Engaging Our Grounds – Int’l Green Schoolyard Conference

Berkeley Adventure Playground, Berkeley, CA. Photo by SharonDanks

Berkeley Adventure Playground, Berkeley, CA. Photo by SharonDanks

Engaging Our Grounds
2011 International Green Schoolyard Conference
September 16–18, 2011
Berkeley & San Francisco, California

I would so love to go to this conference.

The green schoolyard movement is growing rapidly and flourishing around the world.  Schools near and far are re-imagining their grounds, replacing their extensive paved surfaces with a vibrant mosaic of outdoor learning and play opportunities. Schools in many different countries are leaders in this field, finding innovative ways to weave curricula into their landscapes, diversify their recreational offerings, enhance their local ecology, and reflect their unique location and cultural context.

We are at the forefront of a new paradigm that blends education, ecology, and urban sustainability.  We invite you to join us and become an important part of this exciting movement by registering and supporting this ground-breaking event.

Participate in the first International Green Schoolyard Conference held in the United States—an exciting opportunity to learn about cutting edge schoolyards and school gardens, meet like-minded colleagues from around the world, share ideas, tour fantastic local school grounds (including the Berkeley Adventure Playground, pictured above), and get inspirational ideas for your own community.

Engaging Our Grounds will bring together leading green schoolyards practitioners from the United States and other countries to share the latest trends and innovations, case studies, best practices, and creative thinking in green schoolyard design, maintenance, curricula, advocacy, and funding partnerships. The conference will include a resource and networking fair, keynote presentations by visionary leaders of the school ground movement from Canada, England, Germany, Japan, and Sweden; tours of outstanding local school grounds; and networking time.

Learn more and register at

Thanks to Sharon Danks, conference organizer and author of the terrific new book Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, for this information and these images.

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo this month – Discounts for TLN members!

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo healing garden. Image courtesy Hitchcock Design Group

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo healing garden. Image courtesy Hitchcock Design Group

Just around the corner, with discounts for TLN members

Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo
September 20 – 22, 2011
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

The Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo, now in its 24th year, is the original event that brings together the entire team who designs, plans, constructs and manages healthcare facilities.

This year, they will debut a Healing Garden located on the exhibit floor and created and sponsored by Hitchcock Design Group (members of the TLN’s Designers and Consultants Directory). Learn how these landscape architects are creating spaces that improve patient experience outside the building to enhance the healing process. Within this garden, a number of therapeutic elements make this space “healing.” Healing gardens benefit patients by improving medical outcomes, reducing stress and elevating the immune system. For more information visit

And we get special treatment! All Therapeutic Landscapes Network members, including anyone who joins the TLN between now and September 22, will receive a 20% discount on the full conference pass or a VIP ticket for a free pass to the Expo. VIP Tickets include admission on Wednesday, September 21, 2011 to the Keynote, the Exhibit Hall, Healing Garden, educational sessions in the Learning Lounge, and evening reception.

To join the TLN (membership is free, and you’ll receive our monthly newsletter), go to


Water Features in the Landscape – Please take our survey!

Detail, water feature at Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Naomi Sachs

In the last TLN Blog post about the upcoming annual ASLA Meeting and Expo, I mentioned an education session that Jack Carman, Clare Cooper Marcus and I will be giving, “Water in the Designed Landscape: Benefits, Precautions, and Recommendations.” Click HERE to link to the last post, with the blurb about our talk.

I also mentioned that I’m conducting a survey about water features. While the survey is geared toward designers and people in the healthcare field, it can be taken by anyone who has designed or has experience with water features. Private and public fountains, ponds, and water parks all have their benefits as well as their risks, and they all certainly need maintenance, which is a primary focus of the survey. The more respondents we have, the better our ability to impart information at the annual meeting and then, eventually, as more detailed research. Please pass this along to anyone (and everyone!) who you think would have something to say.

Here’s the survey:

Thanks so much!

Urn fountain at Wesley Woods Hospital of Emory Healthcare-Emory University. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Urn fountain at Wesley Woods Hospital of Emory Healthcare-Emory University. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Chicago Botanic Garden. Photo by Naomi Sachs

ASLA Meeting & Expo! Good stuff this year, and in San Diego.

Photo by Henry Domke,

Photo by Henry Domke,

Annual ASLA Meeting & Expo, San Diego, CA, 10/30-11/2/2011

The annual ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Meeting & Expo is coming up fast, and I’m really looking forward to it. As with every year, several sessions focus or at least touch on restorative landscapes, and I’ll share those with you in this post. Lots of other good stuff, too – see the full program on the ASLA website. Advance deadline is 9/16, so hurry up and register.

The ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network will hold its annual meeting on Monday from 11:00-12:30. This is the best way to meet colleagues involved in this kind of work. In fact, the TLN was born from one of those meetings (see History on our website)!

In addition, our group MAY be having another meeting before the meeting, as we did last year in Washington, D.C. As a group, we walked around various sites on the Mall related to restorative landscapes. It was a great success, and though San Diego is far more spread out, we hope to visit a couple key sites the day before the meeting.

Here are some of the education sessions I’ll be attending. I have to attend the first one, on Sunday, 1:30-3:00 because I’m speaking at it, with my wonderful colleagues Jack Carman and Clare Cooper Marcus.

“Water in the Designed Landscape: Benefits, Precautions, and Recommendations”

We know water is an important landscape design element and that people are naturally drawn to it. But how does it affect us and why? Presenters will explore current research and the theoretical and practical implications for water features in the landscape, particularly to maximize benefits and minimize risk.

Learn about theories of why and how water‚ natural and designed‚ contributes to making spaces restorative. Evaluate a specific study on human reaction to the sound of water and its design implications. Explore safety concerns involving water features, especially in healthcare settings, and the latest design and maintenance findings.


This year at Greenbuild! “The Human Connection: Landscapes that Promote Health and Well-Being.”

Gary Comer Youth Center Rooftop Garden, Chicago, IL. Image courtesy Hoerr Shaudt Landscape Architects

Gary Comer Youth Center Rooftop Garden, Chicago, IL. Image courtesy Hoerr Shaudt Landscape Architects

This year at Greenbuild (, Zolna Russell, Director of Sustainability at Hord Coplan Macht, Peter Schaudt, Principal at Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects and I (Naomi Sachs) will be presenting the Education Session “The Human Connection: Landscapes that Promote Health and Well-Being.” Competition for presentations was stiff – hundreds of proposals were submitted – and so it’s a testament to the growing interest in this field of restorative and therapeutic landscapes that our talk was chosen.

Greenbuild is in beautiful Toronto, Canada this year, from October 4-7. Early-bird registration ends MONDAY, so if you’re thinking about going, make that decision before Monday and save some money. Go to the Greenbuild site to register.

Here’s the blurb about our Education Session:

It is well known that humans benefit from exposure and connection to nature. LEED has acknowledged this and requires projects to create meaningful outdoor spaces. This seminar will explore the documented benefits of landscapes for health which are designed using evidence based design. Case studies of several landscape settings including healthcare, school environments and public spaces will demonstrate the principles and outcomes of evidence based design and specific characteristics which make projects successful.

We’ll be talking (on 10/5) about the characteristics, with examples and case studies, of restorative landscapes (any landscape, wild or designed, that facilitates health and well-being) and therapeutic gardens (a garden, in this case usually healthcare gardens, designed for a specific population and a specific site with a specific intended outcome). We’ll discuss restorative and therapeutic landscapes as addressed in the Green Guide for Healthcare, LEED for Healthcare, and SITES (the Sustainable Sites Initiative).

Our program was selected as one of Greenbuild’s “special sets,” which means we’ll have some sort of fancy stage set-up that facilitates more interaction with the audience and really shows off all of the beautiful images we’ll be showing. Should be fun!


HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11 – Join the TLN in Nashville, TN!

HCD Conference logo Mag-Blue

For the second year in a row, the Therapeutic Landscapes Network will be attending HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11, taking place November 13 – 16 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. Just like last year, we’ll be reporting live from the conference.

HEALTHCARE DESIGN.11 is a four-day conference devoted to evidence-based design for healthcare buildings. Developed in collaboration with design professionals who are engaged in the day-to-day championing of higher quality healthcare environments, this annual, multi-track learning event examines the many ways evidence-based design strategies can positively impact the safety, operation, clinical outcomes and financial success of healthcare facilities now and in the future.

If you design, build and operate healthcare facilities, or are a researcher, student or educator involved in the healthcare design field, this is a great conference to attend.

Register by July 29th to save on registration! Click here to register.

Click here to view the complete agenda, and here for more information.


Design & Health World Congress & Exhibition – Next month!


Rock Wall & Salt Marsh Panorama, photo by Henry Domke,

Rock Wall & Salt Marsh Panorama. Photo by Henry Domke,

Design & Health World Congress & Exhibition
International Academy for Design and Health
July 6 – 10, 2011, Boston, MA
The Marriott Copley Place

There’s still time to register for what looks like an excellent conference: For the conference program, go to this page and click on the picture in the top right-hand corner (the one that says “Final program & call for registration”).

The Congress is organized by the International Academy for Design & Health in partnership with The American Institute of Architects, Academy of Architecture for Health, and supported by major academic institutions and healthcare industries worldwide.

I was going to list which sessions I thought would be of interest to our members, but there are so many – best to just look at the program and see what sparks your interest.

The Design & Health World Congress is the centerpiece for the Academy’s education, research, advocacy and business & professional networking activities.

Delivered in partnership with the leading professional bodies, academic institutions, health providers and industry sponsors, the congress is an opportunity to engage with the world’s foremost interdisciplinary network of thought leaders, including architects, designers, psychologists, physicians, nurses, health planners, policy makers and other key decision makers.

The scientific committee said: “A salutogenic approach to environmental design is one of the most cost-effective and enduring methods of reducing illness and improving health. Central to understanding this approach is the development of a scientific research base, which illustrates and explores the relationship between human health and the environment and, even more vitally, creates a case for the rigorous application of this knowledge in professional practice…Our mission is to spread awareness of this important message and its value as a foundation for improving population health and well-being.”

National Children & Youth Garden Symposium

American Horticultural Society 2011 National Children & Youth Garden SymposiumFrom the American Horticultural Society website:

Gardens provide endless opportunities for unleashing kids’ creative sides while also helping them learn about the world around them. Discover innovative ways to mine this potential at the 2011 Symposium, where we will dig into both the art and science of gardening (spade not required).

This year’s Symposium hosts also reflect this theme, bringing together the educational resources of 4-H Children’s Garden at Michigan State University and the artistry of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. They will provide the perfect location for you to pick up new tools, resources, activities, skills, and inspiration to take back to the youth in your communities and schools.

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 students, their teachers, and national experts about the vital role gardens can play in the lives of today’s youth.


Happy National Horticultural Therapy Week!

Eastern redbud. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Eastern redbud, Atlanta, GA, March 2011. Photo by Naomi Sachs

Greetings from Atlanta, GA! Environments for Aging started today (Sunday) and I flew in a couple days early to visit my 94-year-old great-aunt, Stefanie. She embodies a person who is aging joyfully, in a wonderful Continuing Care Retirement Community just outside of Atlanta – Park Springs, in Stone Mountain. But more on that another time. Today, I want to talk about National Horticultural Therapy Week, which started today.

Horticultural Therapy (HT) uses plants, gardens, and other aspects of nature to improve people’s social, spiritual, physical and emotional well-being. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) website, it is “the engagement of a person in gardening-related activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific treatment goals.” And from Rebecca Haller, HTM, “Horticultural therapy is a professionally conducted client-centered treatment modality that utilizes horticulture activities to meet specific therapeutic or rehabilitative goals of its participants. The focus is to maximize social, cognitive, physical and/or psychological functioning and/or to enhance general health and wellness” (from the Horticultural Therapy Institute website).

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network has an HT page where you can find links to relevant organizations (including the American Horticultural Therapy Association, the Canadian HTA, and the German Association for Horticulture and Therapy, as well as the Horticultural Therapy Institute) and resources online and in print. The AHTA publishes a very fine peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture, and that alone is worth every penny of AHTA membership. Any designer or researcher involved in this area of the field should really be a member of this organization.

Which brings me to an announcement about AHTA’s fall conference, which will be in Asheville, NC from 10/21-10/23/2011. Call for submission is open until April 15 – have something you think would be interesting to horticultural therapist regarding HT, research, case studies, design, or work experience? Give it a shot! The conferences are always good for learning and networking. For more info, visit the AHTA website,

Today one of the tours at Environments for Aging was of Wesley Woods Center, a specialty geriatric care component of Emory Healthcare with a 64-acre campus with an excellent HT program. Because of schedule conflicts, I wasn’t be able to attend the group tour today (which I heard rave reviews about), but I will have the good fortune of getting a private tour with horticultural therapist (HTR) Kirk Hines on Wednesday afternoon. I’m looking forward to finally meeting Kirk in person, after many years of email correspondence, and to sharing what I learn on the blog.

So enjoy this week, National Horticultural Therapy week; take some time to learn about it, perhaps even take advantage of an event in your community or region being organized by AHTA or one of their many regional chapters.

And as always, I’ll be posting “live” from the Environments for Aging Conference on Monday and Tuesday via the TLN Facebook page ( and Twitter (@healinggarden).

Horticutural Therapy at Wesley Woods. Kirk Hines, HTR/Wesley Woods Hospital of Emoryhealthcare

Horticutural Therapy at Wesley Woods. Kirk Hines, HTR/Wesley Woods Hospital of Emoryhealthcare

Next week! Michigan Horticultural Therapy Association Conference

Fiddlehead fern. Photo by Henry Domke,

Photo by Henry Domke,

National Horticultural Therapy Week is just around the corner (March 20-26), and the Michigan Horticultural Therapy Association‘s Annual Conference, “Horticultural Therapy: Connecting People & Plants” couldn’t be better timed.

Friday’s keynote address, “Nurturing the Therapeutic Relationship” will be presented by Lisa Schactman, MS, HTM, CPRP. Lisa is the Life Skills Director at CooperRiis, a healing farm community for individuals with mental illness in western North Carolina. The MHTA conference also features informative breakout sessions, book and product sales, hands-on workshops, displays, refreshments, door prizes and optional visit to the MSU Indoor/Outdoor Children’s Garden. This event is useful to anyone interested in learning how the people-plant interaction brings therapeutic change and improves well-being. Aspects of horticultural therapy can enhance occupational and recreational therapy programs, adult day services, children’s programs, school gardens and programs, community and healing gardens, corrections, hospice, medical care/mental health and rehabilitation settings.

Then on Saturday, MHTA is offering a workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. entitled “Horticultural Therapy: Practical Applications.” Lisa Schactman, MS, HTM will present practical applications of nurturing therapeutic relationships. Participants will also have hands on experience in a session on adaptive tools & techniques.

Visit the Michigan HTA website,, for more information and to register.

Stay tuned for more posts this month about horticultural therapy. Have something specific you’d like to share as a guest blogger? Let us know by leaving a comment on this post.