Halloween Posting: Scary Stuff

Some things are scarier than ghosts and goblins. 
Hospitals lit by buzzing fluorescent lights; patient rooms with no windows; the sound of machines beeping and shoes squeaking on cold linoleum floors; nursing homes where “clients” don’t have anywhere outside to go to feel the breeze and the warm sun on their faces, watch the birds, smell the flowers, take a stroll, even dig in the dirt; health clinics where the staff can’t escape for a few minutes, take a break, exercise, re-connect with what’s important to them; “healing gardens” that consist of a few spindly potted plants and a standard picnic bench where people go to smoke; “award-winning” outdoor spaces in healthcare facilities that are designed for the architect’s ego, that aren’t based on research, and that don’t serve the people for whom they were designed; children’s gardens made out of plastic that have no design element other than that they are “lawsuit-proof;” kids who would rather stay inside because “that’s where all the outlets are;” parents who don’t let their kids play outside because they are afraid of bad people and scary insects; people who don’t know or care where their food comes from; cookie-cutter landscapes that could be anywhere and do nothing to provide a sense of place; outdoor spaces that make you feel worse after spending time in them instead of better. 

Downright spooky. These are some examples of the scary stuff I, and many people like me, are working to ameliorate (or get rid of altogether!). Here at the Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center, our mission is to provide information, education, and inspiration to designers, health and human service providers, and everyone interested in this subject so that we have fewer examples like the ones above. We strive to create meaningful outdoor spaces that nurture, rejuvenate, connect, fascinate, inspire, and even heal. Happy Halloween!

– Naomi Sachs, ASLA
Executive Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Resource Center