What is community?

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. In March, we celebrate the success and stability borne from community engagement and planning.


What is community? Is it a place, a people, an act?

In many of an instance, and perhaps the most robust, it is all three.

In Oregon, a rooftop healing garden nestled within the Family Birth Center and Cardiovascular Care Unit at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center replaces a hardscape terrace built in the 1970s. A Nature Place provides a space for patients, visitors and hospital staff to heal and restore. The medical center’s doctors and nurses are the constant members of this community; the incoming expectant mothers, newly arrived babies, cardiovascular patients and their families bring the Portland community into the halls of the medical center.

All of these members can come together throughout the day to eat lunch, spend time with visiting grandchildren, or take a break from a sterile indoor environment to breathe fresh air. The Nature Place team of researchers and designers will show how this healing garden plays a needed role in the medical center through three separate studies investigating stress reduction among the nursing staff and patients spending time in the healing garden. The healing garden extends our medical centers into the physical community itself, creating a physical bridge between our indoor and outdoor healing environments.

In another Nature Sacred award site, community is a process. After Hurricane Sandy left Queens and much of the Atlantic coast broken and flooded, residents faced large-scale displacement of their physical and social community. The Landscapes of Resilience team will collaborate with residents to re-claim their home and recognize the past and future through a planned open, sacred green space. In a place where capital ’N’ Nature reminds us of its power, residents need a place to heal and work together to re-establish their relationship to the land and people around them.

If you are in the NYC area this week, team members from A Nature Place will present updates and discussion on the healing power of nature. You can join them at the Center for Architecture’s Healing Nature Forum: https://www.thehort.org/programs_forums.html