Tess Danielson

is creating Film, Documentary, Web Series
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About Tess Danielson

US Adrift is a nonprofit documenting how communities change over time with a focus on gentrification town desertion, and urban sprawl. The end goal is to create a guide based on the successes and failures of different community outreach groups, so other neighborhoods can use it to help save their community’s fading identity.

US Adrift’s overall goal is to shine a light on forgotten communities and show the similarities in adversities most of us face daily. The strategy to execute this massive topic is by turning each profiled city or town into its own unique chapter of what America is like today, such as US Lando or US Lealman. The deciding factor for choosing different communities will be based on areas experiencing high level of inequality, gentrification, town desertion, and/or urban sprawl. This the next installment of US Adrift, centers around the quaint city of St. Petersburg, FL which is titled: US St. Pete (US StP). While this seems like a complicated process, there is actually a well-structured formula allowing for a myriad of information and data to be delivered in immersive and comprehensive way. The final product will be both a webseries and full-length documentary, along with weekly or daily posts chronicling the city or neighborhood – giving more authentic and memorable approach to the overall story. By the end of US StP, thanks to the audience choosing their prefered learning format, they will gain deep understanding of local areas most are unaware of, as well as creating a virtual human connection that can be built on in a real world setting.

To better understand the storyline, it’s best to think of US StP as a micro-to-macro project. The end product will be a well-round, thoroughly researched, and comprehensive understanding of St. Pete society – past, present, and possible future. There are three themes US StP will focus on:

1) Macro – History: research the development and growth Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Florida, and, most importantly, the city of St. Petersburg. Within the city, there is a larger focus on the historically segregated Southside, and the formation the now poverty-stricken Child’s Park neighborhood.

2) Micro – Now: This episode will focus on the Southside, Greater Child’s Park Area, Southside Community Redevelopment Area, and the neighborhood of Child’s Park. To gain a better understanding of the area and its residents, US Adrift is profiling and following community leaders, as well as President and VP of Child’s Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA), Brother John Muhammad and Jabaar Edmund.

3) Hyper-Local – Future: US Adrift has spent the past 3 years volunteering and documenting the Child’s Park branch of Adopt a Block (AaB). US StP is leaning heavily on the local outreach group, as well as and its leaders and volunteers, many of whom are residents of Child’s Park. The founder and former leader of Child’s Park AaB – Michael Robinson – will additionally be a central figure in this segment of US StP.

To paint a picture, this chapter of US Adrift looks at “the gem of Florida”: US StP. Nestled between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find a bustling city with a beach-bum ambience and urban twist. The island-lite atmosphere is best felt while sitting along the Bay where you can watch an endless parade of dogs and their owners, dolphins dodging fishermen's nets, and children squealing as they chase seagulls. Here, you’ll find people who count the minutes until to happy hour and brunch, fill aluminum water bottles at the custom public drinking fountains, anticipate every saturday to shop at the local farmers market, and qualify themselves as “forward thinking.” This is a city that claims to be champions for the LGBTQ community, shuts down blocks of downtown for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, and was the first city to ban straws in Florida. And to think, the foundation for this progressive city was built way back in 1888, when the first train from the Orange Belt rolled into the tiny town on tracks freshly laid by slaves.

Now, while that last sentence is ingrained in much of American history, in #DWTNSTP and many of the historic districts, most faces would turn ghostly white in shock to hear this. Their beloved city that preaches tolerance and acceptance. How could this possibly be?!

But a few miles away, over on the Southside, they know better. They’ve known the hushed truth for generations. The entire population knows what the gentrifying, upper middle class Gen Xer’s and Millennials are blind to: St. Pete only thinks it’s progressive.
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