Directors: Brandon & Lance Kramer
Cinematography: Brandon Kramer & Ellie Walton
Editor: Ellie Walton
Sound Design: David von Dokkum
Music: Josh Shaffner
Tony Harvin is in his 50s. Tony was born on the 1700 block of Hobart Street NW, a long, winding, tree-lined street located in Washington DC’s historic and diverse Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Tony’s early childhood row house was originally purchased in the 1950’s by his grandmother, who served as the governess for the Robert F. Kennedy family. Over the next 15 years, the Harvin family, with young Tony in tow, moved to California, Miami, Puerto Rico, and Ft. Lauderdale and as an adult, Tony continued this life of mobility and ultimately returned to Washington, DC in early 2000. In the fall of 2010, Tony bought the house from his mother and in doing so was able to keep the house within the family.
Lance Kramer is in his 20s. Lance was born in the District and raised outside the city, in the suburban community of Bethesda, MD. Though raised in Maryland, Lance’s family’s history in the District stretches back to his great-grandfather, who started a family-run butcher shop called Kramer & Sons in the historic Northeast DC ‘Florida Market.’ In the summer of 2010, Lance moved into a row house on the 1600 block of Hobart Street, to establish a new life for himself in the city and also reconnect with his family’s ties to the city.
Tony & Lance meet each other for the first time, during Hobart Street’s annual Halloween party in the fall of 2010. Tony, a musician, and Lance, a filmmaker; together discuss their mutual admiration for the street’s lineup of porches. Tony reflects upon a love for hearing neighbors playing music within their homes and enjoying what felt like a private concert as the sound wafted throughout the street.. And the thought dawns on him: “Why not bring the live music from inside the house out onto the front porch?” Lance shares stories of projecting movies to friends on his own porch. Both recognize that in a strange way, the porch possesses a unique quality to serve as a kind of homegrown stage. And what emerge from the conversation are not only a new friendship, but also a concept for bringing neighbors on the block together.
Over the course of several months, Tony, Lance and dozens of neighbors on the street mobilize to create the ‘Porchfest.’ The concept is simple: Porchfest is a celebration of the porch, a time to open up the street’s porches as spaces to share with neighbors, whether as a stage for music or live performance, a platform for teaching, a space to sell old things, display artwork, serve up a favorite household family recipe, or just a spot to hang out with old and new friends alike. By setting up a basic framework and then crowdsourcing the idea to make of it what you please, neighbors choose to interpret and engage with the idea in countless different fashions.
With all the necessary block party permits, signatures and flyers, word gets out and the street closes one sunny June afternoon in 2011. Beginning with a bizarre and homespun parade, throughout the day hundreds of neighbors from the street and beyond congregate on dozens of porches up and down the street. Collectively, the Porchfest becomes a rich, vibrant showcase of a diverse community’s food, art, music, culture and history.
Purchase Porchfest on DVD for $10
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