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Meditations in Nature - Journal Bench in Stony Run

by Janet Felsten, FSR Board member, Baltimore Green Map Director, Nature Sacred Firesoul

What is a “Nature Sacred Journal Bench?” - a distinctively designed bench with a compartment beneath the seat in which a pen and blank journal are stored, awaiting inscriptions from anyone who chooses to write. This draws forth messages to the world at large: observations about nature; venting of anguish or fears; encouragements; suggestions for those seeking help; drawings; jokes; favorite poems; quotations; and more. Our Stony Run bench, located on the stream’s west bank, 125’ north of the Oakdale Road entrance, was recently reinstalled on a new flagstone platform. This spring we will ask for community members’ help to improve its setting by planting more native species, creating a verdant, peaceful surround.

Bench History

In 2010, the TKF Foundation and the Jones Falls Watershed Association collaborated on placing one of TKF’s Journal Benches in Stony Run Park, overlooking the stream, a spot selected by Dr. Michael Beer. Dr. Beer, a retired Johns Hopkins professor, lived at the foot of Oakdale Road and spent immense energy on stewardship activities in the park and watershed. The bench included a plaque honoring his recently deceased wife, Margaret. In subsequent years, plaques honoring daughter Wendy Beer and Michael himself sadly had to be added. Neighbors who knew them refer to it fondly as the “Beer Family Bench.”

TKF has evolved into a national organization,, with over 130 restorative sites. As the “firesoul” caretaker for this bench, I’ve gathered and replaced the journals every few months, occasionally sharing entries with Nature Sacred for its collection. When Nature Sacred offered funding for improvements and programming around existing benches, we applied for money to reset the bench and be intentional about native plantings in that immediate area. The Roland Park Community Foundation had Tom McGilloway of Mahan Rykiel Associates sketch out our plan, then added to the Nature Sacred grant to fully fund the improvements.

Enhancing the Setting - Volunteer!

This spring we will tackle invasive removal, followed by planting new native shrubs and plants in the surrounding area, aiming to allow a restorative experience somewhat screened from the now heavily trafficked main path. If you would like to be notified of opportunities to volunteer, please put Stony Run Bench in the subject line and contact me at

More entries:

Life is good. This notebook is so good. I’ll be back.


….This stream is making me feel more at ease, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing that people could just be good to one another….


I love coming here, reading everyone’s notes, and watching the water. I’m so grateful for this spot :- ) adds someone else Me, too!

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