Open Voices Blog

News and conversations about the growing evidence of the healing power of nature and green development in cities

Fountains in urban green spaces

08/08/18 | View Comments

A peek behind the scenes: living with a fountain. 

Fountains in public spaces can be iconic—and meaningful. Take Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain, for example. This 26-foot Angel of Water statue was dedicated in 1873 to commemorate “New York City’s first water supply system which brought fresh water following the city’s bout with cholera.” Wow.

New York Central Park, Bethesda Fountain. Photo by Daniel Avila

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Even small urban green space can lower depression rates, new research confirms

08/08/18 | View Comments

The research around the link between urban green spaces and mental health is growing stronger and more specific by the day, it seems.

The latest such study digs into a topic we at TKF know well — and has gained considerable traction in the media. For the first time, researchers have published a paper that specifically addresses the mental health benefits of modest urban green spaces in blighted urban communities, the kind that have been much of our focus for more than two decades.

The article, which was published in JAMA Networks Open, reports on an observed link between access to “greened” vacant lots in Philadelphia and improved mental health of nearby residents.

Sacred Place at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore.

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Nature is Sanctuary.

07/17/18 | View Comments

At a time when vitriol too often eclipses tolerance; when divides seem to only be widening—nature can serve as a potent equalizer. It works to scaffold—lending support where and when it is most needed: when people are feeling isolated, unwelcomed, unaccepted for who they are. This kind of social isolation and fear is not only damaging to one’s mental health, but frays the social fabrics of our communities; leaving us vulnerable, weakened and torn. It flies in the face of nationwide efforts to strengthen, unify and build resilience in our cities and communities.

Let us share with you a recent story that brings this concept to light.

Afrouz Rahmati was maintaining a garden at the University of Maryland when we met her last month. We were touring the Sacred Place on campus with a group of fellow Firesouls looking to learn more about maintaining labyrinths.

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New short documentary film launches: A Road to Wellness

07/02/18 | View Comments

This Wednesday being the 4th of July, we feel it’s a particularly meaningful time to be sharing with you our latest film in the Nature Effect series: A Road to Wellness. It tells the story of The Green Road project; the result of a years-long effort to create a therapeutic nature space on the grounds of the National Military Medical Complex in Bethesda, and to incorporate nature into the treatment of veterans struggling with the unseen injuries of war – namely PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Filmmaker Alden Stoner, who is also a member of The TKF Foundation board, is hopeful that through the film, others will be inspired and view The Green Road as a blueprint.

We want to see more of these spaces beginning to appear in communities throughout the US; everywhere veterans are suffering. Nature holds an undeniable power to foster healing, even when the psychological wounds are deeper than most of us could ever imagine,” Stoner said.

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You’ve built it. Now what?

06/29/18 | View Comments

The creation of a community green space is usually the result of a healthy blend of advocacy, community engagement, planning, cross-disciplinary collaborations—and good dose of sweat equity. Nonprofits and foundations (like us!) invested in this movement have focused on furnishing the evidence—the science that underscores nature’s health benefits and supporting resources to help communities advocate for, plan and design an evidence-based green space.

The Sacred Place at Crispus Attucks Park, DC.

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A Southern Interpretation of Sacred

06/12/18 | View Comments

In the hills of Northeast Alabama, a new network of 18 Sacred Places is about to begin taking shape.

Photo by Elijah Hail on Unsplash

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Get briefed: The Connection between Mental Health and Nature

05/03/18 | View Comments

This week marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one-in-five Americans is affected by mental health conditions, and they impact the young as well as the old – and everyone in between.

While there are many potential culprits as well as treatment measures, this we know: being in nature helps fight depression and improve mental health and wellbeing. And the benefits of nature can be immediate.

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What exactly is a Firesoul?

04/20/18 | View Comments

A champion of community & a catalyst for change.

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Baltimore prepares to meet national 10 minute walk campaign challenge

03/16/18 | View Comments

Just a few months ago, a bold and ambitious new challenge was laid down by a coalition of nonprofits seeking to bring meaningful greenspaces within a 10-minute walk of every American. Among the 134 mayors who were already signed on at launch — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, whose vision for the city smartly integrates a strong green component.

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Creativity blooms in Northeast Alabama

03/09/18 | View Comments

Community foundation accepting grant applications for 18 Sacred Places that will take shape this year

Seven hundred miles from the site of the first TKF Sacred Place, a new network of 18 – spread across nine counties in Northeast Alabama – will begin appearing later this year. The spaces, supported by a health fund established close to a century ago, represent a modern interpretation of what it means to foster the health of a community.

This is the first instance of the TKF concept for creating healing greenspaces being picked up and used as a pattern to create a whole network of new spaces at once.

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    TKF Foundation

    410 Severn Avenue,
    Suite 216
    Annapolis, MD

    Tel: 410.268.1376

    Contact Us

    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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