C3 Spotlight: Nature Sacred Contemplative Garden

Sep. 2, 2022 null

Tom Stoner was the founding board chair of the Community Foundation in 1969. Now, he's leaving an urban sanctuary to be enjoyed for generations to come on the Community Foundation Campus.

Tom Stoner served as the founding board chair of the Community Foundation when it first came to life in 1969. Upon moving to the Washington/Baltimore area from Iowa three decades ago, Tom and his wife Kitty quickly observed the lack of nature in cities. Through the couples' research and generosity, they began a movement to bring green spaces to urban areas so all could enjoy the benefits of connecting with nature.

Tom and Kitty began calling these small sanctuaries Sacred Places, and 25 years ago they formed a nonprofit—now called Nature Sacred—to begin planting Sacred Places in prisons, hospitals, neighborhoods and cities across the country. As plans for the C3 Center took shape, the Stoners connected with the Community Foundation and generously provided the opportunity to create a Sacred Place on the Community Foundation Campus.

This intentional green space for reflection and contemplation is being planted directly south of the C3 Center and will serve all who live, work and explore in the area between Ingersoll and Grand Avenues. Plans for the garden were developed after receiving feedback from a number of community stakeholders, including neighboring businesses, students of Des Moines Public Schools' Central Campus who frequently pass through the area, Central Iowa Shelter and Services and those served by the Community Foundation. 

Thanks to the Stoner family, Nature Sacred and all who offered input, the Nature Sacred Contemplative Garden will soon come to life.


The Contemplative Garden will serve as a reflection of the Community Foundation's mission and the C3 Center's purpose—a space for connection, collaboration and community.

On a recent visit to Des Moines, Tom spoke to Community Foundation President Kristi Knous about Nature Sacred, the C3 Center and what it's been like to watch the Greater Des Moines community bloom over the last 50 years. Hear from Tom in this edition of Connections