project leader
Emily C
Beatty Street
(East Liberty )
latest update rss

the project

Art in the Garden is OMA Pittsburgh’s first educational program; it’s centered around investing in the resiliency and social and emotional development of Pittsburgh’s youth. Art in the Garden is a free summer program held in Borland Garden, an urban green space in East Liberty. We are particularly invested in meeting the needs of underserved youth. We believe that fostering the social emotional intelligence of the next generation—which often means helping youth develop tools to process and heal from trauma—is a critical component for a healthy, inclusive, and equitable society. We believe people of all ages thrive when they know healthy ways to recognize and express their emotions. Research shows that when children can better recognize, understand, express and regulate their emotions, their emotional intelligence and social skills increase, anxiety and depression decrease, they are less likely to bully others, they have better academic performance, and they have stronger leadership skills. Above all, Art in the Garden seeks to enable youth to grow in their understanding of connectedness to themselves, each other, and our earth. This program supports youth in their knowing—in deep and lasting ways—the interconnectedness of all living beings, and the ways in which we are all whole and all belong.

Professional Development: Our vision is for Pittsburgh to become a model for best practices in social & emotional learning and in trauma informed care & resilience. In order to support this vision, we are holding professional development seminars for Art in the Garden educators, community partners, staff, and other educators working with youth in community gardens. These seminars will support adults in developing mindfulness practices, strengthening conflict transformation skills, building skills that foster supportive relationships with youth, and supporting youth in developing resilience and social and emotional intelligence.

Community Partners: In addition to the core set of daily activities and free play model we have four community partner organizations who will visit Borland Garden to provide a unique learning experience for youth. 

Balafon West African Dance Ensemble instructors Mama Kadiatou Conte-Forte and Linsey McDaniel will bring music and dancing to youth each week. These sessions will teach youth about West African musical and performance traditions, using sound and movement as a tool for regulating emotions.

The Storymobile from Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh will bring stories, activities, books, and literary resources to Art in the Garden. Each time The Storymobile visits, youth will be given a book to expand their home libraries.

The Clay Workshop with ceramic artist Sandra Moore, Shawn Terrell, and Diamond Beck will provide the tools and materials for youth to make a series of unique clay artifacts. Youth will learn about a variety of surface treatments such as burnishing, stamps, texture and glaze as well as the low fire technique called Horsehair Raku. As youth discuss what their clay piece needs to survive the firing, which they will do in a kiln built on site, they will also have the opportunity to discuss resilience and what they need to thrive in the face of challenges. Building on sequential firings, youth will learn to create more durable and better constructed pieces. Youth will also make blue marbles for the “Blue Marble Project” which they will be able to use throughout Art in the Garden and beyond as tokens of gratitude when they notice someone making a choice that helps take care of our blue planet. The Clay Workshops’ hands-on approach of student-lead creation is magical and empowering.

Perennial Abundance with Sten Carlson is a response to the rapid pace of global climate change, and growing anxiety among youth about its effects on their future. Its purpose is to create a network of food forest school gardens to serve as outdoor classrooms where children will learn the regenerative practices needed to help stop and reverse climate change. Youth learn about and contribute to the emerging field of carbon farming, improve ecosystem health, increase food security, beautify their community, and produce high yields from widely useful plants.

the steps

Art in the Garden was founded five years ago by Scilla Wahrhaftig, the former head of the Pittsburgh branch of the American Friends Service Committee. Art in the Garden aims to fill a void in our neighborhood for activities for youth by engaging them in Borland Garden in an active, structured, and supportive way. Art in the Garden has been a thriving summer program in Borland Garden, serving as many as twenty youth on a daily basis. Every year, youth and their families ask us to expand the program. In 2017, we expanded the program from one two three days a week, with longer hours. This year, we have begun to collaborate with other city gardens and are offering professional development in social & emotional learning and in trauma informed care & resilience. 

We are excited to have the funds to begin interviewing teachers and staff for the summer and in doing outreach with youth in East Liberty who are already in the garden asking, "When does Art in the Garden start?"

why we're doing it

Borland Garden has become a mainstay for youth in East Liberty. Youth and their family members have expressed both a desire and need for expanded summer programing in the garden.

We believe that when we grow in our understanding of connectedness to ourselves, each other, and our earth, we are able build a better neighborhood.

We believe systems thinking in conjunction with social and emotional learning has the power to help youth as they work to reframe untrue and distorted or limiting beliefs and that this can create space for the positive transformation of self, family, and community.

We believe that all people deserve access to healthy food.

We believe all people have a right to easily access and enjoy green space.

We believe children need nature and we believe in the transformative power and healing potential of nature.


$15,600 camp budget, outlined below for transparency.  Plus, ioby's fees of 3% and $35.

Project Subtotal =  $15,600
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $468
Total to raise on ioby = $16,103

Educator SEL and Trauma Informed Training  $1,600 per session (for all  teachers and staff)
x 2 sessions 
Salaries, Core Staff to serve 10 children  $7,600  
Salaries for Additional Staff to serve 10 more  $3,800  
Breakfast and lunch delivery  $10 day x 3 days x 10 weeks   
Balafon Dance Materials
They will have a grant to support their work. We will pay a site fee of $25 (per session) x 10 sessions   
Art and Garden supplies 
$400 $200 donated from Borland Garden 
Promotional Products $50 for fliers / photocopies   
End of the summer community building celebration where youth share their projects and gardening with  family members and neighbors (food, invitations, crafts, DJ) $200  

Updated budget 7.17.18

SUBTOTAL = 3,700
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $111


RAISED = $2,900.00
 less ioby Platform Fee  $35.00
less ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $83.45

$500 for Clay Project for mural completion includes work hours, kiln, and supplies

$981.55 for Program Director for additional hours

$800 for Founding Director to begin to pay for hours (currently all hours are unpaid)

$500 for Professional Development Coordinator to begin to pay for hours for Surviving to Thriving event (currently all hours are unpaid)



SHOUT OUT to everyone who has supported ART IN THE GARDEN in various ways—gratitude from the bottom of our hearts for believing in this project. This summer's program is possible because of you and The Heinz Endowment, which--we just found out--has approved a grant that enables this vision to continue to grow and flourish. Art in the Garden 2018 will be led by an incredible teachers and interns, one of whom is a former Art in the Garden youth.

Last weekend, OMA Pittsburgh hosted a holistic healing seminar, "From Surviving to Thriving."This event supported adults—including our Art in the Garden Teachers—in developing mindfulness practices, strengthening conflict transformation skills, building skills that foster supportive relationships with youth, and supporting youth in developing resilience and social and emotional intelligence. We will be holding another FREE seminar Saturday, August 4th & registration is open to the public: join us!   

I am so happy to be sharing all of this wonderful news. 

Thank you, 

Emily Carlson 


“The Heinz Endowments is devoted to the mission of helping our region prosper as a vibrant center of creativity, learning, and social, economic and environmental sustainability. Core to our work is the vision of a just community where all are included and where everyone who calls southwestern Pennsylvania home has a real and meaningful opportunity to thrive.”


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


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