Posts Tagged ‘Apr’
After five sessions over two days, the Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Symposium culminated in a keynote address by British architect and town planner Dr. Mervyn Miller. The title of his address is “From The British Garden City to Greenbelt and back to the English New Towns.” “The talk will document [the] transatlantic dialogue that connects Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City ideas with the planning of Greenbelt and the design of important New Towns beyond.”
Isabelle Gournay, symposium chair and associate professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland, introduces the speaker. Dr. Mervyn Miller is a renowned authority on Garden Cities. He has written several books including Letchworth: The First Garden City, Raymond Unwin: Garden Cities and Town Planning, Hampstead Garden Suburb, and English Garden Cities. Gournay tells that she and Mary Corbin Sies, another Greenbelt resident and University of Maryland professor, have attended many planning conferences with Dr. Miller, in Helsinki, New Delhi, and London. When they were planning for this symposium, they thought that they must have Dr. Miller speak here. She also thanks GHI for providing Dr. Miller a guest suite.
The fourth session of the Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Symposium and the final session on this first day is titled “Greenbelters on the Move: Public Transportation for a Pedestrian City.” “While Old Greenbelt is one of America’s most pedestrian-friendly suburban locales and while Greenbelt East and Greenbelt West also enjoy many natural and recreational amenities, major roads hamper connections between the city’s three sections. This session will explore how this situation came to the fore and its possible remedies.”
Thomas Zeller, Associate Professor in history at the University of Maryland, is the moderator. He says that this session is about “moving to Greenbelt, within Greenbelt and how this has changed over the past few decades.”
The third session of the Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Symposium is titled “Towards Inclusion: Diversity in Greenbelt.” The moderator is Dan Hamlin, pastor of the Greenbelt Community Church, who has long been active in interfaith efforts in Greenbelt. Christal Batey and Karen Haseley from the City of Greenbelt talk about city initiatives for seniors and citizens with disabilities, and Frank DeBernardo speaks about GrenBeLT Pride, a LGBT group.
Moderator Dan Hamlin has been pastor at the Greenbelt Community Church for 28 years. He starts with religious quotas which were in place when the government selected Greenbelt’s first residents. The quotas were based on the District of Columbia census of 1920, the most recent available then, and were intended to ensure that the same percentages of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews lived in Greenbelt as in Washington, D.C. A worship center was planned with four sanctuaries in the same building, for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Mormons respectively, but it was never built. An interfaith group was founded in June 1939–Hamlin marvels at its name during a time of global conflict and great uncertainty–“Permanent Conference of Religious Life in Greenbelt.” The organization is now Greenbelt Interfaith Leadership Association in which Hamlin has played a large role. He talks about people of all faiths helped to build Mishkan Torah Synagogue, and the synagogue, as a token of appreciation, gave a lectern to the Community Church with a plaque that says: “Dedicated to the glory of God and the human brotherhood.” He theorizes that spiritual connections were strong in Greenbelt because people came from all parts of the country and had to build brand new social support networks. In the other two green towns, there were existing ties. He recounts two events that he took part in: an organized effort to prevent a cross burning by the K.K.K. and a community commemoration of 9/11. The 9/11 commemoration took place by Greenbelt Lake. Hamlin recalls the priest at St. Hugh Catholic Church came with a large bag of candles and Rabbi Jonathan Cohen of Mishkan Torah Synagogue, then a Canadian citizen, holding an American flag and standing together with Muslim imams.
Greenbelt’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1987 included many projects, and two of them have had long lasting impact. One is a history book titled “Greenbelt: History of a New Town: 1937-1987” edited by Mary Lou Williamson which was updated in 1997 at the 60th anniversary celebration and is still the authoritative history of Greenbelt today. The other is the creation of the Greenbelt Museum. In December 1986, the city purchased an original two-bedroom, cinderblock townhouse from GHI at 10B Crescent Road, and Friends of the Greenbelt Museum led a fund raising drive. The museum was dedicated on October 10, 1987 and this year it celebrates its 25th anniversary. This second session of the Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Symposium features people who were or are involved with the museum and is titled “The Greenbelt Museum at 25.”
Sandra Lange is the moderator of this session. She opens by saying that 25 years ago she chaired the city’s 50th Anniversary Committee: “We had a lot of projects. The most important and the crown jewel of all our projects was the establishment of the city’s Greenbelt Museum.” She tells that it was Dorothy Sucher who in 1972 wrote a letter to the Greenbelt News Review proposing a museum. When the city’s 50th anniversary approached, Sucher called the establishment of a museum “the Possible Dream”: “The original objective was to preserve for the benefit of the public Greenbelt’s unique heritage as one of America’s earliest planned towns. Built during the thirties as an expression of the philosophy of the New Deal, the cooperative movement, and as an experiment in community living, the museum will celebrate the founding of the city and display objects of historical and artistic interest related to that period in a manner that will provide visitors with cultural and educational enrichment. Involvement of the community on an on-going basis will be an integral part of the museum.”
When Greenbelt celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1987, an academic conference was held and it was titled “The Greenbelt Conference on New Towns.” This year the city is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and a highlight of this year’s celebration is a multi-disciplinary symposium titled “Sustaining Greenbelt’s Legacy.” The conference took place on Friday April 27 and Saturday April 28 in the Greenbelt Community Center, and the following is an account of the first of five sessions—“A Living Community: Greenbelt’s Enduring Legacies.”
The conference takes place in the art deco Greenbelt Community Center. This building was built in 1937 when the first residents moved into Greenbelt as the Greenbelt Center School, and it has also served as a community gathering place ever since. When a new elementary school was built in 1991 at the north end of the town, the building is converted to the Greenbelt Community Center. The building now houses a gym, offices, artist studios, multipurpose rooms and hosts an array of meetings and recreational activities daily.
On April 17, two Greenbelt residents and University of Maryland professors spoke at the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum lecture. Isabelle Gournay lives in GHI and is an associate professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Mary Corbin Sies lives in the Lakeside Drive neighborhood and is an associate professor of American Studies. The title of the lecture is “Housing in Greenbelt: Beyond the New Deal Legacy,” and the two professors spoke about the city’s “residential landscape” beyond the original townhouses and garden apartments.
The lecture is held in the Greenbelt Community Center and about fifty people are in attendance. This event is on the Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Committee’s official calendar and is a teaser for the two-day 75th Anniversary Symposium that is chaired by Isabelle Gournay and will be held on April 27 and 28.
“The Greenbelt Elementary School Parent and Teacher Association is holding a yard sale on April 29th Sunday from 9am-noon on the grass in front of the library and the community center. We have toys, children’s items, clothes, household items and books. There is something for everyone! Stop by and pick up a gently used item, all funds will go directly towards technology at Greenbelt Elementary School! I look forward to seeing you there!” — Gretchen Schock’s email to the Greenbelters Yahoo Group.
Gretchen Schock has two sons in the Greenbelt Elementary School, and she is also a yoga teacher (see my visit to her yoga class here). For this sale, she collected items (many of them were stored in her car) and obtained a permit to use the Community Center lawn. Here, at 8:35 am, she is setting up.
World Tai Chi and Qigong Day is observed every year on the last Saturday in April. At 10 am local time, practitioners all over the world gather and celebrate the health and healing power of Tai Chi and Qigong. In Greenbelt, for a number of years, students of Taj Johnson have celebrated this day with a group practice in front of the Greenbelt Community Center.
Taj Johnson has practiced Tai Chi and Qigong for thirty years. He practices Yang, Wu, and Chen style Tai Chi and Wu Dang Qigong, and he has studied under Xiaoling Liu, a Wu Dang master originally from Shanghai and Dr. Lee Guotin, originally from Hong Kong. Both now live in Maryland. Johnson has also been teaching Tai Chi and Qigong for more than two decades and on Saturday mornings he teaches in the Greenbelt Community Center. For today’s World Tai Chi and Qigong Day celebration, he has brought his students from Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland to join his Greenbelt class members.
GHI manages nearly 86 acres of forested woodlands, and one of the biggest problems these woodlands face is invasive plants. These non-native plants can crowd out native ones and disturb wildlife habitat, causing a great deal of damage to the ecological system. On Saturday, April 21, GHI’s Woodlands Committee organized an Earth Day invasive species removal. Committee members and volunteers trimmed vines and branches between 58 and 62 courts of Ridge Road.
Matt Berres, GHI’s Director of Maintenance Operations and staff liaison to the Woodlands Committee, comes with gloves and tools. On the left are Woodlands Committee members Kathie Java and Richard Olsen.
“Girl Scouting in the United States of America began on March 12, 1912 when Juliette ‘Daisy’ Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting of 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia” (Wikipedia). This year, Girl Scouts all over the country are celebrating their 100th anniversary. In March, I visited a celebration by two Greenbelt troops (4128 and 5859), and in June, Girl Scouts from across the country will be on the National Mall in D.C. for a singalong. On Sunday, April 15, scouts from Greenbelt and surrounding areas gathered in front of the Greenbelt Community Center for an afternoon of activities and celebration.
Girl Scouts check in at the welcome tent. Second from right is Maggie Boyden, field director at Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC). The 100th anniversary patches are 75 cents each.