Sacred Place Directory

Landscapes of Resilience: Butterfly Garden & Overlook | Joplin MO

The Landscapes of Resilience project suggests that green spaces can contribute to community resilience and can support recovery. Two Open Spaces Sacred Places were created: one in Joplin, MO, and one in Queens, NY.

Community park

26th and Maiden Lane
Joplin, MO 64804

In May 2011, an EF5, mile-wide, multi-vortex tornado chewed through a large swath of Joplin, MO. In just 38 minutes, the tornado claimed 161 lives, injured 1150 others; it caused billions of dollars in damages, and left thousands of trees decimated, uprooted or maimed. Parts of the community were utterly devastated.

In response, a special project, funded largely by the TKF Foundation via our National Nature Sacred , drew together a multi-disciplinary team of architects, city officials, psychologists, musical therapists, urban planners and community members to help design and build a healing garden for the community.

In May 2014, The Butterfly Garden and Overlook opened to the public. Among its most striking features are space frames that symbolise the homes that were demolished during the brief but extreme winds of the tornado. The design symbolically weaves together design themes related to Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning, the path a healthy person takes to work through the pain of grieving for a loved one or something lost. Water features and a butterfly pavilion are also key components of the space; the butterfly pavilion acknowledges stories told by children that butterflies helped them during the storm. And as another nod to the space’s story, plants that attract butterflies have been incorporated throughout the garden. Throughout the garden – on the storyboards and water features, are quotes of from archived stories of storm survivors.


Firesoul Info

Sara Jacobs Fisher

After the tragedy of the 2011 Joplin tornado, Sara Jacobs Fisher knew that it was her time to step up and bring her community back from the brink of destruction. It was the pain and loss caused by the tornado that inspired Sara to help rebuild the Joplin Butterfly Garden and Overlook. For this Firesoul,…

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  Articles & Research for this Sacred Place

Butterfly Angels


Nature and the Environment: The Psychology of Its Benefits and Its Protection


Preliminary Analysis of TKF “Book & Bench” texts


Seeing the forest for the trees: hybridity and social-ecological symbols, rituals and resilience in post-disaster contexts


At National League of Cities Conference, a budding interest in urban greenspaces


In the wake of natural disasters, here’s what we need to do better


There’s a blindspot in most post-disaster recovery efforts, and it may surprise you


“How Joplin, Missouri, Used Nature to Recover from a Devastating Tornado” – The Dirt


“6 years later: Butterfly Garden helps survivors of devastating Joplin, Missouri, tornado heal in nature” – AccuWeather


“How nature is healing Joplin, Missouri, after 2011 tornado” – Cornell Chronicle



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