COLORMAKE & THE GIVING KEYS

There are so many people in Harrisburg who inspire with their love, sacrifice, and intention. I witness all the beautiful things they do and as a result, I feel drawn to them and driven to work harder, create well, and love more. The Giving Keys collaboration with Koji is an opportunity to recognize a few of those people and I am so excited and honored to make images to celebrate them. This place has so much heart. And I love to give a little relief and recognition to tireless efforts. It’s important to lift each other up. The following is text by Jen Merrill inciting our little Harrisburg chapter of the Giving Keys story… We encourage you to do the same: buy the keys with purpose, open your heart and allow others to inspire you, pass the message on.

Love,
Fresh

COLORMAKE & THE GIVING KEYS
http://colormake.tumblr.com/post/121304277454/colormake-x-the-giving-keys
Text by Jen Merrill 

Most of us have a ring full of keys that jingle along as we carry on through our days, but do we think about the power that simple ring of keys might hold?

One might unlock the door to your home, offering a safe refuge from the world outside. One might unlock the door to your place of work, where you hopefully feel inspired by what you do as you toil away and, at the very least, earn a livable wage to help feed, house and clothe yourself and your family. One might be for your car – or bike lock! – allowing you to get here, there, and just about everywhere with ease.

And with these keys comes a sense of vulnerability, as they act as a map of our lifestyle, a way to access the parts of our lives that mean most to us.

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The Giving Keys is an organization that understands the power of these tiny pieces of shaped metal.  On the surface, they make jewelry, but their purpose is so much more than that. The Giving Keys employs individuals looking to transition out of homelessness to create jewelry out of repurposed keys, each engraved with a unique message like “hope,” “strength,” or “courage.” When the wearer of the keys meets someone else in need of the message, they’re encouraged to pay it forward and pass the key on to its next owner, spreading its message out into the world.

The Giving Keys recently approached Koji about creating his own key, and after much thought, he decided to use the word “Peacemaker,” which shares its name with a track on his recent split with La Dispute, Never Come Undone. The song was written for his friend and fellow activist, Nate Henn, who was killed by an al-Shabaab suicide bombing in Kampala, Uganda during the 2010 final World Cup match. Nate, as part of the organization Invisible Children, raised money and advocated for children forced into warfare.

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“I think it’s important to show the link between art and activism as forms of expression that give people agency. Our mission with Colormake is to get people to engage with ideas, their sense of self, and sense of community,” says Koji.

Colormake is giving keys to three very deserving Harrisburg individuals: Ashlee Dugan, Loretta Barbee-Dare, and Stephen Michael Haas. These leaders are much like keys themselves, unlocking the goodness, the potential, the beauty of their communities and allowing us into the places that we need most. We admire how they use their voices, passion and leadership to continually uplift those around them.

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Ashlee Dugan and Loretta Barbee-Dare have had a rich history together of activism and community work in the Harrisburg, Pa. area, ranging from their time with Food Not Bombs, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and Pennsylvanians Against the Death Penalty. In the current moment, Ashlee works as the interim market manager at the Broad Street Market and is the co-founder of The Greenhouse, a Harrisburg-based community organization that recovers healthy food that would have otherwise been wasted and preserves it in healthy and creative ways before distributing it to the community. Loretta has worked hard to receive her real estate license and continues to work to get members of the community into homes they can love and afford. Both of these women work tirelessly to give new opportunity and resources to those that need it most.

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Stephen Michael Haas is a multi media artist based in Harrisburg, Pa., known for his colorful, multi-dimensional work that’s filled with honest, positive messages that encourage self-discovery and display the creative process in its sincerest form. When looking at a piece of Stephen’s work, one feels immersed in the artist’s brain as his off-kilter characters and sentiments jump off the page – or wall, or screen, or installation – and into the viewer’s heart. Stephen recently created a zine entitled “You Can Try, But You Can Also Not Try,” and he’s worked alongside Wayne White. His dedication to his craft is admirable to all as he inspires those around him to do what they love, take risks, and not be afraid to grow and evolve their work in the public eye.

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We’re so pleased to honor these individuals by offering them each a Giving Key and encouraging them to pay it forward when the right time comes, helping to unlock their own power as well as the power of the communities they know and love.

SHEILA FRANK

This past week, SHEILA FRANK, a fashion designer and friend from Central PA, asked if Elena Jasic and I would create a few images to help launch her new campaign, #BUYateeGIVEonefree. When you buy a SHEILA FRANK tee, they will donate a plain tee to someone in need at a local shelter. Purchase one here: BUYateeGIVEonefree

I’m a sucker for art and activism all in one neat little package, especially when involves a friend. It’s exciting to see them weave bits of service into their growing businesses… It reminds me why I became friends with them in the first place and that I’m surrounded by warm hearts.

These are portraits we created for the campaign during our sweet little impromptu lady photo date and a few of Elena’s product shots.

Two things are very apparent: Elena is a mega-babe and I look like a little kid.

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We Have One Chance.

It is, for the most part, summer. And thank goodness for that. I knew it, for sure, when I was sitting out back of Justin and Brit’s in Virginia Beach over the weekend. I mean, I could really smell it: the ocean air, the smoke from the fire in the backyard, and my not-so-fresh breath from eating an entire catalogue of cheese and other snacks. I was happy and grateful for all of those smells and to feel cool grass between my toes again… I think this whole winter was pretty rough on everyone in the Northeast. But there is a recurring narrative between so many of my friends who live in this region of America: we are appreciative of all the seasons. Because after a winter of bitter cold and wind and snow and ice and straight weather-y shit, these nice days feel like winning the lottery. I love that.

Justin and Brit–I hope I say it enough and I hope that you know how much I love and appreciate you. Thank you for beach and clams and cheese and beers and fire and hugs and love. Thanks for always being supportive friends and a tremendous inspiration to love others. Thanks for the time off and time to really breathe.

“We have one chance… one chance to get everything right.
And if we’re lucky we might. 
My friends, my habits, my family; they mean so much to me. I just don’t think that it’s right. I‘ve seen so many ships sail in, just to head back out again and go off sinking.
(Modest Mouse)

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Jason Forest Abrams

He has healing hands and a heart of gold. And yes, I usually call him by his full name.

Sometimes I don’t know how my body doesn’t just crumble under the pressure of my unrelenting (and mostly blind) ambition to document everything. Thank you, Jason, for taking care of me when I had a horrible tendency to neglect myself. Thanks for encouraging me to pay more attention to my body. And thanks for taking care of ALL the people that you do. You’re so good to us…

Much love,

Fresh

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Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble: DOG SEES GOD

DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD, by Burt V. Royal, is the tale of the beloved PEANUTS characters as utterly screwed up teenagers, will be presented at McGrath’s Pub (202 Locust St. Harrisburg, PA) by Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble at 6:30 on Sunday April 19th, 26th & May 3rd. $15 Tickets will be sold at the door each night beginning at 5:30. 

Maybe it’s because I’m getting soft in my old age, but I cried during the dress rehearsal. This show is really good. I think you should go see it. It is my wish for you. And who doesn’t love a good palindrome and theatre in a bar? HA! Hope to see you there, darlings!

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Future City

Bright kids, bright future.

Future City is a national contest that challenges middle school students to create just that, a future simulated city. Young participants learn about zoning, urban farming, local government, water and sewer treatment, sustainability, business, and more. They use Sim City to execute their plan and then they build a model, write an essay, and do a presentation. This is the group of Future City students from Camp Curtin and they’re rad kids. Hopefully this project inspires them to carry the torch… to help make their own future Harrisburg a little better.

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Harrisburg Chefs

I love all the people who make delicious things.

You know, just a bunch of cool chefs hangin’ out here… It was awesome to meet and hang with Joe, Sean, and Michael, but of course, I was absurdly sentimental about photographing Qui Qui, Christian, and Emi because they are dear to my heart!

Qui Qui has the wildest spirit. She’s one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met and an incredibly strong woman. I could listen to her tell stories for hours… but she would never be able to sit still for that long. Her food is always extraordinary, but more recently, I am blown away by her hospitality and kindness. And it always happens when I’ve truly needed a little nurturing for my soul. Thank you for that, Qui.

Christian is super talented and Troeg’s, I am sure, feels very lucky to have him. The dude just gets it. “It,” being food, of course. I always eat the best cured meats and cheese and the best conundrum of flavors in my mouth at Troeg’s. He’s a wealth of knowledge and good vibes. And, not to mention, he’s a fucking sweetheart. Best dude.

And Emi is one of my favorite human beings, ever. I’m not exaggerating. She is a genuine, beautiful, joyful soul. This lady is an awesome chef and one of the easiest people to work with in a restaurant… and if you’ve ever worked at a restaurant, that shit is important. I value her friendship to the max and when I hang out with her, I laugh with my whole body. I appreciate you, Emi.

NOW GO EAT SOME DELICIOUS FOOD, DARLINGS.

Love,
Fresh

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Eric Moon//Salon Edjii

We grow in tandem. 

Eric Moon is a constant in my life. He may also have been the first person in my adult life to show me that life in Harrisburg can be a truly wonderful one. We could talk for forever about putting ourselves out there in this big, crazy world, loving the work that we do, traveling to dope places, the mentors that impress us, inspirations, all things that are delicious, our goals, our many loves, etc… but the one thing I want YOU to know about him is this: Over the last ten years, I have never doubted him. Not once. I trust his friendship. I trust his work. I trust his heart. I couldn’t be prouder of him for all the things he’s accomplished. And I am especially proud of him this year for opening Salon Edjii. Check him out, darlings.

http://salonedjii.com/

Congratulations, dude. Life is way good.

Thank you to theBURG for highlighting Eric in print this month. I think the world of him and I’m so glad to see other people think he’s pretty cool too.

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Here’s the salon:

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KOJI: Feed the hungry, change the system

I’m really digging the idea of asking the people I photograph write the blog to go along with their images… I’m photographing them because I value their voice. And more than that, positive people who work together can serve as a conduit for change. I am hopeful.

“Hunger is an issue that effects people on both a global and local scale. Addressing hunger in the United States is not just about turkeys at Christmas and Thanksgiving, but rather, a consistent effort to meet the needs of the hungry in our communities and also change the system that created this inequity. It was so awesome to partner with artists, promoters, and show-goers on these food drives during my 2014 holiday shows. 

In Harrisburg, we were able to donate 199 lbs. of food to the Central PA Food Bank. Most of the first shows I put on in the central PA area included food drives and it felt very good to get people engaged with this issue once more. I’m looking forward to continuing this work on hunger in 2015.” (KOJI)

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Perserverance & Passion: Harrisburg Hip-Hop and R&B

Maybe a year or two ago, I was coaxed into going to karaoke. A few songs in, the DJ broke up the requests and announced Nova… A young, handsome dude in a bow tie. What an incredible voice, what an awesome presence. This dude is from Harrisburg? HELL YEAH! Harrisburg rules.

When Harrisburg Magazine asked me to photograph the Harrisburg hip-hop and R&B artists, I wasn’t surprised that Nova was one of them. We’re so lucky to have talented people like him, E.P.O.C., Alonda Rich, Saint, and Young Swerve hailing from our city. They were just the best people to photograph… they were excited and engaged. It made my process so easy and a ton of fucking fun.

I’m really trying to not be too hard on myself for not getting around to blogs until much later than I’d like… being busy is a blessing. I’m very lucky. But the thing that was truly weighing on me is that I didn’t get to thank them. So:

THANK YOU to all the artists. You guys are literally the best. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re an inspiration and an asset to Harrisburg. I appreciate you so much.

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