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Greenbelt and Greenbelters at the Corcoran School of Art!

posted in: Fun Stuff, People
Danielle at Greenbelt National Park watching community drumming with Katy Gaughan.

Danielle Towers, a photojournalism major at George Washington University, first came to Greenbelt in 2022 to photograph our Labor Day Parade for an assignment, at the suggestion of the professor, who’d seen it herself. That’s when I met Danielle, as my friends and I were sitting along Crescent Road watching the parade.

Impressed with the community she witnessed that day, Danielle chose Greenbelt as the subject of her senior thesis, and thus began her close and unique bond with this town. She contacted me early on and I did what I could to help – introducing her to a slew of Greenbelters, prominent or not, and driving her to the Greenbelt Metro. (Her journey to Greenbelt from Foggy Bottom, without a car, required two trains and a bus – a time-consuming slog she never seemed to mind.)

Over the 2023 fall semester Danielle visited Greenbelt often and came to know almost as many Greenbelters as I do, charming us all with her journalistic curiosity about the town and her appreciation for it. She clearly GOT Greenbelt for the people and strong sense of community, not just its unique history and architecture.

So while she adopted Greenbelt, many of us adopted Danielle right back as our favorite unlikely visitor. I mean, what other 21-year-old prefers hanging out with Boomers at the New Deal Cafe to staying on campus with, you know, people her own age? (According to her, there’s actually more going on here!)

Not JUST a visitor, Danielle volunteered as a docent at the Museum, spoke to students at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, and photographed events for the Greenbelt News Review. If there were an award for Honorary Greenbelter of the Year, she’d be a shoo-in.

Danielle told me that her Greenbelt project would be shown at the Corcoran School of Art, now part of GWU, but I didn’t give it much thought until an invitation arrived to the grand opening of the Corcoran’s Next Festival, where about 160 student artists exhibit their works. I was among the Greenbelters in attendance, where we enjoyed an event that was grand indeed – and so fun!

Standing, from left, Corita Waters, me, Danielle Towers, Kai Waters, Andrea Waters, with John Henry Jones (2012 Greenbelt Citizen of the Year), at the Corcoran School of Art.

Look who else was there! Danielle had gotten to know John Henry Jones and his daughter Corita Waters and her family, and they make several appearances on the Corcoran walls and in a book of photos accompanying the exhibit. They turned out en masse for the grand opening.

Margaret Poore, whose portrait by Danielle was also on display at the Corcoran, attended the opening with her daughter. In the photo she’s sitting on the steps of the Greenbelt Museum.

I asked Danielle about the “Invisible City” title of the project and she said it was inspired by the 1974 book by Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities: “The book is framed as a conversation between the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, and Marco Polo. The majority of the book consists of brief prose poems describing 55 fictitious cities that are narrated by Polo, many of which can be read as commentary on culture, language, time, memory, death, or human experience generally.” 

Here are some of the other images on display at the Corcoran – now through May 16.

Photo taken at the Greenbelt Fire Station on the night of the City Council election.

This election night photo captures the faces of Councilmembers and others as the Council election results were announced and ran in the Greenbelt News Review. Danielle told me it’s especially meaningful to her, as it includes Ric Gordon, who passed soon after that night.

Above and below are Danielle’s photos displayed against blown-up replications of Greenbelt’s original plan and construction in progress. She sourced the images from the Library of Congress archives online and then adjusted the size so that they could be reproduced at this scale for the show. Very cool!

Above, her shot of the Wild Rumpus Festival was a favorite of Greenbelters at the event.

Another favorite is this one of a dancer at the Greenbelt Community Center.

Here Meave Waters poses on her unicycle in the family kitchen.

I love this portrait.

Here’s John Henry with the photo of him in Danielle’s book about Greenbelt.

The book will soon be available for purchase on Danielle’s website – a limited edition run of 100 copies, of which two will be donated to the Greenbelt Library Tugwell Collection and the Greenbelt Museum. In addition to the portrait John Henry, there’s a photo of Corita and Andrea Waters and their kids, Kai and Meave.

Also coming soon, to this very blog, is Danielle’s story of her Greenbelt experiences, based on contemporary diary postings.

Danielle’s parents, Ariel and Jonathan Towers, flew in from Chicago for the event. There wasn’t time for them to visit Greenbelt that weekend but told me they plan to do it when they return to the area for graduation in June.

The opening night of the Next Festival included this very cool dance performance.

 

I know we all thank Danielle for shining a light on our very special city and wish for her all the best as she pursues work as a creative. Greenbelt will be rooting for her!

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

2 Responses

  1. Katherine Jarva
    | Reply

    What an artist Danielle is! Thank you Susan for sharing this wonderful presentation of Greenbelt. KJ

  2. Catherine Plaisant
    | Reply

    Thanks for this Susan

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