After finishing Steven's case study, I decided to draw what could be incorporated into rooms with some potted plants and bird aviary for the therapeutic landscape theme. I had some difficulty in putting the images right into the blog so I had to put them into a pdf file instead.
Recently in Therapeutic Landscapes Category
I am sure everyone is familiar with the tragedy of 9/11. A healing garden was created around the World Trade Center Educational Tribute building. So many people suffered as a result of that terrible event so when I saw this article, I thought, 'what a beautiful and perfect application of the healing garden.' It would be a neat experience to visit that garden someday and talk to people about their experiences in the garden and if/how it helped them heal.
In the excerpts from last week, I loved reading about how gardens used to be included in monasteries and other healing places as a form of therapy for sick individuals that would go there. When I was in Guatemala last year, I found an old monastery that had been turned partly into a museum. One of my favorite places there was the large garden surrounded by archways. The garden had a big fountain in it, which I'm not sure was original to the design. However, with the beautiful flowers, greenery dripping from the archways, and the sound of water, it was a truly relaxing place. I don't know if it would have had therapeutic use, so it may have actually been a healing garden. Whatever the definition of the place, it was absolutely beautiful. I'm sure that when the area was actively a monastery, everyone loved being in the garden as much as I did when I was there.
It seems like many others in this class have been a fair number of places. I wonder, has anyone else been to a therapeutic landscape or healing garden, new or old?
*Monastery garden ruins in Antigua, Guatemala
This is a link to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, which is, in itself, an interesting idea. The part of the website that I focused on was the Post-Occupation Evaluation (POE) done at places that were built using Evidence-Based Design (EBD) in order to ascertain whether or not the place had an impact on the outcomes in mind (e.g. reduce stress in people undergoing treatment for cancer).
This is a little dry for the blog, but I thought it was worth exploring. One interesting story highlighted was the story of Teardrop Park in New York. The park was declared a failure by the Parks and Rec board, however, a POE was done on the space. It turned out that Teardrop Park was embraced by New Yorkers as a place that provided a function for them that positively impacted health outcomes. So, while a "failure" under one evaluation model, under another, that took into account different functions and uses (such as passively viewing the park), the park was a success.
Thinking forward to research questions and ideas, this website made me wonder what other projects have been written off that might have actually been contributing positively to people's health, while not meeting another evaluation end. I am in a Program Evaluation class right now, and I am wondering if questions related to health outcomes impacted by nature could be incorporated into our evaluations of mental health programs. I'm also wondering if I went around my town, if I could find parks and evaluate their success using the POE model that this webpage discusses, and make a solid, evidence-based argument for continuing to support and enhance our park system.
This University's Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series posted a whole web page online about healing gardens. I think this website relates to this week's readings because it sums up the main points that can be found in Susan Erikson's "Restorative Garden Design" paper.
The goal of a healing garden is to make people feel better. This is why each healing garden needs to tailor to a specific audience because different people feel better in different environments.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum has a Green Play Yard, which is a "garden" geared towards children of multiple ages. The garden is split between three sections for three age groups and each section entices children to play with nature in a hands on manner. The image I posted is one I took in the pre-school age section. Kintzley's Ghost Honeysuckle is used to create a natural tunnel for the children to run thru. It provides a social place for children to play in while also surrounding them in nature.
Interesting recent article in New York Times by Roger Ulrich - the research scientist who did the seminol work "A room with a view" in therapeutic landscape
Designing for Calm
Andy Goldsworthy is one of my favorite environmental artists.
He explores nature and natural shapes and processes through
his artistic expression. Art is a fundamental outlet for connecting
to the environment. After reading through many of the readings,
I was reminded of the importance of integrating art into our healing
practices. This video is a compilation of his art set to music (not made by me).
I highly recomend the documentary, Rivers & Tides, about the artist.
I was interested in the reference made in our readings to art in a mental health setting, and went looking for more information. This is a blog and open conversation between a doctor and a researcher about findings related to that original concept - that realistic nature scenes have an observable impact on patient anxiety.
I know that there are some of us who aren't thrilled with the idea of "science-ifying" nature, and science-ifying art probably doesn't sound great either. But here is the cool thing: this researcher found a way to express her findings and tie it to a bottom line dollar amount in terms of money that can be saved by introducing realistic nature art into mental health settings. And while I philosophically question the need to attach dollar values, pragmatically, I'm thrilled. It is so much easier to have health-related conversations when there is an observable outcome or change in outcome, a somewhat immediate outcome or change in outcome, and best of all, when you can say that you are saving an organization money by doing something that they will want to do anyway - namely, decorate.
This conversation basically argues that there is nothing wrong with seeking evidence to support claims about art, and nothing wrong with trying to identify the characteristics of art that seem to be associated with making it "work." Again, with my general reservations about quantifying art, I think that the ability to do so gives people access to art (and nature) in a way that they might not have had previously!
My research question going forward would be about the details concerning the findings. Are there particular materials that people are drawn to? Does something that uses natural materials have a stronger draw than a realistic picture of nature, for example? How does a photograph compare to a water-painted natural scene? I would be interested in understanding if there is something about a piece of art that had been very clearly touched and created by an individual hand, which I would think of as appealing, applying theories about our desire to gravitate to other humans. For example, I would be interested to know if a highly realistic vision of nature, as presented in a beautiful photograph, is capable of the same intensity of effect as a painting.