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WaterFire Staff Stories: Melanie Steinbrecher

What do you do at WaterFire?

I am the Creative Services Assistant here at WaterFire and have been for just over a year now. Before officially joining the team, I was actually a graphic design intern for a summer too! 

My job here is to help out with all of the duties of our department such as graphic design, merchandise, social media, websites, videography, and photography. One of my biggest responsibilities right now is running the store both online and in-person at the WaterFire Arts Center, and I do a lot of our merchandise campaigning.

What is something that people might not know about WaterFire that you think they should?

I feel people always just think of WaterFire as the event that happens downtown with the fires along the river, and they don’t realize that it is so much more than that. WaterFire allows local artists, musicians, food vendors, and others a space to interact with the community and gain support + awareness. We also support local organizations and artists with events we host at the WaterFire Arts Center, and give locals a space to explore + connect with Providence’s art community. The most important to me personally, though, is the unique opportunities WaterFire offers students with its one-of-a-kind internships. I interned last summer before getting my full-time job in the creative services department, and I not only learned so much but also experienced things I probably would not have elsewhere. During my internship, my favorite thing I was able to do was create my very own t-shirt design. To be able to design something and then get to see it actually sold and worn was a truly unique and exciting experience!

After becoming full time staff, I’ve been able to really see the amount of students WaterFire is able to teach and support. It is so amazing to see how much they get out of their internships here and to see how much they grow from the experience. I think more people need to realize the special opportunities WaterFire offers to students as well as all of the other benefits it offers to the community. (on top of the amazing event downtown!)

What was the first place you visited after Rhode Island began to reopen? 

I have always been a lover of the outdoors, and I always try to take as many trips to nearby parks as possible to walk around with my boyfriend and our two dogs. Since we moved to Pawtucket a couple of years ago our two favorites have become Slater Memorial Park and Lincoln Woods State Park, and one of the hardest things for me during lockdown was the statewide park closures. So when they were able to reopen them again, those were the very first places we ventured out to. It was so nice to enjoy being outside in nature again! 

What is a hidden gem in our community that you think people should know about?

The first hidden gem I want to highlight for people is the Providence Animal Rescue League (PARL). I have a passion for animals and have many pets myself, so supporting local shelters has always been very important to me. I recently ended up fostering 2 of the 9 mice they had at the shelter during the COVID shutdown as I have some pet mice myself and have a real soft spot for them. From working with them and following their social media, I can tell this shelter is full of passionate people who really love the animals they care for. So if anyone is thinking of adopting a new pet, I definitely recommend checking these guys out!

And, of course, another hidden gem I highly recommend is the store located inside the WaterFire Arts Center! We sell all sorts of beautiful handmade gifts, unique Rhode Island themed products, and have a wide selection of books curated by Symposium Books. I have bought many things from the store myself, and it is definitely my go-to for gifts for my friends and family!

Lighting a brazier during an August 2019 full lighting. Photograph by Laura Paton.

About WaterFire Staff Stories

Each week we will bring you stories of WaterFire from the perspective of our staff members. This series will feature short videos produced by each team member and they will be sharing stories and facts about our organization as well as their recommendations for places and activities around Rhode Island that you can enjoy.

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For 25 years WaterFire has been transforming place and building community in downtown Providence with impacts that reach into every corner of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, we’ve had to indefinitely postpone the WaterFire season, losing the earned revenue on which our work depends. We need your help—now more than ever—to get us through this financial crisis.

About the author

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Over the last 10+ years, alongside some incredible co-workers and volunteers, I've worked to build the organization that WaterFire Providence is today. As Director of Creative Services, my team and I work on visual communications, graphic design, the visitor experience, merchandising as well as project management for programming at the WaterFire Arts Center. Being a part of the 'Rhode Island' experience for tens of thousands of people is incredible and I have an intense pride in place for both Downtown Providence and the Valley neighborhood.

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