Written by Kenna Brickman, Summer Intern ’23
Meet Ron Ammon, the heart and soul behind countless Nature Sacred bench installations — a unifying element of all Sacred Places.These benches represent more than just reclaimed materials; they symbolize community, reflection, and healing. They become the centerpiece at each Sacred Place, sparking conversations and fostering deep connections among people.
Ron’s journey with Nature Sacred began in 2005 as the bench and horticulture connoisseur. Since then, he has been installing, repairing, and maintaining these benches. Ron possesses a remarkable gift for forming meaningful bonds with people, much like the benches themselves.
In 2021, Ron visited the Sacred Place at the Georgetown Waterfront Park to polish up the bench for a Nature Sacred event. Shortly after Ron began working, a man came and sat down. He quickly asked, “You aren’t taking it are you?” Ron explained he was just fixing up the bench and the two started chatting. The man wanted to know everything about the bench, as he spends many mornings and evenings there. They talked about life and its challenges and bonded over their shared love for the bench and the peace it brings. Ron said, “we became instant friends…it was supposed to be a one-hour job and I ended up being there for three”.
About a year later, Ron went to the same Sacred Place in Georgetown to salvage the old bench and install a new bench in preparation for the 20th Anniversary celebration. He didn’t want any lapse of time to occur removing and installing the benches, so he worked all day to complete it. As he installed the new bench a lady came by and sat down, and Ron shared it was the “same thing [she] had a lot a heartache in her life and a lot of hard knocks, and she told me her whole life story”. After the conversation Ron handed her a brand-new journal and left her to reflect some more and write the first entry. Ron left thinking their conversation had made a difference and it felt like she just needed someone to pause and listen.
While telling this story about the space and these two impactful encounters, Ron awed at the benches,
They have that way of really embracing somebody even if they are having a lot of heartaches… they just sort of grab you and give you a hug.
The Nature Sacred team recently sent Ron to Northeast Alabama, home to 18 Sacred Places to share his knowledge and skills. In Alabama, he met long-time Nature Sacred partner, Board Member and Firesoul Fred Smith and a new friend, Carl, a “big giant man with a big giant heart”.
Ron was there to teach Carl the ins and outs of working on the benches, and Carl showed exceptional skill and proficiency. The pair worked on a bench ridden with termites and carpenter ants; In their short time together, they designed a solution using copper to repel the insects from the bench.
“We got into a flow; you know that flow where you don’t even have to talk everyone knows what to do… it was incredible”. This trip was intended for Ron to teach Carl about benches, yet Ron says for him “it is a great learning experience, like food for the soul”.
Ron and Carl formed an immediate friendship and by the end of the quick 3-day trip, Ron was even invited back to Alabama for Carl’s 50th Wedding Anniversary and is already making travel plan for the occasion. Ron’s commitment to others shines through his work and the way he shows up for strangers who quickly become friends. The Nature Sacred bench serves its purpose, promoting vulnerability, cultivating empathy, and nurturing community. Ron inspires us all to live with open hearts, embracing connections and spreading kindness wherever we go.