Guest blog post
September 8, 2016
May 31, 2016
Landscape Architect Dan Mallach contacted me after he finished his MLA thesis, “The Folktale Journey in Healthcare Facility Landscapes,” and I suggested that he write a guest blog post on the subject. If you’re interested in the thesis, please leave a comment!
“The Hero’s Journey as Healing Journey: A Transformational Path for Healthcare Facility Landscapes” by Dan Mallach, RLA
“A healing is a spiritual journey” – Lewis Mehl-Madrona
In order to promote mental relaxation and physical recovery, many therapeutic gardens at healthcare facilities feature sense-pleasing designs with achievement/reward paradigms. While such designs have been shown to improve clinical outcomes, a design framework based on the landscape features of the archetypal Hero’s Journey of folktales may heighten their effectiveness, such that an individual may achieve a state of health that has been described by the World Health Organization as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Joseph Campbell and others have described the successive “stages” common to the folktale journey. Protagonists travel a metaphoric road, and in doing so, encounter a world that reflects, and stimulates, a transformative process of inner travel.
In a typical story, the Hero begins his or her journey in a familiar location such as the village square. Following an interpersonal conflict or other communal challenge, the Hero becomes lost in the forest. The Hero wanders, and may meet a guide who points to a literal path forward, and may offer advice to help resolve the prime conflict. The Hero must travel to a mountaintop– but first a river must be crossed and other tasks completed.
March 3, 2015
This excellent book review of ‘Birthright’ is by Lisa Horne, ASLA
As the keynote at the 2013 national American Society of Landscape Architects annual meeting and expo in Boston, Stephen Kellert gave a provocative presentation for the profession. “Biophilia” is a relatively new concept in design and Kellert’s recent work Birthright gives a heartwarming survey of ideas with relevancy to design and theory.
Birthright provides a basis for incorporating nature into our lives. Kellert leaves classifications of nature open-ended and defines biophilia as a love of life. We have an innate desire for nature, which is “a birthright that must be cultivated and earned” (Kellert xiii). This attitude neither advocates a return to an Arcadian past nor forecasts apocalyptic doom. Instead, he asserts that humans will recognize their own self-interest and benefit from investing in the environment. An audience of academics, leaders, policy makers, and professionals interested in biophilia will appreciate the pace, text, and reasoning. (more…)
August 22, 2014
I first met Joan Vorderbruggen at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) meeting in 2013 in Providence, RI. She presented an expanded version of this lovely post, and I was very moved. Sometimes we researchers and designers get so bogged down in trying to analyze and quantify everything that we forget the more human and – dare I say it? – even the spiritual dimension. Joan’s and Lisa’s words, along with images from Joan’s garden, get to the heart of it. Many thanks to both of them for sharing here.
The healing garden down the street
By Joan Vorderbruggen and Lisa Overby-Blosser
The spring of 2012 held little hope for my neighbor, Lisa, wife and mother of four teenagers. Lisa had just been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and was given a year or less to live. Asking me if she could spend time in my backyard garden, she felt time in a peaceful setting would help her deal with the upcoming chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and other stresses.
Over that summer, Lisa spent a great deal of time walking the 5-house distance to my yard, sometimes barely able to put one foot in front of the other. Still, she persevered, settling in to journal, sketch, and just be in the moment. While I encouraged her to come and go as she pleased, I was happy that at times, she would join me on my deck and, without any prompting, speak of how the garden and natural world supported her during that time. I asked if I could share her words with others.
Lisa’s words (italicized) fit neatly within the framework of Stephen Kellert’s Biophillic Design Elements (below). According to Kellert, these elements stem from an intuitive human-nature connection, where people feel that spending time in nature can help them heal mentally, physically and spiritually. The Biophilia hypothesis assertion is that because humans evolved with nature, they feel comforted by nature (Kellert and Wilson, The Biophilia Hypothesis, 1993).
The idea of prospect is primarily about being able to control your view, to scan the horizon and understand where you are in relationship to your surroundings.
In the garden you have control – of where you sit, where you look, what you choose to focus on – whether it’s a wide view or something really small… There are so many choices available to you. The fact that you can make a choice of something can be healing.
Refuge allows us to feel safe, sheltered and protected. In my garden, Lisa chose to sit under a grapevine trellis. She speaks more in metaphor of her feelings of refuge.
The garden is always welcoming; no plants fall over or trees drop their leaves in disgust or empathy when I took my hat off exposing my baldness…. The garden accepts where your body and emotions are at that moment in time.
July 11, 2014
Kevan Busa first contacted me in August of 2012. He was in his last year as an undergraduate in landscape architect at SUNY-ESF, and had been excited about the upcoming semester abroad program in Barcelona, Spain…until he was diagnosed with Leukemia. When he emailed me, he was in his fourth out of five rounds of chemotherapy, and was scheduled to be in Buffalo for three months to get a bone marrow transplant. He wrote, “I talked to my school and doctors and i think that i am going to be doing an independent study of healing spaces while i am there.” Seriously? You plan on doing research while you recover from chemo and a bone marrow transplant? Wow. And he did! His research was subsequently published in the June, 2013 issue of Landscape Architecture magazine. I asked him to write a guest post for the TLN Blog, and he graciously agreed. The post is below.
Looking back at by far the hardest year of my life, I have realized the potential that I have to share my information with the professional world and especially people interested in healing spaces. There is more information being added every day that will help so many people in the future and am honored to be adding my research and experience to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network.
I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and went through a Bone Marrow Transplant within the past year. There was a lot to take in when I got sick and to think about, especially life. Being a landscape architecture student at the State University of New York: College of Environmental Science and Forestry, the topic of healing spaces from within a hospital setting was always on my mind. I went through chemotherapy rounds as the world around me was enjoying summer and the outdoors. All I wanted to do was to be outside when I wasn’t getting treatment.
June 13, 2013
Can you imagine a city without any parks? The recent mass (literally – they are happening all over the country) protests in Turkey, sparked by the government’s plans to raze the only remaining park in Istanbul, is a powerful indicator of people’s need for green space (click here for a good overview).
Yesterday I posted a fascinating New York Times Blog article, “Urban Trees as Triggers, From Istanbul to Oregon,” on our Facebook and Linked In groups for discussion. Filiz Satir, our TLN Blog Events Editor, wrote this response:
So, I have been following the events in Istanbul and Turkey with great interest. (My family is from Turkey.) What started out as a peaceful protest two weeks ago in opposition to construction of a shopping mall and the razing of park in the heart of Istanbul Turkey – quickly transformed into a countrywide political protest against the policies of governing AK Party and Prime Minister R.T. Erdogan. However, the original protests in the famous Gezi Park were about the public staking a claim on and fighting for one of the last remaining open spaces in this hub of Istanbul – truly a labyrinth of a metropolis.
I am nervous for what might happen in the next 8 to 10 hours as the PM issued an ultimatum earlier today – to shut down protesters in the park. This mini-documentary is compelling for showing Turkish civil society becoming politically engaged through their activities in and around Gezi Park, Taksim Square http://youtu.be/9hqeC4L7of8 via @youtube
What do you think of all of this? Please leave a comment here or on our Linked In group.
Filiz Satir, in addition to being our terrific Events Editor, is the author of the beautiful blog Nearby Nature: Lessons From the Natural World. She is a enior communications professional, technical writer, and storyteller with a track record for delivering institutional communications programs for a variety of public and private organizations. Thank you, Filiz!
January 3, 2013
“Food insecurity can have wide-ranging detrimental consequences on the physical and mental health of adults (and) more vulnerable populations…Lack of access to a nutritious and adequate food supply has implications not only for the development of physical and mental disease, but also behaviors and social skills.” — Feeding America, U.S. hunger-relief charity
Food gardens are healing gardens
Guest post by Filiz Satir
Families with limited incomes often lack the means to put fresh, nutritious food on the table. In the “land of plenty” a stunning 1 in 6 adults, and 1 in 5 children suffer from poor nutrition and struggle with hunger.
In addition to food assistance programs, food banks and other hunger relief groups, American cities are witnessing a growth in urban agriculture and associated non-profits working to fight food insecurity. Programs that support urban and suburban food production are providing low-income families with the skills and tools to grow fresh, local and healthy food. One such group is Seattle’s Just Garden Project that builds home gardens for eligible families living 200 percent below the poverty line in King County, Washington.
“We are spreading the use of household gardens to help end hunger, improve day-to-day food security and decrease food-related health issues in lower income families,” says Stephanie Seliga, manager of Just Garden Project (JGP). Now in its third year, JGP builds 30 kitchen gardens a year for eligible low-income families and vulnerable groups. The recipients’ participation in the garden “build outs,” shifts their personal experience with food from one of being a consumer only to being a producer.
December 14, 2012
Lisa Horne’s review of Richard Louv‘s newest book, The Nature Principle was first posted on The Field, ASLA’s (American Society of Landscape Architects) Professional Practice Network blog. Which, if you haven’t checked it out, is worth a look, and even a bookmark. Lisa and ASLA were kind enough to allow the TLN to share the review here:
Seven years ago, Richard Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. He is now giving us possibilities to move beyond it in The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder. While the first book looked at nature’s absence from children’s daily lives, the second recognizes that the need for nature extends to all of us. The Nature Principle, as articulated by Louv, provides that nature is crucial for humans to be healthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
A strong thread of hope and optimism runs through these pages. Louv notes that arguments for environmental change have run from a first generation warning of catastrophe to a second generation argument of economic benefits to a third generation assertion that the environment impacts our well-being (Louv 284). Another unique concept he identifies is the value of human energy. Designers often think in terms of energy efficiency, but the human spirit renewed and refreshed by nature brings energy into a system as well.
July 31, 2012
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.
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.”
February 23, 2012
Landscape Architect Jerry Smith wears many distinctive and distinguished hats, one of which is working on the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). He was recently asked to write an introduction to one of the Human Health and Well-being Credits of SITES and floated a draft by me, a non-SITESian, for comment. I, in turn, coerced Jerry, a non-Blogger, into posting the introduction on the TLN Blog. As Jerry says, “We both graciously submitted to peer pressure and long-winded threats.” The intersection of sustainability and landscapes for health is – strangely – not discussed all that much. Jerry is one of the few landscape architects I know who is solidly committed to both, and SITES is at the vanguard of blending these two important design considerations.
Health and Well-being and the Sustainable Sites Initiative
For those not familiar with SITES, it is a partnership made up of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the United States Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of the University of Texas at Austin for the purpose of developing a sustainable design rating system for all landscapes, with and without buildings.
Divided into five areas of focus (Hydrology, Soils, Vegetation, Materials and Human Health and Well-being), SITES follows the USGBC LEED-based point system format awarding points or Credits to landscape design projects for achieving sustainable metrics and benchmarks. The Human Health and Well-being (HHWB) Credits distinguish SITES from other sustainable toolkits by acknowledging that people are a part of, not apart from, the environmental equation and has developed a section of design metrics that address the human health attributes of site design.(more…)