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By April Cole

As you contemplate the mass public outcry over Pic-Pac leaving the community and organizing GoFundMe pages and “Cash Mobs” to basically “remind” people to shop where everyone in this community assumed they should have been shopping anyway, keep this in mind, everything changes.

For better or for worse, the news Pic-Pac is/was closing shouldn’t be a complete surprise to anyone. We have become a community of “what have you done for me lately” people. I understand that we all gotta survive. But at what cost? Frankfort is a working class, paycheck to paycheck, kind of community. But it is OUR community! We should be taking care of one another daily anyway.

If you know me personally, you already know this. If you just follow Capital Living because you find it the most comprehensive place to find events going on in and around Frankfort, then you could not know what I am about to tell you.

I am not from Frankfort. There! I said it! I’m originally from the New Orleans area. The “Big Easy,” N’Awlins. However, you want to say it, that is where I was born and raised, and that is where I call “home”. Until I came to Frankfort!

Growing up just miles away from the shadow of the Superdome, in the suburb of Metairie, I learned to go with the flow, embrace differences, appreciate the variety of cultures, help everyone you can, and welcome anyone new. I brought that mindset with me to Frankfort when I opened up my photography business here in 2008 and moved here in 2011. I volunteered often. And I embraced the overall positive energy of the community.

Scroll through all of the articles that I have posted to the Capital Living site. I purposely omitted politics, unless it involved our community’s participation in it.

We have become a divisive world because of our political beliefs. WE, as Frankfort citizens, are lumped into the “blame it all on Frankfort” mentality of the rest of the state’s residents when they send their representatives here each year. They see our city, our community, as the scourge of commonwealth, without ever stepping foot into it! We have been judged unfairly by people with political blinders on.

If, those individuals pointing their fingers at “this terrible place”, would just step onto one of our many miles of walking/biking/water trails, they’d see something different. If they would enter just one of the halls of one of our historical homes and listen to their ancestors from one of our museums. If they would just hear one of the dozens of quality concerts offered nearly year round, or experience the love and the passion the residents of our community have for one another and visitors alike, they would embrace Frankfort like I have.

In 2009, I became an occasional event photographer for Capital Living. In 2012, I took it over and embraced it. Recording this community and telling its stories through my images and positive words became a passion for me. Sometimes I just recorded the event. Perhaps your first 3K or 5K race?

Sometimes I dove deeper and told the story with words as well. Sometimes telling the story meant including the historical importance to Frankfort. I wanted Frankfort — as a community — to be “humanized” by those who have never stepped foot within its boundaries. I wanted people to see this community they way I saw it.

I was recently shown a collage photograph of an early 1900s board of trustees. It’s board members consisted of giants who once not only influenced our commonwealth’s policies, but our community’s economic and physical landscape as well. Those days are long gone. Our community can longer ask for dollars from the same government who took over an entire neighborhood via eminent domain, building a series of state-owned buildings that did not last 50 years, and paying no taxes into the community during that time. Did you know that forces our property taxes higher?

Did you know that when visitors come to Frankfort and spend their money, staying in hotels and paying room and meal taxes, that it ultimately lowers the overall residents’ taxes on their properties?

The burden of the expense of keeping up and running a community is spread out. Why wouldn’t we want to make tourism in Frankfort an industry in itself?

Do you think Bryant’s Pic-Pac would be looking to shutter its doors if they hadn’t depended on the state and Frankfort Plant Board workers being located in such close proximity?

What IF it were more like Rick’s White Light Diner? Sure. Rick himself is opinionated and stubborn as hell. His food is a bit “pricey” for your local Frankfort resident. Do you think he would be in business today if he had depended on those people to be located downtown?

Rick’s White Light Diner has become a destination for tourists from around the world! They come here for a taste of his culinary skills and his sharp opinion. Eating at Rick’s has been described as “dinner and a show”. And tourists eat it up!

But it can’t be “just Frankfort residents” shopping once or twice a month supporting Pic-Pac. That is just a “temporary fix”. We need to look beyond our borders and show VISITORS the benefits of shopping at this charming local community grocery store.

What makes it unique to Frankfort? We do. The people of Frankfort make it unique! It’s how we treat each other and how we are passionate about our community. It starts with each and every one of us.

I encourage every resident of Frankfort to stand together to welcome each visitor, who is a potential new resident, with the same welcoming arms you offered me once.

I say this as I have been struggling with a way to inform you all that it is time for me to leave Frankfort, my “home.”

Capital Living has become a part of my identity. I will miss photographing this city, its residents, its events, and its history. I will miss telling its amazing stories. I will miss seeing the children growing up in front of my lens. I will miss being a part of your families.

My journey almost mirrors that of Pic-Pac. I just can’t financially or spiritually “do it” anymore. You see, I’m a professional photographer by trade. For over three decades I’ve had a camera in my hand. That trade used to mean something. It required skills, a technical understanding of lighting and composition, intentionally creating a single image on a single film frame, and money to develop that film afterwards just to see the results.

With the invention of digital photography and the affordability of DSLRs, those skills and that lifetime of experience are devalued. No one wants to pay $200 for a family portrait session with a professional photographer with over 30 years of experience, when their neighbor just bought this new camera and will only charge them $25 to trample the tulips in front of the state capitol. It’s a matter of economics for most.

My venture to owning Capital Living taught me new skills, which I embraced. It also supplemented my nearly nonexistent photographic income from time to time. Although I had someone initially help me build the website, I watched and became its webmaster, building and growing it. Although I bought the brand from the previous owners, I mastered the branding through multiple social media platforms and the website/blog. My following on social media led me to a steady, albeit small, income over the last few years thanks to a partnership with the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Commission.

Everything positive that I wanted to bring to the readers of Capital Living, were the same positive things that they wanted to spotlight for potential visitors. And visitors can and have become residents of Frankfort!

Newsflash! 98 percent of the events I photographed were on an unpaid/”volunteer basis.”

And I was happy to volunteer as Capital Living to cover this event and that event because that’s my spirit of volunteerism that was ingrained in me by my own mom.

But volunteering doesn’t pay the bills. And the advertising you see on the website is mostly fill and unpaid. More and more people ask me to “advertise this” and “advertise that” on Capital Living because they know the reach is there. I have become THE PLACE for “free advertising” with results, taking for granted the time it takes to be involved to get that outreach. It’s a double-edge sword, financially. Did you know that it takes me 8-12 hours weekly just to put together the “What’s to Do in Frankfort this Weekend” post? That’s a huge time investment for no pay. I’m not complaining. It’s just become my life. Some people wrongly assume that several people work on Capital Living. There’s no way you could have known otherwise.

As a photographer at an event you’re already shooting for free, you get used to seeing people “borrow” images and making them their profile images and sharing them on their social media platforms without even giving you credit.

But the vast majority have never contacted me later for that family photo shoot, to purchase that first race photo, to photograph your wedding, or some other significant event in your life. Why did I continue to do it? Because it’s worth doing! I was also passing along the spirit of volunteerism to my younger child, whom most of you have seen in photos throughout the years blossoming into a teenager. That is something that money can’t buy. There are valuable lessons to be learned from volunteering as a child. Those lessons are being lost in today’s digital world. I love Frankfort and the people in it. It’s been an honor recording it’s history over the last decade.

I’m an optimist. And I have a passion for community and showcasing places and people in a positive light. Through my association with Frankfort Tourism, I’ve found a passion for the hospitality and tourism industry as well. That industry can make the people of Frankfort master of their own financial destiny. Embrace it.

No longer should Frankfort settle on asking for funds from the state government. Each one of you should stand on your rooftop and shout to the world that, “Frankfort is a beautiful city with wonderful people! Come see what we have to offer!” You’ll just have to do it without Capital Living/me.

Although there is no definite timeline, I am putting my homes up for sale, including my beloved Boyd House and moving out of state. Capital Living will just “cease to be” upon my departure, which will probably be in the coming weeks.

I’m sure this news will make the local newspaper very happy as they have seen me over the years as some sort of “competition” for their advertising dollars. Unlike them however, Capital Living was never about just making money. It was always about the community – the people of Frankfort. My personal situation is leading me to return “home” to the deep south. And I’m at an age where I need to listen. It’s time Frankfort. I must go. I love you all and will miss you.

Goodbye my friends!

Capital Living/April Cole

For questions or concerns, contact April Cole at CapitalLivingKY@gmail.com.