In 2016, Nature Sacred shared research findings and news about the health benefits of urban nearby nature. The most read and shared articles of 2016 covered Elder Health, Japanese gardens, and Where to Visit Open Spaces Sacred Places.
We live in an aging population and readers are paying attention. Around 14% of the population of the United States is aged 65 years or older. By 2060, it is estimated that this number will double. As we live longer and elder populations rise, the benefits of living near green space become more and more apparent. At the same time, the number of people living in towns and cities hovers around 80% placing an even greater importance on both the availability of and easy access to urban parks and green space.
In a research brief written by Kathleen Wolf, PHD and Elizabeth Housley, M.A., published by Nature Sacred and the TKF foundation (The Benefits of Nearby Nature in Cities for Older Adults), Wolf and Housley reported that older individuals with access to nearby nature showed increased participation in outdoor physical activities, improved mental health and cognitive function and an increase in social interaction with those around them and their community. These benefits found through access to nature are key ingredients to our well-being as we age.
A popular article this year linked ancient design patterns with modern medicine.
Japanese garden design patterns exhibit inherent knowledge and techniques to evoke a sense of wonderment, exploration and tranquility within the human experience. A desire to explore every distinct section and a call to pause and reflect are hallmarks of Japanese garden design. In recent years, researchers and landscape designers in Japan, North America and Europe are collaborating to understand human perception and health response within Japanese gardens.
In 2015, a research and community wellness program offered a year of unlimited “Strolls for Well-Being”. Encouraging visitors to slowly stroll through a landscape is also offered this year in Washington State’s Bloedel Reserve.
For more than 20 years the TKF Foundation has partnered in the creation of over 130 Open Spaces Sacred Places. In 2016, the Nature Sacred community visited many of these sites and use our online list to find nearby spaces.
A list of sample projects includes over sixty sites in the Washington D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis area and seven research-focused sites across the U.S. If you have the chance to visit one of these spaces, we invite you to rest and share your impressions in one of the many shared TKF bench journals.