Filmmakers Mike Kuetemeyer and Anula Shetty teamed up with lifelong community residents Fred Harris and Q Tate to investigate the question: how does change happen in our neighborhood? To find out, they told the stories of a local “power grid” of influential people.
“I’m realizing it’s our role now to tell the story of North Philly. Through making films, I’m learning about stuff I didn’t even realize was there. I didn’t know Ms. Nandi and Mr. Khalid still ran the Penny Candy store. I didn’t know Ms. O was up on Lehigh, healing people. I’d never seen a block as clean as Ms. Darlene’s. It’s kind of a push to find stuff out from the hood, for ourselves. North Philly is not a bad place. It’s not the place, it’s the people. And there are a lot of good people here.” — Neighborhood artist Frankin “Q” Tate
Filmmakers Mike Kuetemeyer and Anula Shetty teamed up with lifelong community residents Fred Harris and Q Tate to investigate the question: how does change happen in our neighborhood? They sought to identify and learn from a local “power grid” of influential people.
Through an open-ended documentary process, Fred and Q decided to highlight Nandi and Khalid, an older couple that runs a penny candy store in the neighborhood. Through the lens of the project, Fred and Q realized that the Penny Candy Store is a unique public safety strategy.. Nandi and Khalid have run a penny candy store out of their living room for over 15 years, and use candy as a vehicle to teach children counting, Black history, art, and communication skills. They’re remarkable people who foster childhood magic and curiosity on an ordinary North Philly block. Through discount candy, they offer kids a trusting adult relationship and a safe space to go after school.
The team created a multimedia exhibit about the Penny Candy Store and hosted a party called the “Penny Candy Reunion.” The event screened a short documentary created by Fred, Q, Mike and Anula; displayed 400+ of Ms. Nandi’s thousands of photos of neighborhood children taken over the last 15 years; hosted a story-share booth; and served plenty of candy.
Watch the first film in the Places of Power series, featuring Nandi, Khalid and the Penny Candy Store.
Read press about the Penny Candy Reunion and People and Places of Power
Walk our Places of Power
Connecting and celebrating People of Power
Nandi and Khalid were just two of the amazing people the artists met through this process. Anula, Mike, Fred and Q also met and profiled Ms. O, a healer, and Darlene Pope, a block captain. At the end of the residency, we gathered all these people and their communities and invited them to have a conversation about their vision from the neighborhood. The blog post below details how this conversation grew into the Civic Power Studio project, generously supported by Artplace America and beginning in 2018.