“From Memory to Memorial” – Book review by Lisa Horne

In memory of the lives that were lost, saved, and changed forever in the attacks on September 11, 2001, here is a review of Bill Thompson’s recently published book, From Memory to Memorial: Shanksville, America, and Flight 93. Thank you, Lisa Horne, for this review


Memorial gardens breathe new life into communities

racer-street. Photo by Filiz Satir

For days after the Cafe Racer shooting, grief-stricken Seattleites made their way to the building with flowers, candles, and gifts. Photos by Filiz Satir

Guest post by Filiz Satir

On May 30, 2012, a disgruntled Seattle man opened fire inside Seattle’s Café Racer, eventually killing four of the five people he shot. Later that day, the gunman made his way to Seattle’s First Hill where he shot and killed a Seattle woman and stole her vehicle. Hours later, he fatally shot himself.

For days after the May 30 shooting in Seattle that took the lives of four Café Racer patrons, grieving friends, family, and strangers made pilgrimage to the lime green and gray brick building. Floral bouquets, a foot deep, blanketed the length of the building. Taped notes and letters, poems and drawings covered the windows and doors. Artists and musicians held day processions and evening vigils to remember their friends.

Racer Street front door. Photo by Filiz Satir

Friends, family, and neighbors turned Racer Cafe’s exterior and parking strips into a makeshift memorial.

Daily memorializing  and nightly rituals were a spontaneous, necessary, and natural way for a community to express its grief and pay respects to five individuals who were gunned down inside the Seattle café and performance venue.  What happened in the University District that May morning was random, brutal, and utterly senseless.  There are no words to adequately describe the shooting deaths or the depth of pain caused by this act of violence.  For the community, the healing process will be ongoing.  For those closest to the deceased, recovering will be a life-long endeavor.

How does a community and, in particular, the friends and family of Café Racer victims recover from the horror of multiple shooting deaths?  Perhaps the wisdom of conservationist and author Rachel Carson gives us a place to start.  In The Sense of Wonder, Carson writes:

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”


“A Garden to Remember.” Memorials podcast w/ Andrew Keys

September 11 Memorial Garden, Sudbury, MA

September 11 Memorial Garden, Sudbury, MA

Everyone needs a vacation once in awhile…including this blog writer. I’m off to Berlin and the UK for two weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a link to a great podcast from Andrew Keys’ “Garden Confidential: Stories at the Intersection of People and Plants,” for Fine Gardening magazine.

The podcast is called “A Garden to Remember,” and it’s about memorials. Keys interviews me (Naomi Sachs) and Beth Farrell, chair of the committee that built the September 11 Memorial Garden in the town of Sudbury, Massachusetts (pictured above).

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Veterans Day, 2010 – Memorials as Healing Landscapes

Vietnam Veterans Memorial/Washington Monument. Photo by Naomi Sachs

It’s Veterans Day in the United States, and thousands of ceremonies will take place across the country to honor the people who have served. Some have come home as recently as last month. Many of those ceremonies will take place at memorials, including the Annual Veterans Day Observance at the Wall organized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Memorials act as catalysts for our individual and collective remembrance and grieving. They can also serve as historical reminders and teachers for future generations.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial/Washington Monument. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, finding the name. Photo by Naomi SachsOn my trip to Washington, D.C. in September, I visited the three Vietnam Veterans Memorials – Maya Lin’s Wall and the two more traditional representational sculptures (Glenna Goodacre’s Vietnam Women’s Memorial and Frederick Hart’s Three Servicemen). I also visited National World War II Memorial, which is more recent and very different in style.

Vietnam Women's Memorial sculpture by Glenna Goodacre. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Vietnam Women's Memorial sculpture by Glenna Goodacre

Each was powerful in its own way. I was struck at the Vietnam Veterans memorial site by the setting, which is very green and peaceful – a pastoral landscape of lawn and trees and sky. The volunteer at the Wall explained that they call it, including the grounds, a “landscape of healing,” and that Lin’s sculpture, sited in a large expanse of lawn, represents a wound that heals but leaves a scar.

What was most moving to me, though, were the people who were there to find a name, or reunite with fellow veterans, or get a sense of the enormity of loss. A site is a site, a sculpture is a sculpture. But people – family, friends, and visitors – give the place meaning and make it a true landscape of healing.

National World War II Memorial. Photo by Naomi Sachs

National World War II Memorial. Photo by Naomi Sachs

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Memorials page provides information related to memorials as healing landscapes, and we welcome your suggestions about more built works, websites, and resources online or in print.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Photo by Naomi Sachs

ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Event: Informal Walking Tour in Washington, D.C.

Photo of the American Psychological Association's Rooftop Labyrinth by Lea Goode-Harris

Registration for the annual ASLA meeting (American Society of Landscape Architects) has begun, and it’ll be in Washington, D.C. this year, from September 10-13. But before you book your ticket, think about joining the Healthcare and Therapeutic Design (HTD) and Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Networks for a “meeting before the meeting” walking tour of some D.C. sites that relate to human health and well-being, on September 9th.

Here’s the write-up from the HTD PPN Therapeutic Landscapes Design social networking site (which is open to all):

“We plan to spend the day visiting sites on and along the Mall to generate discussions on how they relate to our common interest in Therapeutic Gardens.  We are considering several sites, including  the Vietnam Memorial, the Butterfly Garden, the Garden at the Native American Museum and the rooftop garden and labyrinth at the American Psychological Association.  After the site visits, we hope to gather and ‘debrief’ to share our thoughts.  The date is Sept. 9th, the day before the actual meeting. We will meet in the morning around 8:30 AM and continue through the day (you can join us in the afternoon, depending upon your travel plans.)  We will be sending out further information as we get closer to the date.  There is no cost and we will stop for lunch along the Mall. We will hope to continue the conversation at the PPN meeting on Saturday or Sunday.  We will be sending out further information in the coming weeks and asking you to RSVP for the event.”

If you’re interested in attending and don’t want to join the above-mentioned site, just leave a comment here and I’ll hook you up.

While researching for this blog post, I found a great post by Lea Goode-Harris about the APA’s rooftop garden and labyrinth on her blog Tales from the Labyrinth. Lots of good pictures! This is one of the many projects funded by the TKF Foundation; we’ve written about them in the past, and I’m sure we’ll be doing so again. They do great work. The APA labyrinth will be the first stop on our walking tour that day, and they are excited to show us around. In case you can’t make our “meeting before the meeting” but want to visit the green roof with labyrinth, it’s at 10 G Street, N.E., and is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. You can get access by asking the guard at the front desk (this from the APA website).

And if you want more on labyrinths, check out the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Labyrinths page.

Landscapes of Remembrance: Cemeteries as Healing Landscapes


Image of Stirling Cemetery in Scotland courtesy of The Daily Undertaker, an interesting blog about love, grief, and remembrance.

Cemeteries as healing landscapes? I can just imagine some the comment: “Um, I hate to break it to ya, but those folks are, well, you know, beyond healing.” Sure, cemeteries are for people who have died. But just as much, they are for the living: We plan them, bury and visit our family and friends in them, and maintain them – individual gravesites, family burial plots, and cemeteries as a whole. People also visit cemeteries as parks – more on that in a bit. Grief is one of the most painful of human emotions, and mortality is one of most people’s greatest fears. Nevertheless, cemeteries can be powerful landscapes not just as sites to inter the dead but as places for us to grieve, remember, and even celebrate life. All of these life-affirming actions contribute to our health and well-being.

Maya Lin Veterans Memorial Washington D.C.

Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

For years, I’ve thought of memorials as healing landscapes, and there’s a page of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network devoted to memorials. They serve as reminders and touchstones for the living to remember people and events. But it wasn’t until recently, when a local cemetery board contacted me about a design job, that I started to think of cemeteries (or what we called graveyards in the no-nonsense New England village where I grew up) as healing landscapes. They both serve as landscapes of remembrance, catalysts for individual and collective grieving and memory.

Frederick Law Olmsted, “the father of landscape architecture,” was inspired to create public parks in urban areas after learning that people were spending their Sundays at Mt. Auburn Cemetery because it was the only park-like setting within close reach of the city. Olmsted also designed some beautiful and historically significant cemeteries, including Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA. When I was in graduate school at UC Berkeley, I used to visit Mountain View; I had no connection to the people buried there, but it was a beautiful, quiet, serene landscape for walking and thinking.

There are millions of cemeteries, of all different kinds, in all different places. Some are sad and bleak, some are beautiful and park-like, some are tourist destinations for famous people (Elvis, John Lennon, J.F.K. – there are even celebrity gravesite tours) or just for themselves (Arlington National Cemetery, the “Cities of the Dead” in New Orleans). Many reflect a time period, place, and culture. My father-in-law’s ashes are buried at Colney Wood Natural Burial Park, one of a growing number of natural burial parks in Europe (we’ve got a few in the U.S., too – see The Centre for Natural Burial for more information and lists of sites). Not a religious man, he did not want his remains to be buried in a church graveyard; but my family wanted to have a place we could visit – a beautiful place that he would have liked to walk in and that we would be comforted by visiting. Colney Wood is just that: A lovely forest that is also a cemetery. We chose a spot under a majestic multi-trunk chestnut tree (two images, below), and we continue to take comfort from the place.

As for me, I’ve got a plot picked out in the small town where I grew up. It’s a rural spot, surrounded by trees and grass and old New England stone walls. I’m hoping it’ll be a long time until my relatives have to think about that, but there’s comfort in knowing that when the time comes, they’ll be able to wish me goodbye and visit me in a landscape that continues to give solace even after I’m gone.