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Live Deliberately Essay Contest & Prize To Publications / Articles

Posted 1/21/19

Message to Nebraska Homeschool and passing it on to those who might be interested:
Good afternoon,

My name is Lindsay Blount and I am the new Education Programs Assistant at the Walden Woods Project, a non-profit organization in Lincoln, MA, devoted to preserving the land, literature and legacy of Henry David Thoreau to foster an ethic of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. I am writing to you about our Live Deliberately Essay Contest.

We would be very grateful for your help in sharing this year’s prompt with anyone you think might be interested in the Contest, for which we offer a cash prize of $250 to the winner in each age group. We received a record number of entries AGAIN in 2018 (a total of 2,390, with contestants from ALL 50 United States and 15 additional countries!) and hope that this year’s prompt also speaks to so many youth around the world.

This year’s prompt :“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? If you cannot tolerate the planet it is on? Grade the ground first. If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him…he will be surrounded by grandeur.”*  —H.D. Thoreau, Correspondence to H.G.O. Blake, 20 May 1860

With the quotation above as inspiration, respond to the following in 750 words or fewer:

What is a change you are passionate about seeing in the world? How can you “grade the ground first” to cultivate that change within yourself? How do the changes we make within ourselves make the world a better place?

*It was common practice in the 19th century to use masculine pronouns when describing the entirety of humankind. We use Thoreau’s quotation as it was written with the understanding that he was referring to all people. We encourage youth of all gender identities to participate in the Essay Contest.

PLEASE NOTE that the deadline for submission is February 15, 2019. For those who are familiar with the contest, this is a month earlier than in the past. Results will be announced by the end of April, 2019.



Lindsay Blount

Education Programs Assistant

The Walden Woods Project

44 Baker Farm

Lincoln, MA 01773-3004

781-259-4718 ph