Tag Archives: Harrisburg

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.

 

 

Any Excuse Will Serve A Tyrant: The Mayor of Harrisburg & The Censorship of PennLive

A close friend of mine once said, “Who ever told us it was easy to be good?” 

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On Monday evening, PennLive’s Barbara Miller released an article titled, “Harrisburg mayor cuts off PennLive reporters.

Whelp, PennLive, you have my attention.

It begins, “Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse has ordered that his spokeswoman no longer talk with PennLive regarding city issues following two stories that looked at the mayor’s private business and real estate holdings.

PennLive also will no longer be invited to weekly city briefings, the spokeswoman said.

When asked what prompted the decision, city spokeswoman Joyce Davis issued this statement from Papenfuse: “The Mayor’s official statement is that he believes PennLive traffics in hate speech and cynicism. He has instructed me not to respond to inquiries from PennLive reporters.”

While I agree that PennLive’s comment section is a cesspool of bigotry and hate, believe many of their articles leave much to be desired as someone who loves this city with all her heart, and that, as an ad-based, corporate media, PennLive has incredulous shortcomings; the answers to addressing those issues do not exist in the Mayor of Harrisburg reducing transparency in his administration or “cutting off” PennLive.

Larry Binda put it best in an article he recently wrote for TheBurg in response to the mayor’s ban, “…like it or not, PennLive remains this area’s predominant source of news. Despite multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years, PennLive is still unmatched in terms of editorial budget and staff resources. No other media can compete. Not the TV news, not volunteer watchdogs and not TheBurg, which, for all of our progress, has a microscopic budget and staff compared to PennLive. You can argue with how PennLive deploys its resources, but it does dedicate a reporter to Harrisburg, the last jurisdiction it deems important enough to do so.”

Very plainly stated, censorship is not the answer.

But then again, I think he already knows that. Eric Papenfuse owns a bookstore. 

The larger issue, as I see it, is that Papenfuse acted out against PennLive after they released two very relevant articles ultimately questioning his character, his business, his real estate holdings, and whether or not his actions as mayor have been a conflict of interest as a business owner.

If you haven’t read the articles, you can read them here:
Overtime violations at Midtown Scholar warehouse illustrate national problem,” by Paul Barker
and
Harrisburg mayor owns 8 properties near bar he aims to close,” by Eric Veronikis

In these instances, PennLive did a damn good job exercising freedom of the press, freedom of information, access, advocating for their readers and for the public. Demanding transparency and morality from public officials is one of the most valuable things that the press can accomplish. It is those checks and balances that we so desperately need.

Moving Forward

I know this isn’t a revolutionary resolution, but I strongly believe that one of the best things we can do to better ourselves and to serve others is to admit when we’re wrong–from admitting that you’re the jerk who ate the last of the ice cream to universities admitting that sexual assaults occurred on their campuses to elected officials keeping themselves in check and every thing in between.

Instead of wanting to flip the closest table in a fit of outrage, maybe, hopefully, the better answer to is ask our mayor to do better… ask him to admit that he dropped the ball. We need him to do a better job right now representing Harrisburg.

To The Mayor:

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Please, admit when you are wrong. I beg you to not be that thing you so vehemently despised during and after Reed’s tenure: a city official abusing power and circumventing transparency.

(Photos by Dani Fresh//Courtesy of Roxbury News)

Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble: The Graduate

THE GRADUATE will be presented at FEDLIVE (2nd level of Federal Taphouse, 234 N. 2nd Street, Harrisburg, Pa 17101) by Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble at 7pm (doors at 6pm) on Sunday, April 17, 24, & May 1. Tickets are $15 and will be available at The Federal Taphouse and at the door. ALL SEATING GENERAL ADMISSION. So get there early!

So, here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson, ya damn floozie…

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Into the New Year with a Full Heart

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times in 2015 I stopped to think, “Holy shit, I can’t believe this is my job…”

I really love New Year’s… I think I love it more the older I get. Not because of the parties or the weird commercial holiday bullshit, but I love reflecting on the year–taking in all the good and bad experiences then pulling inspiration from all of it to carry into the next year. Oh, and I LOVE fireworks. Reflecting, I feel especially lucky. I kinda struggle with that word: lucky. I don’t mean the denotation of lucky, the definition that implies that everything is up to chance, but rather the connotation of feeling fortunate, fulfilled, loved, inspired, and immeasurably thankful. So in that way, yeah, I feel lucky.

Thank you to every last one of you who helped me grow this year, has given me opportunities and work that I was excited about, has helped me find ways to help others through my imagery, traveled with me, put up with me when I was frustrated, told me to take a nap when I was tired, welcomed me, gave me a bed or a couch to sleep on, gave me hugs, encouraged me, made me laugh, loved and inspired me… I am entering the new year with a full heart.

All the best to all of you in 2016. I can’t wait to photograph it.

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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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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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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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Black Lives Matter

One of the hundreds of articles that resonated with me over the last few months was written by a woman named Brittany Cooper, titled, “I am utterly undone: My struggle with black rage and fear after Ferguson.” She begins by saying, “If I have to begin by convincing you that Black Lives Matter, we have all already lost, haven’t we? So let’s not begin there. Let’s begin at the end. At the end there is only Michael Brown Jr.’s dead body, no justice, and weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Be still, my heart. Black America is speaking right now, and we should be listening…

So, this is Georgi.

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And this is what she has to say:

On Saturday I attended a Die-in for Mike Brown and other victims of police brutality. I was pleased that people of all ages, races and walks of life were willing to brave the cold in support of change. Though police brutality is an issue that has historically plagued the black community at higher rates than other ethnic groups, it is not a black issue. It is an American issue. We shout that Black Lives Matter not because any other life is less important, but because it is not something that is often said. The message that we are sent when we see images of black bodies laying dead and exposed is that black lives are expendable. We are here to correct that narrative. We, as Americans, must stand against the idea that any of us should be allowed to be treated this way. We must have the courage to have open, difficult discussions about our collective history. We must actively work to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones. We must learn to love, forgive and trust again. The conversations will be messy at first, sometimes we will disagree but if we cannot find the courage to begin the dialogue, nothing will ever change. The Harrisburg police department did an excellent job of offering us support as we peacefully protested and made our voices heard, and we would like to invite them to join the dialogue. Together we can build a brighter future, for Harrisburg and beyond. (Georgianna Hicks)

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Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble: Blind Pig Creep Joint

I was perched in a corner of McGrath’s, maniacally processing photos of the Blind Pig Creep Joint cast when Caitlin was peering over my shoulder, watching me work. She laughed to herself and dramatically quipped, “Man, it’s such a shame we don’t have any friends doing cool stuff!”  She was, of course, dripping with sarcasm and beaming with pride. She’s right, friends. There are so many things going on in this city. There are so many absolutely awesome people here and I’m not afraid to admit that I’m proud to know them… I’m proud to know YOU. We’re doin’ alright here in Harrisburg. We’re doin’ alright.

The Blind Pig Creep Joint is an immersive 1920s theatre experience and musical revue taking place at McGrath’s Pub on Sunday, November 9th, 16th, and 23rd. It’s directed by Caitlin Graci Tran, Joseph Chubb, and Sally Bowman Keaveney of the Bare Bones Theatre Ensemble. It includes original poetry by Jeremy Ritch and a cast of dear friends…

Okay, how about I just say that everyone involved is awesome and you should go. Cool? Cool. See you there!

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Just Some Ladies Hangin’ Out: Jen Merrill & Audrey

There is always a special place in my heart for photographing friends at home. They are comfortable and beautiful; their souls are radiant and that space, home, makes it almost impossible not to capture their spirits. And while I’m on the topic of spirits, I’d say Jen Merrill and I are kindred spirits. Ever since I moved into Harrisburg, Jen has been a constant in so many different parts of my life, my work, my neighborhood, and my city… It’s almost as if the universe kept looping us back to each other to make sure we became friends. Thank goodness for that.

These images of Jen and Audrey are just to document their love… and let Audrey run around the house in a leotard. Yep, that’s it. I made these images to warm my little Freshy heart.

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