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Last week, the National Cathedral announced it would be cutting 15 percent of its work force, or 33 jobs, as part of both a new strategic plan and the reality of an economic downturn. Margaret Bergan Davis, associate dean of the Cathedral, confirms the greenhouse employees are among the cuts and that the greenhouse itself will close June 29.
This has some in the neighborhood a little worked up. Sioban Farey writes the “Cathedral greenhouse and nursery is too valuable to our community to lose…we need to find ways that we could work with the Cathedral to keep it open for many reasons….”
The small greenhouse, in need of repair even to an indifferent observer and located on the south side of the Cathedral grounds, is more than a retail store, Farey contends. In a pitch to fellow members (some 6,400 of them) on the Cleveland Park listserv, Farey argues they can work with the cathedral’s staff to reverse the decision. “It is absoulutely congruent with the Cathedral’s mission to minister to all people of all faiths and none—what is more universal than plants/nature?”
Davis says that while she appreciates the appreciation of the surrounding neighborhoods, the decision will stand.
“I know the loss of the greenhouse is sad for many peoople,” she says. “I hope they understand that the greenhouse is from an era when the Cathedral needed that structure to grow its own plants and flowers. With the many different garden centers, the Home Depots in the area, etc., as beautiful and wonderful as the people are there, the idea of having plants for sale truly is not part of the foundational mission for the future,” she says.
Davis declined to say how many people who now work at the greenhouse will be laid off. She also said that the stragic plan cited as the primary reason for the changes was realeased 18 months ago, so some of these changes have been coming for some time.