The full video is at the Village University.


Friends, to the worldly site/home of the Center for American Studies at Concord, Massachusetts and across our nation and global community.

Escorted, accompanied by some of Concord’s solidest citizens, beginning with the Spirited “Praying Indians” and continuing . . . . with the Puritan founders of what would become America’s first, non-native inland community . . . . the embattled farmers, Minutemen and -women, who fired “the shot heard ’round the world” . . . . Concord’s celebrated authors: Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson and Louisa May Alcott, Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dame Margaret Fuller, and Ellen Garrison herself . . . . the preceding pages have led you over the threshold and into the entrance, the vestibule, and front hall of our abode, establishment.

Having arrived, we offer you an introduction to The Center for American Studies at Concord.

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To begin with, this site is not “user-friendly”, in the commonly understood meaning of the word — intentionally so.

Its pace and intention are different from, it appears, many sites that are cast up on the web today. That is, this Concordian site invites those so moved to slow down . . . . catch your breath and come ever more fully to your senses. Might one say, sincerely so?

For, can it be that America’s No. 1 occupational hazard is the fact that we, many, are going so fast, “on the run” . . . . that our best thoughts, wits themselves, can’t catch up to us? With the result, all too often, that one mishap, mis-fortune follows another . . . until that old stone wall looms up before us?

So much, briefly stated, by way of an opening word, to set the pace and tone of this web site.

The following introduces central aspects of our work, labors of love, redemptive love, as well as those fellow Concordians, near and far, who carry that work out. You’re most welcome to join us, friends, if such labors speak to you, to your “calling,” why you are in the world.

As the entire oak tree dwells in the acorn, the whole in the part, so The Center for American Studies’ work, our story resounds silently in the name of our home town.

Concord means: Covenant, a Sacred Agreement or Pact;
Concorde means: Peace and Harmony;
Con-cord means: With-the-Heart
Concord means — in the words of a native daughter — Follow Nature.

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People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character . . . . America is another word for Opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of the Divine Providence on behalf of the human race.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Sage of Concord”

I. The Vision:

In the words of the ancient prophet: Without a vision — human/humane — the People perish.

II. The Mission:

To work collaboratively to bring new civilization or civilizing impulses into our time, Concordian impulses that, as noted in the meaning of the name, are enlivening, as we speak, pretty nearly ALL areas of society — from “Concordian Economics,” a new economic paradigm, through the “New World Drama & CRESCENDOING CONCERT OF CONCERTS, to The Concord Constitutional Congress, The Concord Noble Award for Peace, The Concord~Bretton Woods Resolution, and The Citizens’ Movement to Revive the Spirit of Public Service. For starters . . . .

III. Dedication:

The work of The Center for American Studies is dedicated to our children, grandchildren, and to the generations to come: All Our Relations.

IV. The Work Itself

True to the spirit of Concord, the Center’s focus is one of applied American Studies. How, that is, do we translate the ideals and principles of our past, including Transcendentalism itself, into a language for our modern times?

We have dedicated ourselves to this task not by erecting another ivory/ivy tower. Rather, building on the foundation of Concord’s celebrated heritage — which included Harvard College’s own move to Concord at the outset of our American Revolution — we have devoted ourselves to carrying forth the “instruction” of Thoreau’s Village / Invisible University.

Toward that end, since 1978, we have presented offerings that, as expressed, apply the ideals and principles of the past to our very real contemporary issues: problems, challenges, and, above all, opportunities.

Examples of these offerings, “translations”, follow, beginning at the beginning with our research and broadening out to our educational programs, publications, and, finally, practical initiatives in and for our times.

These latter have been presented in such a way that they can be adapted and adopted in communities not only across our land but beyond our shores among Concordians near and far. In the words of “The Sage of Concord”:

“A good fruit of the day’s philosophy would be some analysis of the various applications of the infinite soul [spirit] to aesthetics, to metaphysics, to ethics, to physics, and so show . . . the present movement in the American mind.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal, June, 13, 1838

Might We the People have some catching up to do?

V. The Trustees

As a free cultural initiative, borne in and of the Concord Spirit, we have not a board . . . . of directors, but a Circle . . . . of Trustees. Vision- and mission- driven, this circle is rounded by Concordians near and far, kindred spirits — many at the very forefront of their professions — to whom the work of The Center for American Studies has been entrusted.

An “uncommon school,” in Thoreau’s words, a (Global) “Village University,” there is nothing common, conventional, merely “correct” — politically or otherwise — about the Center and the work of its trustees. We are, as noted, Concordian, Concordians.

The trustees have been chosen because they are not only engaged, laboring along related lines, but because they understand Concord’s central role in the history of our nation, our aspiring “New World” — as well as one of its mounting challenges, to which Thoreau gave voice for our day and age.

“To act collectively is according to the spirit of our institutions.”

The trustees of The Center for American Studies at Concord exemplify this Spirit of Fellowship. Since our work is first and foremost VISION/MISSION- DRIVEN and DEDICATED, devoted to the generations to come, therein lies the focus of the trustees’ work.

Their precious time and energy is not consumed with committee, administrative work and endless fund-raising. Rather, the work of the Center has been entrusted to the trustees on the basis of their accomplishments, experience, and genius.

The list of the Center Trustees is to be found in “About Us”. Feel free to contact us for further information about these accomplished Concordians.

VI. How We Carry Out Our Work, Together

Though we do have a non-profit umbrella, a fiscal sponsor, The Center for American Studies at Concord itself is not a non-profit; not a 501c3. Indeed we are not non-anything. Rather, in the Concord Spirit, we are a “Free Cultural Initiative”. As the scriptures of the world state, “The wind (spirit) cometh and goeth as it will”. That Universal Spirit we seek to serve.

As such, our work is carried, borne by ad-hoc (when needed) Initiative Circles. When an initiative arises — with respect to our labors themselves or their realization — trustees and participants in the Concordium, the Circle of Friends, convene for anywhere from a day to a week, a month or longer.

When the task at hand is completed, the trustees step back from the initiative, return to their ongoing labors, often further invigorated by such Concordian engagements, the real-ization of new civilized, civilization impulses in and for our time.

This emphasis (if clear?) is key. For it distinguishes the Center’s work, our striving. That is, the administrative impulse — which readily becomes political, thereby all too often hindering, if not undermining such labors — is “banned” from the Center’s work and replaced by individual initiative and responsibility, IN FELLOWSHIP, CON-CORD-E. The Rev. William Channing spoke to such a “mandate,” on behalf of The Concord School of Philosophy & Literature, 1879-1888:

 “The aim of this school is eminently practical. A new cosmos is coming out of this chaos, a new development of man’s mind and heart from contact with the life of the universe. No sham or lie is to be tolerated here.

The greatest movement represented by Goethe and others in Germany was the spring morning. After this came the grand scientific movement, and this includes the tendency to a higher form of religion . . . .

There is a new age for man, a revelation of the sacredness of human life. Our object is to take up this movement, as it was left by the great German leaders, and organize it anew in the interests of Human Liberty. Something better than Transcendentalism is yet to come and the role of women will be vital.”

Simply expressed, an invaluable lesson that our soon half century of work, 50 years, has commended to us speaks to the necessity of fashioning ever new “wine-skins” (vessels, organizational forms or structures) that are required to beare the ever new “wine,” revelations: The new civilized, civilization impulses that seek to in-form our times, day and age.

Otherwise expressed, form and content need be consistent. We are called not just to talk, but to walk our talk, right down into the very details of our work, wherein the old Devil dwells, the painstaking nuts and bolts of such divine worldly labors.

This unending striving has been inspired by The Peace Maker, who spoke to such a “promise” in his “Three Twin Principles” of the Iroquois Confederation. It has been inspired by Booker T. Washington, who spoke to the “promise” in his statement: “My work at Tuskegee has always been of a threefold nature.” Such labors have been inspired by Emerson and his American Scholar Address. “The Sage of Concord” addressed this All-American “promise” in speaking of the three “uses” of the scholar — alluding to their man-i-fes-tation in our collective effort and within the “body-social.”

These often decisive matters, aspects of the Center’s work, are addressed in the attachment.

VII. The Concordium

The Concordium, our Circle of Friends, encompasses The Center For American Studies’ Local Advisory Circle, our National and International Advisory Circles and our Honorary Circle of Trustees — a good 5,000 Concordians from our home town, from across the nation and from overseas.

These friends of the Center, colleagues in the work, range from Prime Ministers through statesmen and -women, representing the breadth of trades and professions, “callings,” to aspiring students, farmers of the earth and custodians, working no less decisively in other corridors of power.

For one and all, Concord and the Center are a vital touch-stone for the otherwise worldly labors of the participants in the Concordium. Along their life paths, many of these kindred spirits have bumped into Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and his spirited daughter, Louisa May, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, increasingly Ellen Garrison — who paved the way a century earlier for Rosa Parks . . . . and before them Concord’s Minutemen, -women, our Puritan Founders, and Spirited “Praying Indians”.

And . . . . via these Concordians’ undying faith, labors, and their vital fruits, essays, poems, books, and assorted gems, Self-Reliance, Walden, Civil Disobedience, Conversations on the Gospels, Little Women, The Scarlet Letter, Woman in the 19th Century and Concord’s Hymn . . . . through these labors, offerings, the participants in the Concordium were touched, deeply.

For many recognized that the lives and labors of these Concordians bespoke, were devoted to keeping alive the holy flame of the heart, kindling the often forlorn promise not only of our ever “New World,” but of our aspiring Global Community: Sister- and Brotherhood from sea to shining SEAS.

The participants in the Concordium are, accordingly, the inexhaustible human resource of the Center, lending their arms, hearts and minds to the work, providing invaluable insights drawn from their kindred labors of love, redemptive love.

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So much by way of introduction.

And an orientation to the Center and its Concordium?

Imagine, if you will, that we are standing in the front hallway with the site/Center for American Studies before you. The rooms, corridors, suites, and wings are, as you will discover, many, the fruit of 45 years of work. May this orientation help to guide your steps.

We begin, as noted, at the beginning with our areas of research and publications, which provide a foundation for our educational programs and initiatives in the field of applied American Studies.

For quick links, click on the top menu bar or proceed to About Us