The Warrior and Family Support Center – A green haven in San Antonio, TX

Warrior and Family Support Center, San Antonio, TX. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Last month, I had the privilege of seeing the Warrior and Family Support Center (WFSC) in San Antonio, Texas. Three other Texas A&M classmates (an MArch student and two MLA students) and I drove the 3.5 hours from College Station to visit the WFSC and the Center for the Intrepid (CFI), both on the Fort Sam Houston campus. The Center for the Intrepid offers the full spectrum of outpatient care for veterans and “wounded warriors” – active military personnel – who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe injuries such as limb loss, burns, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Patients are also treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The three missions of CFI include patient care, education and training, and research. Like all major military medical centers, the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston includes Fisher Houses, a place for the entire family to stay while patients are going through treatment and rehabilitation.


International Council on Active Aging Conference 2012

Japanese Maple. Photo by Henry Domke,

Japanese Maple. Photo by Henry Domke,

“Many journeys, many destinations”

The 10th Annual Conference of the International Council on Active Aging will take place November 29 through December 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Attendees will be able to choose from among several educational sessions on active aging, the aging process, and disease prevention.

The ICAA Conference is the active-aging venue for professional development and informal learning. Sectors represented at the conference include the retirement, assisted living, recreation, fitness, rehabilitation and wellness fields, as well as government and academia. Connect with colleagues across the active-aging spectrum and build your knowledge network. 


Community Health Center Design Conference 11/13 – 11/15

Transforming primary care environments through evidence-based design

Join community health centers from across the Midwest to integrate evidence-based design into health center design and the patient experience. The Chicago-based  conference will address a wide range of topics for organizations responding to increasing demand. Discussions will include facility design solutions, planning and financing opportunities, and community engagement and collaboration strategies.

The Center for Health Design in conjunction with IFF is presenting a two-day immersion experience to explore, network, and learn about designing or renovating community healthcare clinics. Come learn from local health center executives, board members, and design teams how to explore and incorporate evidence-based design into new or renovated facilities and operations.  This conference is ideal for senior executives and board members of CHCs, rural health centers, and charity clinics. Visit the IFF site to register and view the agenda.

What: Community Health Center Design Conference

When: November 13-14, 2012

Where: River East Arts Center, 435 East Illinois Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611


Wordless Wednesday – Autumn Japanese maple

The afternoon sun shows off the sculptural elegance of the Japanese maple at the Washington Park Arboretum’s Japanese Garden in Seattle. Photo by Filiz Satir


“Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life”

A documentary on the biophilic approach to designing cities, suburbs

A new film takes viewers on a journey from our evolutionary past and architecture’s  origins to the world’s most celebrated buildings in a search for the architecture of life.  The documentary, “Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life” by Stephen Kellert and Bill Finnegan will be featured October 23 at New York City’s AIA Center for Architecture.

Kellert and Finnegan’s film explores innovative ways of designing the places where we live, work, and learn, and will be introduced by Stephen Kellert. As one reviewer put it: “The film plainly states that bad design is part of the cause of environmental degradation and that good design is part of the solution.”

The producers describe their film in this way:

“Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development.”

The film screening, followed by a panel discussion, is co-sponsored by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the Yale Alumni Association of New York. For a sneak peek of the film, view the trailer now.  If you have questions, please contact Georgia Silvera Seamans or visit this film screening site.

The book, Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, edited by Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, and Martin Mador is also excellent.

What: Documentary, “Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life”

When: Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 12:15 – 2:45 p.m.

Where:  AIA Center for Architecture, Hines Gallery, 536 LaGuardia Place, NYC


Wordless Wednesday, 10/17/12 – Morning glory vine

Morning glory vine. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Wordless Wednesday, 10/3/12 – New Hampshire falls in fall

New Hampshire falls in fall. Photo by Alberto Salvatore

New Hampshire falls in fall. Photo by Alberto Salvatore


“Forging New Frontiers, Cultivating New Landscapes” – AHTA Conference in Olympia, WA

Garden-Bridge_4995. Photo by Henry Domke,

Photo by Henry Domke,

2012 Conference of the American Horticultural Therapy Association
October 6-7, 2012
Olympia, Washington

The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) will hold its annual conference, October 6-7, in Olympia, Washington. Dr. Susan Rodiek, of Texas A&M University’s Center for Health Systems and Design, will be the keynote speaker. Rodiek is a well-known researcher in the field of health care design with a focus on aging, dementia and the role of the outdoors in senior residential care.

The conference, “Forging New Frontiers, Cultivating New Landscapes,” offers a range of sessions including the “Reflective Garden Walking Program to Reduce Stress.” In this Saturday session, presenter Ruth McCafferty will discuss the walking program at the Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. The Stroll for Well Being was developed to measure the effects of reflective garden walking on stress, depression, and emotional problems. In the workshop, “Cultivating Culture Change,” horticulture therapist Pam Catlin will invite attendees to vision the future of horticultural therapy for elders.

Perkins School for Blind

Perkins School for Blind

Formed in 1973, the American Horticultural Therapy Association has helped horticultural therapy gain acceptance as a unique and dynamic human service program.Horticultural Therapy is recognized as an effective treatment with wide-ranging benefits for people in therapeutic, vocational, and wellness programs.

For more information about for the October AHTA conference, registration and hotel accommodations, visit the conference site. The registration form is available here.

“One plant and one deep breath” – TLN member stories

Photo by J.J.The Therapeutic Landscapes Network recently put a call out for stories or quotes about how contact with nature (or the lack thereof) affects them. We didn’t give many parameters; the stories could be about passive connection (sitting or walking in nature, or even viewing it from indoors) or active (gardening). We received some beautiful responses, some of which will be published in the book on therapeutic landscapes in the healthcare setting that Clare Cooper Marcus and I are co-authoring. Here is the first story in our series:

I was recently diagnosed most surprisingly with early stage breast cancer. Surprisingly because I had had a manual exam the month before with negative results. I have since had, as this was a rapid diagnostic clinic, an operation and follow up treatment is to start soon. Part of the personal issue with stage one is it can be hard to give myself credit for the impact of the diagnosis as I keep running into people with stages three and four. As a social worker I can find myself sometimes giving comfort to others. I have sought out my own social worker for this reason and she has been wonderful.  It is also on my balcony garden of tall tall bean plants, impatients, daisies and other flowering plants that I am able to rest and take in the impact and ramifications of what has happened over the last five weeks. I allow myself all the wild emotions and thoughts, as well as  the gratitude for the early diagnosis. It is also where I do body scans and meditation. It is through the beautiful breeze in the leaves that I feel complete and relaxed and it is with the visual stimulation of the colours and the shapes that I feel stimulated and optimistic. I am surrounded by an incredible array of natural healing sights and sounds. Who knew a little garden on a tiny tiny urban balcony on the ninth floor could be so important and healing. All it takes is one plant and one deep breath and I am deeply grounded and the world seems right again.

Would you like to share your story? Leave a comment here, or contact us directly. Thank you!

Roger Ulrich keynote at Gardens in Healthcare Conference

The Children's Garden at Legacy Health, Portland, Oregon

The Children’s Garden at Legacy Health, Portland, Oregon

Gardens in Healthcare: Rehabilitation, Recovery, and Restoration
Friday, Sept 21,  8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Lorenzen Center
Portland, OR

Dr. Roger Ulrich, a behavioral scientist who is widely known for his research on the impacts of healthcare facilities on medical outcomes, will be the keynote speaker for a one-day conference on Friday, September 21, at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center (Portland, OR). Ulrich and others will address the use of gardens in healthcare settings to promote better outcomes for patients, improved effectiveness for staff and a safer care environment for both.

A large and growing body of evidence indicates that the physical environment impacts patient stress, patient and staff safety, staff effectiveness, and the quality of care provided in healthcare settings. Increasingly, healthcare design is guided by rigorous research linking the physical environment of hospitals to patient and staff outcomes. Like “evidence-based medicine,” where clinical choices are informed by research,  healthcare design, too, is being guided by quantitative and qualitative research. Legacy Health System in greater Portland has nearly a dozen healing gardens between its five facilities. These  gardens provide a physical space in which patients, family, and healthcare staff may use  with specific and purposeful ends in mind.

The Portland conference is suited to therapists, physicians, administrators, nurses, facility staff, and design professionals.  By the end of the day, attendees will be able to 1) describe three benefits of gardens for patients, families, visitors, and staff; 2) summarize two research studies to support gardens in healthcare; and 3) outline processes (strategies) to promote interdisciplinary planning, programming, and evaluation of setting-specific gardens

The registration form provides details about conference programming, fees, continuing education credits, and accommodations. For more information, contact Teresia Hazen at or 503-413-6507.

To learn more about the Legacy Health gardens visit,