Open Voices Blog

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

“Why should I give up on love…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

10/14/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland. #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.



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Water Stewardship at #SXSWEco

10/11/16 | View Comments

“Nature is the infrastructure of community.”

– Robert F. Kennedy Jr., SXSW Eco Keynote

TKF’s NatureSacred writer Elizabeth Housley brings an update from the 2016 SXSW Eco conference happening right now October 10-12 in Austin, TX. SXSW Eco is a space for business leaders, investors, innovators and designers to share progress and ideas of emerging economic, environmental and social change.

The conference is an example of the emerging “4th Industrial Revolution” where technology becomes the backbone of human interaction with physical space. A strong theme of environmental equity runs through the conference presentations. Most are optimistic but self-critical. Attendees live vote during a design competition between urban strategy + civic engagement projects, listen to on-the-ground strategies to fight diseases and water access via pop-up architecture, and attend several workshops on corporate responsibility. Keynote speakers are game-changing leaders from the government and private sector. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Kate Brandt and Bill Nye among the most thrilling.

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Because of the labyrinth… #Benchstories #Naturesacred

10/07/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the healing garden at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. Bench stories are collected from the journals found at all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.



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What kind of paradise do you see?

10/04/16 | View Comments

If you are one of the vast majority of modern workers you are sitting at a desk looking at this screen. Are you daydreaming about a lush paradise? Stand up, stretch your fingers and toes, and look out the window.

What kind of paradise do you see?

Do you see street trees and the occasional landscaped bush? A bubbling fountain or a rooftop garden? Or is your environment built of concrete plazas, brick walls, and a parking lot?

Balancing work and personal goals is an ongoing task. Claiming your weekend, taking care of your mind and body, and spending time with friends and family is vital. During your regular ‘ole Tuesday afternoon, taking a small break can also be beneficial.

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“Sitting on this bench and thinking of my children…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

09/30/16 | View Comments

Today’s Bench Story comes from the journal in the Open Spaces Sacred Places at Leon Wolfe/4th Street Park in Annapolis, MD.  #Benchstories are collected from the journals found in all TKF Foundation Open Spaces Sacred Places.


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Nature and Design Welcomes the Sacred Experience

09/27/16 | View Comments

Based on 20+ years of funding community green spaces, the TKF Foundation developed a design template for open, nature-based spaces. In addition to the healing power of nature itself, every TKF Open Space Sacred Place includes four design elements that combine to invoke a sense of sanctuary, encourage reflection, provide solace and engender peace. These design elements include a Portal, a Path, a Destination and a Surround. Each element serves an important purpose in the overall design of the space.

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“Good People…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

09/23/16 | View Comments

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


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Holistic Care on The Green Road

09/20/16 | View Comments

The grocery store, your city buildings, the trees lining the main street in your neighborhood, the leaves in your driveway. The role of these everyday physical spaces and places are often taken for granted. Yet, by now we’ve established that an environment can support health and healing, or hinder it. The most straightforward example, of course, could be the hospital. For hundreds of years humans have built and cultivated complex environments intended to support healing. The design of healing spaces has changed throughout history, often according to values, beliefs, scientific knowledge, and technology.

Early temples dedicated to the Greek god of healing, Asclepius, were built in pastoral settings with mineral springs, bathing pools, gymnasiums, and healing gardens.

Dedicated temples can be seen today in the Greek countryside of the once city-state of Epidaurus. This World Heritage Site dates from the 4th century BCE and is a remarkable example of design devoted to healing. Here people would come to worship, lodge, recreate, and heal. The use of a garden or hot springs as a healing place is also evident in other early Asian and Roman cultures.

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“There are hatchlings in the holly tree…” #Benchstories #Naturesacred

09/16/16 | View Comments

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


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Find Your Secret Garden, Down the Block

09/13/16 | View Comments

“Play is something done for its own sake… It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.” – Dr. Stuart Brown, National Institute for Play

Play comes in as many forms as there are people in a city. While we typically associate play with children, there are numerous ways adults bring play into their daily lives. Although there could be innumerable ways to classify play, or not classify at all, a framework helps us imagine the kinds of urban places where community inclusive play might occur. If we were to list forms of play, we might include:

– Children’s play
– Structured and Group Activities, including light activities like tai-chi and yoga
– Individual Athletics
– Informal/Unstructured Activities
– Passive Recreation
– Grass Roots/Ad Hoc Events

Where can play happen?

Parks are the most versatile form of public space when it comes to accommodating a host of activities. American cities have historically consigned play to parks and ignored potential for it to happen elsewhere. By treating play as a kind of exercise, we have missed opportunities to make it an integrated part of our daily lives. Blurring the boundary between streets and parks can make play more accessible and commonplace.

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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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