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This Saturday, December 1st 2018, a group of students gathered in the Southside Permaculture park to plant what is likely the first “Yellow Tulip Project” Hope Garden in the state of PA to raise awareness and combat the stigmas around mental illness.

The Yellow Tulip Project was started by Julia Hanson in Portland, ME in 2016. Having grown too frustrated with the stigma and taboo around mental health, she decided that she needed to step up and do something for the betterment of the community.

The mission of the Yellow Tulip Project “is to smash the stigma surrounding mental illness and to build a community of people who realize that hope happens when youth and community leaders work together. We hope that someday mental illness will be as normal to talk about as any physical illness, and are fiercely dedicated to making this goal a reality.” One way the Yellow Tulip Project works towards this goal is by planting Hope Gardens of yellow tulips, which grow through the winter and sprout in the spring as a symbol of happiness and hope.

We are excited to bring the Yellow Tulip Project to the Southside Permaculture Park because it is a project that focuses on caring for people, valuing differences, and building community.

People with mental illness have historically existed on the margins of society. Outcast to the fringes, these people have been misunderstood and mistreated, denied their reality and their right to exist in society. The Yellow Tulip Project is about recognizing the value in these marginalized people and building community to provide support to people with mental illness.

The tulips also provide multiple functions in the garden, acting as a rhizome barrier against grasses and attracting pollinators and predatory insects in early spring.

Together we can smash the stigma and ensure that nobody is denied the care they need or the ability to positively contribute to society because of the way they are.