News and conversations about the growing evidence of the healing power of nature and green development in cities
Quite a few things, really—good things.
At Nature Sacred, we’ve honed a unique formula to infuse greenspaces into urban communities in the name of improved health, wellbeing and unity. At its core lies an ethos centered around being “open”. And let’s face it, the term open is a bit, well, open.
Let’s put a finer point on what we mean.
Every Sacred Place must be designed to welcome all visitors—accessible to the public. No locked gates, buildings to pass through, or fences to serve as barriers; rather, we encourage at least one open portal to gladly receive visitors of all kinds. This portal could archway, a gate, a stand of trees, a pergola, or other marker—intended to invite people into a safe, sacred space in nature; apart from the everyday stress and fracas.
Located at the threshold of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center’s second floor Family Birth Center, is A Nature Place, a therapeutic green space where on any given day you’ll find laboring mothers rocking in chairs; newly minted siblings gathering with expanded families, surrounded by green.Read more
While there’s been a nationwide decline in crime rates over the past two-and-a-half decades, it’s still an issue that claims a lot of oxygen and ink. And for good reason.
Though all kinds of initiatives, like better policing, have been credited for the improved statistics, some people believe the answer relies in large part to softer initiatives born in the neighborhoods that are actually bearing the struggle; efforts supported by nonprofits of many stripes.
One example: the creation of neighborhood greenspaces, of which there is often a dearth of in distressed neighborhoods. This is a cause we have been committed to for over two decades. Public health studies in recent years have noted the absence or inadequate presence of trees, parks and open spaces in underserved areas. This was noted in a report we released in 2014 titled Environmental Equality; Providing Nearby Nature for Everyone.
Since that report was released, attention to this particular inequality has continued to grow.Read more
This Thanksgiving Day, we’re re-sharing a Bench Story that includes thoughts of gratitude; this entry is from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
In a couple of short weeks, the Atlantic hurricane season will officially, and hopefully quietly, end, though the disaster it left in its wake will continue to tax communities from Texas to Puerto Rico for weeks and months to come.
In fact, many communities most likely will be still putting the pieces back together again when the next season begins in June. And this should give us all reason to pause. To think. What can we do to encourage recovery?
Of course, our focus at TKF is reacquainting the public with nature, and educating on the power it holds to help restore us — individually and as communities — and encourage better mental and physical health.
Greening efforts are an essential piece of recovery; not just of our built and natural environments, but of the people who comprise our communities. This is a key message researchers and social scientists are urgently trying to get across to the public.Read more
We recently launched our latest short film on the community garden project in Queens that is part of our National Nature Sacred Awards program. Below, a letter from the filmmaker Alden Stoner, which also appeared in The Dirt, the American Society of Landscape Architects blog.
Rarely have I worked on a project that I feel is quite as timely and potentially impactful as this film on the Beach 41st Street garden. With images of Texas, Florida and the Caribbean fresh in our minds, this story of how nature has helped one Queens community heal following Hurricane Sandy is incredibly relevant.
When we finished shooting this past spring, it was months before the name Harvey had been uttered on a weather forecast. But by the time September had arrived, and with it a new wave of destructive storms, we at TKF felt a renewed sense of urgency to shine a light on what we had learned through our work in Queens post-Sandy.
When Sandy’s storm surge engulfed the Rockaways, the devastation was intense. You get a visceral sense of what the residents of Beach 41st Street, a New York City Housing residence, lived through in the voice of Celeste Grimes, one of the resident gardeners we interviewed for the film. She described it in apocalyptic terms.Read more
One year ago, work began to gently shape a lush, wooded piece of land beside our nation’s flagship military hospital into a healing garden space for wounded warriors and their families. The project has been groundbreaking. While we funded “The Green Road” project, it has been led by Dr. Fred Foote, a retired US Navy Captain and scholar at the Institute for Integrative Health. The space is intended to help address “invisible” injuries, like PTSD.
Multiple studies are underway at The Green Road to help us better understand how nature can be used to improve treatments for patients in the future.
Innovative hospitals are responding to a growing desire for less medicalized births.
In hospital settings, stress is inherent among patients, families and healthcare professionals. More than forty years of research and several recent studies of patient groups have found that viewing nature can produce rapid and substantial psychological and physiological recovery from stress and anxiety (Marcus and Sachs, 2014).
The Terrace Garden at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon provides the Family Birth Center and Cardiovascular Intensive Care unit community a restorative place that nourishes their psychological, physical and spiritual needs.Read more
Our friends on the other side of the pond recently released a report lauding the great and many benefits of nature — calling it an “under-recognized healer”. While the findings align with what we already know (nothing surprising for our fellow-champions of green spaces), we paused a moment at the phrase “under-recognized healer”. Perfectly stated.
As a nation, we invest billions of dollars searching for new drugs and therapies to treat a constellation of ills. Yet, we are guilty of not fully recognizing, or taking advantage of, this great and potent agent of health and wellbeing that already exists. Hard to comprehend, really.
The report, authored by the Institute for European Policy (IEEP), was fodder for a recent article in The Guardian, which homed in on the fact that people who live close to green spaces are less likely to be obese, inactive or dependent on anti-depressants.
The IEEP team responsible for the report, according to The Guardian, spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report, which they stated is the most wide-ranging probe yet into the dynamics of health, nature and wellbeing.Read more
This is turning out to be a very destructive Atlantic hurricane season. While the media’s attention has understandably turned to the latest storm, Maria, that recently wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, Harvey and Irma are now weeks behind us. But thousands of people — communities — have just started the process of picking up the pieces, practically and emotionally.
As many climatologists are hypothesizing that this could be the new normal, due to global warming, now seems the perfect time to think about what we can do better in terms of recovery. The fact is, part of the answer, we already know. Or rather, some of us do. But the message hasn’t penetrated policy-level planning around disaster response plans, or found its way into mainstream conversations. Which is why we’re tackling the subject here. So that you can be a part of a new wave of informed citizens, urging decision-makers and communities to broaden our understanding and reaction to natural disasters.
So, back to “the answer” (hint: it’s green).Read more