute during the Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society. I could sense that this was the organization that could properly care for and extend Thoreau's literary, conservation, and political legacy. Since then, I've returned many times to do scholarly research in the institute's library, and benefit from the expertise of its curator, Jeffrey S. Cramer. More recently, I've given several of their stewardship lectures. Presently, I’m working with the Walden Woods Project on a guidebook to Walden Pond, the most famous kettle lake in America. -- Robert M. Thorson, Professor of Geology, author, and life-long Thoreauvian.

(Attached photo: lichen-crusted granite outcrops in Walden Woods)

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a proud member of the Walden Woods Project for over 26 years now. I believe it is a very important charity for many reasons. It is helping to keep the work of Henry David Thoreau alive not only in America but across the world. It is teaching children the importance of conservation and recycling, to help keep this planet in good shape, and it protects the beautiful land that the likes of Thoreau, Emerson, and the Alcott's walked long before we did from people who want to develop over that historic land. To top it off I also know that it's founder Mr. Don Henley lives what he preaches.This is why I wholeheartedly believe that this non-for profit deserves to be awarded Best Non-For-Profit.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The preservation and education that occurs at the Walden Woods Project honors, and shares, Thoreau's legacy and the interconnectedness of 19th century Concord and surrounding area with today's world. While some forget that Thoreau was an author, many recall that he was deeply connected to his environment and left lessons about appreciating the natural world around us. The Walden Woods Project reminds visitors, including educators and students, that there was and is more to Thoreau than "Walden," although many writings relate closely to his most famous work and the wooded lot where he lived for two years, two months, and two days.

Anne143

Donor

Rating: 5

All of my interactions with the Walden Woods Project have convinced me of their loving commitment to the conscientious management of Walden Pond and the surrounding woods, and their respect for the people who benefit from preservation of the area. They have an impressive library that can accommodate both casual and serious study. Their staff is gracious and highly knowledgeable. I attended a week-long institute for teachers at their headquarters and found the experience to be quite valuable and, in some respects, life-changing. In their education programs, they promote the idea that we should all have "a sense of place" in our environment, which helps us to realize better our unique perspective and contribution to the world and also to become better stewards of our earthly home. Can you tell I love the Walden Woods Project? Get to know them, and you will, too!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Walden Woods Project is a great nonprofit that enriched my life and taught me so much about Concord and Henry David Thoreau. The area is so rich with history and life and I was very impressed by their knowledge and expertise. I hope to visit again soon!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Excellent discussions, ideas to take to the classroom, and rich historical discussions. Fabulous experience for anyone wishing to implement place-based learning curriculum.

1 Robert G. M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is beneficial for the mind and soul! A team of passionate, dedicated scholars preserves the work and legacy of Henry David Thoreau, his town, and his contemporaries. The library and archives echo with the voices of Henry and those who he lived and worked with in Concord; the paths of Henry's woods contain stone placards of his words--walk in his footsteps, hear his voice, consequently, hear your own voice, too. Take the time to research all they have to offer and visit The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods. It is truly transcendental.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

They offer exceptionally well-organized educational programs! They are making a significant impact on people and place with their efforts to educate about Thoreau's legacy. Wonderful staff, too!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

By far the best professional development I've ever experienced... A week in the woods with like-minded educators learning from each other and from the environment itself. The entire team is so passionate about what they do, and they graciously share both their time and their expertise with us. They have touched so many important people along the way. Thank you so much!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

An amazing organization and place to learn more about Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau, and the Transcendentalists

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I spent a wonderful week as part of the Approaching Walden teacher program. The Walden Woods Project included gracious hosts as well as informative instructors. This was an experience that will remain with me and will extend into my classroom as we read Walden and study Thoreau. I highly recommend this program to other teachers and commend this organization on a job well done. Thank you for an inspiring week!