Lily Yeh, Urban Alchemist, Philadelphia PA

For USDAC: I would like to share this poem by poet Federico García Lorca. May it guide our effort in the coming year.

The poem,
The song,
The picture,
Are only water
Drawn from the
Well of the people
And it must be
Given back to them
In a cup of beauty,
That they may drink
And in drinking,
Understand themselves.

I would also like to share the story of Carpenter Art Garden in Memphis, TN

Awakened creativity on one abandoned property, starting with one mural, a community of hope evolved:

The Carpenter Art Garden began three years ago through a grassroots community effort to revitalize the blighted neighborhood of Binghamton, in Memphis, Tennessee. Still modest in scale, the garden has already generated waves of hope and love among the participants.

Project founder, Erin Harris, credits the Village of Arts and Humanities as the inspiration for the garden:

“The Village of Arts and Humanities, created by Lily Yeh, in Philadelphia, Pa. serves as an inspiration and model for The Carpenter Art Garden. Starting with one mural and one abandoned property, a community of hope evolved. Streets known for drug dealing are now interspersed with pockets of hope and community initiatives. We hope to offer the Binghampton community, especially the children, the tools to create their own ‘pockets of hope’ through ongoing art and gardening projects.”

Before, an abandoned lot...

Before, an abandoned lot...

The Carpenter Garden in the making.

The Carpenter Garden in the making.

Dantonio, a 5 year old little boy, expressed his hope and love during Christmas:

Hey Ms. Erin one day I had a dream about the art garden being so big and everybody coming when they like 25 and 16, 17 .  .  . and it be over 500 people and kid there and we was on tv. And we just was having fun and I walked up to you and said I love you with a big hug.  


Ricky C., an elderly man whose life has been filled with misdeeds and troubles, expressed his sense of hope and gratitude:

Ms. Erin, I like to thank you a whole lot for the opportunity to better myself and to find myself. I am glad I got the opportunity to know you.  May God Bless us all.

From the calm tone of Tray’s poem and the smiling faces of his two younger brothers below, we could never have guessed the challenges they have to face each and every day. Although the three brothers have endured deep pain, they experience happiness and joy in the making of the Carpenter Garden.