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News conference at National Press Club
News conference at National Press Club, June 2019 (photo: A. Kotok)

D.C. farm-garden featured in new photo essay, published on TechNewsLit.com

Worker watering plant crops
(Photo from "Moments of Life in a Dead City" by Carol Morgan)

30 Jan. 2024. In Sept. 2021, author and artist Carol Morgan ventured out with a camera to find a community garden near her Columbia Heights home in Washington, D.C. She soon discovered this was more than a garden, but an innovative urban agriculture project putting food on the table for needy residents. Morgan collected her photos, together with an essay about the garden, in a new web site called "Moments of Life in a Dead City," hosted by Technology News and Literature.

The farm-garden, called Columbia Heights Green, sits on an acre of previously abandoned property, earlier mired in tax disputes that became a magnet for illegal dumping and neighborhood blight. Washington Parks & People, a local environmental group, turned the urban wasteland into a working farm that today grows organic produce for local customers, a farm-to-table operation with the farm, literally, right next door. The organization says it donates hundreds of pounds from the farm's output each year to food pantries serving local residents in need.

For Morgan, a multi-media artist and writer, Columbia Heights Green serves as a neighborhood refuge and inspiration. "In this environment," writes Morgan in her essay, "the Columbia Heights community garden offers sanctuary. It is accessible to everyday folk seeking peace within its walls ...." Morgan tells about her conversations with volunteers, mainly young people, who work in the garden on weekends, and how the garden is also an entertainment site for local groups.

Morgan works in pen-and-ink drawings and sculpture as well as photography. Her drawings of subway and bus riders appeared in a 2020 Washington Post op-ed, and the book Metro Anthology, with poems by Gerry Hendershot. In 2021, Morgan enrolled in a class on creating photo essays, and 17 photos from that class project are displayed with the essay in "Moments of Life in a Dead City." Her photos also appear in the annual members photography exhibit at National Press Club.

"Columbia Heights Green is a delightful unexpected urban open space," says community activist and freelance photojournalist Nancy Shia, "located down an alley behind tall apartment buildings. It has served as a place for raucous community meetings and quiet self-reflection, as well as a garden for food-insecure neighbors. It is a great model of community working together for the greater good." In 2020 Shia published the photo collection "Out My Window" that chronicles four decades of life in D.C.'s Adams-Morgan, Mount Pleasant, and Columbia Heights neighborhoods.

"Moments of Life in a Dead City" is a production of TechNewsLit Visual, the visual storytelling service of digital publishing company Technology News and Literature (technewslit.com) in Arlington, Va., and available free of charge on the company web site.

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