“I believe in IslandWood’s mission and the importance of environmental stewardship, and I share a vision of connecting people with the land in a way that inspires and empowers them to make a difference.”
Tina Guldhammer Frei has spent her life exploring the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She’s a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT). Check out our conversation with Tina below to learn more about how she first became involved with IslandWood, how she guides and helps people connect to nature through ”forest bathing,” and her hope that IslandWood will continue to expand environmental education programs to more communities throughout our region.
How did you first get to know IslandWood, and how have you been involved?
I first visited Islandwood years ago for a fundraising event for the Boys and Girls Club. We had recently moved to the island, and I was delighted not only by the beauty of IslandWood’s surroundings, but by the care and mindfulness with which its built structures and grounds had been designed. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of walking around the grounds many times and taking in the natural space, and my kids have thoroughly enjoyed their programs.
Why did you choose to support IslandWood?
I believe in IslandWood’s mission and the importance of environmental stewardship, and I share a vision of connecting people with the land in a way that inspires and empowers them to make a difference.
Can you tell us a little bit about forest therapy and your forest bathing walks?
Forest Therapy is a nature savoring practice. Inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, or “forest bathing,” it’s about slowing down, connecting with nature by engaging the senses, and simply noticing what delights us. It’s a deeply restorative practice that has many health benefits, but at its core it’s also a relational practice. We don’t just learn about our environment, we greet it, make friends with it, and form bonds with it.
On my walks, we take some time to slow down (which can be harder than it sounds!) and I guide people through a process of connecting with their senses. I offer a series of invitations that create space for people to explore the environment in new ways, and there are moments for everyone to gather and share what they’re experiencing. We end with a Forest Tea ceremony featuring a native tea plant. In Forest Therapy, we say the forest is the therapist and the guide opens the doors. It’s my job to create space, and open doors you might not have opened for yourself. I always find that even if a person spends tons of time outdoors, there are always more doors to open.
What’s your favorite IslandWood memory, place, or program?
I love the treehouse! It’s such a magical place and a fun idea.
What are your hopes for IslandWood in the years to come?
My hope is that IslandWood continues to expand their offerings and their reach, making environmental education and nature connection accessible to their community, and to those beyond who might not otherwise have access. Keep up the incredible work!
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