Welcome to episode 2 of our Old House – by Robert Sands
Our Rose Haven is a center of healing for female Veterans and for other Veterans in the community. An 1892 house, a historic barn and a healing and artful mediation and produce garden form the backbone of the Center. In some ways, these components form the “space” of healing, where reintegration experience and healing strategies happen.
We never lose sight of how our program and projects are driven by healing – healing houses, healing the neighborhood, healing Veterans in need, healing the community.
But we can also talk about the “place” where our healing efforts are happening now and will happen as Rose Haven opens.
I promised just a little social science in the first episode, so allow me that now.
I can tell you the space in the garden where the walkways will be, the council ring where we will have a firepit, the bioswale where we will filtrate the storm water that collects after a heavy rain, the area where we will have a produce garden, and more. I can tell you those things because we have a design for that, honest. And with a recent donation of pavers by Old Castle, we’re on our way.
If we have space, we must also make it place. Place refers to where folks apply meaning to a location, coordinates on a map, in a building, or even at a park. In our healing garden, that meaning becomes support, the importance of building skills and resilience, and recovery. Those elements are common to all that use the garden and is carried by the behaviors that happen here in the garden. For example, meaning is taken from the social relationships that form and act to support healing activities such as gardening, and the shared identity of Vets and others that work and play in this space.
Think of a church. The building, the pews, and the alter all are built in a space, a location. But the place of that church is generated out of bringing a congregation together on a Sunday, the rituals involved in a service, the message of the sermon, even the taking of the offering, and many more behaviors. That is why churches to our society, or natural places like rock formations, or lakes, or even a forest to native Americans, become “sacred” places.
The garden, the barn, and the house are built on a space, but making this collection of buildings and a garden a place of healing is still important to our mission. Making Rose Haven a place of history is obviously important to us, as well as to the soon-to-be residents, the neighbors, Veterans that come here, and others or we would have just torn the house and barn down and started anew. Making our gardens, healing gardens, make it important that we design them for that reason, putting in plants and shrubs that help heal, walkways and paths that guide residents and visitors through a healing journey, a council ring, and maybe even a fountain.
There is a lot we can and will be doing to make sure this space becomes a place of healing and that starts with how we use those pavers to build a journey of healing for those who walk on them.
Below is our “Tree of Life”. This tree epitomizes the sense of place for Rose Haven. It was almost felled in a past hurricane, almost, but not quite. The roots were pulled up as the tree keeled over, but despite all the hurricane could muster, the roots hung on in a show of defiance and resilience. Over time, the tree healed and instead of growing up it grew sideways. The tree grows in this space, but the tree symbolizes, in its resilience and its will to live, this place of healing.