I am one of the two daughters referred to in the article about Vera Samak Wayne ’65 and Southside Community Land Trust (“Flower Power,” The Classes, November/December). I couldn’t be more proud to see this in print. My mother’s experiences as an immigrant and refugee—although I don’t remember those words ever being used in our household or that of my Hungarian grandparents—have shaped much of my identity and body of creative work as a poet and writer over the years.
After watching my grandmothers and my parents grow beautiful gardens for years, I am just starting to crack the code of gardening and have been so grateful for the bridge-building power of growing living things in my relationship with my exceptional mother and with the people in my community. Like my mother, my community service work in Texas connects me with many cultural groups that are at odds in their native lands. Thank you, BAM, for bringing attention to the wonderful work of community gardens, Southside Community Land Trust, Vera Samak Wayne, and to the power of green things to create opportunities for understanding and cooperation.
Jennifer Coby Wayne ’88
I was flattered to be the subject of a profile in the BAM along with Vera Wayne. The article was timely, focusing on the Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT) and its thirtieth anniversary, of which Vera and I acted as cochairs. I do feel it necessary, however, to correct two important facts.
Although I did found the SCLT in 1981 and served as its executive director for the first ten years, my involvement now is as a board member. The Land Trust is, and has been, for the last nine years, directed ably and admirably by Katherine Brown.
Also, the quotation about the founding of the SCLT does not accurately represent my intentions in founding the SCLT. The truth is that there were intense urban problems apparent in our neighborhood at that time: arson and real estate disinvestment, among others. South Providence in 1980 was largely a forgotten part of the city, and there was no plan for the development of acres of land from which triple-deckers had been razed. Although creating community gardens was not the only answer to these problems, the fact that abandoned land was wasteful, a magnet for dumping, and a haven for crime made them a first step in bringing people together to take ownership and control of their own resources.
I am proud that the SCLT not only continues to thrive as an organization, but that today there are thirty-five community gardens in our Garden Network, fourteen of which are owned outright by SCLT. The Land Trust’s celebration of thirty years is a testament to gardens, but it is mostly a testament to the diverse people of Providence who have seen a way to bring people, land, and food together for the benefit of us all.
Deborah Schimberg ’80