Living in the Sacred Garden

the world with camels and children

Major areas of study include arts, botany, environmental studies, cultural studies, education, writing, community and consciousness studies.

Class Standing: This Core program is designed for freshmen.

What is the meaning of "sacred" and why is it important in our lives? What can we learn from exploring "sacredness" in nature, in culture, in art and in ourselves? What would it mean to cultivate our life as a "sacred garden?" This program will explore the concept, meaning and expression of "sacred" as it relates to culture, community and sustainability. Specifically, as a community of learners in this yearlong program, we will learn to create individual and collective "sacred spaces" through the arts, gardening, writing and meditation. To inform our creativity, we will study plants, ecology, expressive arts, culture (with a special focus on Asia and Indigenous America), identity, education and consciousness. We will also emphasize cultivation of community within and beyond our program, transition into life at Evergreen, individual skill assessment and building, and bridging theory with practice.

During each quarter of this yearlong program, we will immerse ourselves in the quality of the season, allowing these movements of nature to guide our exploration of "sacredness" and our ability to express it. Specifically, in fall quarter, we will focus on harvesting knowledge and skills, such as plant identification and artistic technique; in winter quarter, we will deepen our understanding of identity, diversity, vision and renewal; and, in spring quarter, we will emphasize action and transformation through the opportunity to carry out service learning in the larger community and in K-12 schools, as well as to engage in substantial creative projects that reflect our now deepened understanding and experience of "living in the sacred garden."

Through the lens of these unfolding quarterly themes, our art and environmental studies will enable us to explore broadly as well as to increase our mastery of specific skills. For example, in our art studies, we will develop visual literacy by drawing, sculpting, painting and experimenting with media arts. We will journal and develop our skills as fiction and non-fiction writers. We will learn and practice production skills by creating celebrations and community events, and we will practice performing arts as a medium that can integrate other art forms. Each quarter, our art studies will be inspired and enriched by arts from Eastern, Western and Indigenous traditions. As a whole, our practice of expressive arts will be an ongoing meditation on the sacredness of life and a dialectic engagement with our natural environment.

In our environmental and plant studies, we will learn to recognize the extent and power of seasonal change. Each quarter we will learn to identify the changing forms of plant species that are native, naturalized and cultivated in the Pacific Northwest, gaining awareness of relationships between plants and people (environmental anthropology, ethnobotany), plants and place and season (ecology, natural history), and among the plants themselves (introductory botany). To support this learning, we will maintain nature journals through the seasons, engage with and care for the Longhouse Ethnobotanical Garden, visit other gardens, gain exposure to issues and practices related to plants as food and medicine, learn basic horticultural skills, and create and interact with our own individual or collaborative "sacred" garden space.

This program is suitable for those with interests in expressive arts, plant and environmental studies, cultural studies, education, writing, event production, consciousness studies and community studies.


For more information contact Registration at (360) 867-6180, or
Faculty: Marja Eloheimo | Hirsh Diamant