Rooted Wisdom: Nature's Role in the Underground Railroad
Explore Adkins Arboretum with historian Anthony Cohen to understand how self-liberators used the natural landscape to forge a path to freedom.
Their methods for navigating, concealing themselves, finding food, and evading capture reflect a deep connection to, and understanding of, the natural landscape. Filmed over the course of a year, this project explores Adkins Arboretum on Maryland’s Eastern Shore through the seasons and brings history alive in the landscape you see today.
The guided experience includes a five-part film series accompanied by a collection of resources that invite viewers to continue their journey of discovery at the Arboretum and beyond. Visit rootedwisdom.org to begin.
Listen to an audio essay featuring filmmaker Mecca Lewis and historian Anthony Cohen at Adkins Arboretum. Join them as they set out to explore the Underground Railroad and reveal how sometimes what's before you is in the past.
Explore the Rooted Wisdom film and guided experience
Learn more about the project
View the panel discussion and Q&A with Tony Cohen and the filmmakers, George Burroughs and Lauren Giordano, moderated by Adam Goodheart
View The Talbot Spy's interview with Anthony Cohen. He discusses what attracted him to the project and how the Arboretum plays a role in telling the story of the Underground Railroad through the landscape. (2/9/22). Also check out the Spy's piece on Learning History from Nature.
Anthony Cohen discusses how the language around and understanding of the Underground Railroad has changed over the years.
Listen to an interview with Tony Cohen and the filmmakers, George Burroughs and Lauren Giordano, aired on WHCP Radio.
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A school field trip lesson plan and docent-led guided walks that incorporate the same themes and stories as the Rooted Wisdom: Nature's Role in the Underground Railroad guided experience have been developed to provide additional layers of insight into how freedom seekers used their knowledge of the natural landscape to forge a path to freedom...and to how we can connect the landscape to history. An audio experience is in development and will be available in late spring 2023.
If you are excited about what you've seen and wish to help us move forward with this initiative and future programming, please consider donating.
The Rooted Wisdom film and guided experience project was produced by Schoolhouse Farmhouse Studio in collaboration with Underground Railroad historian Anthony Cohen, and is based on work assisted by a grant from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), funded by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASALH or the Department of the Interior.
Special thanks to the Dock Street Foundation, Mary Beth Durkin, and Hugh Panero for their generous support in promoting the Rooted Wisdom project.
The Rooted Wisdom Audio Essay is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), funded by the 400 Years of African American History Commission. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASALH or the Department of the Interior. This project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, project contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.