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Today a municipality of a little over 900, Roosevelt started out as the Jersey Homesteads when the co-operative started with the assistance of the New Deal program incentives and the "back to the land" movement. Benjamin Brown is considered to be the father of the Homesteads. His story, to create a self-sustaining subsistence farm, combined with  co-operative employment in a state of the art garment factory.

Brown met much opposition, but his biggest road block was with David Dubinsky, the leader of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Dubinsky felt  the factory would undermine union efforts in urban areas. As a consultant, Albert Einstein was brought in to dispute Dubinsky's statement. Einstein hailed the co-op as a social utopia for workers. It became a heated debate between the two men, but as usual  Einstein's input prevailed. The Roosevelt administration then established  about 100 other communities such as the Jersey Homesteads.

The co-op did eventually fail though, because the workers had little skill in business and farming,
and also rumors of Dubinsky driving away wholesale buyers from the co-op's clothing.

After the Second World War, the government sold off the remaining homes which  had been built in the international or Bauhaus style. The name was changed to Roosevelt after the President's death in honor of him.

Over a period of time, starting with the arrival of Ben Shahn and his wife Bernarda in 1938, the town has attracted many artists, musicians, photographers, writers, etc., and still others who would pursue one or many of the fine arts. George Nakashima was a friend of the Shahns, and their home
boasts one of the largest private additions executed by Nakashima.

Ben Shahn's mural is a prominent and historical feature of the town and was done in  the public school, then also used as a kind of town center. And with Shahn having studied under Diego Rivera, the towns artistic heritage can be traced in a great many directions.

Einstein is featured prominently in Shahn's first panel of the mural.

Princeton would become the home of Einstein for the remaining 22 years of his life.

There seems to have always been an interesting attraction between the two areas. Roosevelt with
Princeton, for its high education and proper ways ; and Princeton with Roosevelt, for its  artistic and bohemian ways. I've overheard it said more than once in conversations,  that Roosevelt is Princeton's left bank. That in itself shows the humor shared between the two.

 And finally, both are great communities and both have their place in the psyche and in history.

Quark Park is being developed by Kevin Wilkes, AIA; Peter Soderman; and Alan Goodheart, ASLA. The World Hope Foundation has joined forces with this team to be the fiscal agent for the project. The World Hope Foundation mission supports self-determination in communities by bringing resources to community members and educational experts that are willing to step forward and enhance the lives of their children and elders. The Foundation is a qualified as a Federal 501 (c)(3) charitable organization and as such is eligible to solicit and support charitable causes.
World Hope Foundation
Web design and photos by Cie Stroud are © 2006

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