Semilla: Creating Something Out of Nothing

A couple of North Philadelphia artists are proving that you can make something out of nothing. This inspiring Philadelphia Inquirer story tells the tale of Pedro Ospina and his partner Betsy Casanas who built the "Children's Garden" in North Philadelphia in May 2009.

Their organization, the Semilla Arts Initiative, has a mission to revitalize communites by cleaning them up—even turning trash into art. They came across a lot on the corner of Fourth and Somerset Streets. Neighborhood kids were playing right on the trash, glass and even soiled mattresses that littered the ground.

The lot is now a garden, filled with vegetable beds, plots of flowers and artwork made out of recycled plywood. Even students from the elementary school right across the street became inspired and pitched in to help. This is what Casanas had to say about Semilla (Seed in Spanish) and the lot project:

"We pick up trash on the street and turn it into beautiful things. We use whatever we have. It's not about what we need to buy; it's about what we already have."

"And that's the point," she continued, "because in this neighborhood it can become an excuse - there's no money, there's no this, no that. Why do we have to wait for somebody else to save us?"

Even though Ospina and Casanas have artistic skills, this story shows that anyone can have a hand in bettering their communities: Grab a trashbag and start cleaning. Putting abandoned lots into use so they don't become dumping gronds. Start something—as with the Children's Garden—others will follow.