TKF’s new Executive Director, Erin Robertson, talks where TKF is today, and what you can expect from us in the coming months and year.
I can’t imagine a more exciting time to be leading TKF. This is an organization that has worked incredibly hard for more than two decades to bring nature to individuals and communities, particularly those challenged and in distress. From day one of our existence, at a time when saying “nature heals” was considered fringe thinking, we’ve understood that this nature connection is essential to our basic wellbeing.
And this profound connection is evidenced in the hundreds of thousands of entries we have collected from the little yellow bench journals we’ve collected through the years and shared via our blog with the title Bench Stories.We are repeatedly humbled by the stories that surface; the voices of men, women, and children who, given the opportunity to pause and reflect in nature, share truly profound thoughts, raw feelings and emotions as they process the fast-paced world around them. As they heal, strengthen and grow — through nature. It’s this work, directly supporting and enabling moments like these, to which we’ll return our focus in 2018.
We are repeatedly humbled by the stories that surface; the voices of men, women, and children who, given the opportunity to pause and reflect in nature, share truly profound thoughts, raw feelings and emotions as they process the fast-paced world around them.
We’ve been on an amazing journey these past six years through our National Nature Sacred Awards program; one that’s taken us from coast to coast; into mid-America disaster zones, strained urban communities and even to the nation’s flagship military hospital. What differentiated our work in these recent years, from the previous decade-and-a-half was our collaboration with researchers; and the fact that we were helping to grow a body of scientific evidence documenting what we’ve known to be true since TKF’s inception. Nature provides solace and restoration. With the research project coming to a close, we’ll continue to share what we learned, calling on the network of researchers with whom we’ve worked so closely, to provide insights and analysis on what they continue to discover.
Looking back on 2017, it’s clear that the message that nature is vital to individual and community health is resonating. It’s penetrating new levels of conversation with policymakers and city officials and planners. We even see evidence of that in Baltimore, where the majority of our Sacred Places exist. Mayor Catherine Pugh has committed to the national 10 Minute Walk challenge, led by the Trust for Public Land, National Recreation and Park Association and Urban Land Institute. We’re gratified to think of how the Sacred Places we’ve been a part of will help the city meet this challenge.
This year, our work will focus on strengthening a core network of Sacred Places we funded and supported, helping them continue to grow and evolve, banding them together. We will continue to empower our Fire Souls, those individuals whose passion provides the initial spark to establish a space, and whose dedication ensures it’s sustained.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to share details of how we’ll achieve this.
As always, we understand the fundamental need for nature in all of our lives. As our cities continue to grow, ensuring that everyone has access to a green space will continue to be essential work in the foreseeable future, and our central focus for 2018.