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Reviews for Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives
Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton
[Yale University Press, fall 1993]

Reviews

A stunningly photographed descriptive essay about the makeshift gardens of the poor and homeless around New York City. This deeply moving account of gardening in the face of adversity is a triumph of hope, opportunism, and recycling;
The Times (London)

Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton looked for the spirit that doesn’t quit-- expressed in poignant, resourceful, street-smart gardens and homes. It’s the season’s most unusual architectural book.
— Kay Larson, New York Magazine

Morton’s respect for the ingenuity of the men and women who built these shelters is clear. Morton’s work neither romanticizes nor sentimentalizes; it simply honors what she has found: the need to have a place of one’s own.
The New Yorker (exhibition review)

The pictures are devoid of sentimentality; yet they are radical for proposing that to be out on the street is not necessarily to be insane.
— Vivien Raynor, The New York Times

Her pictures give a sense of permanence and order to the temporary dwellings of the homeless. Her quiet photographs testify to the perseverance of the individuals who built these elaborate, if ephemeral, structures
Charles Hagen, The New York Times (exhibition review)

A different treatment of the spiritual relationship between gardener and gardens....Many of the gardeners featured have assembled ragged lots and bits of castoff junk into humble, but strangely comfortable, retreats.
Chicago Tribune

The photographs, the text, and the interviews present a moving testimony
to the universality of the need for a sense of order and permanence and offer new aesthetic definitions of open spaces for an urban society. Recommended for large public collections.
Library Journal

Morton’s calm, straightforward images portray the essential material settings which marginalized people fashion for themselves; avoiding sentimentality or sensationalism, they invite closer contemplation.. Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives beckons the readers to take the longer, deeper view. This lovingly composed volume refracts the idea of a garden through the urgent, complex realities of urban life today.
Design Book Review

The authors lead us , through brooding black-and-white photographs, anecdote, analysis and conversation, into the unsanctioned gardens.
The Nation

Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives created a permanent record of some
very impermanent spaces. The traditional view of gardens only occurring
in places of long-term settlement is shattered by these stark black-and-
white photographs. These poignant tableaux challenge the very idea of "homelessness."
Landscape Architecture.

Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives is a brilliant book. It reveals that even on the edges of our society there is a strong sense of pride which manifests itself through creativity, order, and design.
Mary Ellen Mark, photographer

That some homeless people scratch out a living from trash will surprise few; that some manage to fashion a rough beauty with that trash may surprise many. It is this remarkable achievement that Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton chronicle in this spare and thoughtful book. Both text and photographs attest to an unusual trade in trust.
Kim Hopper, past president, National Coalition for the Homeless

These authors give us desperately needed testimony to the ceaseless search for order, creation, and love that springs from the human spirit.
— Sam Bass Warner, Professor of American Environmental Studies,
Brandeis University

Balmori and Morton’s images and text capture fleeting monuments to the resiliency of the human soul.
— Mary Brosnahan, executive director, Coalition for the Homeless

A gift to us of rare empathy and originality by Balmori and Morton. However one experiences it, this is a book that impels one to see, think, and reflect.
Jane Jacobs, author of Systems of Survival




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Revised: October 2000