Nature welcomes us all — helping us heal, strengthen and unify.
We are on a quest to bring nature to every individual, every community,
especially those who need it most.
Join us by making a meaningful contribution today.
At a time when so many of us feel isolated and disconnected — nature repairs us. Restores us. Reminds us that we belong to something bigger than ourselves.
Our impassioned community leaders — whom we call Firesouls — fulfill our shared vision to bring nature to people and communities in accessible and meaningful ways. These are teachers, neighbors, doctors — believers in hope and harmony.
Across the country, our Firesouls profoundly, yet humbly, touch and transform their communities, reminding all people that they matter. That there is a special nature place set aside, just for them, where they belong. Where we belong, together.
Your donation will fuel this movement — helping Firesouls uplift and unite communities hard-hit by today’s crises.
Looking for more ways to give? You can give stocks/securities, donor advised fund (DAF), IRA and more. Please contact Megan Cooke, Director of Development, at 410-268-1379 or via email at email@example.com.
First came 9/11. Then within days, multiple jarring student deaths followed: among them, two sisters whose lives were lost when a tornado struck the University of Maryland’s main campus. Students were frayed; on edge. Marsha Guenzler-Stevens, a university administrator, recognized the intense need for a safe place for students to work through what was happening around them.
She instinctively knew that this place she was beginning to imagine needed to be in nature. It needed to encourage healing; foster community.
Almost two decades have passed since Marsha rallied the University behind the idea of a Sacred Place for students. In that time, dozens more national tragedies have occurred impacting students’ lives, their sense of safety and wellbeing; their sense of hope. From mass shootings to this year’s pandemic. Through it all, this place, the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance, without fail, has continued to draw thousands of students seeking solace, healing and community.
Marsha is convinced that people, together, can tap into a higher power. “We are stronger and capable of great things when unified,” she said. “Nature is just the vehicle to do it.”
Your gift today supports Marsha, her fellow Firesouls and the communities—students, nurses and diverse neighborhoods—that benefit from nature’s healing and respite found in Sacred Places. Please donate—no gift is too small.
“The most powerful tool on earth is community. When we bring together the natural and human communities, we can do anything.” – Firesoul Steve Coleman
Dramatically reclaimed from crime and violence by their Washington, DC communities, Meridian Hilltop Park and the Marvin Gaye Amphitheater in Marvin Gaye Park, today, are anchors of their respective neighborhoods. These are places of shared pride and belonging for those who call the surrounding neighborhoods home; spaces that honor displaced people from the distant past and a cultural icon of more recent history.
Steve has long been a fixture here; first a resident, then a steward to both Sacred Places; indefatigable for decades in his work for social justice. And he sees these spaces as key components of this work – providing much-needed access to green space; a place for respite as well as action. This year, action has included voter registration drives and food distribution. Essential work that needs your support.
Donate today to support Steve’s work – and the work of other Firesouls like him.
In the days following the death of Freddie Gray in April of 2015, protesters – responding to the injustice – surged into the streets of Baltimore. Expressions of frustration and anger, in some instances, turned violent and destructive. 60 buildings were set ablaze as were 150 vehicles. But Choose Life Memorial Garden, at the crux of two busy streets in the heart of Freddie’s neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester, weathered the storm unscathed.
This Sacred Place, built in 2007 in remembrance of the many lives lost to drugs and violence, had by 2015 been embraced by the community as a place to come together; to heal.
The same is true today.
Resident Todd Marcus —renowned jazz musician and community activist — has served as Firesoul of Choose Life Memorial Garden since the beginning. Today, he continues his work here, engaging with and gently inviting the community into this space that has become a symbol of hope.
Your gift of any size will support the essential work of Firesouls like Todd Marcus … who recognizes that no neighborhood should be without nature. #WeBelongInNature Donate today.
Prior to the 1990s, McElderry Park in Baltimore was a thriving neighborhood. But that decade brought decline —unemployment followed by crime.
Much has changed since then. Revitalization is well underway. And one of the brightest and greenest spots of this story of community rebirth is the Sacred Commons, an outdoor space with shared gardens, gardening education and activities, youth art, a perennial nursery and a Sacred Place with a labyrinth.
In this pocket of Northeast Baltimore, Firesoul and Pastor Gary Ditman leads Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, a multicultural, inclusive urban congregation. Amazing Port Street has been a central piece of the church’s involvement in the community. In fact, just days ago, 300 local families passed through the space during “Jingle Mingle” to receive warm winter clothes as well as food and toys distributed by the church.
Pastor Gary has observed during his nine-plus years as a Firesoul how nature has helped draw this community together; but this hasn’t been left to chance. Outdoor festivals and other gatherings; community labyrinth walks, worship in the garden on Easter — through events like these, Pastor Gary and others in the community continuously work to remind those who live here that this is their space. That they belong.
Share this story of hope, resilience and generosity with someone you love. Get to know more Firesouls and how you can support them during our We Belong campaign: www.naturesacred.org/belong
“Something powerful happens when you bring people into this space. They connect with it, begin to care for it and, over time, take a bit of ownership of it. This is where individuals shift from casual participants to environmental stewards of the space,” — Firesoul Terri Carta
Off a busy street in the heart of Brooklyn is a Sacred Place inside Naval Cemetery Landscape, a community greenspace with a walkway that “hovers” over what was once a Naval burial ground more than a century ago. Among the co-creators of this site: local public school students, many who’d had very little contact with un-built environments prior to this project. Adolescents who had grown up with few opportunities to observe buzzing bees dipping through a field of pollinator plants or native grasses swaying in the wind.
In the six years since Naval Cemetery Landscape opened, the diverse communities that comprise this densely-populated area have continued to evolve. And the collaboration with the local school, as important as ever, continues to thrive.
On any given day, you’ll find students getting a close-up look at the natural environment they are studying; children participating in beekeeping programs while others from the community practice yoga or pace peacefully on the elevated walkways.
Firesoul Terri Carta is intent on ensuring that this is a place where all Brooklynites belong; where all are welcome to explore, observe, gather — find peace. To belong.
Know someone who could use a little inspiration and hope in nature? Share Terri’s story! To learn more, enjoy this ~5 minute film about the space.
Friends! We’re delighted you’re joining us on our We Belong campaign journey this month. Through December, we’re surfacing short vignettes that, together, paint a picture of how nature — when made accessible and welcoming — can help people heal, strengthen and unify. To us, there is inspiration to be found in these stories — especially now. We hope you agree — and that you’ll consider joining us.
Today, we bring you the story of the Light House, a homeless prevention support center in Maryland. Right now, the center is hard at work helping one of the most vulnerable — and generally overlooked — populations during this pandemic. They’re experiencing a heavy surge of clients: people seeking help — individuals who have lost their jobs or homes due to Covid. Often in poorer health, unable to self-isolate, it is even more difficult for them to stave off fatal illnesses. One of the ways the center is creatively rising to meet the many needs of this growing population is enlisting nature.
A walk-up pantry option, meals-to-go (through their social enterprise restaurant) and distribution of basic essentials such as toiletries, tents, clothing and masks — are all being managed outside. Outreach support, such as eviction prevention, is effectively happening on picnic tables.
Addressing the mental health crisis has long been a core focus of the organization. Firesoul Jenny Crawford, the Director of Communications at the Light House, has helped design and maintain a nature space — a Sacred Place — that welcomes its community members with a sense of calm and comfort as they process trauma, heal and strengthen. To Jenny, compassion and nature are a potent combination to help restore hope and health.
“Now with the added stress of this public health crisis, this comforting and healing outdoor space where our clients feel welcome and at ease is more important than ever. In our Sacred Place, our clients are able to decompress and relax by sitting in or walking through these healing garden spaces. They are able to enjoy the sunshine, breathe in the clean, fresh outdoor air, and look forward to even brighter days to come.” – Jenny Crawford
As a Firesoul, Jenny is working hard to uplift society’s most vulnerable — those among us who feel the most acute sense of displacement — by reminding them that they belong. That there is a beautiful nature space set aside for them. That they are seen. That there is hope.
You can fuel the work of Jenny and her fellow Firesouls across the country. Please consider a gift to Nature Sacred’s Firesoul Fund today.
Teresia Hazen – Legacy Emanuel
At present, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s 70% more than earlier this year when doctors and nurses, experiencing a level of suffering many report never having lived, were already sounding the alarm over their own ability to cope. These most essential members of society were, pre-COVID, already experiencing record levels of stress and burnout. Today, they need your help; they need spaces like the Terrace Garden at Legacy Emanuel hospital in Portland.
Here, physicians, nurses and staff have increasingly come to rely on this Sacred Place that sits at the second floor threshold of the hospital’s cardiac care unit. While working long hours, Firesoul Teresia Hazen, a horticultural therapist, encourages them to seize brief pockets of time that she knows can help restore their mental health — and combat the fatigue, anxiety and depression that comes with the long, grueling hours of work.
If she had it her way, there would be no delineation between hospital ward and nature. Thanks in large part to her efforts at Legacy Emanuel, the distance between healing nature and patients has been almost erased.
For half a decade, this Sacred Place has cradled patients, their families and the frontline caregivers themselves. Teresia has long helped guide them here, while also collaborating with hospital physicians and staff, opening eyes, minds and hearts to the real and healing power of nature.
“We have reached a code red situation with our health care workers; we must do everything we can to help care for them, particularly when they are risking their lives to save us. These Sacred Places – these patches of green that offer a place to pause, reflect, rejuvenate – are essential – for their health and those they serve.”
In nature, these frontline workers can find respite, renewal and the strength to carry on their critical work — and this is due to the efforts and work of a determined Firesoul. Teresia Hazen.
Today, you can bring healing to frontline health workers facing burnout by supporting Teresia’s efforts — and many others like her — by donating to our Firesoul Fund. Give today.
Donald Quarles — cook, birdwatcher and Firesoul — wanted to restore the spirit of his once-thriving community in West Baltimore; a community hard-hit by decades of economic shifts, poverty and the hurt that often follows the latter. He knew that nature had a role to play.
A vacant lot in the center of his neighborhood had become an “eyesore” — a dumping ground for trash, old furniture and debris. A place mothers instructed their children to “hurry past” on their way to school. By partnering up with Bon Secours Community Works, the space was transformed into a beautiful pocket park with a Sacred Place at its center. Here, all are welcome for moments of reflection, serenity and togetherness in nature — a place we all belong.
Now the once abandoned lot is a gathering ground; a place for cherished pastimes like horseshoes, for celebrating life’s milestones, for welcoming returning citizens. The community now gathers here seeking shade, beauty and each other.
Kirby Lane Park, according to Donald, is a healing park;. a place for kids to play and adults to come to find healing for “their hurts, habits, and hangups.”
Without Firesouls like Donald, spaces like Kirby Lane Park would not exist. And today, they need you. Your gift will support the work of Donald, and other Firesouls like him, who are on the ground, connecting communities with the healing power of nature. Reminding people that they matter, that they belong in nature. #WeBelongInNature
Learn more about the Sacred Place at Kirby Lane Park here.
Twenty years ago, the property looked nothing like it does today. A burned out building and concrete and asphalt surfaces littered with abandoned cars would have greeted a visitor walking down the alley. Neighborhood residents worked together to reclaim the space and transform it into the community gem it is today.
Crispus Attucks Park is named in honor of Crispus Attucks, an African American former slave and the first person to lose his life in the Boston Massacre, heralding the beginning of the American Revolution.
John Corea, Firesoul, is a firm believer in the power of community. By creatively convening and inspiring members of the diverse neighborhood, this park has evolved into a thriving space that is collectively maintained by a community of stewards. Learn more about John and the Sacred Place at Crispus Attucks Park here.