Our National Awards

An integrated research and design initiative to provide evidence of the human benefits of nearby nature experience in cities

About the Nature Sacred Awards

Introduction to the Nature Sacred Awards program

After having spent decades advocating for, supporting and helping fund the creation of a network of open, green spaces, we made the decision in 2011 to embark on a different kind of project; different but the same.

We knew nature heals; it’s why we’ve been doing what we do for 25 plus years. You need look no further than the hundreds of journal entries left by visitors to our Sacred Places to see clear patterns in the way people respond to the moments they spend on one of our benches, jotting down their thoughts. But over the years, our curiosity has grown. We wanted to contribute to the science and research working to understand more deeply the hows and whys of nature’s impact on individuals and communities.

Into the world of Academic Research

Thus began our journey into the world of academic research. We launched an ambitious grant project that spanned the coasts; but one crafted to do much more than simply provide funding. The Nature Sacred Awards program was intended to fuse design with research; meaning, green spaces were created with specific purposes in mind — for instance, to study how nature can impact labor and childbirth or how green spaces can contribute to community resilience following disaster.

After poring over dozens of applications, we selected six grantees. Their stories are represented in this section. Each of these projects is far more than the sum of the published research. Joplin, MO; Queens, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Portland, OR; Bethesda, MD — each has been a living laboratory, a living classroom, really, teaching us far more than we imagined we would learn at the outset.

And what we’ve learned, we’ll continue to apply to the Nature Sacred Network, as we help our regional Sacred Places evolve, grow and morph into vibrant communities. Curious? Let us take you on a tour of our Nature Sacred Awards sites.

The Green Road: Walter Reed Military Hospital, Bethesda, MD

Landscapes of Resilience: Joplin, MO

Landscapes of Resilience: Queens, NY

Mechanisms and Design Elements: Baltimore, MD (and beyond)

Naval Cemetery Landscape: Brooklyn, NY

A Nature Place: Legacy Hospital, Portland, OR

A film series

The further we became entrenched in these six communities, the more we realized there was more to this research than the science. There are profound community stories to share. The people, the lives, the individual perspectives that collectively paint powerful portraits of strength, unity and resilience—the truest testimonials of the healing power of nature. These are stories that need to be told. And so we are.

This is the Nature Effect—what happens to communities and individuals when they are reconnected with nature. They heal. Refocus. Recover. Renew. Experience the stories that complement the science—and follow us to be the first to know when new films are released! You can enjoy the first two below:


Butterfly Angels from TKF Foundation on Vimeo.


Hurricane Healing Garden from TKF Foundation on Vimeo.

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  • Volunteer Opportunities

    Friends of the Green Road is seeking volunteers to help with outdoor projects at the Green Road site in Bethesda, MD. Information available on their webpage (click here) or by email at volunteer@tiih.org

  • Upcoming Events

    Watch this space to for upcoming urban nature and related presentations given by members of our teams, OSSP sites, or associated organizations.

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    TKF Foundation

    410 Severn Avenue,
    Suite 216
    Annapolis, MD

    Tel: 410.268.1376

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    About Us

    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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