John Corea

  Firesoul Directory

John Corea


John Corea, a public policy research manager for the biopharmaceutical industry, bought a house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington DC in 2002. He quickly became intrigued by—and then obsessed with—a plot of land behind his house that was collectively owned by the community. And this is how it all got started.

Nestled between two city streets, the Crispus Attucks park is a “unique space: a hidden 1.06 acre oasis of flowers, trees and grass, stretching the length of a city block and the width of a half-dozen rowhouses”, per their website.

John was quick to join a small band of impassioned neighbors were working to revitalize the park. They entertained all manner of uses for the space: a basketball park, a dog run, community garden plots and a even giant gazebo. Consensus—and funding—were in short supply.

One over-arching need shook clear: they needed an oasis for the community. The neighborhood had seen its share of challenges, including many vacant and neglected homes, gang activity, and violence. Green spaces, even in a fairly verdant city such as DC, were not immediately accessible. And thusly, the notion of a TKF Sacred Place was born, in the form of a Memory Garden (link to SP listing) tucked inside the park.

The [Nature Sacred] ideas of “journey”, “arrival” and “connecting with nature” — what a perfect description of the experience someone would have if they were walking through the neighborhood, for some reason walked through the alley, and stumbled upon this improbable little park.

As Firesoul, John serves a kind of dual role. First, as a kind of Sacred Place curator who ensures the garden continues to thrive—serving on its purpose of bringing people solace and togetherness in nature—through ongoing development preservation and maintenance.

Moreover, he also serves as a kind of community steward, a person who champions the use the park by the community—and to inspire them to share the ownership of it. To John, the “open” aspect of the Sacred Place, the fact that it remains welcome to all, is of paramount importance. With a changing, diverse community that spans all kinds of divides of race, income, age and more—this requires diligence and a little creativity. A highly groomed, more generic park would lack the welcoming charm of the garden’s thoughtful, sacred design.

“It’s the role of a Firesoul…to preserve the use of our green space as a Sacred Place where people can connect with nature, and through it to each other, or to something larger than themselves.

And how rewarding to see the community follow John’s lead. The journal entries house countless of stories of gratitude—the surprise of newcomers stumbling upon the park by accident; visitors sharing personal stories of change, failures, successes; or friends simply enjoying the moment—that very moment in the sun or breeze—together.


Photo credit: Maureen Porto. 

My Sacred Place


Crispus Attucks Park

“The Cave Yard.” “The Secret Park.” Whatever you call it, Crispus Attucks Park is a unique space in downtown Washington DC: a hidden 1.06 acre oasis of flowers, trees and grass, stretching the length of a city block and the width of a half-dozen rowhouses.

Meet Another Firesoul


Fred Smith

It’s not every day that you mail someone a 208 page book, they read it, and then they call you up to say, “I’m in.” But this is exactly what happened with Fred Smith, Director, Stringfellow Health Fund Grants at the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. A copy of our book, Open Spaces, Sacred Places,...

View  

  Related Articles

View more  

An iconic bench. A story of community collaboration.

Read More   

Sacred Place at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center garners prestigious healthcare design award

Read More   

New study out: Reduced symptoms of burnout noted in nurses who spent one break a day in a hospital garden

Read More   

“Veteran’s Day Focus: Healing PTSD with Nature” — The DIRT, ASLA

Read More