Janet Felsten holds her community dear; she is someone who sincerely values the stewardship of her surroundings and sees access to nature as an essential element of urban life. In taking the responsibility for being a Firesoul, Janet says, “I am representing the larger community of neighborhood residents who collectively care for and value this park.”
Janet’s work in her Sacred Space, Stony Run Park, blends her passions with her professional interests. A designer, educator and mapmaker, Janet has truly ingrained herself within the Baltimore community. As founder/director of Baltimore Green Map, she has led many youth and community asset mapping projects to reflect elements that contribute to a vibrant, sustainable city.
Stony Run Park is the northernmost of a chain of linear, stream valley parks, framed by many school campuses and residential neighborhoods. The park is an essential space of relaxation and rejuvenation for students and local residents of all ages. The Stony Run flows south from a northern edge of Baltimore, ultimately feeding into the Jones Falls and the Inner Harbor.
Located within the park is a TKF bench dedicated to three members of the Beer family including Dr. Michael Beer, former chairman of John Hopkins University biophysics department. Dr. Beer was committed to the upkeep of the park, and for many years organized the replanting of native species there. A journal, made available in the compartment beneath the seat, typically fills in about two months. Visitors write their thoughts, feelings and simply release whatever is going on in their lives. Janet finds joy in “discovering how people use the journals to reflect, to wax poetic, for therapy and shared counseling.”
Janet sees her Firesoul role as being the “caretaker for the provision and collection of journals, and for the preservation and improvement of the bench setting, keeping it as an informal, to-be-discovered sanctuary just off the beaten path, in view of the murmuring stream.”
“I believe in the value of public parks as social equalizers, in the restorative power of nature, and in taking time for reflection.”
Photo credit: Maureen Porto.