A glass that is only half-filled with water can either be perceived as
half-empty or half-full, depending on the mindset of the person who is
viewing it. Unfortunately, most human beings have a marked tendency to see
the glass as half-empty and do nothing more than perhaps wish that someone
would come along and fill it to the brim. And so, the glass stays half-
filled with water and a volume of space with unrealized potential. At this
point, I must confess that till recently, I belonged to the group of people
who tended to take the half-empty view and to that extent was a person
dissatisfied with some aspects of her world.
One such area of marked dissatisfaction was a rather decrepit
neighborhood near my place of residence. As a lover of beauty and a person
who one day hopes to be an architect, the neighborhood constantly disturbed
my equilibrium each time that I had occasion to pass through. I used to
wonder and lament over the fact that no one seemed to care about the filth
on the streets, the dingy exteriors of th
e buildings, the graffiti on thewalls, or the total lack of any greenery. To add to the list, I was alsohorrified to discover the degree of gloom within the interiors of thebuildings during the one time that I had reason to visit some of thetenants. " And I now sincerely hopethat this very same philosophy will stand me in good stead when I am apracticing architect and that it will lead to my personally contributing toadding beauty to everyone's world. " (Earth Focus Web site) Severn's story set me thinking and succeeded in changing my entireview. At age 11, shestarted the a"Environmental Children's Organization,' a small group ofchildren committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmentalissues. Irealized that raising the resources and funds to achieve a complete make-over of the area would not just take time but lead to a host of practicalissues such as rehabilitation of the residents. So I set out to examine thepotential for change that existed within the existing structures andsuddenly, where I used to see only ugliness, I began to see the promise ofcheer. Yet, I continued to wish that it could change and theconstant refrain in my mind was that either the government or some richphilanthropist should invest in bringing about improvements so that theneighborhood could look as pleasing as some of the more well-kept areas inthe city. A promise that has led to hope and a plan to mobilize thesupport of the resident and neighborhood communities in order to realize myvision of change. Instead I only see the promise ofpotential. Suddenly I realized that I could personally play a role in bringingabout a change in the neighborhood that had disturbed me so much. I continued to feel disgruntled about the lack of change and continueddeterioration of the neighborhood in question till one day, when I readabout an eleven-year-old girl's efforts to bring about a change inenvironmental consciousness: "Severn Cullis-Suzuki has been active inenvironmental and social justice work since kindergarten. I understood that the neighborhood comprised of low-incomefamilies who simply did not have the resources to upgrade theirneighborhood. Simple things such as painting the interiors with cheerful colors,better lighting, potted greenery and shrubs along window sills and buildingexteriors, and even painting over the existing graffiti with say, a child'sartistic vision of a better world.