Sacred Places come in all shapes and sizes, some feature neatly manicured planting beds, some embrace the wild beauty of nature. Sacred Places are unique, just like the communities that they serve, but all provide critical connection points to nature where it is needed most.
While many Sacred Places are in neighborhoods, college campuses, and hospitals – some exist at locations providing daily services and programs for community members with intellectual and physical disabilities. These organizations offer resources to foster important skills and promote clients’ full inclusion and participation in their communities. Though each of these organizations may differ in their approaches and programs, they all agree – nature is healing, and access to nature should be available to all.
Langton Green is an organization that supports adults with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to explore their interests, set personal goals and realize their full potential.
Langton’s main campus, located in Annapolis, MD provides services including day and residential programs, structured as an alternative to traditional institutions. From job coaching and vocational training to creative programming such as art and writing events, Langton Green focuses on fostering the whole individual.
Their Sacred Place is located on their 13-acre working farm, just outside of Annapolis City Limits and just 20 minutes from Langton’s main campus. Firesoul and Director of Operations, John Iaquinta explains,
The farm was established…as an attempt to find ongoing and meaningful work opportunities for those that we serve with intellectual disabilities.
At the farm, residents and volunteers are engaged with building garden beds, planting seeds and continuing to cultivate the crops they plant. The farm is also home to several types of animals including chickens, goats and potbelly pigs. Clients of Langton Green learn to feed and care for the animals, while also experiencing unique programs such as goat yoga and animal therapy.
Langton’s Community Farm is also focused on supporting the creativity and imagination of those who they serve and the community beyond. The entire 13-acre site is spotted with various installations such as murals, peace poles, a sensory garden
In 2021 as conditions improved from the Covid-19 pandemic began to resume activities that were open to the public. Langton received funding support from Nature Sacred’s Firesoul Network Enrichment & Enhancement Grant Program for installation of a performance garden and stage to host programs that would welcome both their residents and the larger community to the farm together.
The Firesouls noted that projects such as this encourage the broader community to interact with residents in a park-like setting so that they feel accepted and can avoid the isolation that often comes from the impact of societal stigmatization of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. School groups and members of the surrounding community are invited into the space to participate in programming, live performances, art installation, or to buy produce harvested at the farm.
This site also partners with the Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis, also home to a Sacred Place. Excess food is donated to the shelter to further support members of the community, particularly those in need. These inter-Network partnerships truly show the effect that these organizations and Sacred Places have on the greater community.
The Arc of Central Chesapeake Region
The Arc of Central Chesapeake Region is part of a national nonprofit that provides wholistic services to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.
With supported living programs, day programs, vocational training and workforce development, financial advising, and more, the Arc is dedicated to tailoring their services for the individual and their needs.
Serving Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, two out of three locations are home to Sacred Places.
The headquarter location in Severn, MD serves at both administrative offices for the organization, as well as a program center for day services. Staff and program participants alike frequent the Sacred Place here for lunch, a quick chat with colleagues or friends, or just to sit and enjoy the fresh air.
Directly adjacent to the garden is a large lawn space, often used for recreational activities through the ARC’s programs, but also by the surrounding community at large.
The League for People
Situated on the corner of Cold Spring Ave and the Alameda, two major throughways in Northeast Baltimore, the League for People (formerly The League for People with Disabilities) pioneers programming and resources that serve over 2,000 individuals with intellectual, developmental and chronic physical disabilities in Baltimore City.
Often, especially in underserved urban communities, folks with disabilities are not afforded the same opportunities and resources to live healthily and meaningfully as able-bodied and neurotypical people. The League for People seeks to serve as many neighbors with disabilities as possible.
Equipped with full medical facilities, recreation rooms, a gym complete with machines, free-weights, a basketball court and swimming pool, the League runs both day programs as well as afternoon and evening programs. Staff also transport participants to and from the center if needed.
Their Sacred Place provides another critical point of care and services for clients and community members. Offering a serene oasis of nature and peace, a Nature Sacred bench is situated next to a waterfall wall that adds a soothing ambience and shields the space from the busy traffic just a few yards away.
A meandering pathway featuring a second fountain leads to an additional nature space. Here a hanging chair next to a little free library welcomes you to a walking path dotted with additional seating and raised planting beds. The lawn it encircles, along with the courtyard, is used for additional programming and recreation. This Sacred Place has been the site for some of the League’s most well attended programs such as yoga, art therapy, a prom for clients, and even their monthly night club.
Firesoul David Greenberg shared that program participants, staff and volunteers also frequent the space for lunch, to enjoy a book or conversation with friends. A truly welcoming oasis for the whole League community.
These sites and their Firesouls are integral parts of the Network, providing depth of perspectives and diverse examples of how Sacred Places can support all people in finding critical connection to nature and their communities. For more information on physical and mental wellbeing and nature, visit our reports page, or check out some of our films, created in collaboration with accredited researchers and institutional partners, who just like us, believe that nature is for everyone.