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Be a part of turning dreams into reality

Green spaces are important for a healthy community so kids can play, have fun, and grown-ups can relax.
—Chester Thai and Myong McCloud, 2008 AAU Leadership Program

In 2007, when youth in Asian Americans United’s (AAU) leadership class surveyed the area around their school in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, they found neglected vacant lots, illegal dumping, and little green space. After succeeding in getting a lot next to their school cleaned up and the fence fixed by the absentee land owner, AAU youth are now working to transform this vacant lot into a garden.

AAU&rsauo;s Lot to be converted to a green space

May 2010 – the lot has been cleared of weeds, covered with cardboard as a weed barrier, and is ready for a 2-foot layer of wood chips. As well, a small barrier will need to be built around the edge to keep the wood chips on the lot. We will be creating the green space on top of the wood chips. Photo by David Yim.

Community Need

There is a lack of green space in the low-income, immigrant neighborhood of Chinatown and Chinatown North. According to a Philadelphia brownfields expert, this area has the most impermeable land surface per square foot (i.e. it is the most paved over) of any of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. The Folk Arts – Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS), the neighborhood’s one public school, sits adjacent to an abandoned elevated railroad track that is bordered by neglected and vacant lots.

Can You Help?

Will you help us turn this dream into reality? With your critical support, we can transform this unused land into a cherished green space. Your donation of materials or funds are tax-deductible and will be gratefully acknowledged on our website and other promotional materials. To donate or to request more information, please contact Ellen Somekawa at 215.925.1538 or aau @ aaunited.org.



Wood Chips

We need A LOT of wood chips – a total of 50 – 77 cubic yards to be more exact. We are looking for donations of truck-loads of wood chips that can be delivered and dumped on top of the cardboard already placed on the lot.

Garden and Other Supplies

  • lumber, building materials
  • construction tools – such as hammers, nails, screws, electric drills
  • planting medium (potting soil, vermiculite, perlite and peat moss)
  • paint, wood stain, brushes, paint thinner
  • landscape drainage mat
  • hoses
  • rain barrels
  • containers for plants, especially large ones
  • rakes, shovels, hoes, trowels
  • gloves


  • Phoning – We are looking for volunteers to help us solicit donations from local lumber, soil and hardware companies. This work can be done from your home and could take just a few hours of your time. If you are able to help, please call Ellen or Judy at 215.925.1538.
  • Emergency Crew – Are you feeling strong and energetic? Do you have a flexible schedule or have some time on weekends to help out? We are looking for people to be part of our Wood Chip Emergency Crew so that when donations of wood chips spontaneously arrive in the lane beside the lot, we can call members of the crew to see if they are available to shovel the chips onto the lot. If you would like to join the crew or find out more, please call Ellen or Judy at 215.925.1538.

Cash Donations

Of course, we can always use funds which would go towards equipment and supplies for youth projects. The youth will be developing a design for the green space, creating signage, banners and artwork for the fence and the garden, and building planters and a walkway.