Nature Sacred Awards Program

Introducing the Nature Sacred Awards Program

After having spent decades advocating for, supporting and helping fund the creation of a network of open, green spaces, we made the decision in 2011 to embark on a different kind of project; different but the same.

We knew nature heals; it’s why we’ve been doing what we do for 25 plus years. You need look no further than the hundreds of journal entries left by visitors to our Sacred Places to see clear patterns in the way people respond to the moments they spend on one of our benches, jotting down their thoughts. But over the years, our curiosity has grown. We wanted to contribute to the science and research working to understand more deeply the hows and whys of nature’s impact on individuals and communities.

Into the world of Academic Research

Thus began our journey into the world of academic research. We launched an ambitious grant project that spanned the coasts; but one crafted to do much more than simply provide funding. The Nature Sacred Awards program was intended to fuse design with research; meaning, green spaces were created with specific purposes in mind — for instance, to study how nature can impact labor and childbirth or how green spaces can contribute to community resilience following disaster.

After poring over dozens of applications, we selected six grantees. Their stories are represented in this section. Each of these projects is far more than the sum of the published research. Joplin, MO; Queens, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Portland, OR; Bethesda, MD — each has been a living laboratory, a living classroom, really, teaching us far more than we imagined we would learn at the outset.

And what we’ve learned, we’ll continue to apply to the Nature Sacred Network, as we help our regional Sacred Places evolve, grow and morph into vibrant communities. Curious? Let us take you on a tour of our Nature Sacred Awards sites.



A film series

The further we became entrenched in these six communities, the more we realized there was more to this research than the science. There are profound community stories to share. The people, the lives, the individual perspectives that collectively paint powerful portraits of strength, unity and resilience—the truest testimonials of the healing power of nature. These are stories that need to be told. And so we are.

This is the Nature Effect—what happens to communities and individuals when they are reconnected with nature. They heal. Refocus. Recover. Renew. Experience the stories that complement the science—and follow us to be the first to know when new films are released!

Here are a few of our recent films for quick inspiration:

"Peace. Love. Health. Joy. Safety. Serenity. Prosperity. Contentment. All are mine as I walk the ThanksGiving Place labyrinth. I am drawn back again and again."

More about this Bench Story