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On the Ground: Saying goodbye to Camden

Camden Arts




Renovations to Houses closeby

Cassie Macdonald and Chris Haw at the Firehouse - Camden

Development in Camden

Welcome to Camden

Mantua, Frankford, Germantown, Camden -- what a year for Flying Kite's On the Ground program. We spent three months in four different areas of the region, connecting with varied communities and bringing dormant spaces to life. From live music in the gorgeous sanctuary at St. Marks Church to teen beauty queens in Camden to raucous art events in Germantown, it has been a wonderful learning experience.

At the beginning of August, we wrapped up the program in Camden after a productive and inspiring summer. From the first day she conceived On the Ground (with help from former managing editor Joe Petrucci), Flying Kite Publisher Michelle Freeman knew she wanted to head across the river.

"My intention was always to host the program over in Camden at some point," says Freeman. "It's important for the region to act as a region. Making more connections on both sides of the river will strengthen the metro area as a whole."
She also knew that it was a city in need of a little positive press.

"From the initial people Flying Kite connected with a couple years back, it was clear that there was another side to Camden that most folks don't hear about," explains Freeman. "There are lots of committed people dedicated to improving and strengthening the city, from youth programs to the arts community."

Those organizations and advocates embraced On the Ground, and we were lucky to find a supportive landlord -- Ray Lamboy and LAEDA donated their huge, bright groundfloor space. We opened our Market Street office during downtown's monthly arts crawl, organized by Gallery Eleven One, and hosted the Princess Academy, a mentoring program for young girls living in Camden.

"I wish we had more time to spend in Camden," adds Freeman. "We tackled a whole city this time, versus a neighborhood. Even though we've moved out of our space, we will find ways to maintain our relationships and continue our work in Camden as we have done in our other On the Ground neighborhoods. For now, stay tuned, new businesses and a new energy are coming into Camden, especially in the downtown area."

As for On the Ground, it's taking a break. The program is a large undertaking, and we're hopeful that we can find funding to continue it in the future. If you're an organization that would like to host Flying Kite in your neighborhood, please give us a shout. In a sign of its success (and replicability), a similar initiative has been launched by Model D, our sister publication in Detroit.

We'll see you on the ground.

Flying Kite would like to offer very special thanks to all our partners in Camden, including Ray Lamboy with LAEDA, Eleven One Gallery's William and Ronja Butler, the staff from the Cooper's Ferry Partnership, the girls and staff of the Princess Academy and Miss Camden Teen Pageant, participating artists in our Transformation exhibition and Vincent Basara with the City of Camden.

LEE STABERT is managing editor of Flying Kite Media; follow her on Twitter @stabert.

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