We are six months into 2021, but despite COVID and the hardships brought on by the pandemic, the Nature Sacred community has been thriving. I’m lucky to see all of this activity up close — the learning, the growth, the budding and fostering of new relationships among Firesouls and other community partners. It’s nothing short of inspiring. Think workshops to help our Firesouls better spread the word of new opportunities being offered within their Sacred Places. Community events to help teach self-care through “Inner Workouts”. And plans for activities to foster “citizen scientists”.
There’s so much to unpack. Let’s dig in:
Workshops – Nurturing our Firesouls and Network
One of our most important roles at Nature Sacred is nurturing our Firesouls and doing what we can to support them to have the greatest impact within their communities. Workshops and convenings are one of our best ways of doing this.
Since February, we have held several workshops for our Nature Sacred Network: one focused on sharpening Firesouls’ social media and marketing skills – to increase their community outreach efforts and ultimate impact; a second focused on enrichment and enhancement grant funding opportunities for Firesouls and their Sacred Places, and also included insights shared by Firesouls whose work has made a significant impact on their communities.
A third workshop was the first of a three-part series of inner workout – self-care sessions intended to help Firesouls create and maintain self-care tools and practices that can be used at any time and in any area of life. It’s one way we’re striving to help care for the caregivers.
Also happening this summer: a series of sensitivity training sessions led by Nature Sacred DEI consultant S. Rasheem. Firesouls have the opportunity to strengthen their understanding of structural racism via a virtual program that fosters inclusive, engaging conversation and the opportunity to learn.
Some pretty powerful knowledge-sharing
We’ve long known that when we connect Firesouls around shared experiences and interests, the knowledge sharing is very valuable. Problems are solved. New ideas are hatched. Friendships are formed.
To facilitate this sharing, we’re broadening and deepening the Affinity Group Meetings themed around shared topics and issues of interest and/or concern. Recent convening include: Labyrinth Leaders, Sacred Places for those Experiencing Homelessness, and Encouraging Healthy and Safe Uses of Sacred Places.
Enriching Sacred Places
Three Sacred Places, Patterson Park, Naval Cemetery Landscape and Langton Greene Community Farm, recently received Nature Sacred enrichment grants, stipends we award on a rolling basis for projects and programs within Sacred Places. These funds can be critical in drawing in and keeping the community engaged.
This is how they are converting the stipends to community impact:
Patterson Park – Kids and Family Zumba
As in many other parts of the country, during the pandemic, Baltimore’s Latinx and Patterson Park community has felt isolated and faced barriers to creating and maintaining connections to others and to the world around them. To help draw the community back together, Firesoul Jennifer Robinson hatched a plan: to offer hybrid online and in-person nature-based mindfulness sessions for kids and families and family Zumba programming. The two-month program offered weekly sessions via Facebook Live, monthly in-person bilingual mindfulness nature walks in the park, self-guided mindfulness YouTube videos, and a bilingual youth-focused mindfulness nature session during Día del Niño week, April 17th – 25th. According to Jennifer, these bilingual classes served to create experiences in nature, promote physical fitness and well-being, and help maintain and create meaningful connections among neighbors.
Naval Cemetery Landscape
As with Patterson Park’s Jennifer Robinson, Firesoul Terri Carta too is intent on re-engaging the community post-COVID. A wide range of programs that are engaging, contemplative, education — and not least fun — are in the works. NCL staff have been busy designing self-led nature and educational activities focused on the diverse plant and animal life at NCL. All of these are being created with the aim of fostering citizen science and a deeper connection to nature.
This year, NCL is developing new partnerships with local groups, nonprofits, and artists, resulting in interpretive installations and passive performances that can be enjoyed as visitors explore the Landscape. By activating the Landscape with art and performance from our local community, they aim to provide a unique venue to encourage the community to enjoy Brooklyn’s vibrant culture that has been dampened over the past year.
Langton Green Community Farm
I leave fully enchanted every time I visit Langton Green Community Farm, a 13-acre farm that belongs to Langton Green, a nonprofit residential community-based in Annapolis, Maryland. (I even wrote about an earlier visit a few months ago.) Langton Green Community Farm, is using their enhancement grant to support the cost of improvements to a performance garden that will host events involving art and music. The garden area will serve as what lead Firesoul Dani Ierardi describes as “a beautiful gateway for members of the public to join us on the farm.”
As we launch into the second half of the year, we’re expecting just as much activity as we’ve seen in the first half, if not more.
— Erin Robertson, Chief Programs Officer