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Peak Johnson
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Dominique “Peak” Johnson is a native of North Philadelphia. He is a graduate from The Community College of Philadelphia and is currently attending Temple University. Johnson’s writing career began in 2002 when he and others developed a teen community newspaper known as, The North Philly Metropolis, a publication of the nonprofit organization Project HOME.

Serving as editor of the teen produced newspaper for six years, Johnson has written for various publications since then, both print and online.

Entries by Peak Johnson

Reflections of a Temple Grad II

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2015 | 5:44 PM

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A photo taken of my dad at his high school graduation.

I remember when walking across the stage on graduation day, just last May, and how uncertain I was about entering the "real world" with a bachelors in journalism. Would I be accepted...

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O'Casey's Plays Return to Stage at Philly Irish Theater

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 2:42 PM

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From Left to Right: Kevin Rodden as Seumas Shields and Dexter Anderson as Donal Davoren. Photo taken by Keith Miller

After the highly successful productions of Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come and A Night with Lady G, The Irish Heritage...

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A New Place to Call Home

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 12:23 PM

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The Stephen Klein Wellness Center in North Philadelphia

It was 12 years ago when D.W. Wilkins first moved from New York City to Philadelphia.

Upon his arrival, he had been living without medical insurance and other safeguards until learning about the services being...

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Collected Stories

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 10:13 AM

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From left to right, Kirsten Quinn (Lisa Morrison) and co-star Renee Weisband (Ruth Steiner). Photo by Kristine DiGrigoli

An innocent meeting between mentor and student soon evolves into something quite adversarial. As time goes on (six years to be exact), two women...

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Reflections of a Temple Grad

(0) Comments | Posted January 23, 2015 | 12:12 PM

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Even though it happened just a few months ago, graduation for me was almost a complete blur. I do not remember much of what was said to me on that day except the word "congratulations." That word was repeated a lot, especially by...

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A Night With Lady G: A Trilogy of Irish Comedy

(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 4:19 PM

Founded in 2011 and currently in its second season, The Irish Heritage Theater is a professional company dedicated to presenting and preserving the rich legacy of Irish Theater that has been created both in Ireland and during the long history of the Irish in American Theater.

In 2012 the...

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Q & A With Janice Gable Bashman, Author of Predator

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 2:52 PM

Janice Gable Bashman is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Predator, her first novel and solo book project for young adults. Bashman is also the editor of The Big Thrill, an International Thriller Writers' magazine, and has had her short fiction published in various anthologies and...

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Music Program Serves Philadelphia Youth

(1) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 10:45 AM

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Many of the instructors and staff of the Salvation Army music and arts programs are volunteers from within Philadelphia communities.

The goal of the music and arts program of the Salvation Army in Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware is to...

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Nonprofit Showcases Asian American Talent

(0) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 3:15 PM

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Red Oak Lane, one of six finalists who will be performing at Kollaboration's ninth showcase

The New York chapter of Kollaboration, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Asian-American performers, will hold its annual showcase this Saturday at

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Initiative to Foster Dialogue Amongst Diverse Communities

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 1:33 AM

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You For Me For You 2012: Staring Ruibo Qian and Kimberly Gilbert. Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.


Founder of the Minneapolis-based Mu Performing Arts, visiting playwright and director Rick Shiomi continues his last installment...

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The Transformation of AJ Young

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 5:53 PM

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There was never a particular moment when AJ Young felt that he was supposed to be a guy, but it was more of a continual questioning why it was he felt uncomfortable around friends and family. Not just generally, but socially.

Young...

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Accomplice

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 11:37 AM

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Housed at the Walnut Street Theater, a small, but intimate setting, the cast of Accomplice hurriedly prepared themselves as a steady crowd of people gathered in the lobby for a thriller of a play. Now in its third...

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Violent Lyrics: What Is the Impact of Music?

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 7:24 PM

Mont Brown and Pace-O Beats of The Astronauts drive through Southwest Philadelphia, anxious to start their tour of their old neighborhood -- near 54th and Trinity streets, where much of the inspiration for their music is derived from.

They park a few blocks away from Mont's former home....

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A Journey Like No Other

(0) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 4:03 PM

The idea of writing a memoir about their journey as adoptive parents raising 22 kids came to Hector and Susan Badeau when their adoptive son, 24-year-old Wayne, died from Sanfilippo Syndrome in April of last year.

The loss left a hole in the Badeaus lives...

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A Collaboration Between Father and Daughter

(1) Comments | Posted June 24, 2013 | 1:12 PM

Using over a year of pictures from their iPhones, Yanatha Desouvre and his wife, Amy, started compiling images of their two children partaking in different activities together. Desouvre would eventually bring them all together on his computer with the oldest daughter by his side.

Five-year-old Reanna would dictate the...

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Stepping Away From Homelessness

(2) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 5:26 PM

Carrying a stack of newspapers and wearing the trademark lime neon-green vest, Brian Belcher, a vendor of One Step Away, makes his way to the corner of 18th and Market in Center City Philadelphia.

Throughout the day there are hit-and-miss chances as Belcher attempts to sell the...

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I Dream For A Living

(0) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 3:44 PM

Watch the opening scene to Mirrorwall Films, "Doing Alright."

Turning over her wrist and pulling up her shirtsleeve, the Steven Spielberg quote "I dream for a living" is tattooed in bold ink.

Michele Hannon, a Temple University senior, described the day when she decided how she would spend her first paycheck and her career. She would use it to purchase a handheld Sony MiniDV camera to make a few small films, and begin to follow her dream.

While in high school, Hannon figured that if she was attending college for film then she should have a production company name to go with her work. "I wrote down a bunch of different names and kind of came up with the name Mirrorwall," she said. "It was in 2008, by this point I knew I wanted to go to Temple I knew I wanted to do film and knew that I needed to get serious."

Hannon spent her first two years in Temple trying to learn all she could about film; she was finally able to put it all to good use during her junior year once she had her core group of dedicated people.

A Resident Assistant at Temple's Peabody Hall, word of Hannon's Mirrorwall had started to spread to other students within the dormitory thanks to friends who attended prior Mirrorwall Film meetings and would bring interested students along.

"There were six of us who maybe came to our first meeting during my junior year," Hannon said. "By the end of that school year it was12 or 15 of us who were active members."

Mirrorwall Films became more of a collaborative group. Each member bringing something different to the table, rather its new ideas of what the budding film company should undertake or a new addition to their growing team.

"I wanted to be a teacher all the way up until the 10th grade," Hannon said. "Then, in junior year of high school, I toured Drexel University, loved their film program and thought it was awesome. I also heard Temple had a film program and thought, 'Eh, I'll go check it out.' I fell in love with the people I got to talk to and by the time I left the campus I was thinking, 'I'm going to Temple!'"

Hannon's handheld Sony; she recalls, cost her entire first paycheck. It was the camera she used the whole senior year of high school, but upon arriving at college, she purchased her first High Definition camera, which she uses from time to time.

Hannon and her crew of filmmakers soon started working on "The Mirrorwall Minutes," one to four-minute short films produced each month that showcased different types of films and styles of filmmaking.

Since the conclusion of the Mirrorwall Minutes last fall, they have garnered over 5,900 views collectively on YouTube.

"I look back on the Minutes as our launching point," Hannon said. "When I came up with the concept I thought they would be a great way to get us making a lot of different kinds of work, allowing the variety of filmmakers we have to express their own voices."

With the Mirrorwall Minutes completed, Hannon and Mirrorwall Films have big plans for the current year. A documentary web series titled, "A Man Who Takes The Place Of," about a trans man named AJ Young and his journey through the female to male transition

"We're currently running an indiegogo fundraiser to raise money for future episodes that we hope to film in AJ's hometown of Chicago," Hannon said. "All the funds go towards future episodes.Through the series, we're hoping to raise awareness about the transgender community; it's individuals and shares their untold stories. AJ's is only one of so many."

Mirrorwall Films also has a 15-minute short in the works that is due out next month; Hannon's senior thesis entitled "Doing Alright."

The story revolves around a young artist named Molly who finds herself full of doubt when her girlfriend, Rhea, suddenly leaves her for fear of others finding out about their secret relationship.

"We're already preparing a massive push for festivals and are hoping to use the film as a means to reach out and be involved with the LGBTQ community," Hannon said. "We've worked with a local gay bar to use as a filming location, and we've got a number of organizations we want to reach to share the film with."

Originally Hannon wanted to do the film as a short for Mirrorwall Films, but decided to flesh it out a little more. In its original form, the script had involved male characters. It was also, more at that time, a coming out story.

In terms of the character being bisexual, it's something Hannon recently admitted to last year and it was not until after I came out in October that the decision was made to make the character that.

"I felt that was where the story was always going," she said. "I realized the more I worked on it, the more I put more of my self in it."

Although the point of view is specific to a bisexual character, Hannon feels that this is something every person of every orientation and gender identity can relate to.

"Doing Alright" is a film about self-acceptance, Hannon added. "We want to really promote the message of learning to love yourself," Hannon...

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A Mighty Initiative For Philly Teens

(0) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 11:17 AM


Check out the Might Post Update by Deputy Editor Mike Sanders

The Deputy Editors of the Mighty Post, a blogging site for Philadelphia's youth that launched in early February, arrive at their headquarters in South Street, a Mecca of shops and eateries, for their weekly Monday meetings.

They begin brainstorming ideas to write for future posts. Prom, politics, and education are only a few topics that these young journalists choose to voice their concerns about.

"I think this goes for everyone," Matt Rinaldi, 17 said. "I want to write about something that I'm interested in. I mean it's kind of hard to write about something that you're not interested in or you don't have a lot to say about."

Rinaldi, a student at Science and Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, first heard about The Mighty Post from his English teacher who thought he would be a good fit for the online publication.

His beat at the Mighty Post revolves around covering news concerning technology and video games, two topics that he is most passionate about.

"Of course I look towards video games because I want to enjoy what I do for the rest of my life," he said. "I thought about it more on the career aspect when I do it. It seems like a great job to just be a video-game journalist."

Rinaldi said it was only recently he found an interest in writing. After joining the Mighty Post, he found that he was a pretty decent writer.

"I guess video games is just one of those topics where I have a lot to talk about," he said.

The Mighty Post is a publication of the Philadelphia nonprofit, Mighty Writers, where the goal is to teach Philadelphia youth how "to think and write with clarity, so self-esteem grows and success is achieved at school, at work and in life."

The organization was launched in 2009 by Tim Whitaker, executive director, and has since been able to branch into different areas of the media, like blogs, in order to get student messages across.

"There really isn't a good student voice in Philadelphia, I think that was another core piece from the beginning," said David Williams, director of new media programs. "It was originally from Tim and Maggie Leyman's perspective, It was a lot of things, but I think the main thing was when they started talking to students when we were first getting off the ground with Mighty Writers. Some of their writings would appear in newspapers and students just didn't seem to care."

The fact that the adults were more excited than the students and that was one of the first indications that Tim and Developmental Director Leyman noticed, that there was a different type of media that the students seemed to be interested in, Williams said.

That idea expanded into what would eventually become the working model for the Mighty Post. Though the deputy editors are students from different schools who are interested in journalism, there are other students who act as contributors to the blogging platform.

Students are free to write about any topic that they feel are affecting them or their peers in some way. Deputy Editor Alexus Hill, a student at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia, feels that it's a breath of fresh air to be able to voice her opinions and concerns on topics that she cares about and being able to add her input into the community.

"I've always been a fan of writing," Hill, 17 said. "I started writing stories and poetry when I was in the third grade. I grew up on print; my father read the newspaper all the time and every time he was done with it he would just show me an article and I'd read about it, maybe write about it. So I've always been a fan of print."

Regarding her beat of education and politics, Hill likes a challenge and that she can really look into the topic in so many ways. "I feel like as long as there is always an opportunity for me I'm always going to take it in the journalism field."

This summer, Mighty Writers is opening a third site in West Philadelphia.

"It's perfect. It sits on a big, easy-to-get-to corner," Whitaker said in a recent email that he sent out to supporters of Mighty Writers. "There are lots of nearby city schools, which means lots of Mighty kids. And it's close to Drexel and Penn, assuring us lots of volunteers."

To support their expansion into West Philadelphia, we need to raise $200,000 by June 1. An aggressive goal, but Whitaker points out that the Mighty Writers mission is an urgent one.

"Literacy is in crisis. The high school dropout rate in Philadelphia hovers between forty and fifty percent," he said. "The system is broken. It's just not acceptable. Learning to express oneself through writing boosts grades and motivation. Most impressive, though, is what it does for self-esteem. We see what writing does for kids every day at Mighty Writers. Personalities brighten; attitudes...

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Q&A With Barbara Chandler Allen, Founder and Executive Director of Fresh Artists

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 2:20 PM

Barbara Chandler Allen is known for being called a "place maker." She has a knack for changing places, she said during our interview, by bringing in art, music, or sometimes even plants.

Allen is not an interior designer or architect, but sees the possibilities in spaces and enjoys making these...

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When the Justice System Fails

(44) Comments | Posted September 29, 2012 | 6:19 PM

For young black men in Philadelphia, sometimes just walking down the street is all it takes to earn a two-month stint in jail. On Dec. 8 2010, then-18-year-old Isaiah Smith was just returning from visiting his cousin, when he noticed two police officers who were patrolling the area peering out...

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