Carpenter Art Garden transforms a community

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- What was once a dilapidated lot five years ago, has become something new that has transformed an entire neighborhood.

Erin Harris said she didn't have a plan when she started the Carpenter Art Garden's Outside After School Art Classes in Binghampton back in 2012.

She just wanted the children to have a safe place to learn art.

"This street was definitely the hardest street in Binghampton when the Art Garden started."

Five years and seven properties later, Carpenter Street is a crown jewel in the community.

"It's given the community a chance to come together and work on their own neighborhood."

The Bike Shop serves as a vocational program where teens can learn how to repair bikes.

The Art Garden allows children to create and sell their original art and the Mosaic Sculpture Garden honors former residents of Binghampton.

"Most of the kids once they started coming in 2012 they are still here today. We are employing 24 teenagers this summer and most of those teenagers have been coming here for five years," Harris said.

Sixteen-year-old Shauna Taylor is one of those teens.

This is her first summer working at the Art Garden, but she's been coming here since it opened.

"I just wanted to be around people I love."

She said being around the mentors and other teens at the garden has improved her attitude.

"It's a positive vibe and when you come around everyone is smiling and happy. No bad feelings or nothing."

Miracle Walls volunteered there two years ago.

The experience was so much fun she decided to work at the garden this year on her summer break from college.

"I like that it's such a positive thing in our community especially because so many people think negative things about Memphis and this is one of the good things about it."

There's also the Purple House where students are linked with tutors and mentors.

Just down the street are the community and family gardens.

Some of the produce is sold in the neighborhood and some of it is given to the people in the community who work in the gardens.

"The kids talk about there should be an art garden on every street and that they hope someday to be able to start art gardens in other neighborhoods. I don't think there is any better testament to what they're doing here than them feeling that way."

The future is certainly bright for the Art Garden and Carpenter Street.