Photo Journal Monday: Jason Reblando
New Deal Utopias explores one of the most ambitious but overlooked federal programs in American history. During the Great Depression, the U.S. government constructed three planned communities – Greenbelt, Maryland; Greenhills, Ohio; and Greendale, Wisconsin -- to resettle displaced farmers and poor urban dwellers. These "Greenbelt Towns" embodied the hope that American citizens would meet the challenges of the Great Depression in a spirit of cooperation, not competition. The planners from the Resettlement Administration hoped it would not only transform the people who resided in these new communities, but also hoped to remake the landscape of American cities, as inspired by Sir Ebenezer Howard’s “Garden City” principles. Howard, a British urban reformer in the late 19th century, envisioned cities where nature would be part of everyday life, and residents would have the social and economic advantages of living in a community with each other.
Today we are again struggling through tough economic times and the politics and divisions that produced the Greenbelt towns still prevail. The photographs engage with contemporary conversations about the history and future of urbanism, politics and place, and landscape and the built environment. Eighty years after their founding, the Greenbelt Towns still inspire visits from urban planners from around the world. New Deal Utopias explores how we continue to grapple with the complexities of housing, nature, and government in contemporary life.
New Deal Utopias was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2017 with accompanying essays by Natasha Egan, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago and Robert Leighninger, Jr., author of Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal.
To find out more about Jason Reblando’s work please click here.