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Turn 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 have worked to transform this vacant lot into a garden.

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

May 2010 – the lot was cleared of weeds, covered with cardboard as a weed barrier, and sat ready for a 2-foot layer of 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.