The Hero’s Journey as Healing Journey – Guest post by Dan Mallach

Bartram's Yellowwood. Photo by Dan Mallach

Bartram’s Yellowwood. Photo by Dan Mallach

Landscape Architect Dan Mallach contacted me after he finished his MLA thesis, “The Folktale Journey in Healthcare Facility Landscapes,” and I suggested that he write a guest blog post on the subject. If you’re interested in the thesis, please leave a comment!

“The Hero’s Journey as Healing Journey: A Transformational Path for Healthcare Facility Landscapes” by Dan Mallach, RLA

“A healing is a spiritual journey” – Lewis Mehl-Madrona

In order to promote mental relaxation and physical recovery, many therapeutic gardens at healthcare facilities feature sense-pleasing designs with achievement/reward paradigms. While such designs have been shown to improve clinical outcomes, a design framework based on the landscape features of the archetypal Hero’s Journey of folktales may heighten their effectiveness, such that an individual may achieve a state of health that has been described by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Joseph Campbell and others have described the successive “stages” common to the folktale journey. Protagonists travel a metaphoric road, and in doing so, encounter a world that reflects, and stimulates, a transformative process of inner travel.

In a typical story, the Hero begins his or her journey in a familiar location such as the village square. Following an interpersonal conflict or other communal challenge, the Hero becomes lost in the forest. The Hero wanders, and may meet a guide who points to a literal path forward, and may offer advice to help resolve the prime conflict. The Hero must travel to a mountaintop– but first a river must be crossed and other tasks completed.


Snapshots from the Chicago Botanic Garden

It’s a beautiful day at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Day #6 of the CBG Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program. Today we’ve had presentations by Marni Barnes, Gwenn Fried, Nilda Cosco, and Clare Cooper Marcus; and Mark Epstein led a super discussion about “real nature vs. virtual nature” outside in the Walled Garden. Here are some snapshots from my walk today…

Cercis canadensis (redbud). Photo by Naomi Sachs

Cercis canadensis (redbud). Photo by Naomi Sachs

Cercis canadensis. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Cercis canadensis (redbud), with blossoms springing right from the branches. Photo by Naomi Sachs

New soft leaves. Photo by Naomi Sachs.

I wish you could feel these new leaves. So velvety soft! Photo by Naomi Sachs.


Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program – There’s still time to register!

Euphorbia at Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Euphorbia at Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Registration is still open for the upcoming Chicago Botanic Garden Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program, and for the one-day seminar, “Gardens That Heal: A Prescription for Wellness.”

Where else can you learn from top designers and scholars in the field, meet and work with a diverse array of talented and enthusiastic colleagues, and receive a certificate in Healthcare Garden Design, all on the grounds of the stunning Chicago Botanic Garden? Answer: Nowhere. You might even cuddle up to a giant Echium, as instructor Naomi Sachs did last year… Hope to see you there!


Access to Nature DVDs – Spring Sale!

Access to Nature DVDs

If you have not seen the terrific award-winning DVD series “Access to Nature for Older Adults,” this is your chance. To coincide with the Environments for Aging conference, this DVD series is being offered during the month of April at a significant discount (50% off!) for TLN members. We’ll be sending out an email on Tuesday, 4/5 to our members with a keycode to buy the discounted DVDs.

To join the TLN, just sign up for our mailing list. It’s free and you’ll get occasional newsletters, as well as discounts like these. On the right-hand side of this blog page, see “Get TLN Blog posts emailed to you!” Enter your email and click “Subscribe.” That’s it! But do it soon, the email with the keycode goes out on Tuesday, April 5th.

About the Access to Nature for Older Adults DVDs
The series was developed by Susan Rodiek and colleagues at the Center for Health Systems & Design, Texas A&M University.

This fast-paced and lively set of three half-hour videos includes dramatic images, professional narration, and a rich variety of site photos, 3-D animations, diagrams, sketches, and interviews with senior residents and world-renowned experts on this multidisciplinary topic.


Wordless Wednesday, 3/23/16 – Happy Spring!

Wild honeybee and lemon blossoms. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Wild honeybee and lemon blossoms. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Environments for Aging is just around the corner!

TX wildflowers. By Naomi Sachs

Texas bluebonnets and Indian blanket flower. Photo by Naomi Sachs

The fantastic Environments for Aging conference is just around the corner…chronologically (April 9-12) and for me, geographically–it’s in Austin, TX! What a beautiful, fun, vibrant city for a conference. Not sure if the bluebonnets will still be blooming, but I’m sure other wildflowers will be. In fact, if you can take an extra day and go see the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, you will thank me.

I’ll be presenting with Susan Rodiek and Eric Bardenhagen on Sun, Apr 10 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM on “Planning, Designing, and Evaluating Outdoor Spaces to Optimize Usage” – see description below. And here are some other sessions I’m looking forward to attending. Hope to see you there!


Happy New Year!

Aspens, photo by Henry Domke,

Aspens, photo by Henry Domke,

Wishing everyone a healthy, joyous, and peaceful 2016!

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.

Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and around us, everywhere, any time. – Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh


Happy Solstice!

Wishing you warmth, light, and peace from the Therapeutic Landscapes Network.

Last-minute gift shopping ideas!

In case you’re still looking for that perfect gift for someone special (including yourself) have a look at our TLN Store! Lots of beautiful items, all with our Echinacea mascot (thank you, Henry Domke).

And if books are more your thing, see this “TLN Recommends” blog post. We’ll be adding some new ones to that list soon.

“I love my TLN baseball tee!”


#TLNnaturephoto challenge (Wordless Wednesday, kind of)

Photo by Naomi Sachs

Who says there’s no fall color in TX? #TLNnaturephoto day 3 of 7. Photo by Naomi Sachs

First of all, OMG, it’s December! How did that happen??

Second, obviously this isn’t a true Wordless Wednesday post because of, well, all the words, but it’s Wednesday and there are pictures, so close enough.

Finally, here’s my invitation: A FB friend recently invited me to take and post 1 nature photo a day for 7 days. I’m supposed to tag someone each day to continue the chain but that feels too much like a creepy chain letter so I’ve stopped that part. I take a lot of nature photos anyway, but I have to say, committing to take and post 1 a day has made me look more carefully at my surroundings, which I’ve really been enjoying.

So, I invite all of you readers to join me: 1 nature photo a day for 7 days, posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, etc. If you choose to accept this mission, please use the hashtag #TLNnaturephoto so we can follow each others’ progress. Have fun!

Photo by Naomi Sachs

Dewdrops on a horizontal web, #TLNnaturephoto day 2 of 7. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Photo by Naomi Sachs

Rainy Sunday. #TLNnaturephoto day 1 of 7. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Photo by Naomi Sachs

Floating Cercis leaf. #TLNnaturephoto day 4 of 7. Photo by Naomi Sachs