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The Community Gardener

I met Shella while photographing a job-training program for young adults living in New York City's public housing projects.  The program assisted participants change their life trajectories by teaching them how to find work in the City's green industries. 

While in the program, Shella discovered that she had a special passion for urban farming.  She set out to establish a
community garden at her housing project.  With the garden, she hoped to demonstrate to herself and her community that she had moved beyond her past.  She had spent five years living on the streets after dropping out of high school and had suffered multiple forms of abuse. 

Her initial attempts at establishing a community garden had been thwarted by local drug dealers.  Undeterred, she doubled down, renewing her efforts.  I photographed her meeting with housing project tenants to generate support for a second garden, planting that garden and struggling to care for the garden between work and family obligations.

Smart, hard-working and charismatic, Shella met the obstacles she faced with impressive dignity, courage and tenacity.

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