Browse Archives lecture

Tuesday, May 9, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm – On the Wing

What do you get from a bird-lover who is a materials science engineer? A close look at feathers. In this talk, Lorna Gibson, PhD, Matoula S. Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology will speak  at the Hunnewell Building of the Arnold Arboretum about the microscopic structure of feathers and explain how their structure makes hummingbirds feathers iridescent, ducks feathers water repellent and owl ruff feathers collectors of sound.  Free, registration requested.  Register at or call 617-384-5277.

Tuesday, May 9, 7:00 pm – The Outer Beach

Those who have encountered Cape Cod or merely dipped into an account of its rich history know that it is a singular place. Robert Finch writes of its beaches: No other place I know sears the heart with such a constant juxtaposition of pleasure and pain, of beauty being born and destroyed in the same moment. And nowhere within its borders is this truth more vivid and dramatic than along the forty miles of Atlantic coast what Finch has always known as The Outer Beach. The essays here represent nearly fifty years and a cumulative thousand miles of walking along the storied edge of the Cape’s legendary arm.

Finch considers evidence of nature’s fury: shipwrecks, beached whales, towering natural edifices, ferocious seaside blizzards. And he ponders everyday human interactions conducted in its environment with equal curiosity, wit, and insight: taking a weeks-old puppy for his first beach walk; engaging in a nocturnal dance with one of the Cape’s fabled lighthouses; stumbling, unexpectedly, upon nude sunbathers; or even encountering out-of-towners hoping an Uber will fetch them from the other side of a remote dune field.

Throughout these essays, Finch pays tribute to the Outer Beach’s impressive literary legacy, meditates on its often-tragic history, and explores the strange, mutable nature of time near the ocean. But lurking behind every experience and observation both pivotal and quotidian is the essential question that the beach beckons every one of its pilgrims to confront: How do we accept our brief existence here, caught between overwhelming beauty and merciless indifference?

Finch’s affable voice, attentive eye, and stirring prose will be cherished by the Cape’s staunch lifers and erstwhile visitors alike, and strike a resounding chord with anyone who has been left breathless by the majestic, unrelenting beauty of the shore. He will speak and sign copies of his book on Tuesday, May 9 at Porter Square Books, 25 White Street in Cambridge, beginning at 7 pm. For more information visit


Tuesday, May 2, 6:00 pm – Esplanade Association’s 16th Annual Meeting

The Esplanade Association will be hosting their 16th Annual Meeting on Tuesday evening, May 2nd at the Algonquin Club in Boston. The public is invited to attend the meeting at which the organization will share what they have accomplished over the past year in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and what they have planned for 2017 as they continue their mission to make life better on the Charles River Esplanade.

The evening will also feature guest speaker, John Alschuler, Chairman at HR&A Advisors, an internationally recognized multidisciplinary firm focused on increasing the vitality of urban life. Also, Mr. Alschuler is Emeritus Chair of the Friends of the High Line. Since founding the New York office of HR&A in 1984, he has developed bold plans that have reshaped waterfronts, downtown districts and neighborhoods. Specifically, in Boston, HR&A is the lead consultant for Imagine Boston 2030 and is playing an influential role in the Barr Foundation’s work on Boston’s Harbor. As a part of the Annual Meeting, Mr. Alschuler will speak about the significant relationship between parks and city life, as well as public-private partnerships, which is a topic that is very relevant to the Esplanade Association.

The meeting will be from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Algonquin Club located at 217 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. For those interested in attending please RSVP to as space is limited. For more information visit

Friday, May 5, 6:00 pm – Witness Tree: A Year in the Forest

Lynda Mapes, 2014-2015 Bullard Fellow in Forest Research, Harvard Forest, and Staff Reporter, The Seattle Times, will appear at the Arnold Arboretum on Friday, May 5 beginning at 6 pm in the Hunnewell Building for a reception, reading, and book signing.

Ever wonder about the inside of a tree or how a tree functions? Or, what a single tree can tell us about climate? Reporter Lynda Mapes spent a year embedded with scientists at the Harvard Forest to explore a single, 100-year old oak, from the symbiotic relationships in and around its roots and branches to the daily and seasonal changes of the canopy. Hear Lynda speak about her experience studying a rooted tree for a year and how this specimen is one of many in the remarkable, six-state recovery of forests that is underway on former farmland throughout New England. Her book, Witness Tree, will be available for purchase and signing. Free, registration requested at or call 617-384-5277.

Tuesday, May 2, 6:00 pm – The Evolution and Migration of the Irish Potato Famine Pathogen: Darwin’s Painfully Interesting Subject

Jean Beagle Ristaino, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Plant Pathology and Director of Emerging Plant Disease and Global Food Security, North Carolina State University, will speak on Tuesday, May 2, at the Harvard University Science Center, 1 Oxford Street in Cambridge, in a Harvard Museum of Natural History program entitled The Evolution and Migration of the Irish Potato Famine Pathogen. The culprit behind the nineteenth-century Irish potato famine was Phytophthora infestans, a fungus-like microorganism that causes the disease known as “potato late blight.” New genetic tools have enabled scientists to piece together the evolution of this pathogen and the history of its outbreaks in Ireland. Jean Ristaino will discuss the latest research on P. infestans and describe Charles Darwin’s early role in the search for durable resistance to this serious plant disease. Free parking is available at the 52 Oxford Street Garage. Free and open to the public.

Monday, May 1, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm – The Future of Energy: The Energy We Need

With well-known sources like hydro, wind and solar at the forefront, many countries have made impressive strides transitioning to clean energy. Still, the challenges are immense: Consider that only 13 percent of the electricity produced in the United States comes from renewable sources. As the essential push toward a low-carbon future accelerates, though, how do we balance the benefits with the potential risks to nature? What are the tools—technology, policy, markets and beyond—that will help us produce the clean energy we need in New England and globally, while protecting the health of our rivers and minimizing energy sprawl and other impacts? What role can lesser known renewable sources like biomass and tidal power play? Join the Nature Conservancy at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center, 1 Memorial Drive in Cambridge on Monday, May 1 for a panel discussion on The Future of Energy. There will be a reception at 5:30 and talk begins at 6:30. Tickets are $10, and may be reserved online at

Katherine Hamilton, Partner, 38 North Solutions;
Jessika Trancik, Associate Professor of Energy Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
Nels Johnson, Director, North America Energy Program, The Nature Conservancy.
Moderator: Dan Delurey, President, Wedgemere Group

The Future of Nature Boston Speaker Series is made possible by the generosity of Marilyn and Jay Sarles, Tom Jones, David and Susan Leathers, and Eaglemere Foundation.  Special thanks to media sponsor WBUR.

Thursday, May 4, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm- Henry David Thoreau at 200: From Concord to Cape Cod

American author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is best known for spending one night in jail for nonpayment of the state poll tax, and for living for two years along the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, which sprouted the enduring book Walden. As part of the “Concord Quartet” Thoreau and his contemporaries Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Louisa May Alcott, revolutionized political, social and literary thinking and became known as “Transcendentalists”.

Based on several trips to Cape Cod and originally published as a series of articles, Henry David Thoreau’s Cape Cod is a remarkable work that depicts the natural beauty of Cape Cod and the nature that surrounds it. Thoreau, a consummate lover of the outdoors and nature is right at home in the Cape and he details his excitement of the area with naturalist portraits of the indigenous species and animals. Now 200 years after his birth, Thoreau’s essays and books are still being read, and his words are still printed on inspirational posters, greeting cards, and social media graphics. What are his basic philosophies, and how do they resound with us today? On Thursday May 4, beginning at 1 pm at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, you will learn a bit more about this “Transcendentalist” and discuss what threads connect us to him ­ including what he saw and experienced during his trips to Cape Cod.

Corinne H. Smith is a writer, poet, and outdoor educator. She is the author of Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau’s Last Journey, as well as a biography for middle-schoolers, Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas, With 21 Activities. Corinne serves as an occasional interpreter and blog writer for Thoreau Farm: The Birthplace of Henry David Thoreau in Concord, MA.

For more information please call: 508-896-3867, ext. 133. Free with admission.  The Museum’s address is 869 Main Street (Route 6A) in Brewster.


Thursday, April 27, 7:00 pm – Preparing the Garden for Spring and Summer

Spring is a busy time of year and often essential chores get lost in the craziness. In this Massachusetts Horticultural Society talk on Thursday, April 27 at 7 pm, Charlie Nardozzi will walk us through, step by step, plant by plant, the various gardening chores that should be done and how to do them. From pruning to dividing, planting to lawn care, Charlie will make sure you have a list of tasks to take home. His latest book, New England Month by Month Gardening, released in 2016, will be on hand for sales and signing.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 25 years bringing expert gardening information to home gardeners through radio, television, talks, tours, on-line, and the printed page. Charlie delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. Learn more about Charlie at

Mass Hort Member Cost: $12; Non Member Cost $20. Register online at

Sunday, April 23, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm – Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape

Urban Forests is a celebration of urban trees and the Americans – presidents, plant explorers, visionaries, citizen activists, scientists, nurserymen, and tree nerds – whose arboreal passions have shaped and ornamented the nation’s cities, from Jefferson’s day to the present.

Jill Jonnes is the author of Urban Forests, Conquering Gotham, Empires of Light, and South Bronx Rising. She is the founder of the Baltimore Tree Trust. She was named a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar and has received several grants from the Ford Foundation. She will speak on Sunday, April 23 from 1 – 2 at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston. THBG members $7, nonmembers $20. Register online at—urban-forests-a-natural-history-of-trees-and-people-in-the-american-cityscape-talk–book-signing

Tuesday, May 2, 9:30 am – Ikebana Demonstration

Ikebana International Boston Chapter #17 announces a demonstration by Grand Master Ingrid Luders, Ohara School of Ikebana, to take place Tuesday, May 2 in the Hunnewell Carriage House at Elm Bank, 900 Washington Street in Wellesley.  Tickets are $20 at the door.  Containers by potters David and Keiko Hergesheimer.  For more information contact Kaye Vosburgh at, or call her at 617-916-1944.