Our community is growing.

And you can be a part of it!

Founded in 1998, Listening Point Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Listening Point and advancing Sigurd Olson’s wilderness philosophy.
Listening Point was a place of connection for Sig, continually renewing his sense of wonder and gratitude for the natural world. Honoring that legacy, our vision is to foster people’s connection to wild places by inspiring them to find their own listening point.
We at the Listening Point Foundation are excited and ready to step into the future with fresh ideas and new energy. Explore this page to find out what is happening in our community and how you can be a part of the action!

Learn more about Sigurd Olson, Listening Point, and the Listening Point Foundation below.


To keep you connected throughout the year!

Our free, twice-yearly newsletter reaches thousands of people every year, recording the history and activities of the Foundation in print and digital form. Many exciting things are happening here at the Listening Point Foundation, so…

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And browse our previous issues and read the most current one online!

Interested in Volunteering?

Join us!

Do you live in Ely, or live here seasonally? Do you come to visit every year?

Whether once a year or on a regular basis, we always appreciate an extra pair of hands! We have a strong group of volunteers and could not do our important work without them.

We also have seasonal and yearly opportunities for larger group service projects.

Learn more about our numerous volunteer opportunities here

What's New

Stay informed!

  • No Annual Northwoods Dinner in September 2021. In order to best care for our community of volunteers and supporters in the ongoing wake of COVID-19, we have opted not to hold any in-person events during 2021, which includes the dinner in September.  We do hope to see you in 2022 when we plan to have our next in-person gathering! In the meantime, please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for potential virtual events this fall.
  • Guided tours of Listening Point are Available. We are happy to announce that we reopened for guided, outdoor tours starting the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Schedule a tour here.
  • Artist in Residence Program — More details and guidelines will soon be released about our Artist in Residence Program. For now, contact us if you are interested!

Follow Us!

As we continue connecting people to the value of wild places through Sig's legacy.

Historical photographs, thoughtful quotes, upcoming events, interesting articles, and all sorts of updates…
Keep track of what’s going on at the Listening Point Foundation by following us on Facebook and Instagram!
Note: We enjoy featuring photos of our world up here in Ely, MN, but we respect the privacy of our guests and visitors. We will only publish photos of people with their express permission and will do our best to properly credit photographers and our sources.

Listening Point Foundation, Inc.

Best-selling author, award-winning conservationist, and wilderness philosopher. Come explore the world of Sigurd F. Olson! We offer free, guided tours of Sig's most beloved places while sharing his story, philosophy, and legacy. Visit Ely, Minnesota and visit the Olson family home, Sig's Writing Shack, and his iconic Listening Point retreat. Tours available May - October. Individuals, families, groups, students welcome. Schedule your tour and learn more here: https://listeningpointfoundation.org/schedule-tour/ "Everyone has a listening-point somewhere. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wildereness, but some place of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe." --Sigurd F. Olson
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Ninety years ago right now Sigurd was enjoying seeing his first published piece entirely devoted to the meaning of wilderness. I suspect he also experienced some frustration, too, because Sports Afield published "Search for the Wild" in two parts, with the first ten paragraphs in May 1932 and the final seven in the June issue. Nevertheless, in his later years he expressed fondness for the article.

You can find the whole piece in "The Meaning of Wilderness," the collection I assembled and commented on for the University of Minnesota Press in 2001. The article contains his first mention of what he later called "intangible values," and it also is another early example of his belief in what he called "racial memory" but is better expressed today as "ancestral memory."

The article came out just as Sigurd, who recently turned 33, was moving with his family back to Ely after completing his master's degree in ecology at the University of Illinois and writing the world's first graduate thesis on the timber wolf. Of course he hated all of that, as I've written before, and returned to Ely with relief but restless as ever to find his true calling.

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of "Search for the Wild:"
Those who go forth into wild, unsettled regions, if asked the reason for their travels will give a variety of answers. For some it will be fishing, others hunting and the securing of trophies, still others to photograph, explore, or conduct scientific investigations. Most men believe that they "go in" for some definite, concrete purpose. If they are made to admit the true motive behind their wilderness journeys they will, with few far-flung exceptions, agree that it is something entirely different, a purpose for which the very evident ulterior motive is only an excuse.

It is very true that when a man goes into the woods to fish, he in all probability heads for the lakes and streams; if it is ducks, the rice beds and marshes know him well. Whatever it is and wherever it takes him is really immaterial when compared to the underlying reason. What he is really looking for is that intangible something he calls "the Wild," and if he hunts or fishes hard enough, he will find it in the close contact with nature those pursuits entail.
#sigurdolson #sigolson #bwca #wilderness
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
Listening Point Foundation, Inc.
“This morning, not able to stand it a moment longer, I started out over the old hills I know so well. . . . It was balm to my shattered nerves and it did me good. How
wonderful it was lying under that big spruce to hear the spring song of the first robins. . . . I tried to think out my problem but all I could think of was the beauty of
the sunlight, the sound of the wind through my spruce and the silhouette of the birches over the hill to the west. The more I tried to think the more soothing grew the influences around me. . . .” - Journal, April 9, 1935


Enjoying spring here in Ely! Will you be coming out to visit us at the Point this summer? ☀️🌲 we can’t wait to see you!


#sigurdolson #sigolson #listeningpoint #singingwilderness #burntsidelake #elyminnesota #naturewriters #nature #getoutside #spring
Sigurd Olson (1899-1982) was a well-known environmentalist, award-winning conservation activist, and best-selling author. Though he lived in Ely, Minnesota and took numerous trips within the Quetico-Superior wilderness, he traveled widely and influenced the creation and preservation of natural areas across the country. Learn more about Sigurd Olson here.
Sigurd Olson created Listening Point in 1956 as a private retreat on the shores of Burntside Lake. It became widely known and celebrated after Alfred Knopf published Olson’s book, “Listening Point” in 1958. Learn more about Listening Point and how to visit here.
Founded in 1998 by Sig’s younger son, Robert K. Olson, the Listening Point Foundation continues to promote Sigurd F. Olson’s legacy. Located in Ely, MN, the Foundation headquarters in the Olson family homestead, and continues to preserve Sig’s Writing Shack and the Listening Point property, along with providing educational tours and opportunities to the community. Learn more about the Listening Point Foundation here.

Keep the legacy alive by donating

We are working hard to create a sustainable financial future for the Listening Point Foundation.

 Your donation helps us keep the mission alive and the Foundation moving forward. You can also make a lasting impression by donating a brick to our patio engraved with a message of your choice. Learn more by clicking below!


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