Open Voices Blog

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

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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Parents, communities take note: Teens need nature too.

02/09/18 | View Comments

Over the past decade, parents of young children have been told repeatedly by experts of many stripes: make sure your children are given ample opportunity to spend time outdoors. The benefits to young bodies and minds are many: Greater confidence, increased creativity, reduced stress, to name a few.

Yet, similar missives have been largely absent when it comes to teens. Sure, as a parent, the challenge of encouraging a 14-year old, who would rather be in her room on her smartphone, to amble outdoors is an altogether different situation than chasing after an eager six-year-old itching for the opportunity to climb a tree.

But the fact is, with experts sounding an alarm about the swelling rates of depression and anxiety among teens, we should be thinking of nature as equally essential to our older children as to our younger ones; equally essential to their health and wellbeing.

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A DC Firesoul takes a trip down South

01/26/18 | View Comments

Steve Coleman meets with Alabama Community Foundation as it prepares to bring “Sacred Places” to the state

A few months ago, we received an email from a community foundation in Alabama; the kind of mail that sends a ripple of excitement through our office. The foundation, one of several we’d mailed a copy of our book — Open Spaces Sacred Places: Stories of How Nature Heals and Unifies — had been struck by what they saw and read.

The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, which serves nine counties in the northeast corner of the state, saw in the Sacred Places concept, a new path for working to improve community health. Our message had resonated; in this area of the country far removed from our current footprint, we had successfully planted a seed.

To help introduce the idea to their community, they asked that we send someone to speak at the foundation’s annual gathering of state and community leaders; community members and foundation trustees and supporters. We turned to one of our longest serving Firesouls, Steve Coleman, who is also the longtime executive director and president of Washington Parks & People.

Steve was a Firesoul before we coined the term. The greenspaces he’s helped cultivate are found in some of DC’s most challenged neighborhoods. They include Meridian Hill and Marvin Gaye Park. He’s worked for decades bringing together people and nature.

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Meet Elizabeth!

01/24/18 | View Comments

When you’re a mighty, nimble organization with big goals, you’re conscientious about who you ask to join your team. Not everyone is willing to eat, drink and sleep All Things Nature Sacred—while keeping an organized, cool head about it.

Which is why we’re delighted to introduce you to our latest hire, Elizabeth Dandy. Elizabeth embodies a unique DNA that aligns beautifully with the Nature Sacred culture—she’s a true believer in the healing powers of nature, a deep thinker, a passionate citizen. Further, she’s got the organizational chops from over 15 years experience serving fast-paced employers: an impeccable attention to detail, clear communications, a penchant for planning. You know, the things you need to keep everything moving swimmingly.

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    NatureSacred.org

    TKF Foundation
    ©1999-2016

    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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