The Parental Stress Center’s (PSC) Green Space Project will transform a half-acre vacant lot on Penn Circle West. The lot is adjacent to the PSC Family Center between Baum Boulevard and Commerce Street near Whole Foods Market. The project provides youth between the ages of 13 and 18 with an opportunity to learn leadership skills and teamwork while improving their community. They will put environmental concepts pertaining to landscape design, bio-fuels production, and urban gardening into practice.

The youth participants, who come from various schools in the area, have begun designing an urban parklette for the section facing Penn Circle West. The parklette will feature a variety of flowers, shrubs, and other plantings. In addition, pathways and benches will be worked into the design to provide the East End community with a pleasant and enjoyable place to stop and smell the flowers.

Another section is reserved for sunflowers. With assistance from GTECH, Green Space Project youth have learned about the science behind biofuel production and how sunflower oil can be converted into a non-toxic, renewable, carbon-free source of fuel. The youth plan to cover one-third of the lot with a biofuel-producing field of sunflowers. The last section of the lot may be the most ambitious – planting an urban vegetable garden. In the coming months, the youth will decide what to grow in the garden and will eventually share and/or sell the produce.

The Green Space Project draws on a variety of sources for expert guidance and helping hands. The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy will provide information about native plants, East Liberty Home Depot staff members are ready to teach the youth group about landscape design, and Bank of New York Mellon employees have already volunteered twice to help clean up the lot.

While the Green Space Project is off to a good start, there’s much more to be done. We need more young, creative minds and helping hands to make the parklette, the garden, and fuel-from-sunflowers a reality. For more information about the PSC Green Space Project, or if you would like to join this group of dedicated young leaders, contact Dominique Reed, Youth Services Associate at the Parental Stress Center, 412-361-4800,