Tag Archives: Dani Fresh

Gather The Spirit For Justice: Common Ground Cafe

The first time I found myself at Common Ground Cafe, I was documenting Naed Smith from the Catholic Worker House. Dan Webster, who was writing the piece, and I followed him around for hours as he moved through Allison Hill–helping out at Common Ground Cafe, talking to people, eating with neighbors, checking in to satisfy needs in different community spaces, showing us the gardens where he grows food, and eventually, helping a woman move all of her belongings into a storage space. I remember Dan commenting, “We’ll never know how much Naed does for people,” and he was right. Naed is intentional–present and loving and peaceful.

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Specifically, the introduction to Common Ground Cafe during our time with Naed stretched my expectations for spaces that aim to serve. There are so many instances where volunteer organizations, religious organizations, or volunteers themselves might intend to do good, but the mark is missed when care is not given to foster a safe, loving space to build community. Common Ground Cafe and the people who gather there embody those qualities that are essential to truly serve our homeless and underserved neighbors.

Here is a mashup of organizers, volunteers, and neighbors who come together for Common Ground Cafe every second and last Saturday of the month.

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They’re always looking for volunteers! If you’re interested in joining them, just email Clay Lambert at commongroundbreakfast@gmail.com.

Thank you to Jeff Sigel from Gather The Spirit and my bud, David Yancey who helped out and made it possible for me to make images in this space. You’re both real swell fellas and I appreciate you, for sure.

http://gatherthespirit.webs.com/

New Year, Still Beating.

I’m going to level with you… 2016 was a weird year.

I felt a little lost, mismanaged my time, felt unnecessarily stressed, lacked balance, etc. And that’s a really difficult thing to admit to myself, but accepting that I have so many things to improve on actually feels good. Growth is exciting… and in the future, I know I need to stay focused and a little more structured. I need to give myself more time to work on personal projects and feel inspired. I need to take time away from work to be present with friends and family. I need to allow myself to be in more spaces where I am able to learn and grow as a photographer and as a curious person. Yes, all of these things, for sure.

That being said, this year wasn’t all bad. I still had a lot of beautiful experiences including the work I did on Marilyn Schlossbach‘s cookbook, seeing young people that I mentored show their work in Asbury Park with Jill Audra Bartlett, recording protest songs with my dear friend Koji & a water justice choir in Detroit, continued work with TheBurg, Sprocket Mural Works, Capital Region Water, Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble, and other wonderful friends and clients. I photographed some truly joyful weddings, had a summer intern (Morgan Crumlich, you are a treasure), taught photography at the Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp at Marshall Math Science Academy, explored Acadia National Park, Portland, ME, and Pueblo, CO, and spent a week documenting in Detroit with Naïm at Voices For Earth Justice. All of these things make me immeasurably happy.

So now I’m onward to 2017:

The first thing I did this year was update the portfolios on my website! WHEW! WHAT A TASK THAT WAS! Ha! I hope you’ll take a moment to go look at the images there.

I will always be in love with people. They are so valuable and this is where I collect beautiful bits of them that they are willing to share with me: http://danifresh.com/

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This is a photo of Morgan. We stayed in a yurt in Maine. And drank a lot of tequila. That was pretty cool. (Thanks for going on an adventure with me.) Durham, ME. July, 2016.

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Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp

“The best camera is the camera that’s with you.”

Recently, I saw this post in The NY Times about “What Makes a New York City Kid?” In it was a video compilation of kids in different parts of the city who “agreed to document their daily lives” on their smartphones and while I was watching it, it struck me… How sweetly honest and accurate the footage was because they had been given the power to control their own narratives.

I will say this now and forever:

Giving young people agency is important. 

Similarly, here in Harrisburg, Jump Street puts creative tools in the hands of young people in the city through programs like Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp. With the help of local artists in residence, teachers and administrators, student mentors, and volunteers, young students are introduced to a diverse plume of the arts and are able to choose mediums to express themselves.

During the camp this summer, I was asked to teach photography. For a week, we talked about color and composition, history and tools, and made images with Fuji Instax. My heart grew each time I witnessed their joy with the Polaroid-like prints rolling out the tops of the cameras like magic. They made portraits, documented other classes and spaces, and self-published their work by creating zines. The students were tremendously sweet and hilarious, tough and opinionated, super sharp and very determined… but most importantly, through all of the classes, they left with the power to create their own stories.

THANK YOU to Jump Street for having me, the student mentors and my intern, Morgan, for helping me, and the students for obliging me. I hope we can do it all again in 2017!

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Full STEAM Ahead Summer Day Camp from Dani Fresh on Vimeo.

 

 

Detroit: Cold Weather, Warm Hearts

“Detroit is a place where we’ve had it pretty tough. But there is a generosity here and a well of kindness that goes deep.” (Mitch Albom)

It’s true that most of my favorite adventures have been born on a whim. Respectively, my recent trip to Detroit was amazing… At the last minute, without itinerary or expectation, I decided to tag along with Andrew and his close friend, Naim. Naim, who grew up in Harrisburg, now lives in Detroit and was a wonderful host. While we were there, he introduced us to some really beautiful people— we witnessed incredible community organizing, met sweet neighbors and passionate activists, went to church and heard Naim sing in the choir (shameless plug: he’s a really great singer!), learned about the history of Detroit and it’s current narrative, ate delicious food, volunteered, made new friends, and saw some art! I came back feeling inspired… it even felt a little like I had prepared my heart for the new year.

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Thank you to Naim and his roomate, Rich, for having us at Hope House. I look forward to coming back in the spring when you’re planting to make more images… and, of course, take Rich up on his offer to teach me how to knit!

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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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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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My Heart Still Beats Steady in Harrisburg: a Local Magazine Story

Our hearts are beating steady in America.

We want to be the people to share this American tale, one at a time… each town or city where cultures are incubated and incinerated. Where people are creative and lovely with what they can make of their own community. You know, the destinations that aren’t NYC or Boston or DC or Philly. Where there is so much left to be uncovered by medias that neglected the good and in turn, demonized every “other side of the tracks” and consequently, the people that live there. There are gems of history that lest we talk about it, we will forget. And some topics are less heavy but so unique to each region and nurture a great source of pride and local affection. Look with us at the big picture and the grains, the pixels, all at the same time. Follow the dart we’ve thrown at the map. Dart #4 is Harrisburg and for most of us, we were home.

My heart still beats steady in Harrisburg… but you probably already knew that.

I’m so proud of Local: Harrisburg. I’m proud to work with such incredible people. They are infectious. I’m proud that I was a part of chronicling our fair city. Harrisburg rules. I really mean that. I’ve lived in this area for the majority of my life but I stayed here because I found myself surrounded by so much love, inspiration, and friendship. So maybe I am a bit of a sentimental wimp, but doing work like this brings back memories of every genuine exchange I’ve had within the city limits. This is a good city. And this issue of Local is my testimony to how much it means to me. I hope you can pick it up and let it foster your Harrisburg love too.

http://www.localmag.us

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THE HOLD STEADY!

On February 7, 2014, The Hold Steady! and Tim Barry rocked the Abbey Bar. One might say, they threw a Killer Party. I thought the roof was going to blow off. It was all about celebrating 10 years of the band and celebrating the life of our friend, Jersey Mike. Cheers to all the wonderful things.

The Hold Steady! is what I think all bands should strive to be. A positive force. Kind people that give back. Totally down to earth rock’n’roll. I am blown away by how much they’ve done in support of Jersey Mike’s family and the K&L Foundation and the solace that they’ve given to every heart that mourns his loss. The Unified Scene lost-Harrisburg lost-his children lost-his family lost-dear hearts and friends lost our rabble rouser. But I think we can all agree, that man would have wanted us to strive on and party on. There’s work to be done, joy to be shared, songs to be sang, and beers to be drank. 

SO WE DID.

(Thank you to The Hold Steady!–management/sound included–for being so kind to me. You’re all gems. I think it’s safe to say that Jersey Mike would have been tickled pink about all of this.)

Love and tons of affection,
Fresh

 

Cali Allie!

Whelp, it’s a new year again. Harrisburg is going through some changes, the weather has been pretty brutal, but good things are still happening in our neck of the woods. In fact, I feel like I’m backlogged… No, I am backlogged. So, prepare your hearts, your newsfeed is going to be bombarded with photos and blogs that I’ve been saving up to share.

One of my favorite neighbors, squeeze hugger, always smiling, forever joyful barista, Allie Schuh left our winter wonderland last week for warmer weather and an awesome new job in LA. Cali Allie is going to be the new Associate Director of the Center for Student Missions and will be helping to bridge the gap between churches who want to come into the city to serve and volunteer and non-profit organizations that need volunteers. Center for Student Missions supports organizations such as the LA Food Bank, Midnight Mission, The Los Angeles Mission, and the Salvation Armies in South LA and Compton.

I think (and maybe some of you do too…) that Allie was always on a path to help others. I’m so glad she found a vehicle to do so (even if I’m feeling bittersweet about not keeping her around).

Allie, we’re going to freakin’ miss you in Harrisburg. Good luck, you gem!

Love,
Fresh