Pictured above (clockwise from left): Kirby Lane Park and Firesoul Donald Quarles; a Unity Health White Coats for Black Lives show of solidarity held at Unity Center for Behavioral Health Garden, Portland, OR; and a journal entry from May 2020.
While summer, if not like summer’s past, is in full swing, activities have still abounded. Here’s a peek at what’s been going on within our Nature Sacred Network:
First of four new Sacred Places opens in West Baltimore
In West Baltimore, residents of four neighborhoods will soon be within a 10-minute walk of nature. The roughly 1,500 people who live in this area of the city, which has markedly less public green space than other areas of the city, will have Sacred Places of their own thanks to a collaboration between Nature Sacred and Bon Secours.
Bon Secours, which runs Bon Secours Hospital and Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, has also operated Unity Properties and Bon Secours Community Works in West Baltimore since the late 80s and early 90s respectively. The purpose of the operations is to create safe, affordable housing for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities—and provide meaningful services that address the social determinants of health.
The addition of four new Sacred Places helps drive on this mission. The first of these four Sacred Places — Kirby Lane Park — is now open. In conceptualizing the space, the community sought to create a synergy between resident’s cherished pastimes and the serenity prayer. The plan includes a horseshoe pit area, the most popular pastime of the block, and a “serenity garden.” In the words of the community, the park’s “serenity garden” will be a place for neighbors to gather for long afternoons underneath the large tree canopy; observe birds in the native bird garden; and enjoy the slowness of the garden spaces.
See Baltimore Magazine’s recent article about the Park.
Supporting our Firesoul Network through monthly educational opportunities and sharing sessions
- “Integrating Trauma-Informed Care in a Therapeutic Garden” highlighted the importance of the Sacred Place at Unity Behavioral Health Clinic at Legacy Hospital in Portland Oregon.
- “All About Tinkergarten” which shared the work of Tinkergarten and how Firesouls can make use of their support services to think creatively about activating any space for outdoor learning, implementing free DIY outdoor learning activities, and utilizing these services during- and post-COVID-19.
Rising to the Challenge
During both the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent surge of attention around racial injustices, we have watched our Firesouls rise to the challenge of serving their communities and providing nature as a source of respite and an agent of change. Through enrichment grants from Nature Sacred, our Firesouls have provided their communities with virtual at-home or socially distant onsite programmatic opportunities, such as healing art classes, Children’s Art & Nature Stories, bilingual yoga sessions, sound baths, and more.
Many of our Sacred Places served as food ministry and relief sites for communities experiencing the economic burdens of this pandemic. Many have also been the site of peaceful gatherings and demonstrations showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and recognition of the need for safe greenspaces for BIPOC individuals and communities.