A Network Growing Strong: 1,000 members on Facebook!


Web photo by Henry Domke

As of today, the Therapeutic Landscapes Network has over 1,000 members on Facebook. Cue balloons falling from the ceiling and champagne cork popping!

Why is this such a big deal, other than being a nice big round number? Because we are creating a truly interactive, dynamic network, that’s why.

Ever since I first started the Therapeutic Landscapes Database back in 1999, I have wanted to create a “forum” – a sort of virtual gathering space – for sharing information, questions, and ideas. This was also one of the goals for our new website, and we’ve been knocking ideas around about how to best create this forum. In the meantime, Facebook started these “pages” where businesses and organizations could have members, or fans, or likers…the name keeps changing but the idea is the same: A group of people who are connected around the same issue.

And so, at least for the time being, the TLN’s Facebook page has become that forum. In addition to seeing what the TLN posts – and we do post information, events, links to other good organizations, picture, and so on almost every day – here are some of the other ways you can use the FB page:

  • Share information: Post stuff (links to articles and organizations, pictures, questions, thoughts, inspirations) on the wall – all members (fans) can post.
  • Comment on other people’s posts – great way to share information, ideas, etc.
  • See related organizations – In the left-hand column, see our “favorite pages” section for other like-minded organizations such as the Children & Nature Network, Horticultural Therapy Institute, the National Wildlife Federation.

So if you haven’t already joined us, please do. Believe me, I have my own issues with Facebook, especially with their new privacy policy, but for now, it is the best “forum” venue for us.

If you still don’t want to join Facebook, here are some other ways you can still be an active participant in the TLN:

1. Join our mailing list so that you get our monthly newsletter;

2. Leave comments on this blog – comments are a great way to get a discussion/conversation going between blog readers;

3. Join our group on Land8Lounge, the social networking site for landscape architects and designers (anyone is welcome, that’s just who it’s geared towards);

4. Contact us directly.

Thanks to each and every one of our members for making the “Network” part of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s name real and meaningful. We can learn so much from each other.

And thanks to Henry Domke for this beautiful (and yes, symbolic) web image.

Naomi Sachs, Founder & Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network

Upcoming Talk (and a PBS show!) by Esther Sternberg

If you liked my interview with Esther Sternberg about her excellent book Healing Spaces: The Science and Place of Well-Being last month, here’s your chance to see and hear her in person:

Dr. Sternberg will be speaking at Trinity Church in Boston, MA on Sunday, November 8th. See details in the Arnold Arboretum press release below.

Sternberg is also going to be hosting the PBS show called “The Science of Healing.” It airs in Washington, D.C. on November 28th and will probably air repeatedly after that, so check your local stations for dates and times. More on her website,

Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being

Esther M. Sternberg, M.D., Chief of Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior and Director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program National Institute of Mental Health
1 Session
Sun Nov 8 2:00–3:30pm [Trinity Church]
Can a pleasant view speed healing? In this lecture, Dr. Esther Sternberg will present the science of mind-body connections and human perception as it relates to place. Using examples from her book, Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being, to explain the neurobiology of the senses, she will explore how a theme park, concert hall, cathedral, labyrinth, or garden can trigger or reduce stress, induce anxiety or instill peace. Dr. Sternberg will provide clues to how and why we respond to our surroundings that could influence the places we create in the future.

Fee $10 members, $15 nonmembers
Register for this class online or by phone/mail.

Co-sponsored by the Arnold Arboretum and Trinity Church in the City of Boston

Nature Makes Us Nicer!

Image courtesy of Sarah Olmsted at Imagine Childhood

Image courtesy of Sarah Olmsted at Imagine Childhood

Nature makes us nicer. And more community-oriented. And more generous. I know, some of you are thinking “Duh-uh, we knew that all along.” Well, now you have your proof.

A new study by the University of Rochester found that even after just looking at pictures of nature, people felt closer to their community, were more willing to give money to a charitable cause, and cared more about social outcomes than they were after looking at “man-made” scenes. Researchers explain that connecting to nature also helps people to connect to their basic good values. Just imagine how much more exponentially multiplied the results would be if people were to experience nature in person rather than just by looking at pictures. See the Treehugger article for the full story.

So go on, pat the bunny! Imagine Childhood is one of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s Wonderful Sponsors. Visit their website and show them some love. The have all sorts of wonderful things to make the most of you and your kids’ outdoor experience, and Sarah’s blog is filled with beautiful images of nature. One of these days, I’m going to buy the same camera that she has.

And if you’re feeling generous after reading this post, donate to the TLN. We will put your gift to good use! Here’s another picture for inspiration:

Image courtesy of Sarah Olmsted at Imagine Childhood

Image courtesy of Sarah Olmsted at Imagine Childhood

Full citation: Weinstein, Netta, Richard Ryan, and Andrew Przybylski (2009). “Can Nature Make Us More Caring? Effects of Immersion in Nature on Intrinsic Aspirations and Generosity.” Personality and  Social Psychology Bulletin, October, Vol. 35: pp. 1315-1329.

Almost there! Therapeutic Landscapes Network gears up to launch new website

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network is working feverishly to launch our new website in time for the annual American Society of Landscape Architects Meeting and Expo next week (and the American Horticultural Therapy Association and Healthcare Design 09 conferences soon after that).

Above is a sneak peek at our beautiful homepage. Oooh. Ahhh.

This isn’t just a superficial makeover. We’ve reconfigured the TLN site to offer
  • improved searchability and richer imagery;
  • an expanded Designers and Consultants Directory;
  • an expanded Directory of Therapeutic Gardens;
  • sponsorship opportunities for businesses and organizations to promote their products, services, and expertise;
  • an integrated blog (website and blog all under one virtual roof);
  • an interactive Network Forum where members can meet and share information and ideas;
  • and more information than ever before on gardens, landscapes, and other green spaces that facilitate health and well-being, for an even broader global community of designers, health and human service providers, educators, students, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts.
Want to get in on the action before the launch? Easy:
  • Email us at if you’d like to list in our Designers and Consultants Directory or be one of our fabulous sponsors.
  • Sign up here (or with the form in the right-hand column – same thing, different look) to become a member and get on our mailing list. It’s free, and we’ll put you on our newsletter list so we can tell you right away when we launch the new site.
Oh, and if you aren’t following us on twitter yet, join us there, too! We’ve got 2,000 followers so far, with more coming every day.

“How the City Hurts Your Brain (and what you can do about it)”

Yoko Shimizo for The Boston Globe

An excellent article by Jonah Lehrer appeared earlier this month in The Boston Globe“How the City Hurts Your Brain…and what you can do about it.”

As I mentioned a few postings ago, designers – including the “father of landscape architecture,” Frederick Law Olmsted – have known for a long time that cities, though stimulating and full of opportunity, can also be rife with disease, pollution, and other health-defeating problems. Now scientists are examining the effects of the city on the brain, and they are finding what many people intuited all along: “Just being in an urban environment…impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold on to things like memory, and suffers from reduced self-control.” (I think the brain would suffer anywhere when left out on its own, but never mind).

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that even in an overstimulating urban environment, you can counteract the overwhelm that leads to cognitive disfunction by going to a park, or even by paying closer attention to the nature that is all around you (see my post on Urban Naturalism). Lehman discusses attention restoration theory, or ART, coined by University of Michigan professors Stephen and Rachel Kaplan more than twenty years ago. Nature elicits what the Kaplans call “soft fascination,” a type of attention that allows for reflection and that is actually mentally restorative rather than taxing. Even just viewing a nature scene – or a tree, or something other than concrete and brick and soot – from the window is beneficial. Now we know why CEO’s always get the corner office! 

To those of us in this field, not much of this is new information, but we’re always thrilled when people stand up and take notice. The Boston Globe! Usually we end up preaching to the converted in tomes like Environment and Behavior (great journal, but not so accessible to those who aren’t designer/environmental psychologist geeks). Lehrer’s article is a great primer on the restorative benefits of nature and bears close reading. For those who want to follow up with further research, Lehrer cites some key studies, and of course the Therapeutic Landscapes Database and Blog have lots more where that came from.

Oh, and here’s a link to one of the articles mentioned by Lehrer: 
The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature,” by Mark G. Berman, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan in Psychological Science, Vol. 19, No. 12, pp. 1207-1212.

So much good news, so little time

I’ve been feeling a little like Lucy in Episode 39, “Job Switching,” also known as “the candy factory episode.” So much great news about landscapes for health, I can’t keep up! This is a very good thing, because it means that we’re finally getting somewhere and this whole idea of “therapeutic landscapes” is permeating the public consciousness. But it’s not so good for this solitary blogger! So for the next few days, I’m going to give you short bursts. A few sentences and then the link for further study, if you want. More like twitter than my posts usually are. If I could figure out how to do a “news feed,” of related articles, I would, but I haven’t cleared that technical hurdle yet.

First installment short and sweet. Some great articles about the positive effects of indoor plants:

3. The above paper is summarized nicely in this article (as well as in Sara Snow’s on treehugger): “Do Plants Speed Up Recovery In Hospitals?” on

4. “The Effect of Live Plants and Window Views of Green Spaces on Employee Perceptions of Job Satisfaction.”

5. “Greener Offices Make Happier Employees.” Press release about the above paper from the American Society for Horticultural Sciences.

Full citations:

Dravigne, Andrea,  Waliczek, R. Lineberger, and J. Zajicek (2008). “The Effect of Live Plants and Window Views of Green Spaces on Employee Perceptions of Job Satisfaction.” HortScience, vol. 43, p. 279. 

Park, Seong-Hyun and Richard H. Mattson (2008). “Effects of Flowering and Foliage Plants in Hospital Rooms on Patients Recovering from Abdominal Surgery.” HortTechnology, October, 18:549-745.

Snow, Sara (2008).”Green Eyes On: Healing and Air Purifying Plants.”, 1/19/09.

News staff (2008).”Do Plants Speed Up Recovery In Hospitals?”, 12/29/08.

“Greener Offices Make Happier Employees.” HortTechnology, ASHS Press Releases, 5/16/08.