Tag Archives: Harrisburg

Farewell, Harrisburg

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Six years ago, when I moved into this apartment at the Simon Cameron School, I was working long days—shooting photos during the day and bartending at Speakeasy at night… One night, after closing the bar, I dragged ass down the hallway of my place, dumped my bags right in the middle of the floor and thought, “I am so fucking glad to be home.”

I felt this very sweet, exhausted joy as I realized that this was the first time I felt like I was “home” since I was in high school. It was so profound. I leaned up against the wall and wept… and then laughed. And crawled in to bed.

I loved this apartment in this place with all of you people.

With the help of a small army, I moved out last month. I said goodbye to my apartment in a fit of tears and red wine. I’m sure I could have found another apartment in Harrisburg, but I’ve been restless for months. It felt like time to go.

I’m thankful that I didn’t leave Harrisburg because I dislike it or I’m running from something… I thrive when I’m traveling and I’m stoked to put myself in a state of agitation to push forward and grow.

I am filled with gratitude for everyone who helped me… whether you came over and kept me company, helped me sort and pack, fed me hot dogs and grilled veggies, or did the heavy lifting. Moving sucks. Y’all are true friends. I appreciate you.

I made my way to Asbury Park for the summer to live with my friend, Jill, and to do a residency at Parlor Gallery. Months ago, I approached Juicy Jenn, my friend and one of the owners of the gallery, and told her that I wanted to photograph women at home. I adore environmental portraiture and I’m so excited to make images of women in their residence—in their space.

At the time, it was so silly that I didn’t realize the significance of losing my own home and wanting to make these images. Everything has slowly shifted into focus though. What wasn’t a thought at the time now seems so obvious.

Dearest Harrisburg, you are the biggest part of my heart. Thank you for being so tender. Thank you for being my home.

Love always,

Fresh

Sprocket Mural Works: Harrisburg Mural Fest

(Story originally published in The BURG)

“It was an event like central PA had never seen before.

Over the course of 10 days last month, more than a dozen murals were created as part of the Harrisburg Mural Fest. Sprocket Mural Works asked local, national and even international artists to paint murals in Shipoke, downtown and Midtown Harrisburg, supplementing the projects with several mural-themed social and educational events. It all ended with a tremendous block party on State Street.

In this photo feature, photographer Dani Fresh shows us some of these stunning works of art, captured during and soon after their creation.” (Lawrance Binda)

There are probably thousands of images of these newly painted, beautiful walls. And hot dog, they are wildly beautiful walls and wonderful perspectives. But the most striking thing about the Harrisburg Mural Fest was the profound willingness of artists to invite an entire city to be a part of the process of creating art. It is brave, vulnerable, and sweet—and it is one thing to say that murals are tools for civic engagement; it is another to witness it on such a grand scale.

These images are a collection of gestures and moments that exist between working diligently, talking to and engaging with people passing by, teaching and guiding students and eager community volunteers, and eventually, the triumphant finish of a long project.

http://www.sprocketmuralworks.com/

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Gather The Spirit For Justice: Common Ground Cafe

It is one of my favorite places to volunteer.

One of the most remarkable people I have ever photographed in Harrisburg, Naed Smith, introduced me to Common Ground Café. Naed is a neighborly presence in Allison Hill—called to vocation as the manager of the Catholic Worker House on Market Street. He is a tall, burly man who always greets people with literal and proverbial open arms. And, of course, he is almost always present here…

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Specifically, at Common Ground Café, they foster a safe, loving space to build community and the people who gather there embody the qualities that are essential to serve our homeless and underserved neighbors.

This is a mash-up of organizers, volunteers, and neighbors who come together for sit-down, restaurant style breakfast every second and last Saturday of the month.

And if it is a thing on your mind or on your heart, they’re always looking for volunteers. I hope you’ll join them.

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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/
Email Clay Lambert at commongroundbreakfast@gmail.com to volunteer.

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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