From Surviving to Thriving


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 have held two professional development workshops for Art in the Garden educators, community partners, staff, and others working with youth. These workshops support adults in developing mindfulness practices, strengthening conflict transformation skills and building skills that foster supportive relationships with youth. Participants have shared they also feel better equipped to support youth in developing resilience and social and emotional intelligence.

Community Partners 

In addition to the core set of daily activities, we have community partner organizations who visit Art in the Garden to provide a unique 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 provides the tools and materials for youth to make a series of unique clay artifacts. Youth 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 also have the opportunity to discuss resilience and what they each need in order 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.

Mindful Kids Pittsburgh has done two pop-up sessions with us this summer. Mindful Kids Pittsburgh provides students with a social-emotional toolbox to successfully navigate through the day and beyond by reducing behavior issues, increasing self-awareness and regulation through the regular practice of yoga and mindfulness.

Goat Rodeo comes to Borland Garden to help demonstrate the ways animals help to heal landscapes. Youth get to see the goats eat weeds, including poison ivy, and turn the weeds into poop, that fertilizes the soil. The goats also teach us about friendship and non-judgmental awareness.

Creatives for Climate collaborative Kirsi Jansa is working with one of our Junior Counselors to create a short film about the youth and their connection with the earth.

Earthen Vessels provides free breakfast and lunch for all of the youth at Art in the Garden.

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 mindfulness practices have 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.