Open Voices Blog

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

“It is a good and pleasant thing…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

04/08/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C.. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Am-Psych-Association-4-17-16

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What would I do without the gardens?

04/07/16 | View Comments

Legacy Health is a non-profit health system providing health services across six campuses in Portland, OR. Across these sites, Legacy emphasizes patient, family and employee-centered care through nature-based programming. The Legacy Emanuel Medical Center installed a terrace garden in 2014 through the Nature Sacred Award program. In addition to the Nature Sacred research investigating health outcomes, this four-season terrace garden connected to the Family Birth Center and Cardiovascular Care Unit provides healthful experiences for all who enter.

A pregnant mother, on bed rest for 40 days prior to delivery, shares this personal and uplifting story with us:

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Japanese Garden Design, Perception, and Wellness

04/05/16 | View Comments

Within the theory and practice of garden design exists the concept of ‘patterns’. Patterns are not rules, but general guidelines suggesting how people and a setting can be ‘in sync’. Some patterns suggest ways in which a green space can provide healing benefit to visitors. For example, the pattern ‘Wondering in Small Spaces’ describes how even small green spaces can be designed in such a way to evoke the imagination (mental wondering) or provide viewpoints where visitors survey the garden’s extent, feeling secure and inspired. Consider an experience in a Japanese garden:

The mind wonders when the eyes perceive a landscape filtered through the lacy leaves of a Japanese Maple. Intimate, smooth paths wind around a bend into a hidden nook. A bamboo water fountain clanks as the weight of the water rolls through it.

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“…They both said peace.” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

04/01/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at Northeast Interfaith Peace Garden in Baltimore, MD. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

NE-Peace-4-1

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“We all need a special place…” #Benchstories #Naturesared

03/25/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at Stadium Place-Thanksgiving Place in Baltimore, MD. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Stadium Thanksgiving Place 3-24

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An Experience Within Green Infrastructure

03/22/16 | View Comments

This month we’ve briefly reviewed the shifts in large-scale urban infrastructure design. Effective technological innovations in transportation, communications, energy, and environmental services (water, wastewater, garbage disposal) in the 19th and early 20th century enabled economic growth, and contributed to the physical transformation of city planning and development.

Today, cities across the globe are embracing ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ infrastructure initiatives to re-design failing, ‘grey’ engineered systems. Many are embracing innovations that sidestep an old structure entirely. For example, Vietnam, a country of coastal views, aims to join global “Green Cities” such as Stockholm and Singapore, by implementing large scale urban changes in three cities in the northern and central provinces. To become a Green City, standards of green space, constructions, transport and industry are met.

Green infrastructure can serve multiple functions, including public health.

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Language and confusion is only a barrier…. #Benchstories #Naturesacred

03/18/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, MD. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

AVAM 3-18

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“Only time will tell and I have a lot of that…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

03/10/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Western-Correctional-3-19-16

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Overlapping Benefits of Green Infrastructure

03/08/16 | View Comments

Urban greening initiatives are in operation or in development around the globe. In a roundtable this past week from Nature of Cities, David Maddox reminds us “…The word landscape conveys a richer meaning that includes, of course, the aesthetics of nature and the out of doors, but also the organization and design or infrastructure, the biophysical and social services of ecosystems, the livability of communities, and the justice aspects of how our living environments are (or are not) democratically decided upon and created.”

Last week we briefly reviewed the history of the physical implementation of U.S. urban infrastructure. Effective technological innovations in transportation, communications, energy, and environmental services (water, wastewater, garbage disposal) enabled economic growth, and contributed to the physical transformation of city planning and development. Although hinted, we didn’t delve into the social or non-human benefits from infrastructure development. But one doesn’t need to search far to learn how sanitary systems dramatically changed the lives of urban dwellers.

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“A soft kiss to the history of what we are…” #Benchstories “Naturesacred

03/04/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at the Baltimore Clayworks in Baltimore, MD. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.

Balt-clayworks-1-13

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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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