This time last year, like most, we had no inkling of the challenges and trials 2020 would bring. Once the pandemic hit though, we worked quickly to find ways to support our Firesouls and our network of Sacred Places so that each, could in-turn, aid their communities. As this year comes to a close, we wanted to end on a bright note; with several bright notes, actually. We are thankful and gratified by the impact we have been able to achieve together in this year that arguably has seen more people than ever recognize nature as a means to help cope in times of need.
While this list could have numbered in the dozens, we have held it to a highly-skimmable and impactful nine:
2. Sacred Places became a hub for essential activities and community gatherings that would normally happen indoors. Think graduation ceremonies, food distribution, voter registration, and concerts. (And that’s not all.)
3. Sacred Places provided respite and safe gathering in response to what many call the “twin pandemic” — racism. See Firesoul Steve Coleman’s story as one example.
4. Nature Sacred supported community programming adapted to a virtual world for all – while still following the spirit and mission of our typical programming. Children’s art & nature stories, sound bathing, Citizen Science, bilingual yoga and mindfulness were among the programs offered.
5. Our Firesoul Network Enhancement Grants brought hope and beauty to their communities. Mount Washington Arboretum completed a massive daffodil planting project; Intersection of Change planted a pollinator garden with the expert help of Division Street Landscaping; and Northeast Interfaith Peace Garden installed pollinator-welcoming native perennials and shrubs.
6. Peer-to-peer Firesoul sharing involving our Design Advisors led to a new labyrinth at an existing Sacred Place at Epiphany Chapel.
7. Another first: Community charettes went hybrid-virtual: The project involves the reimagining of Upper Eutaw and Madison Neighborhood Sculpture Park.
8. Sacred Places, like the Terrace Garden at Legacy Emanuel, provided much-needed respite for healthcare workers under relentless stress and strain. Aside from serving as a nature respite, programming like 4-2-6 Breathing, a technique that encourages calm; and healing art classes were held.
9. We nurtured our 100+ Firesouls through a range of offerings that ranged from leadership and sensitivity training to Sonic Meditation to educational opportunities with urban farming and therapeutic landscape design, which they, in turn, brought back to their communities.