One to watch: the SHIFT Summit

We’ll be at this annual festival of ideas this month helping shape the dialogue around nature and its role in public health policy and initiatives.

In a few short weeks, the TKF team will be traveling to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for an event we’re thrilled to be a part of: the annual SHIFT Summit, an ideas festival that has historically drawn together a diverse audience of stakeholders to confab, inspire and dream up new ways to protect public lands. This year, SHIFT’s focus is on the intersection of nature and health; conference organizers calling public health “the last frontier of ecosystem services.”

The agenda is packed with a lengthy list of innovators, early adopters and thought leaders at the forefront of the “Nature Rx” movement. Here are some of the ones we’re particularly excited about: Dr. Michael Suk, physician, former White House Fellow with the Department of Interior and investigator of the relationship between health lifestyles and participation in outdoor activities; Dr. Suzanne Bartlett, a practicing OB/Gyn, published author and director of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy; Dr. Robert Zarr, pediatrician and Founder and Medical Director of Park Rx America; and one of our favorite researchers to follow: Dr. Eugenia South, ER doctor and author of a recent study linking the greening of vacant lots in blighted neighborhoods to reduced symptoms of depression in nearby residents. (We wrote about Dr. South’s research in a recent blog post.)

“There seems to be a real momentum building within this movement to connect people with nature; a growing awareness of this as an issue fundamental to good health and strong communities. Events like SHIFT are essential as we work to foster a collective conversation among the often disparate stakeholders, from urban planners to researchers to insurance providers to nonprofits.”

— TKF Foundation Executive Director Erin Robertson.

TKF will be there participating in the SHIFT mini-film festival, sharing two stories of green spaces and their undeniable power to heal and restore. One, our recently-launched short documentary on The Green Road project; the result of a years-long effort to create a therapeutic nature space on the grounds of the National Military Medical Complex in Bethesda, and to incorporate nature into the treatment of veterans struggling with the unseen injuries of war — namely PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The Green Road will be one of multiple films shown that tell stories related to veteran care through nature.

Our second film being shown will actually launch that evening: “Heart of the Hospital”, the story of a therapeutic garden built at the threshold of the Maternity Care Ward and Cardiovascular Unit at Legacy Emanuel in Portland. Named “A Nature Place”, the garden represents a strategic, concerted effort by the hospital to integrate nature into its patient care, and has also served as the site for multiple scientific studies looking to document the effects of the garden on laboring mothers, distressed families, patients recovering from heart surgery, and hospital caregivers, a population known to experience high levels of work-related stress and burnout.

See the full lineup of films, and read more about them, at the SHIFT website.

We’ll be live posting from the event. We invite you to follow along via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.