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Environment & Science

How an abandoned San Francisco lot was transformed into the Please Touch Community Garden

Located just across the street from San Francisco’s stately City Hall sat an abandoned lot, rife with illicit activities and teeming with all nature of trash (including used syringes). For local artist GK Callahan (pictured above), it was one big opportunity.

Working at the nearby Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Callahan went to the San Francisco Arts Commission, who gave Callahan a grant to see his vision realized: the Please Touch Community Garden.

Once Callahan and his people began reclaiming the space with extensive trash collection and mulching, it wasn’t long before the community rallied around the ongoing project and pitched in. Local artist Aurora Mahassine contributed vertical planters called “Habitiles,” which are created from recycled Styrofoam, and the furniture was made from reconstituted wooden pallets. There’s an aromatic garden, with plans for fruits and vegetables in the future.

Now the space is teeming with activity on a regular basis, with locals stopping by to pitch in or just catch up with their neighbors. It’s all very inspirational, to say the least.

There must be plenty of similar spaces around greater Los Angeles, neglected public areas in need of community reclamation. Let us know your thoughts and locales in the Comments section. Inquiring minds would like to know!