The Community Gardener
I met Shella while photographing a job-training program for young adults living in New York City's public housing project. The program assists participants in changing their life trajectories by providing them with the skills to find work in the City's green industries. While in the program, Shella had discovered a special passion for urban farming. She wanted to establish a garden in the housing project in which she lived with her father.
Shella had run away from home while in high school and had spent five years living on the streets where she was repeatedly abused. With the garden at her housing project, she hoped to demonstrate to herself and her community that she had moved beyond her past.
Her first attempts had been destroyed by local drug dealers. Undeterred, she renewed her efforts. I photographed her meeting with housing project tenants to generate support, planting the garden a sejcond time and struggling to find time to care for the garden between work and family obligations.
Smart, hard-working and charismatic, Shella met the obtacles she faced with impressive dignity, courage and tenacity.