Wordless Wednesday, 12/1/10 – Winter dogwood

Winter dogwood, photo by Naomi Sachs

It’s that time! Shop at our store and support the TLN

TLN Store screenshot

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Seems like a good time to point out that the Therapeutic Landscapes Network has a store on our website where you can buy mugs, tote bags, mousepads, Sigg water bottles, magnets, hats, and clothing for him, her and baby, all sporting our beautiful Echinacea “mascot” (thank you, Henry Domke!).

All proceeds go to support the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, and all gifts are guaranteed to bring joy.

Love our Echinacea Mascot? Do Some Shoppin’!

We get so many great comments about the photos on the TLN website, especially our Echinacea “mascot” by Henry Domke. If you love the image and want to see it even when you’re not on the computer, we have a wonderful assortment of t-shirts, tote bags, water bottles, and other stuff at the TLN Store. Your purchases help us and they also bring good cheer wherever you take them! Here’s a testimonial from a happy Therapeutic Landscapes Network member and customer:

“I wanted to let you know that I love my new TLN canvas bag! It is so roomy, and the image on the front is gorgeous.”

Next Month! National Children & Youth Garden Symposium

The Vitality of Gardens: Energizing the Learning Environment

That’s the theme for The American Horticultural Society‘s (18th!) annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, to be held July 22-24, 2010, in Pasadena, CA.

“The restoration we seek in gardens is more essential than ever, but gardens are also sources of healthy food, environmental protection and personal fulfillment. The garden can be an incubator for fostering engaged citizens. For children and youth, a garden can be a science lab, art studio, kitchen, gathering place, theater of the imagination, a special place to explore the world.

Come learn how to create and use gardens to provide dynamic environments for experimentation, social engagement, self-expression, and connection to the natural world. Hear from youth, the adults in their lives, and national experts about the vital role of gardens in the lives of today’s youth.”

Visit the AHS website for more details about tours, speakers, education sessions, and more.

Sustainable AND Restorative Landscapes: Four To Watch from Sustainable Sites Initiative’s Pilot Projects

Sustainable Sites Initiative

Healing Garden at Cayuga Medical Center, one of SITES' case studies

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) has announced its 175 Pilot Projects, and here, from what I can tell, are the ones specifically related to therapeutic landscapes:

Alderwood Longterm Care Facility
Baddeck, Cape Breton
Project Type: Residential
Project Team: Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle; Ekistics Planning & Design; WHW Architects; Alderwood Corporation
Description: The Alderwood Rest Home is a greenfield development that is measuring and evaluating the sustainability goals and deliverables that will contribute to improvements in landscape design, construction and maintenance. Protection, restoration, environmental mitigation, orientation, plantings, walkways, outdoor rooms, and hardscape have been strategically combined to provide an environment that enhances resident wellness, optimizes resident’s outdoor usage and integrates the property’s diverse natural environment.

Health Village Fludir
Fludir, Iceland
Project Type: Commercial
Project Team: Health Village Fludir Ltd. and Vist & Vera ltd.
Description: This 16-acre greenfield project is associated with Iceland’s first health village. Site plans will focus on creating a walkable and ADA accessible environment including health paths, fitness zones, a series of natural open spaces, and a healing garden. Vehicular traffic will be limited and parking placed on the outer periphery. The project is seen as an opportunity to test SITES guidelines in Iceland and serve as a model for sustainable development in the country. (http://healthvillage.is)

The People’s Garden (USDA)
Washington, District of Columbia
Project Type: Governmental complex
Project Team: USDA-Office of Operations, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA- Forest Service
Description: The landscape outside USDA headquarters has been redesigned to showcase sustainability, nutrition, and healthy eating through rainwater harvesting, removal of invasives, and installation of working beehives, a vegetable garden, and a green roof among other design elements. This new landscape will support the agency’s educational mission while demonstrating to other public institutions that sustainable practices can be successfully implemented on a high profile, urban site with a rigorous aesthetic design requirement.

The Barn Raising Project
Millington, Tennessee
Project Type: Institutional/Educational
Project Team: Habitat for Hope, PLACE Alliance, archimania
Description: This non-profit organization exists to provide holistic care for families enduring the serious illness of a child. They will transform its 48-acre greenfield campus into a model for sustainability. The environmentally friendly development plan includes cabins, a village center, lodge, chapel, equestrian center, and staff residences. The team believes alignment with SITES will benefit the families that Habitat for Hope serves.

Several other pilot projects are for children, education, and public parks; you can view the entire list here: http://www.sustainablesites.org/pilot/.

These SITES Pilot Projects represent a diverse cross-section of project types, sizes and geographic locations in various stages of development from design to construction and maintenance. SITES Pilot Projects will be the first projects in the United States and abroad to demonstrate the application of The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009, released on November 5, 2009.

SITES has a Human Health and Well-Being component as well as those that are more strictly environmental, which is very exciting to those of us in this field.

For more information about the Sustainable Sites Initiative, visit their website, and here’s a good overview of the Pilot Projects from ASLA’s The Dirt.

The above image is from one of SITES’ Case Studies, the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY.

Healing the Neighborhood: The Power of Gardens

Nicola Allen in front of her North End Hartford home (photo courtesy Hartford Journal)

Nicola Allen knew that she had to do something to make her North End neighborhood in Hartford, CT safer and nicer. And after much thought and some time driving around suburban neighborhoods that seemed better, she arrived at the solution: Gardens. “Suburban homeowners took pride in their homes and landscapes. She decided to make her property look more like the landscapes she admired,” reports Theresa Sullivan Barger in a recent Hartford Courant article, Urban Flower Power: Gardens Turn Blighted Burton Street Area Into Oasis Of Color.” By working in her own garden, Allen has inspired others in the neighborhood to do the same, and their efforts have paid off: The neighborhood really has improved. Did she know that environmental psychologists have been researching this subject and coming up with similar findings?

Frances Kuo and others at the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, have been documenting the importance of nature in the built environment, especially in urban areas with high crime rates. Again and again, they have found that the greener the surroundings, the healthier, happier, and safer the people are who live there. All of these papers can be accessed from the LHHL website, and you can link to them individually below:

Adding Trees Makes Life More Manageable: Trees ease poverty’s burden in inner city neighborhoods.
Kuo, F.E. (2001). Coping with poverty: Impacts of environment and attention in the inner city. Environment & Behavior, 33(1), 5-34.

Views of Greenery Help Girls Succeed: Girls with a home view of nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline.
Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). “Views of Nature and Self-Discipline: Evidence from Inner City Children.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.

Vegetation May Cut Crime in the Inner City: In an inner city neighborhood, the greener the residence, the lower the crime rate.
Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). “Environment and crime in the inner city: Does vegetation reduce crime?” Environment and Behavior, 33(3), 343-367.

Trees Linked with [Less] Domestic Violence in the Inner City: Aggression and Violence are Reduced with Nature Nearby.
Kuo, F.E. & Sullivan W.C. (2001). Aggression and violence in the inner city: Impacts of environment via mental fatigue. Environment & Behavior, 33(4), 543-571.

Where Trees are Planted, Communities Grow: Green spaces entice neighbors outdoors on a regular basis, where they build friendship and ties to one another.
Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., & Brunson, L. (1998). Fertile ground for community: Inner-city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology, 26(6), 823-851.

Rachel Carson ‘Sense of Wonder’ Contest

Rachel CarsonThis looks like a beautiful opportunity. I love the intergenerational aspect:

Rachel Carson Intergenerational Poetry, Essay, Photo and Dance Contest

Sponsored by US EPA, Generations United, the Rachel Carson Council, Inc. and the Dance Exchange

In 2007, the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s life.  She was an American biologist who cared deeply about the natural world around her. In The Sense of  Wonder, Ms. Carson wrote “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after the night and spring after the winter.” And it is also important to remember how nature can serve as a source of strength, as she noted with the comment from the book, that, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

To honor this amazing woman, the EPA, Generations United, The Dance Exchange and the Rachel Carson Council, Inc., are sponsoring the Fourth Annual Rachel Carson Intergenerational photo, essay,  poetry and dance contest “that best expresses the Sense of Wonder that you feel for the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful to your eyes.” We want you to share this love of nature with a child and others around you.  When we teach our eyes and ears and senses to focus on the wonders of nature, we open ourselves to the wonders around us.

Submissions are due June 16, 2010.  The finalists will be selected by a panel of judges. Then the public will be asked to vote for their favorites in each category: photography, essay, poetry and dance. Entries must be intergenerational projects involving persons from different ages and generations. The winners will be posted on our websites and announced in October.



www.epa.gov/aging (this is the correct link now – sorry to those of you who tried it before, and ditto with the one below. Thanks to one of our readers for pointing this out!).

For more information please see: www.epa.gov/aging/resources/thesenseofwonder/index.htm

If you know of someone who might be interested, please share this blog post!

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

“Nature Artwork Preferred by Children in Pediatric Settings”

Photo (and photos in installation) by Henry Domke

Yet another study has been published showing that hospital patients – this time children in pediatric settings – prefer nature artwork over other types (including abstract, impressionistic, and other representational).

One interesting concept brought up by the authors is offering an “art cart” to pediatric patients so that they can select the art images (most of which would be nature-based) that most appeal to them. Sound like it might be a good idea for all ages, right? Please link to the InformeDesign summary of this article for more information: “Nature Artwork Preferred by Children in Pediatric Settings.”

Previous research has looked at overall preferences and has also found that nature artwork tends to relieve rather than cause stress (yes, some types of artwork actually cause stress to people in the healthcare setting). See this excellent summary by Henry Domke for a crash course. Henry’s blog, Healthcare Fine Art, is a terrific resource if you’re interested in the intersection of art and healthcare. Henry is also a photographer, and it’s his images that you see on the TLN site and often on the TLN Blog, because in addition to being very talented, Henry is also very generous.

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network website has an Art and Health page where you’ll find the resources that we think are the top go-to organizations, books, and articles on this subject.

Full article citation: Eisen, Sarajane L., Roger S. Ulrich, Mardelle M. Shepley, James W. Varni (2008). “The Stress-Reducing Effects of Art in Pediatric Health Care: Art Preferences of Healthy Children and Hospitalized Children.” Journal of Child Health Care, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 173-190.

When Nature Isn’t “Nice”

Beacon, NY (yes, that’s a car under that tree limb and snow)

I spend most of my time lauding the benefits of nature because I believe strongly that they are many, and that on the whole, connecting with nature benefits us as individuals and as a species.

I do, however, want to acknowledge the recent major natural disasters in Haiti and Chile, as well as a disaster on a MUCH smaller scale in my town of Beacon, NY and the surrounding area*. Some people may be offended that I even mention our recent snowstorm in the same breath, but what can I say? We tend to be more affected by what’s close to home, and sometimes that makes us more empathetic with people who are going through much much much worse.

Ever since the earthquake struck Haiti, I’ve been trying to decide whether to do a blog post about it, and if so, what to say. I don’t want to be in complete denial about the destructive side of nature. When all of this horrible stuff is going down, it feels a bit surreal to be offering suggestions about “how to survive the winter” by forcing branches to bloom early (don’t even have to cut them now, just wander around town picking up debris!). And yet at the same time, my job is not to tell you when the sky is falling. Plenty of people already do that. My job is to focus on the positive and on the healing.

I will say is that as “cruel” as nature seems to be sometimes, part of what comforts me is knowing that there is no bad intention behind it. Nature is just nature. Most of the time, it provides oxygen and water and things to eat, as well as beauty and solace and all of those less immediate, tangible things that create a good quality of life for us. And then sometimes – WHAM. Throughout history, nature has been alternately and somewhat cyclically glorified and vilified. But I feel pretty strongly that there’s no malevolence behind the destruction, no evil intent. It is what it is and it ain’t nothin’ else.

In addition to donating money toward relief efforts, we can also use whatever skills we have to pitch in. For example, as designers and gardeners, we can work on pro bono/volunteer projects in our communities at any time. There is always a need, and people will always be happy to benefit from our knowledge, skills, and sweat equity. And even in disaster situations, there is much we can do. Architecture for Humanity has been providing design and construction services for over ten years now, including reconstruction in Haiti. I’m sure they’ll be in Chile in no time, too. Some other good examples are Designers Without Borders, the Design Altruism Project, and of course Habitat for Humanity. And for you altruistic designers out there, here’s a good book to start with: Do Good Design: How Designers Can Change the World, by David E. Berman.

As always, I welcome your comments.

*Two consecutive snowstorms, both with very wet, heavy snow, caused major damage to trees and power lines, leaving over 150,000 people without power for several days. A man was killed by a falling tree limb in Central Park, one of several storm-related fatalities in the region.