Posts tagged with "Gabrielle Marchan"

travel illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

Greece: Europe’s Next, Best Expat Haven

By: International Living

Greece is positioning itself to be Europe’s next, best expat haven, according to the overseas experts at International Living, who say that as a travel destination or live-abroad base, Greece should be on North Americans’ radar. In addition to offering warm weather year-round and easy low-cost living —Greece’s new digital nomad visa coming soon will make it easier for people working remotely to stay for extended periods and even gain citizenship and a passport. What’s more, Greece’s borders are set to open to international travelers May 14, 2021.

Greece offers an enthralling mixture of sun-drenched islands, towering mountains, buzzing cities, and timeless traditions. Wrapped in the warm embrace of the Aegean Sea, it’s vibrant, welcoming, and offers great-value living for North American expats. A couple could live comfortably there for as little as $2,000 a month, according to International Living.

“We’ve seen a sharp uptick in online traffic to our Greece content in 2021, with the overall traffic to our Greece pages up 41% in the first three months of 2021, when compared to the last period (Oct-Dec) of 2020,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living.

“The appetite for on-the-ground Greece intel has increased, and we’re happy to see that because this is a nation that can make good sense for all sorts of expats—younger, older, full-time or part-time. If you like the idea of a travel-rich life in Europe, Greece could make a very good base.”

Exploration in Greece will be a possibility again as soon as May 14, 2021 when, according to the Greece tourism minister, the borders are set to open to international travelers who show proof of vaccination, covid-19 antibodies, or a negative test result taken within 72 hours of departure.

Greece offers expats easy, good-value living in the sun. After 15 years in San Francisco where she worked as a Certified Public Accountant, IL contributor Lynn Roulo moved to Greece—with her dog, her two cats, and one suitcase in tow.

“I moved without a local job or a significant relationship waiting for me in Athens, so it was a big step into the unknown,” says Roulo. “But it didn’t feel scary or anxiety-provoking. The idea of moving and starting a fresh new life energized me. That was in 2012, and I still feel a sense of excitement that I get to live here.

“When I moved from San Francisco to Athens, I was pleasantly shocked to learn I could rent a comfortable 70-meter apartment with a modern bathroom and kitchen, as well as a huge private roof deck with a view of the Parthenon for less money than it would have cost me to rent a studio basement apartment in the worst neighborhood in San Francisco.

“Greece is a great choice for expats because of its amazing weather, hospitable people, its relatively low cost of living and its location, giving visitors easy access to travel to a wide range of other countries. You can go to London or Lebanon for a long weekend.”

“And if you have a dream to move, don’t give up on it. These dreams come from somewhere, and moving abroad may just be the best decision of your entire life. I know it was for me.”

Greece already has in place a “Golden Visa,” (effectively an investment visa) which grants long-term residence—with a path to citizenship and a passport—to people who make an investment in real estate valued at EUR250,000 (roughly $300,000) or higher. That’s about half the investment threshold required for a similar visa in places like Portugal or Italy where the necessary investment is closer to $600,000.

Most exciting, though, is a new visa aimed at attracting digital nomads, set to come online soon, the editors at International Living report. They argue it makes very good sense for a person who has the flexibility to work remotely and likes the idea of a sunny European base.

“Finally—a remote worker incentive plan that actually makes a lot of sense,” says Jeff D. Opdyke, editor of Global Intelligence Letter, a publication of International Living.

The new plan that Greece is now in the process of assembling…it looks to be one of the smartest remote-worker visas I’ve come across. That’s because under the Greek plan as currently envisioned, a ‘digital migrant,’ as the Greeks call us, will be eligible for a 50% exemption on earned income for the first seven years. In essence, you owe local taxes on only half your income.

For someone who’s still in the workforce and looking to maximize their savings opportunities as they approach retirement, sharply reducing your tax burden for seven years represents an intriguing opportunity to squirrel away more money.

“Though Greece hasn’t finalized details of its plan yet, the Greek approach looks to allow for longer living arrangements, given the seven years of tax breaks. And it just so happens that ‘long-term migrants,’ which is what you’d be as a digital worker, are eligible for Greek citizenship after seven years. Which means you could apply for a Greek passport…which is an E.U. passport…which would give you unfettered access to live and work across the rest of the European Union, no different than if you were moving from Tampa to Tucson.”

A person considering a move to Greece will want to carefully research the options for visas and residence permits. International Living’s report details the best of them for expats looking for a full- or part-time retirement in Greece, including a discussion of this new digital nomad visa on the horizon.

But accessible residence is just one of the many reasons to love living in Greece. It’s an easy place to adopt a healthy lifestyle, the entire country is physically breathtaking, and the Greek people have a well-earned reputation for being friendly, helpful, and genuinely caring.

Here are four more reasons why International Living recommends Greece as a potential destination for anybody ready to move out of the U.S.:

1.     Good-Value Cost of Living

Greece is super-affordable, especially when compared to North America and much of the rest of Europe. Prices for daily essentials (food, transport, etc.) are at least 20% cheaper than in the U.S., and costs to rent an apartment can be as much as 70% less.

Throughout Greece, expats will save money by using public transport, avoiding touristy areas, shopping at local markets, and eating out where the Greeks do. A budget-conscious expat can live comfortably in Greece for $1,830 a month or less.

2.     Welcoming and Easy Lifestyle

Greece is a proud nation that emphasizes family, tradition, and a love of the outdoors. Because tourism plays such an important part in the Greek economy, English is widely spoken in many areas and the country’s infrastructure caters well for locals and visitors alike.

Expats enjoy lots of options in terms of lifestyle: from a sturdy lakefront cabin in the mountains, to a rooftop apartment on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, to a low-maintenance beachfront unit on Mykonos, residents are guaranteed plenty of sunshine and four distinct (though mild) seasons—even though the Greeks tend to think in terms of ‘summer and everything else’.

3.     Excellent Healthcare

The quality of medical care in Greece is generally excellent, especially in major centers like Athens and Thessaloniki. Emergency healthcare in Greece is free regardless of nationality. Pharmacies are abundant throughout the country—Greece has more pharmacists per capita than any other nation in Europe.

4.     Safety

Greece is one of the safest countries in Europe, and has an easy-going, relaxed feel.

Roulo, based in Athens, says, “As a single woman, I feel very safe living here. Crime here is significantly lower than in the United States, the police presence is strong, and there is no need for ‘active shooter’ drills in Greece.”

Basic precautions with regard to personal belongings will prevent rare cases of petty theft.

About International Living

Since 1979, InternationalLiving has been the leading authority for anyone looking for global retirement or relocation opportunities. Through its monthly magazine and related e-letters, extensive website, podcasts, online bookstore, and events held around the world, InternationalLiving provides information and services to help its readers live better, travel farther, have more fun, save more money, and find better business opportunities when they expand their world beyond their own shores. Their website has more than 200 contributors traveling the globe, investigating the best opportunities for travel, retirement, real estate, and investment.

travel illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

Tourism Trends in 2021

What’s Ahead for Travel and Tourism? 5 Trends to Look For in 2021 and Beyond

By: Stefan Read, SVP Engagement Advisory and Strategy Practice Lead at Jackman

As vaccines continue to roll out and people begin to see a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, many consumers are starting to think of travel. A recent survey by CivicScience found that as of March 2021, nearly 6 in 10 US adults say they’d be willing to travel in the next five months. This is very promising, but much has changed in the past year and several aspects of consumer behavior have been permanently altered. In order to succeed in the new post-Covid world, travel and hospitality brands must understand the new and emerging trends impacting this industry. Below are the top trends and customer behaviors that we will see in 2021 and beyond as travel begins to ramp up again.

  1. Cleanliness: Unsurprisingly, travelers now say that cleanliness is their top priority when selecting hotels and flights. In November 2020, Booking declared that short-term or holiday rentals have to meet a minimum cleanliness standard by May 2021, or have their properties delisted. Airbnb and VRBO created new cleaning procedures for hosts to follow in the pandemic. Even after the pandemic ends, cleanliness will remain top of mind for travelers as the anxiety around COVID and other illnesses have now become part of our new reality. Travel and hospitality brands can do their part by communicating detailed and specific information with travelers about the cleaning procedures they have in place, and making sure the procedures can be clearly observed by guests. Hotels and property hosts should also adjust their change and refund policies to allow guests to cancel at the last minute in case of a future outbreak. Brands that prioritize the health and well-being of guests over profits will win when it comes to customer loyalty and safety.
  2. Wellness Tourism: Cleanliness goes hand in hand with wellness, and wellness tourism will keep growing over the next couple of years as people continue to seek out travel for the purpose of promoting health and well-being through physical, psychological, or spiritual activities. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism will be worth $919 billion by 2022, representing 18 percent of all tourism globally. Brands should start to think about what services or experiences they can create or enhance that will attract these wellness travelers, such as transforming outdoor spaces to become open air yoga studios or hiring meditation or massage experts available for guests to utilize during their stay.
  3. Staying Close to Home: It’s no surprise that during the pandemic traveler preferences shifted toward the familiar. Backpacking through Europe was no longer feasible, so travelers instead opted for domestic destinations and were more thorough in their planning. A recent AirBnB survey revealed that 56 percent of consumers prefer a domestic or local destination and one in five Americans say they want their destination to be within driving distance of home. As a result, road trips will boom – in fact, 59 percent of families say they’re more likely to drive than fly on their next trip. Smaller hotels can compete with the big hotel chains by highlighting the local aspect of their experience and engaging meaningfully with the community they’re in. They might also consider banding together to help people plan fun road trips along specific routes. Travel and hospitality brands can help take some of the anxiety off of travelers by playing a more active role in the planning aspect of the guests’ travel.
  1. Traveling to Connect: The door is open for brands to play a more meaningful role in the travel plans for customers as Airbnb anticipates 2021 being the year of “meaningful travel.” It’s not the act of getting on a plane, standing in long line ups, and visiting crowded tourist attractions that people miss about travel. Rather, it’s the element of social connection – reuniting with old friends, spending time with family, and experiencing something new with loved ones. For a significant percentage of AirBnB survey respondents, their definition of meaningful travel has changed since the pandemic to become even more focused on being with loved ones. These people also say they intend to travel more after the pandemic, with nearly one in two (46%) saying they will travel more for pleasure, such as by going on vacation and to visit family. Brands should consider helping with family reunion planning and continue to be mindful of ways to bring families together while still maintaining a clean and safe environment.
  2. Eco-Tourism: Defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves education,” eco-tourism is on the rise. Consumers are taking on the role of “concerned citizens” demanding responsible travel policies, and we’re seeing a shift in behavior and sentiment toward appreciating the earth and what it has to offer. Moving forward, people will be thinking more mindfully about the way they travel, why they travel, and where they go. Rather than trying to fit as many destinations as possible into one trip, many consumers will opt for longer stays, choosing to get to know the local communities, cultures, cuisines, and landscapes.

The world of travel and tourism has been forever altered by the pandemic and lockdowns. With some valuable insights into how customer behaviors and desires have changed, travel and hospitality brands can find new, creative ways to appeal to travelers. The five trends listed above are a great place to start when looking to understand the ways these industries will continue to change moving into 2021 and beyond.

travel illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for 360 Magazine

Beijing’s Tourism Revenue Drop

Beijing’s Tourism Revenue Dropped by 53% in 2020 – Loss of Over ¥330B 

The tourism industry was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the city of Beijing saw the momentum of the industry halted in 2020. Beijing had become an increasingly popular tourist destination prior to the pandemic with revenue from inbound tourism recorded at $5.16B in 2019. According to data presented by TradingPlatforms, Beijing’s total revenue from tourism decreased by over 53% in 2020 for a staggering loss of ¥330B, or $50B.

Beijing Revenue From Tourism Dropped By Over $50B After Years Of Growth

China has long moved on from its isolationist policies and has encouraged the mainland as a travel destination for tourists. Revenue from China’s tourism sector grew at a strong 13.8% CAGR from 2010-2019 to ¥5.7T, or almost $880B. In 2019, China was the fourth most visited country by foreign tourists with 65.7M arrivals for the year.

Beijing is one of the leading tourist destinations in China, and the city has been enjoying the growth of the tourism sector until the pandemic of 2020 hit. From 2016-2019, Beijing’s tourism revenue experienced a 5.53% CAGR, rising to a value of ¥622.7B in 2019. However, COVID-19 shut borders around the world, crippling global mobility and disrupting the momentum built up by Beijing’s tourism industry. Beijing’s revenue from tourism dropped over 53% in 2020 to just over ¥291.

Beijing suffered a staggering loss in revenue, specifically in inbound tourism, where revenue dropped from $5.16B in 2019 to just $480M in 2020.

COVID-19 Hit China Early – Caused Massive Disruption in H1 of 2020

China felt the effects of COVID-19 before much of the rest of the world did. A clear example of this is in the drop in weekly Airbnb bookings from the period between January 5th to March 7th. This drop occurred when the coronavirus was just becoming news to the rest of the world of what was happening in various parts of China. Beijing experienced a dizzying 96% drop in weekly Airbnb bookings compared to just 46% in Seoul and 29% in Tokyo in this time period.

The number of domestic tourists is estimated to have dropped by as much as 62% in the first half of 2020 compared to the year prior, with revenues dropping by as much as 77%. By the end of the year, China had experienced a 43% drop in domestic tourists and a 52% drop in revenue from domestic tourism.

Tourism in China Projected To Completely Recover Within 5 Years

In 2019, the absolute economic contribution of tourism in China was estimated at $1.67T. This fell sharply to just $745.5B in 2020-a decrease of more than 55%, but still the largest in Asia and the second-largest overall, after the USA. However, projections have the figure bouncing back up by over 40.5% in 2021 to $1.04T. The figure is projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels for the first time in 2023, when the absolute economic contribution of tourism is projected to be at $1.75T.

Despite the turmoil of 2020, China’s absolute economic contribution from tourism is projected to have an impressive CAGR of 20.75% from 2021-2025, reaching more than $2.67T by the end of the forecast period.

You can read more about the story with more statistics and information on TradingPlatforms’ website.

 

 

ski scene by Gabrielle Marchan for use by 360 Magazine

Camelback Catastrophe

By: Emily Bunn

Camelback Ski Resort in Tannersville, PA has been long known to ski enthusiasts around the tri-state area as a winter wonderland. That is, until last weekend, when a ski lift malfunction resulted in the injury of a father and his two children. The victims, who remain unnamed, were plummeted off the Sullivan Express Lift approximately 15 ft into the snowy mountain side while approaching the top of the mountain at around 3:30 pm on Sunday, March 21.

Liftblog reports that “A local dispatch log notes a call came in at 3:39 pm for a 40 year old male with back and hip injury, a 12 year old male with an arm injury and a 9 year old female with an abdominal injury.” All three involved victims were taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s University Health Network.

Newswatch 16 talked to bystander Douglas Mackie, who had been riding just one seat behind the malfunctioning seat of the affected family. Mackie remarked on the incident:

It sounded like they hit the pole. I heard this sound, and they went flying, and the whole gondola came right off the cable”… “It hit the ground, and the kids were screaming, and I remember the screams. It was bad. I just remember that the most. I mean, it was these two little kids. It was a lot.

Mackie, who was accompanied by his 12-year old son, reflected on the harrowing accident to WFMZ: “I can’t stop seeing that. I just hear the kids. I’m never going to forget what I heard.”

Mackie had kindly allowed for the family involved in the lift accident to cut in line before him, and reflects that without that tiny, instantaneous decision, he and his own son could have fallen victim to injury.

Despite the fact, FOX56 reports that Mackie remains in support of Camelback Mountain and will be returning to the mountain:

“God bless Camelback they did a great job. [There was] all of a sudden a swarm of Camelback people there to assist. Sure, I promise you when I get on a lift I will be thinking about it, there will never be a time when I get on a lift I’ll think this is 100 percent safe, but I’m not gonna stop living.”

Liftblog provided insight into the specifics of the involved lift’s safety record: “The lift involved is a 1995 Doppelmayr detachable quad with DS series grips. It operates in winter as well as summer for water park operations. While Doppelmayr detachable lifts have an excellent safety record, other instances of chairs falling have occurred.

The managing director of Camelback Resort, Shawn Hauver, commented on the incident:

We are devastated by the weekend’s events on the Sullivan Lift and our hearts go out to the family involved. We thank you for your patience as we continue to conduct a thorough investigation. In the meantime, the Sullivan Lift remains closed.”

Some speculation has been garnered online, as the resort didn’t publicly issue a statement until 24 hours after the event on Monday morning, after the resort had already opened.

The ski resort has posted a statement on Facebook stating that “Camelback Resort is working with the appropriate state authorities to investigate yesterday’s incident involving the Sullivan lift. The health and safety of our guests and associates is and remains our number one priority.”

The Sullivan lift remains closed as of Tuesday, March 23 until further notice.

Rolls-Royce illustration by Gabrielle Marchan for 360 MAGAZINE

Tips for Getting a Job Related to Pop Culture

If you know a lot about pop culture, you might have considered working in the field before. When it comes to getting a job, having a lot of knowledge will give you an advantage over your competitors as long as you know the right way to use it. Believe it or not, there are many chances to start a new career, especially if you’re considering integrating graphic design or writing. 

Preparing to Start a New Career

No matter what field you’re considering entering, having the right training can boost your resume. So, before you start applying to jobs, consider getting a degree in your chosen field. For example, if you’re thinking about going into writing, you might major in journalism or English. And if graphic design appeals to you more, get the training you need with a graphic design degree. Many times, students worry about paying for school, and other times, students are lucky enough to receive their parents’ help. For parents who take out Parent PLUS loans to help their children go to college, the good news is that these loans can be refinanced, leading to a reduced interest rate and the possibility of paying off their debts sooner. That’s why you might want to look into taking out a private student loan. Before signing the papers, it’s a good idea to do your research. For example, consider using a student loan repayment calculator to estimate what your monthly payments may be. That’ll help you create a realistic repayment plan, so your debt doesn’t overwhelm you.

Writing and Pop Culture

If you’re interested in writing, you might have a successful career path. For example, you could work as a freelance or staff writer and write about celebrities. Or you could be a content creator and create pieces for pop culture blogs. If you want to do more serious work, consider working in journalism. You may be able to create pieces on famous actors or other celebrities. If writing doesn’t appeal to you, consider going into editing, where you help the pieces created by others flow smoothly. You might feel that you’re interested in this job, but you may not want to leave your current job. Or you may still be in school and want to see what the career involves. You may consider working part-time as a freelancer, so you gain some experience. That’ll help you decide if this career is for you.

Graphic Design

You might decide that graphic design fits your skills better. If that’s the case, you could choose a career that involves making logos for pop culture events or making covers for magazines. You could also make posters for events or movies. And you could even get a job that includes making memes for social media accounts. If you study graphic design in college, you’ll get the skills you need to be successful. And if you decide not to go to college, you can still find online courses to get the experience you need. 

Tips for Success

It’s easy to tell yourself that a job doing freelance writing or creating logos isn’t an important job and doesn’t relate to your career goals. But this is not the case. For example, if you can create a social media post that goes viral, you’re already on the path to success. No matter what you ultimately want to achieve, it’s important to begin small. So, if your end goal is to work at an important magazine creating art, you’ll have to focus on getting the needed experience and skills first.

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Marsha's House in the Bronx for 360 MAGAZINE.

Marsha’s House: Shelter for LGBTQ+

In Greenwich Village near where Stonewall Inn resides, a monument will be built to honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, trailblazers and history-makers for the LGBTQ+ community. Marsha P. Johnson was a black transgender woman and drag queen, whose outspoken activism and radical vision during the Gay Liberation Movement continues to inspire people today.

A monument isn’t the only place bearing her memory. Marsha’s House- operated by the nonprofit Project Renewal- opened on February 15, 2017 to continue to serve the community as Marsha did, by taking in homeless LGBTQ+ young adults. With the added risks and discrimination that they face, Marsha’s House seeks to provide valuable resources and shelter to these LGBTQ+ youth.

According to a report done by the National Institutes of Health, around 62% of homeless LGBTQ+ youth have faced discrimination from their families. Jazmine Pérez, Program Director of Marsha’s House, stressed the importance of having a “safe space dedicated to [LGBTQ+ homeless youth]” as “New York City had never had housing tailored to their needs.”

These youth face particular adversities that are further complicated when alternative housing options do not have the facilities to aid them, or are outright discriminatory towards them. A study done by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows that 41% of homeless and runaway LGBTQ+ adolescents they interviewed have major depression, in comparison to 28% of homeless heterosexual adolescents interviewed.

 Marsha’s House boasts a variety of programs catered towards some of the issues that LGBTQ+ individuals face. Pérez outlines services which include “referrals to legal supportive services, education, healthcare, and employment programs.”

Additionally, clients that come to Marsha’s House are assured personalized living arrangements that assist each individual in finding employment and housing. “Our Case Managers and Peer Counselors meet with clients to ensure compliance with their individual living plan. They work closely with our Job Developer, Vocational Counselor, and Housing Coordinator to secure employment and housing.”

Concerns over Covid-19 pandemic are ever prevalent in the context of shared living facilities, like homeless shelters. However, Marsha’s House eases some of this concern by screening potential clients for the virus, enforcing social distancing, and cutting down accommodation from 81 beds to 60 in its 5-floor-walk-up facility. The facility maintains 20 rooms of various sizes, from single rooms to larger rooms that accommodate up to 6 people.

But Covid-19 hasn’t been the only adversity Marsha’s House has faced in recent years. The Trump administration has continued to be a source of disparaging policies and remarks against the LGBTQ+ community. On July 23, 2020, the Department of Housing and Urban Development formally announced a proposal that would reverse the 2012 Equal Access Rule, which warrants protection for homeless transgender people against discrimination by homeless shelters and other federally funded alternative housing. 

This comes as a setback and large blow to the transgender community. A 2015 survey done by The National Center for Transgender Equality shows that “70% of respondents who stayed in a shelter in the past year reported some form of mistreatment, including being harassed, sexually or physically assaulted, or kicked out because of being transgender.” The HUD’s rollback on the Equal Access Rule would only serve to undo the progress that has been made to make homeless shelters more safe to the marginalized people that need them.

    “The rhetoric and policies of the Trump administration have disregarded the very identities of our clients and staff, especially when it comes to the intersectionality of our existence,” said Pérez. “Speaking personally, as a woman of color with trans experience, I feel like I have three strikes against me in the eyes of this administration.”

Despite these incredible challenges they face, Marsha’s House continues to receive equally incredible help- from the support coming from their progressive state of New York, to the generous donors that help fund Project Renewal, to the operations staff that help run things every single day. “Our Marsha’s House Heroes are our operations staff. As essential workers, they have not skipped a beat with reporting to work and providing the support our clients needed. Being that we are a shelter, we operate 24/7/365, and our operations staff members are always here for their full 8-hour shifts.”

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Dianne Morales for 360 MAGAZINE

Dianne Morales

As of late, one of our team members had the opportunity to sit down with New York City mayoral candidate Dianne Morales for an interview. After eight years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will see someone new in the position in 2021, and Morales, a member of the Democratic Party, is jumping at the opportunity.

360: What are the major points of inspiration throughout your life, so far, that have led you to where you are today?

Morales: At my core is a commitment to community, and I learned community at home. I am the youngest of three girls and the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. My mother, a secretary for the Leather Workers’ Union, and my father, a building manager on the waterfront, created a working-class life for us in Bed-Stuy. But our home was not just for me and my sisters. My grandmother, Mami, lived with us my whole childhood. In fact, she and I shared a bed until the day that I left home for college. Our home was a resting place, a layover, a transition point for whoever needed it. There was always someone new sleeping on the couch or joining us at the dinner table. Whether they had just arrived from Puerto Rico, were in between jobs, had just returned from the military or from being incarcerated, there were always other people staying with us while they “got back on their feet.” My parents opened their arms and their front door to whoever needed it. I never questioned this way of life. I was taught, “If you have, then you provide.” We took care of each other. I saw, firsthand, the opportunity created when we each take responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors and for our communities. This belief has spurred me on through 30 years in the public sector, as an educator, a foster care worker and a leader of nonprofits.

As I established my own home in Bed-Stuy as a single mom, my children and I recreated the dynamic my parents had built. We always have a few extra people living in our home – whom we often refer to as our “chosen family.” These extended family members have filled my home with love and reciprocal support. In a twist of fate, since the pandemic hit, I have shared my home with my parents and my children. I envision a New York City where we take care of each other, where everyone is welcome to the dinner table, where neighbors provide more support than extra sugar and all of us have a warm place to rest our heads. Although NYC is vast with diversity, we are all inextricably bound together and are only as strong as our most vulnerable link.

360: How can a mayor, as opposed to any other civic official, lead unique positive changes for equity?

Morales: Over the past several months there is a mantra I have been repeating consistently: a budget is a reflection of our values. The mayor has executive power over what gets funded in the city and by how much. Funding for services that contribute to true public safety (access to housing, medical/mental healthcare, economic stability, job training, education) will provide access and opportunity to those who have historically been left behind by our elected officials. Line by line, the budget reveals the values of a city and government. The NYC budget passed in June was a failure. It failed the residents of NYC, who have been raising their voices in protest and demanding a divestment from law enforcement since May 29. It failed those whose lives have been lost at the hands of the NYPD. It failed communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by violence and brutality.

The budget highlights the need for NYC leadership to put New Yorkers first by investing in communities. The NYC Mayor also has the ability to work to desegregate public schools and impact the quality of education provided to over 1.1 million students, many of whom are students of color living in poverty. This alters the course of a student’s life and provides an entry point to economic mobility and a true career trajectory. New Yorkers deserve a bold, transformational leader who is unapologetically committed to prioritizing justice in the budget’s bottom line. I fundamentally believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Our city needs a mayor that is in tune with her people and provides a vision for and direction for what is possible.

360: What are some of the most pressing or urgent issues that need attention within New York City, and how would you address them?

Morales: New York’s problems all stem from structural oppression by Race, Gender and Class, so our solutions must go deeper, all the way to the root causes. Too many New Yorkers are living in a time of scarcity, and that’s been going on since long before the virus hit. The are working two jobs, just barely surviving and always one misfortune away from losing everything. Instead of this “Scarcity Economy,” we need a “Solidarity Economy,” and that requires bold action. First, transforming public safety in the city by providing access to the same critical resources found in wealthy communities will be a critical step toward creating the long-term change we need for all to live in dignity. True public safety includes ensuring that every New Yorker has access to “life essentials,” like quality transportation, affordable housing, excellent and equal education and human-centered healthcare. All New Yorkers deserve access to these fundamental resources in order to live in dignity, and it is the necessary floor needed to break through glass ceilings.

Next, we must enhance and overhaul vital infrastructure requiring multi-part, creative solutions that address the deeper issues embedded in the fabric of NYC. To break the racist cycle of poverty that divides our city into the “haves” and the “have-nots,” we will establish a guaranteed minimum income. We will push for universal healthcare and eliminate inequities in the health system faced by women, and especially women of color. We will work to address the persistent segregation of our schools and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by replacing school safety officers with trained mental health professionals. The driving force behind all policy initiatives is the experiences, needs and voices of women of color. Particularly, Black women. As the Combahee River Collective wisely wrote in its 1977 statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” We know that if New York does right by Black women, the entire city will be better for it.

360: How can you use your personal experiences with serving as a single mother and observing the many other challenges that face New York City residents to enact policy reform?

Morales: So many of New York’s problems have impacted me directly, and so much of who I am and what I know comes from being a mom. My greatest joy is being the mother of my two children, Ben and Gabby. They constantly push me, teach me and nourish me. As a single parent, I share experiences with hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers. A 2018 study found that single-parent households are the second largest household type in New York City. I navigated New York City’s systems – economic, health and education – on my own. I balanced a budget for my family each month, figuring out how to make it work. My greatest challenge was parenting my children through the NYC education system. The rigid and unforgiving education that my children received did not allow any space for their learning differences. They did not see themselves in the white-centric curriculum and we struggled to find support during their developmental years. Advocating for my children was a full-time job on top of my paying-full-time-job. Again and again I have stood with parents for a more equitable and life-affirming education for our kids. It is with this same community spirit of coalition building, advocacy and bettering of our social safety nets that I will push for policies that support all types of families in NYC.

360: What is one of the most significant components of your background or experiential knowledge that separates you from any other candidate?

Morales: I am, in so many ways, the average New Yorker. I was born and bred in Bed-Stuy. I am an Afro Latina single-mom of two children who survived the New York City public school system. I am a first generation college graduate who came back home to my city after school. I am a woman of color who discovered that I was not being paid the same as my white male counterparts. I’ve watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen Starbucks replace the corner bodega, and I have spent my weekends marching side by side – 6 feet apart – with my fellow New Yorkers demanding justice for those killed at the hands of a racist policing system. Because I am the average New Yorker, my voice reflects the voices of thousands of others. We share our lived experiences, frustrations and joys. I love New York City because I see our full potential for all of us.

360: How does your previous extensive work with social service nonprofits inform your motivations and goals to serve as Mayor?

Morales: For decades, I worked within the community to address structural inequities burdening communities of color. I worked alongside those experiencing the symptoms of our broken system most acutely – poverty, lack of access to education, homelessness and mental health services. I witnessed firsthand the day-to-day struggles of New Yorkers that are perpetuated by cycles of poverty and oppression. I worked from the ground, up and from the inside, out. But as I hammered away, I recognized these structural and institutional barriers, and began to ask, “So how do we burn them down?” It felt as though I was only tinkering around the edges of the problem and providing Band-Aid solutions to deep, deep wounds. The core, perpetuating issues were centralized and foundational. I realized that if I want to create lasting, effective change, I must address these systemic and political problems at the root. As Mayor, I would carry with me the voices of those I have served.

360: In outlining your points of action and reform for New York City, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect any of these potential strides for change?

Morales: As we know, COVID-19 is a catastrophe that illuminates all of the cracks and splinters in our broken systems. At first, many claimed the COVID-19 was a “great equalizer,” affecting all people, regardless of race, class or gender. Instead COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities. This is not a coincidence or personal failing, but rather the direct result of racist systems, putting structural oppression in stark relief. While some New Yorkers are able to escape crowded areas, arm themselves with personal protective equipment and work remotely, others, namely people of color, are on the front lines providing essential services to our city.

As COVID-19 has had devastating consequences that will leave a lasting impact for years to come, it has also provided us with a unique moment. As we saw after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, being homebound and isolated forces us to pay attention. We have paused. We have slowed down. With fewer distractions and a center of focus, folks all across the country have had the veil lifted. People are noticing the interconnected webs of oppression I have lived with and that I have been fighting to dismantle my entire life. In this moment, we need leaders in office who are of, by and for the movement for social change. There is a momentum and hunger for justice that can no longer be ignored. As we overcome the challenge of the disease, I will never let the city forget who is truly essential. Together we will create a world in which front-line workers are truly valued as indispensable. A world where we accompany our applause and platitudes with a livable wage, unquestionable dignity and real community power.

360: What are some of the most rewarding takeaways you have gained from leading several momentous organizations?

Morales: I’ve learned firsthand about the barriers and challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain access to opportunities that are alleged to be available to everyone. I also have watched as community members care for one another to bridge the gaps in access to those opportunities. This is testament to the power of our communities to be true partners in determining the solutions they face when given the resources to do so. Finally, I have been able to bear witness to what is possible when people finally gain access and opportunity and how that has the potential to change the trajectory of people’s lives and transform families and communities.

360: Regarding the national and global movement, Black Lives Matter, how will you utilize your unique identity to empower minorities in the City of New York?

Morales: Like many people of color, I have lived years of my life trying not to take up space. I have seen the ways that my identities – my Blackness, my Latina roots, my politics, my womanhood – make people, namely white people, uncomfortable. In these spaces I would constantly ask myself, “Do I seem too opinionated, too articulate, too aggressive?” I would contort and deflate myself to fit into tight corners and small boxes. I would shrink myself so that others could feel big. When making the decision to run for Mayor of NYC, I decided it was important for me to run as my full, unadulterated, unapologetic, multi-hyphenated self. There would be no more shrinking, questioning or self-doubt. I recognize that by the very nature of stepping into this space, I am opening up a path of possibility. As the first Afro-Latina running for mayor of New York City, I recognize the awesome responsibility I hold. I know that when I speak, unfairly or not, I am representing all Afro-Latina women. Missteps become mass stereotypes. Accolades become communal achievements.

This is both beautiful and deeply terrifying. But in moments of fear, I am guided by a greater purpose to bring with me those whom have been devalued and made to feel small, as I have been; to elevate the voices of those with shared experiences and claim our rightful place in democracy and representation in leadership. People like me, individuals and communities of color, women of color, we must be at the forefront of our politics and policies. I am deeply committed to divesting from racist systems and investing in Black and Brown communities. I am committed to reimagining public safety on our streets and in our schools. I am committed to shifting wealth opportunities to those who have been historically marginalized. I am committed to redressing and repairing the wounds of oppression that scar our city. I am in this race to stand taller in the face of a world that tells me to shrink. I am here to tell them that Black lives are beloved. We matter today and every day forward.

360: To all of the NYC citizens following your efforts to better numerous communities, what are some of the best ways individuals can support your campaign?

Morales: The best way to help me is to join the campaign with a small contribution. I am not a career politician, and unlike other candidates, I have not spent decades cultivating a war chest of people, networks and resources to kickstart my run for mayor. I want to be responsive to the people, not the special interests.. My campaign was born out of my home in Bed-Stuy, out of conversations with my neighbors, friends and colleagues. Our campaign is 100% powered by the people, not the 1%. We are an intersectional coalition of Black and Brown, Latinx, LGBTQIA and working class New Yorkers. We are backed by the people being hit the hardest at this moment in time. I am so incredibly humbled that in the middle of a pandemic, without employment, people are finding a way to donate to our campaign. I know what is at stake and the choices they have had to make to do so. If donating to our campaign is not possible for you during this financially uncertain time, we understand. Visit my website, dianne.nyc, for information and volunteer opportunities. Spread our mission to your fellow New Yorkers. Reach out to join our team. Remember me in November 2021.

To learn more about Dianne Morales, you can click right here. To learn more about her stances and solutions, you can click right here. To support Morales through donations, you can click right here. You can also support her on Twitter and Instagram.