As an operating foundation, the Institute does not make grants. However, it does undertake projects and partner with others to mount programs and address areas of concern.
A Fresh Approach in Science
In his journal, Goethe describes how the scientific observer and what is being observed could be related, how an ever-changing nature can be apprehended. No sooner has something been formed than it is immediately transformed, and if we wish to achieve a living perception of nature, we must strive to keep ourselves as mobile and flexible as the examples she herself provides. The Myrin Science Initiative explores new ways to study nature that lead to concepts more in harmony with what can be inwardly experienced by the human being. This avenue of study is being explored in depth through an active partnership with The Nature Institute called the Evolving Science Association. Use this link to learn more about this joint effort of the Nature Institute and Myrin.
A common belief holds that nature would be better served if humankind left her alone; or, if we became extinct, nature would find balance again. Whether this is so or not, it is unlikely to occur any time soon. The modern scientific thinking, that is so clear and quantitatively oriented, seems related to the outer, fractured environment we find ourselves faced with. Could it be that we are at a point in evolution, at a threshold, where a new, more compatible, mobile and participatory kind of thinking is ready to be born? Through the Science Initiative and The Nature Institute we are making efforts to find new ways of thinking and interacting with nature that move toward a harmonious and mutually beneficial coexistence.
Changing Environmental Consciousness
In 1982 the Institute launched Orion Nature Quarterly as a project offering fine nature writing and encouraging a more comprehensive understanding of our natural environment. Initially a subsidiary of The Myrin Institute, in 1996 Orion transitioned to an autonomous 501c3 organization. In addition to literary quality fiction, nonfiction and poetry, this ad-free magazine contains art and photography, all aiming to encourage a deeper appreciation of nature and a community of caring for the planet.
Because our treatment of nature inevitably grows out of our values and culture as a whole, Orion has gone on to address social and cultural issues as well. With the thought that the ideas and ideals of today can shape the future reality. Orion seeks out writing that gives voice to real vision and has the power to transform.
Orion has a number of other activities, including online and in-person workshops for environmental writers, a very active digital presence, and events with partner organizations. Learn more at www.orionmagazine.org.
Educating the Whole Child
Concerned about the direction American public education is taking toward ever greater emphasis on accountability enforced by excessive testing, Myrin has undertaken a vigorous effort to make viable alternative approaches available to parents and teachers who seek them. The alternatives stress nurturing the child's natural desire to learn so that it continues through life, encouraging creative work and problem solving, engaging with nature and community, and project-based or place-based learning that requires multiple disciplines, team building, and social skills.
The work in this area includes developing a website that explains whole child education, makes a case for it, gives examples and tools for parents and teachers, and provides links to related sites where groups and individuals are not just protesting the prevailing systems in public education but are forging alternatives that work. See www.educatethewholechild.org.
Other aspects of this initiative include networking with groups that can offer strong alternatives, an active social media presence, presenting at education conferences, and finding and certifying schools that can serve as models of successful whole child education.
The Institute has been able to save from development an area of more than 300 acres off Monument Valley in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. It consists of a pond, wetlands, and contiguous beech and hemlock forested upland. The preserve anchors a wetland that extends six-miles north almost to the center of Stockbridge. The preserve anchors the southern end of a north-south wildlife corridor that we seek to protect with conservation easements and gifts of land. In the preserve’s wet areas can be found beavers, muskrats, otter, and other mammals. During migration seasons, warblers and other birds pass through, and birders can see a varied of species if they enter the preserve from the parking turn-out located at the intersection of Monument Valley Road and Blue Hill Road.
This is a refuge for wildlife, not people, so although there are trails, they are not marked. Hikers are advised to use the trail map and to watch out for ticks and poison ivy. No guns or motors allowed.
Because this has been identified as an area of environmental concern, we like to limit the amount of foot traffic in the preserve. However, classes of students with their instructors are welcome for nature study in all seasons.