Writing Nature Lecture


Sunday, January 28, 2018
4:30 pm


The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center of Sleepy Hollow and Teatown Lake Reservation of Ossining are pleased to collaborate on this first lecture in a series entitled “Writing Nature.”

The lecture “Writing Nature – Discovering Ourselves —A celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter of 1217, through Henry David Thoreau’s Eyes” will be presented by Nicholas Robinson, Esq., Professor of Environmental Law at Pace Law School. It will take place Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 4:30pm at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, 300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow NY 10591.

Lecture Abstract:
It is the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth, this year, and the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest of 1217. Both speak to a shared appreciation and stewardship of nature. Professor Robinson will combine the two and link them to the research of Elinor Ostrom, who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics, and will show how the logic of the tragedy of the forest has been proven to be wrong. Ostrom makes clear how the human instinct to cooperate can (and often does) save the commons. What propels our species to save nature is the instinct for the love of nature, which writers and artists celebrate and explore. Prof. E.O. Wilson calls this “biophilia.” Professor Robinson will reference local literary themes…including Voices of the River (Slapering Hol Press, 1990).

Biographical Note:
Nicholas Adams Robinson began his legal career before environmental law came into existence. He founded the Sierra Club’s international program, representing the Club at the 1972 United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, building on the vision of John Muir. He championed conservation in the Hudson River Valley, incorporating and chairing the NYS Greenway Conservancy, building on the literary foundations of John Burroughs. A photograph of these nature writers graced his desk in Albany when he served as General; Counsel of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (1983-85).


He founded Pace University’s environmental legal studies programs in 1978, invoking Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature (1836). That literary work inspired Thoreau, Muir, Burroughs, and a host of nature writers. In his twenty years as a US delegate in negotiations on environmental law under a bilateral Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (1972-92), he came to appreciate how Ivan Turgenev, beginning with his classic Sportsman’s Sketches (1852), and other nature writers, had inspired Russians for decades to adopt conservation measures. In his own scholarship, Robinson notes how Russia’s poets and essayists continue to be a major force in Russian nature conservation.


Robinson has collaborated with Brazilian environmental law specialists since 1992, discovering a rich literature for nature conservation in Brazil, including Theodore Roosevelt’s Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1914). Recognizing his forty years of building environmental law around the world, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature elected him as Honorary Member of IUCN. Locally, he was a part of David Sive’s legal team that defeated the “Hudson River Expressway,” one path of which would have destroyed the The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center’s present home. In his family’s decision to reside in Sleepy Hollow, he came to revel in Washington Irving’s literary heritage and the Hudson as the birthplace of American literature. He was among the original founders of the HVWC.


Regionally, Robinson was instrumental in the civic battle that saved the Jay Property in Rye, where John Jay was born and is buried. The Jay Heritage Center conferred its John Jay Medal for Service on Prof. Robinson in 2016. His scholarship takes him into the literature of nature to illuminate why all cultures have traditions supporting nature conservation. With his wife, Shelley Robinson, in the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter, he lectured and conducted field research in England’s former royal forests, places celebrated by writers from Arthur Conan Doyle to A.A. Milne to J.K. Rowling. He is a graduate of Brown University (Phi Beta Kappa) and Columbia University School of Law.


Event Location and Ticket Information

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Hudson Valley Writers Center
300 Riverside Drive
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Handicap Accessible? Yes

Date: Sunday, January 28, 2018
Times: 4:30 pm

Ticket pricing:
Free event

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