Therme US takes Center Stage at Kennedy Center’s REACH TO FOREST Festival

Share on:

Guests enjoy MĀK (My Ancestral Kitchen) Apothecary & Salon event.

Over the weekend, Therme US took center stage at the Kennedy Center's REACH to FOREST festival. As part of the festival, Therme US curated a two-day event City in Green: A Forum on Nature, Art, and Urban Wellbeing.

This weekend’s program builds upon Therme’s ongoing community engagement efforts across DC–efforts that will continue in coming months. In May 2023, Therme US entered into an agreement with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to work together to find a suitable location for Therme’s U.S.-based facility within the District. 

The dynamic “City in Green” forum on March 1 and 2 featured panel discussions and cultural activations that brought together a diverse group of participants, including artists, scientists, and civic leaders, both at the Kennedy Center and across Washington, DC.  

Therme Group US's CDO, Omar Toro-Vaca with Wanda Lockridge and Brenda Jones.

The Friday evening panel, “We Are Connected Through Trees: New Frontiers of Biophilia,'' featured cutting-edge projects that are reinvigorating our relationship with the natural world, from art installations leveraging invasive species to the use of forest bathing as a tool for restorative justice. Speakers included Anjan Chatterjee, Professor and Founding Director, Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics, University of Pennsylvania; Robert Hammond, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Therme US and a globally recognized thought leader in parks and public space; Ana Ka’ahanui, Forest Therapy Guide and Co-founder, Capital Nature; Precious Okoyomon, Artist and Poet; and Sara Zewde, Founding Principal at Studio Zewde.

Saturday’s panel, “Wellbeing for All: Centering Equity and Community in Green City Projects,” explored the impact of green infrastructure on the wellbeing and health of communities as well as highlighting the crucial role of the arts. Speakers included Craig Dykers, Founding Partner of world-renowned architecture firm Snøhetta; Benita Hussain, Tree Equity Lead at American Forests; Irfana Jetha Noorani, Artist & Cultural Producer; and Brenda Richardson, DC environmental activist.

Brenda Lee Richardson speaks at “Wellbeing for All: Centering Equity and Community in Green City Projects" panel.

In addition to the programming at the Kennedy Center, Therme US collaborated with local producer Irfana Jetha Noorani to host community events in Ward 8. On March 1, students in Ward 8 celebrated the end of a months-long partnership with two schools outside of DC – one in Manchester, England, and another school in the Amazon rainforest – focused on building bonds between children across the world with a focus on environmental activism. The program was facilitated by Project Create and the Brazilian nonprofit Vaga Lume. 

The following day, March 2, an artist tea salon was held to build bridges between visiting creatives and local DC artists, particularly artists residing east of the river. The event, “MĀK (My Ancestral Kitchen) Apothecary & Salon”, was hosted by Mēlani N. Douglass, an Anacostia-based healer, conceptual artist, curator and founder of Family Arts Museum. The salon explored the connections between the natural and material world with visiting creatives and over 50 local artists who were in attendance. 

From l-r: Omar Toro-Vaca, Brenda Lee Richardson, Benita Hussain, and Irfana Jetha Noorani.

Content tags