/03 The Colour of Memory

Jason Reblando

New Deal Utopias

For the past two years I have been photographing three planned communities that were conceived and constructed by the Depression-era government. My project New Deal Utopias examines Franklin Roosevelt’s idealistic vision to resettle displaced farmers and poor urban dwellers in model cities that unified the best elements of “town” and “country.” These “Greenbelt Towns, ” located in Greenbelt, Maryland; Greenhills, Ohio; and Greendale, Wisconsin, were testing grounds for a new American way of life as seen by the short-lived Resettlement Administration. These were not only prototypes of American suburbs, but also a call for a cooperative mindset in response to the Great Depression. I seek to evoke utopia both as a place and an idea. While the project uses the three Greenbelt Towns as its framework, I hope these photographs engage with contemporary conversations surrounding New Urbanism, “green” cities, and the human urge to shape the workings of a community through architecture and space. I am interested in engaging with the history of the New Deal as well as presenting metaphorical images that speak to the complex relationships between the built environment and landscape, and politics and place.