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11-15-19 | Department

Providing Nature-based Healing

The Mae S. Bruce Therapeutic Garden
by Valerie Cesari, Clark Condon Landscape Architecture

A master plan to turn a run-down pocket park in Santa Fe, Texas, site of a recent mass shooting, into a place of healing was provided pro bono by Clark Condon, a landscape architecture firm from nearby Houston. The plan retains trees and a gazebo but adds a contemplative garden, walking trails, meditative areas and an open lawn.
Mandy Jordan, the project's originator, also conceived the "Heart of Santa Fe" for the park. Students from Santa Fe High School, where the tragedy occurred, fabricated a metal and wire heart sculpture that was then filled with donated lids left over from a separate memorial of 10 benches made from recycled plastic.

On May 18, 2018 a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, took the lives of 10 people - eight students and two teachers - and thirteen others were wounded.

Shortly thereafter, Mandy Jordan, an environmental scientist who eventually helped revitalize the Keep Santa Fe Beautiful organization, spearheaded an effort to create a memorial for the deceased. She reached out to Beth Clark, an alumnus of the high school and a principal and co-founder of Houston-based landscape architecture firm Clark Condon. Together they created a concept design to transform an underutilized park.

Clark Condon provided their services pro bono including a booklet of ideas for a therapeutic park. And from that booklet, they created a master plan which is being used to find funding, and ultimately to finish, the Mae S. Bruce Therapeutic Garden.

The thirty-year-old pocket park, originally created from greenspace donated by local businesswoman and civic leader Mae S. Bruce, was redesigned to provide a space for Santa Fe residents to help restore their emotional well-being. With an emphasis for those dealing with mental health issues and post-traumatic stress, it will serve its residents by hosting evidence-supported nature therapy programs utilizing the garden's assets and promoting its value to individuals.

When completed, the park will feature a sensory garden, walking trails, meditative areas, a water feature, artful mosaics, community seating, and an open lawn next to an existing gazebo, most framed with cedar fencing. Also located in the garden will be a sitting area created from colorful broken glass reconnected into a mosaic to illustrate how lives are being put back together. The pavilion and lawn will also create opportunities for passive and active activities the whole community can enjoy. The park will inspire a hurting community and serve generations to come while providing natural and enriched benefits and giving those who need it a place of solitude.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2019.

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