Open Voices Blog

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

Connecting and Coping: An Interview with Teresia Hazen

06/09/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This month we take a moment to examine the real, lived experience of an open, sacred green space.

This week we talked with Teresia Hazen, MEd, HTR, GMHP, Coordinator of the Therapeutic Garden Program at Legacy Health in Portland, OR. Hazen is one of our Nature Sacred National Award team members, a leader in her field, and someone who deeply experiences the healing power of nature in her everyday life.

Nature Sacred: In the past decade, there have been many online articles about Legacy’s Gardens and your esteemed career history. The interviews and features over the past few years typically focus on the gardens themselves or the science of health and nature access. Although the science and history of the therapeutic gardens is central to our talk today, I am also interested in hearing about your interaction with patients and your own time spent in a garden or green space. You have an amazing story. You were an educator and gardener for 20 years before learning about horticultural therapy in the late 1980s. And you began working with Legacy in the early 1990s. Since then you have had so much more experience and time to learn and grow. How have your interests progressed professionally or personally in the field of therapeutic horticulture?

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Stunning Design, Real Community Space

05/19/15 | View Comments

In our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This week, we present an interview with Dr. Adrian Loo of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. 

Nature Sacred: In your role as Director of Research and Horticulture at Gardens by the Bay, what are your main tasks and projects?

Dr. Loo: Strategically, my team’s role is to inspire science within the gardens – amongst the staff and building up the capacity to use science to resolve horticultural problems.  We have developed a research facility that includes a lab, tissue culture facilities and research conservatories.   We are constantly building up our breeding capabilities and propagate interesting horticultural ornamentals such as orchids, begonias, bromeliads, gesnerids etc.  A big part of the research also goes into soil science and aspects of plant physiology such as light levels, temperature and how flowering is affected by these.   The department also does plant interpretation and we write catchy descriptions of plants that are interesting and at the same time botanically accurate in terms of their identity as species or cultivars and their ethnobotanical uses.

Nature Sacred: The Gardens by the Bay is in its first few years of operation. It covers a large area in Marina Bay and offers multiple diverse garden areas. Can you tell us about some of the most popular sites?

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A City’s History and Future in Place

04/14/15 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. In April, we talk with several companies and initiatives developing meaningful places in our cities.

“There is a sense that everyone wants to build more community”.

Linda Fordyce, one of the cofounders of the non-profit FireHouse Hostel and Museum, has her thumb on the pulse of changes happening in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. The hostel, set to open this year, is housed in an old firehouse within the grounds of this southern city’s oldest municipal park. MacArthur Park was formally established as Little Rock’s first public park in 1892 when the US Army traded the Little Rock Arsenal’s land, located in what is now Downtown, to the City of Little Rock to “forever exclusively be devoted to the uses and purposes of a public park”. The hostel represents a link between the city’s past and future, with part of the building devoted to a Firehouse museum, and a progressive park plan creating green space opportunities for neighborhoods and international visitors.

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Learning From Partner Organizations

03/17/15 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This month we spoke with Trees Forever Founding President Shannon Ramsay about urban forestry engagement possibilities in Iowa and across the United States.

For 25 years and counting, Trees Forever has helped thousands of community volunteers, civic leaders, government officials and landowners with local tree-planting projects and initiatives. The organization took its first step when Shannon Ramsay recognized a need. That combined with her ability as an entrepreneur to gather resources and citizen volunteers to plant trees in the Midwest. ramsay
Today, Trees Forever works with over 7000 volunteers annually and is a noteworthy model of independent civic initiatives. The organization is a major voice in Midwest local and state government, local corporations, and civic community partnerships. Trees Forever simultaneously supports those who want to take urban forestry into the political arena, those who participate in community plantings, and like-minded urban forestry groups who want to increase their capacity for change.

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Open Sacredness

12/30/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This December we introduce sacred spaces that serve as centers for community; spaces to experience the “civic sacred”.

In a classic American sacred experience, we are suddenly aware of the grandness around us. The visceral attachment to a natural space is perhaps one way for people to experience a sense of connection to their community, or perhaps identity at the community scale. – Conversation with a friend of the TKF Foundation

As we end the year, take a moment to self-reflect on what sacredness means to you.

Hamilton Garden

Hamilton Garden

 

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A Meditative Space for a Seattle Community

12/16/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This December we introduce sacred spaces that serve as centers for community; spaces to experience the “civic sacred”.

A meditative moment in a walking labyrinth can bring a surprising amount of peace. A walking labyrinth is a circular path, usually set in stone on the ground, that doubles back on itself and leads to a center point. The history of these designs reach back 4000 years ago to Greece and are known to exist in diverse cultures throughout time. The use of these designs as a meditative practice exist in Christian culture, but other religions and secular groups have used them for centuries to contemplate personal truths.

A labyrinth nestled under gigantic trees in Seattle's oldest park.

A labyrinth nestled under gigantic trees in Seattle’s oldest park.

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Designing for Health

11/18/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This November we share in recognition of the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Recently, researchers and landscape architects collaborating in TKF’s Nature Sacred Award program met for a multi-day meeting. The convening coalesced into an impromptu group discussion about how to encourage more evidence-based landscape design. How can landscape architecture firms include more scientists and health practitioners in their teams? Or, how do we promote healthcare design standards that practically meet user needs?

The Elizabeth & Nona Evans Restorative Garden, Cleveland Botanical Garden

Path gradients were carefully calculated to minimize fatigue and to provide subtle places to pause and rest, enjoy a fragrance or admire a focal point. Photo: ASLA

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Social Capital and Placemaking: An Interview with Ethan Kent

03/13/14 | View Comments

Drawing from fifteen years of placemaking experience, Ethan Kent, of Project for Public Spaces (PPS) talks about how placemaking contributes to social capital and city governance, and has launched a new type of environmentalism.   Open Voices was pleased to speak with Ethan about the importance of public engagement, planning and visioning to create human-scaled public places right outside our door.   And, as cities around the world embrace the principles of placemaking, PPS increasingly finds itself at the forefront of making great places to live, work and play internationally.

Open Voices:  The opportunity for individuals to jointly shape the collective commons is at the heart of Project for Public Spaces’ work.  What human impacts do you notice among people who collaborate to co-create the public realm just outside their door?

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A Deeper Place of Being: An Interview with Jan Johnsen

03/06/14 | View Comments

Jan Johnsen’s forty years of practice in landscape architecture has taught her that gardens not only inspire and delight but also impart a sense of well-being, offer respite, and induce feelings of renewal to those who visit and simply sit awhile.  Drawing on historical precedents from many cultures as well as design techniques honed through recent practice, her gardens are deeply nuanced, no matter the size.  In anticipation of the upcoming release of her latest book, Heaven Is a Garden – Designing Serene Outdoor Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection, published by St. Lynn’s Press, Open Voices spoke with the noted landscape designer about her passion for creating outdoor havens for our spirit.

Open Voices:  Your blog is called Serenity in the Garden, and you describe your landscape design practice as serenity by design.  How did you come to understand and specialize in the serene aspect of gardens and garden design?

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Nature and Cities: An Interview with Armando Carbonell

02/26/14 | View Comments

About half of the world’s population currently lives in urban regions, making the future of our cities a topic of high priority in terms of social and environmental issues. That’s why this weekend, some of the chief thought leaders in the fields of urban design, development and planning are convening in Austin, Texas, for the Nature and Cities conference. There, they’ll be discussing the integral relationship between nature and urban ecological design and planning.

Ecological understanding has taken a front seat in the world of urban planning, and the conference’s organizers hope to foster lively discussion around how nature and cities work together.

Open Voices spoke with with Armando Carbonell, one of the organizers of the conference and a Senior Fellow and Chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, about his perspective on the interaction between nature and cities — as well as his hopes for the conference.

Armando Carbonell

Open Voices: For many, nature and the city seem to be opposing forces. How do you approach breaking down that concept as an urban planner?

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    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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