open spaces

An Amazing Opportunity – TKF Foundation Capstone Awards

Summer Sky by Henry Domke

Photo by Henry Domke,

The TKF Foundation‘s mission is “to provide the opportunity for a deeper human experience by inspiring and supporting the creation of public greenspace that offers a temporary place of sanctuary, encourages reflection, provides solace, and engenders peace and well being.” TKF does amazing work. They have funded over 120 projects in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area, and now they are embarking on a new project, the National Demonstration Site and Research Challenge Awards Initiative. I hope that some of you will apply, and please also help spread the word. This really is an amazing opportunity, from which all of us will benefit.

TKF Announces New Capstone Awards

National Demonstration Site and Research Challenge Awards Initiative
We are living in a time of crisis when the press of urban congestion and technology threaten our human wellbeing.  In the 21st century, as the pace of life has accelerated, our relationship with the land, with each other and with our inner selves has diminished. TKF believes that a critical part of what today’s communities cry out for is the peace of a Walden Pond in every neighborhood and the awe-inspiring power of trees outside our windows. Through many years of involvement in environmental and public greening advocacy, we have found that the language of the spirit has been silenced. We seek to restore that voice to the public discourse.

While we know intuitively and anecdotally that nature heals, unifies and uplifts the human spirit, TKF believes there is a growing need to complement these insights with empirical evidence in order to gain wider acceptance, advance understanding, influence policy, and effect systems change.

Beginning in 2012, TKF will begin awarding challenge grants of up to $1 million to applicants who seek to create a new Open Space Sacred Place and to study aspects of the impact on the human spirit of the opportunity to be in nature.  Open to qualified applicants from across the United States, this program is designed to inspire non-profit organizations, professional associations, educational institutions, municipalities and community-based groups from a range of perspectives to come together in interdisciplinary teams to create new public green spaces and to implement a significant research or evaluation component. Through these awards and the ensuing research and communication of findings, we seek to build a body of useful information and evidence about the impact of Open Spaces Sacred Places on the human spirit that can be shared to create greater public understanding and support of the benefits of  nature to individual and community wellbeing. Our goal is to encourage all types of practitioners, policy makers and opinion leaders — from community activists to environmental advocates to city planners and including doctors, philosophers, journalists, social scientists and theologians among many others — to think broadly about the role and importance of nature in every life and to take concrete steps to make access to nature.

As a first step, later this year we will convene a National Advisory Panel, to help us better understand the kinds of questions from the field that need study and the ways that research could be most helpful in advancing a variety of missions that intersect in the realm of nature, spirit and individual and community wellbeing. We anticipate that the output of the panel’s work will provide important context and inspiration for the Demonstration Site and Research projects and for many others already working in related fields. For more information, click here.