Nichole Battle

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Nichole Battle


WIth a background in urban planning, policy, landscape architecture and business—Nichole Battle is using her superpowers for good as the CEO of GEDCO, an organization that provides affordable, supportive housing and emergency services to low-income seniors.

As one of the many roles she plays at GEDCO, Nichole serves as Firesoul at the ThanksGiving Place—the Sacred Place on the campus—custom-built to serve its unique populations, many of which have disabilities. The space features a labyrinth and a bell tower with carillon bells that serve as a sort of community “hearth” to gather together, find solace and be uplifted.

“Sacred Places are symbolic of spiritual places. They are places that create and represent peace. Given what is going on in the world today, it is places like this that help us focus on what is important, filtering out the unnecessary noise of our day to day.”

It is the act of joining a team of impassioned people at GEDCO that inspires Nichole. She believes in the collective strength of people coming together, aligned by a shared mission. Her energy and positive spirit is not only contagious, but effective.

“A Firesoul is someone who believes in peace and everything that is an example of peace in the natural and built environment. Someone who is positive and someone who believes that giving is more important than receiving.”

ThanksGiving Place is brimming with intergenerational use—both active and passive. Tai Chi, weddings, school cookouts, community events are commonplace; alongside a steady stream of people seeking a mindful encounter with nature. All are welcome; and all leave inspired with a heightened sense of peace and gratitude—the same way one feels after an encounter with its Firesoul, Nichole.


Photo credit: Maureen Porto. 

My Sacred Place


Stadium Place – Thanksgiving Place Labyrinth

Thanksgiving Place is the gathering center and place of reflection for individuals and the community at large. Featured at the former site of the historic Memorial Stadium are flowering gardens, groves of trees, benches, a labyrinth, and most uniquely, a bell tower watching over the entire space, calling the community to gather and reflect.

Meet Another Firesoul


Marsha Guenzler-Stevens

A tornado. Several student deaths. 9/11. These were the cataclysmic events that all rattled the University of Maryland campus in 2001–shaking the student body to its core. Marsha, a university administrator, realized there was a terrific need for a safe place where students could process these events—a place to nourish, restore and find much-needed perspective....

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