Author: Naomi Sachs, ASLA, EDAC

Contact us if you are interested in joining our team as a writer on the subject of landscape architecture.

“Can prison landscapes be secure, restorative, and ecologically sustainable?” Guest TLN Blog post by Amy Lindemuth

Today’s Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog guest post is by Amy Lindemuth, author of “Beyond the Bars: Landscapes for Health and Healing in Corrections,” a chapter in the forthcoming Greening in the Red Zone: Disaster, Resilience and Community Greening edited by Keith G. Tidball and Marianne E. Krasny.

Amy became interested in corrections after taking a series of undergraduate courses in medical anthropology at the University of Washington that focused on the culture of institutions and cultural constructions of health and mental illness. As a graduate student in landscape architecture, her interest in therapeutic landscapes and corrections led to a thesis project at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Monroe, Washington, designing a large courtyard garden for staff and inmates within a unit for mentally ill offenders. She also worked as a volunteer on the design and construction of a garden for mothers and their children at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York. These experiences gave insight into the concerns and perceptions of custody staff regarding green spaces in their facilities, and furthered her understanding of the cultural and psychological constraints unique to the field of corrections. Amy is interested in creating healthy, sustainable spaces that strengthen the social and ecological fabric of our communities. She practices in Seattle, WA. This is the first of two guest blog posts on the subject; we will publish the second post next week.

Can Prison Landscapes be Secure, Restorative, and Ecologically Sustainable? by Amy Lindemuth

Over the past several years, I’ve written articles [see the Therapeutic Landscapes Network’s References and Gardens in Prisons pages] about the need for landscapes in correctional facilities that provide therapeutic benefits or a restorative moment for corrections staff and inmates. For the most part, the views surrounding prisons and jails in the United States are bleak expanses of lawn, chain link security fences, walls and concertina wire, like the image above. Occasionally the view is broken by perennials planted near an administrative office or a vegetable garden in a secured area. This landscape typology evolved from the real need to keep staff, inmates, and the public safe from harm. Officer sight lines from station posts, towers, and other patrol locations throughout the grounds are unimpeded, allowing for quick identification of, and reaction to, disturbances or illicit behavior.

There are exceptions…

To read the rest of this post, link to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog.

Live! Therapeutic Landscapes Network Launches New Website

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network is pleased to announce the launch of our new website.

Same url, HealingLandscapes.org, same great content (actually we’ve added more), and many new features, including:

– Search function within the site;
– Blog and site under one virtual roof;
– Larger, richer images, with more on the way;
– Updated Designers and Consultants Directory with a map for geographic as well as alphabetical search (contact us if you’d like to be added to our Directory);
– Expanded Therapeutic Gardens Directory (map coming soon, too);
– Sponsors who help fund the work that we do (individual donations are also most welcome);
– Sound! Click on “play birdsong audio” on the left-hand side of the home page;
– And coming soon, a Network Forum within the site for members to share information and ideas.

And that’s just the beginning. We’re pretty happy with our new site, and we hope you will be, too. Take a spin around, and let us know what you think.

Sign up for our (free) newsletter to join the Therapeutic Landscapes Network.

Many thanks to our “early adopter” Sponsors Landscape Forms, Imagine Childhood, and Lee Anne White Photography. Contact us if you would like to become one of our Wonderful Sponsors.

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network is the leading resource for information, education, and inspiration about healing gardens, restorative landscapes, and other green spaces that promote health and well-being. We are a knowledge base and gathering space for a global community of designers, health and human service providers, scholars, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts. Connecting people with information…people…nature.

Almost there! Therapeutic Landscapes Network gears up to launch new website

The Therapeutic Landscapes Network is working feverishly to launch our new website in time for the annual American Society of Landscape Architects Meeting and Expo next week (and the American Horticultural Therapy Association and Healthcare Design 09 conferences soon after that).
Above is a sneak peek at our beautiful homepage. Oooh. Ahhh.
This isn’t just a superficial makeover. We’ve reconfigured the TLN site to offer
  • improved searchability and richer imagery;
  • an expanded Designers and Consultants Directory;
  • an expanded Directory of Therapeutic Gardens;
  • sponsorship opportunities for businesses and organizations to promote their products, services, and expertise;
  • an integrated blog (website and blog all under one virtual roof);
  • an interactive Network Forum where members can meet and share information and ideas;
  • and more information than ever before on gardens, landscapes, and other green spaces that facilitate health and well-being, for an even broader global community of designers, health and human service providers, educators, students, gardeners, and nature enthusiasts.
Want to get in on the action before the launch? Easy:
  • Email us at info@healinglandscapes.org if you’d like to list in our Designers and Consultants Directory or be one of our fabulous sponsors.
  • Sign up here (or with the form in the right-hand column – same thing, different look) to become a member and get on our mailing list. It’s free, and we’ll put you on our newsletter list so we can tell you right away when we launch the new site.
Oh, and if you aren’t following us on twitter yet, join us there, too! We’ve got 2,000 followers so far, with more coming every day.

The High Line: A Landscape for Health

If the definition of a “Landscape for Health”(TM) is “any outdoor space that facilitates health and well-being through connection with nature,” then the High Line, which opened about three weeks ago and which I visited for the first time yesterday, definitely fits the bill. New York City already has many wonderful parks, from small community gardens and vestpocket parks to the many-acre pastoral settings of Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. But a linear park on an abandoned elevated railroad that glides above the city streets? This is a first for NYC, and a truly inspiring addition to an already pretty great city (for more information about the High Line’s history, designers, construction, and so forth please visit the Friends of the High Line website, www.thehighline.org). To see the rest of this post, please visit the Therapeutic Landscapes Network Blog.

Letter to a Young Landscape Architecture Student (pursuing a career in healthcare design)

I got this letter from a soon-to-be-graduating BLA student who is looking to work in the field of healthcare design in landscape architecture. It’s a question I get a lot, so I thought I’d share her letter and my response on the blog. Hope it’s useful!

“I found your website through the Land8Lounge Therapeutic Landscapes Network group. I am currenty a fifth year student, receiving my BLA and will be graduating in May. I am very interested in therapeutic landscapes and used the Therapeutic Landscapes Database you created frequently last semester in a Healthcare and Therapeutic Site Design Studio. Upon my graduation in the spring, I am looking to join a firm which focuses on therapeutic landscapes – or has a component of the firm which deals with designing for healthcare facilities. I recognize that this is a difficult time to get a job, but would love any input you might have as to firms which you might recommend. I know that this aspect of landscape architecture is on the forefront and would love to be a part of it in the future.”

Dear student: It’s true, you’re entering the job market at a difficult time. Of course we’re all hopeful that things will have picked up – at least a little bit! – by the time you graduate with your BLA in May. Still, if your passion is therapeutic landscapes, then you should at least try to find a firm to work in where you can develop what you’ve learned in school and do what you love.

As you explore your employment options, I’d suggest asking yourself the following questions: Where am I willing to go? Am I willing to move anywhere in the country (or even outside of the country)? Am I willing to work in any size firm, from one person to 100 people? Am I willing to start with a small salary, doing mostly CAD work, and climb up the ladder as I gain experience and expertise? Am I willing to start somewhere that doesn’t specialize in therapeutic landscapes to gain experience and seniority, with the goal of finding somewhere else in a couple-few years? What is it about the study and design of therapeutic landscapes that appeals to me, and how can I best demonstrate my strengths in this area to potential employers? What are my weaknesses, and how would I like to grow and improve in my work? Answering these questions will help you identify your potential employers. The more flexible you are about place/preferences/salary/type of work you are willing and able to do, the better your chances of finding a position.

The three best places to start looking are Land8Lounge, ASLA’s Joblink, and the Therapeutic Landscapes Database’s People page. The People page is a great resource because all of these designers are working in the specific field that you want to work in – landscapes for health. In the next few months we will be adding many more designers, once we launch our “new improved” website (in the works now).

When I was fresh out of graduate school with my MLA, I very much wanted to work in healthcare design, but I was also moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where any landscape architecture job was hard to come by. I knew that if I really wanted to live in NM, I was probably going to have to put my desire to work in healthcare design aside for awhile. Which I did…and didn’t. Although my paid work was with a landscape architect who focused on commercial and high-end residential design, I kept up with my passion in my spare time: I joined the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (which you should also do, if you haven’t yet), started the Therapeutic Landscapes Database, and did pro bono work in the community. If you want something badly enough, you will find a way to do it, whether it’s your primary job, your unpaid passion, maybe right now, or perhaps in five or ten years. Knowing what you want you want and going for it takes flexibility, perseverance, and patience.

You are lucky in that you know what you want. So many people fresh out of school have no clue; they just go where the jobs are, letting the tide take them where it will. While they may be earning a steady paycheck, they often find their work to be mind-numbingly and soul-stultifyingly unsatisfying. Of course, the best of all worlds is to earn a steady, lucrative paycheck by doing what you love, where you want, when you want, etc., but sometimes that doesn’t all happen at the same time. So give it your best shot! Ask yourself the tough questions, be honest with yourself about the answers, and know your strengths and limitations as you venture out into the wild, wooly, wonderful world of landscape architecture and healthcare design.

Naomi Sachs, ASLA
Director, Therapeutic Landscapes Network
http://www.healinglandscapes.org
http://tldb.blogspot.com/

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