by Kathy Labukas
The Friends of Greenbelt Museum‘s first lecture of the year was held at the Community Center this past Monday, featuring Eric Zhang’s presentation about Greenbelt2012, his photography blog of Greenbelt’s 75th Anniversary Year. He did not consider this a lecture, since he knew that most of the audience knew much about Greenbelt already. He explained that his photo project focused on Life in Greenbelt from New Year’s Day 2012 to New Year’s Eve. He created 269 posts, attended 300 community events and took approximately 8,391 photos.
Eric began his presentation discussing how he researched the Farm Security Administration Photo Project started in the 1930’s and how this influenced him to do a project himself on an American small town. He chose Greenbelt because he had recently moved here and FSA photographers had taken photos of Greenbelt. He also detailed how Rexford Tugwell and photographers Roy Stryker and Arthur Roghstein (who also took photos of Greenbelt) were involved in the FSA Photo Project.
Eric presented samples of his photos in the following categories:
- Greenbelt’s 75th Anniversary events, showing an anniversary photo event for every month of this past year. He gave priority to these anniversary events over others happening throughout the city.
- Traditional events happening annually
- Greenbelt’s organizations and classes
- Places of Worship
- Places throughout Greenbelt, comparing some of his photos of the Community Center with similar photos by Arthur Rothstein in 1938, showing that the main structure has stayed much the same.
- People in Greenbelt
The audience gave Eric a much-deserved standing ovation and asked him a variety of interesting questions. Asked why he came to Greenbelt, he talked about attending a GHI marketing event that Barbara Havekost held at Watkins Park. He was intrigued by her information, came to visit Greenbelt, and two years ago purchased one of the GHI homes.
Asked what his next project would be, he said he plans on interviewing and photographing interesting people living in Greenbelt and attending private Greenbelt events. Asked if he plans to create a document from his photos, he shared that he does plan to go through his photos and compile a document, but it may be some years before this happens.
When asked how he found time to take the photos, work on his blog, work a full-time job and manage his family, Eric revealed that he often works on the blog late into the night and on weekends. This is his hobby and he considers cataloging current Greenbelt events as “time well spent”. The audience agreed.
Lifelong Greenbelter Kathy Labukas is a docent at the Greenbelt Museum.