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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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    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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