Oral History

Greenbelt Oral History and Cultural Landscape Project

“Place is space made culturally meaningful.”

–          Setha M. Low
1994, anthropologist

“Well, what comes to mind for me [when thinking about Greenbelt] is the coherence of the community, the wholeness of the community and the self-contained quality of the original Greenbelt—the beauty of the planning going into the city to facilitate people getting together, communicating, organizing.”

–          Susan Gervasi
2013, Greenbelt resident

“We wanted a meaningful place, so that’s why we came [to Greenbelt]… I feel like there’s a—I don’t want to call it division—but it’s definitely a segregation of how people think and embrace Greenbelt. The people in the old, what you call old Greenbelt… consider themselves to be really—so to speak—the people holding up the heritage of Greenbelt. Whereas I think that other people around, also, you know, partake in that heritage.”

–          Patrick Hyousse
2013, Greenbelt resident

About the Project

This project started in June 2013 as collaboration between University of Maryland graduate student Ennis Barbery and the Greenbelt Museum and expands the Greenbelt Museum’s existing collection of oral histories begun in 1987. Barbery announced the project in the Greenbelt News Review and began meeting with residents. In total, she interviewed 14 residents, asking them about their life histories and memories of Greenbelt. She also asked them about how they use the landscape of Greenbelt in the present; some residents drew maps to show the places in Greenbelt that are important to them.

The Greenbelt Museum is actively seeking to document the experiences of residents. If you are interested in sharing your stories of Greenbelt please contact the museum by phone (301-507-6582) or email greenbeltmuseum@gmail.com.

Pedestrian path in Greenbelt, MD. Photograph by Ennis Barbery

Pedestrian path in Greenbelt, MD. Photograph by Ennis Barbery

Greenbelt Oral History and Cultural Landscape Project

Community planning has been an important aspect of Greenbelt’s history since it was carefully designed by the Resettlement Administration in the 1930s. This project aims to document how current Greenbelt residents interact with their city’s landscape: how residents move through the city, how residents actively shape the landscape, and how Greenbelt’s landscape features influence residents’ actions.

For example, some residents are actively working to plan more bicycle paths in Greenbelt. Others are delighted with the walkways and underpasses that help to separate pedestrians from automobile traffic. Some residents remember times when parts of the city felt more racially segregated. The memories, experiences, photographs, and hand-drawn maps that residents shared for this project show that Greenbelt’s landscape is unique and complex. Take some time to explore their stories.

 

 

 

The Ronchi family in Greenbelt, 1958. Courtesy Diane Ronchi

The Ronchi family in Greenbelt, 1958. Courtesy Diane Ronchi

 

Diane Ronchi

Years spent in Greenbelt: 67

Diane Ronchi speaks about her memories of growing up Greenbelt, the milk delivery truck, and transportation on snowy days.

Listen here Diane Ronchi Oral History Clip

 

 

 

 

 

Ana Gaspar, Greenbelt resident. Photograph by Ennis Barbery

Ana Gaspar, Greenbelt resident. Photograph by Ennis Barbery

 

Ana Gasper

Years spent in Greenbelt: 6

Ana Gasper discusses moving to Greenbelt from Costa Rica and talks about the Greenbelt Lake as a community space.

Listen here:  Ana Gasper Oral History Clip

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s