The air was cool and humid on the morning of October 2nd, 2021 when community members from the North Druid Hills area gathered together to volunteer at our neighborhood pocket park: Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve. As we weed wacked, mulched, shoveled, and raked, we shared a vision for the future of our park, which will one day be home to a natural playground and small community gathering area.
Looking around the park, we could imagine a future when there would be children jumping from boulder to boulder, sliding downhill, and swinging from branches. We floated ideas of neighbors congregating for monthly socials, families gathering for picnics, an outdoor yoga class…. The list goes on!
This was my second time volunteering at Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve, and was such a good reminder of why I am so enchanted with this little slice of land. Whether I’m sweating, laughing, and working with my neighbors, or strolling with my dog down the park’s trail, visiting the park is a literal breath of fresh air. Just walking distance from my home, Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve provides a wholesome, grounding experience for my community and a natural sanctuary for birds and native plants. Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve exhibits the Southeastern Trust for Parks & Land’s (SE Trust) values of conservation, recreation, and community. These are just some of the reasons that I am so excited to give my time and treasure to support the future development of the park. You can join us by giving here: Support Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve
Notably, the timing of this month’s Volunteer Day couldn’t be better. On the brink of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), which is October 3rd- 9th, 2021, the volunteer day provided me with a chance to spend time in nature, which offers health benefits that are both protective of mental wellbeing and restorative for individuals who suffer from mental illness. Our health and the health of the earth are profoundly linked. There is a reciprocal healing relationship that occurs when we interact with nature.
This week, I encourage you find the time to pause and check-in with yourself and your loved ones. If you or someone you know needs support for a mental illness, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness to access resources: NAMI. Whether it’s a visit to Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve, or another of your favorite STPAL properties, these places promote the quiet enjoyment of nature to calm and recharge busy, modern minds. Get outside and enjoy this glorious Fall weather! Hike! Bike! Meditate! However, whenever, and wherever you choose to engage with nature, may you find health and healing, rich connection, and inspiration in the green spaces that you love!
Author: Alissa Tertichny
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Friend of Jan Hill Lane Nature Preserve