Where’s your ‘Listening Point’?
By Trust for Public Land
Published June 11, 2015

Where’s your ‘Listening Point’?

Unless you’ve got Midwestern roots and a PhD in English, you probably don’t recognize this man. But if you’re the type of person who likes to get outdoors to unwind—to ditch the cell phone, take a deep breath, and enjoy a quiet moment to yourself—he knows you.

Simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness and one of its most valuable lessons. I think the matter of simplicity goes further than just food, equipment, and unnecessary gadgets; it goes into the matter of thoughts and objectives as well. When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.

Sigurd Olson authored five books based on his experiences in the Northwoods, the forested region spanning portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. A wildlife ecologist by training, he was also a dedicated advocate for conservation: he helped craft the nation’s 1964 Wilderness Act and worked for decades to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Olson wrote eloquently about how the right place can reawaken a person’s sense of awe and wonder. For him, that place was Listening Point, a granite outcropping overlooking Minnesota’s Burntside Lake.

Just as John Muir was the voice of the High Sierra, Olson spoke to the unique beauty of the Midwest’s Northwoods. It’s a critically important landscape—not just for its ability to inspire, but for water quality, wildlife habitat, and the local timber and tourism economies. 

But though there’s no place quite like the Northwoods, Olson believed that people can find inspiration from nature in all sorts of places.

I named this place Listening Point because only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard. Everyone has a listening point somewhere. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but some place of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe.

Like Olson, we think everyone deserves their own Listening Point. That’s the spirit behind our mission to create parks and conserve land for people—including more than 200,000 acres across the Northwoods, from the Boundary Waters to the shores of Lake Huron.

We want to know where you go to find your ‘Listening Point.’ Leave us a comment, send us an e-mail, or join in on Facebook.

Trust for Public Land
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