D&R Greenway Land Trust is partnering with HomeFront’s ArtSpace program for the first time to present Healing in Nature, on view August 1 through 31, at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. Free admission. Gallery hours Monday-Friday 10am-5pm. This partnership showcases artwork created by homeless people who have benefited from the HomeFront Family Campus in Ewing, where calming influences and a healing garden enable a much-needed break with fresh air, the beauty and solace that only nature provides. www.drgreenway.org
“D&R Greenway’s work to preserve open space is diverse,” said D&R Greenway President & CEO Linda Mead. “We preserve land that benefits everyone in the community, from our Capital City Farm that grows healthy, local food in Trenton to the well-loved community parks we have created in Hopewell, Lawrence and Princeton. Again and again, we hear about the healing power of nature from people who enjoy our trails, our parks and our open spaces in suburban and urban communities. With this exhibit, we want to illustrate the importance that nature plays in healing everyone, everywhere.”
“At our HomeFront Family Campus in Ewing, we house as many as 38 families in crisis on any given night,” said HomeFront Executive Director Connie Mercer. “And due to their tumultuous lives and the added stress of their arrival—children frightened, parents in despair—HomeFront’s ability to provide calming influences throughout their stay can play a huge role in emotional healing. A small, contemplative garden at the family campus is the perfect place for parents and their children to take a much-needed break and seek the fresh air, the beauty and the solace that only nature provides. And no one knows how true this is more than our wonderful friends at D&R Greenway, promoting this very kind of healing through nature and land preservation for so many years.”
Just like D&R Greenway’s Meredith’s Garden of Inspiration, HomeFront’s healing garden has a theme: butterflies. Butterflies are symbols of hope and transformation into a new life.
“The garden is in the planning stages. We’re working with Master Gardeners of Mercer County,” explained ArtSpace Founding Director Ruthann Traylor. Local landscape architect Bay Weber has volunteered her services to develop a detailed plan with winding pathways and calming elements including thoughtfully placed benches, fragrant plantings, gentle wind spinners, sculptural art and mosaic tiles.
“In order to attract butterflies we expect to be planting native plants. ArtSpace will be creating tile walking stones for the garden, and a portion of the sale of the artwork on view at D&R Greenway will go toward this endeavor.”
“A mutual benefactor, Wade Martin, brought local nonprofits together a few years ago to encourage partnerships,” Mead said. “Much has grown from that, including D&R Greenway’s partnership with the Princeton YWCA and the Healing Trails tour that will be available this fall. This latest partnership with HomeFront celebrates our mutual goal to create places where people from all walks of life can enjoy the beauty and healing power of being outdoors in nature.”
Since 1991, HomeFront has helped homeless families to build lives of self-respect, stability, and independence by using a comprehensive and holistic approach to ending homelessness in Central New Jersey. Addressing the material needs for shelter, food, and clothing, HomeFront has established effective programs to help parents develop educational, vocational, and life skills while also opening the world and its possibilities to their children.
HomeFront also believes that for a full and rich life, one that truly breaks through the cycle of poverty, you need more than a roof over your head, food for your belly, and a paycheck. The human spirit needs nourishment—the power of life’s richness that gives meaning to our day-to-day lives.
One way this is achieved is through ArtSpace — the studio is at the heart of the new HomeFront Family Campus, welcoming visitors to look around, join in and pick up a paint brush. In this non-threatening, non-judgmental environment, with a caring staff and a team of volunteers to prompt and guide them, clients are reminded of their goals and dreams; discover content that is personal, real, and truthful; and foster a sense of joy, creativity and exuberance. Through this innovative therapeutic art program, the creative process becomes a tangible tool for self-expression, critical thinking and problem-solving that can transform the lives of the artists.
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