Posts tagged with "Georgia"

Camino Press Photo by Def Jam Recordings for use by 360 Magazine

Camino QxA

Camino, an Atlanta-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, is an inspirational, soulful pop and R&B powerhouse with his debut EP, Burning Fire, to be released on April 23. Burning Fire regales the tale of Camino’s past­– both painful and joyous­­­–as he struggled with homelessness after his move from Mississippi to Atlanta, followed his tenacious passion for music, and eventually landed an impressive record deal with Def Jam Recordings. Camino’s music is authentic, invigorating, and raw­. Here at 360 Magazine, we sat down with Camino to discuss how he found inspiration to pursue music in his darkest moments, dream music collaborations, and the upcoming release of his full-length album.

1. What response are you anticipating when your EP, Burning Fire, drops? 

Honestly, I don’t know. I obviously hope the response is amazing, but I honestly don’t know. I just hope people like it and find a way to connect to it.

2. How would you describe the sound of Burning Fire in three words? 

Cinematic, anthemic and vulnerable   

3. Who was your biggest musical inspiration in writing Burning Fire?

My aunt and uncle inspired the song, and it is about them and their story. But musically, Imagine Dragons and Adele, most definitely.  

4. What kept you going to pursue music when it may have felt like the odds were stacked against you? 

God and faith. I know I’m meant to do music. It’s the only thing I’m good at and it’s the only thing that makes me truly happy­­­­–like truly to my core happy.   

 

5. Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with? 

Billie Eilish, Adele, Sam Smith and Lewis Capaldi are all incredible. I’d love to collaborate with any of them. 

6. Did your move from Mississippi to Atlanta influence the music you were listening to and drawing inspiration from? 

Yes, absolutely. Coming from a small city like Jackson, Mississippi compared to Atlanta, Georgia was such a huge leap for me. It gave me more confidence to write the songs I wrote and instilled the passion in me to create the songs I did.  


7. How are you feeling about already being signed such a notable label as Def Jam Recordings? Incredible. God is the greatest. Def Jam is home. They are incredible and provide every resource I need. Shoutout to my team I LOVE Y’ALL!   

8. Looking ahead, do you have more plans for releasing any other music in 2021?  

Yes, full-length album coming. That is my true masterpiece. Just stay tuned–I’m so excited to share with the world.

Transgender Sports illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam

NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam facilitators publish open letter condemning anti-transgender legislation

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam, a group of NCAA- trained facilitators at colleges across the country published an open letter condemning the actions taken by 28 states across the country to introduce, pass, and sign anti-transgender legislation. 2021 has been a record year for anti-transgender legislation, with 93 anti-transgender bills introduced across the country, the vast majority of which attempt to ban transgender women and girls’ participation in girls’ sports or ban transgender youth from accessing medically necessary, gender-affirming health care.

Laws have been signed banning transgender women and girls’ participation in girls’ sports in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, with Executive Orders being signed to the same effect in South Dakota.  Legislators across the country have failed to provide examples of issues in their states to attempt to justify these attacks, laying bare the reality that these are attacks on transgender youth that are fueled by discrimination and not supported by fact.  Collegiate and professional sports organizations have had trans-inclusive policies for years without incident, and there is no reason any state would need a ban on transgender participation in sports.

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam open letter reads as follows:

An Open Letter in Support of Transgender Student-Athletes

We, the undersigned, are facilitators of the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA)Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program, which is a national training program that fosters LGBTQ+ inclusion in NCAA Division III athletics, and members of the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ Working Group. Given the recent rise in legislation that is focused on excluding transgender people from athletics across the country, we have decided to use our collective voice to condemn such actions. We call on elected officials across the country to immediately halt legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport.

In our role with the NCAA’s LGBTQ OneTeam Program, we train coaches, athletics administrators, and student-athletes across the whole of Division III athletics. This program is aimed at helping to understand the importance of LGBTQ inclusion in college athletics, while also identifying strategies and best practices for institutions and conferences to better ensure that all student-athletes–regardless of their sexuality, gender identity, and/or gender expression–can participate in an inclusive and safe athletic climate. We cannot, in good conscience, fail to speak out at this critical moment.

In the past several weeks, actions–which are aimed at excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport–have been taken by elected officials inseveral states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. At the time of this writing, the Governors ofArkansas,Idaho,Mississippi, andTennessee have already signed such dangerous legislation into law. 

Legislation aimed at categorically banning transgender people–and particularly transgender girls and women–from sport is inherently discriminatory. Such legislation is often “informed” by hate and misinformation rather than science, and it is most certainly “informed” byfear instead of fact. Conversely, trans-inclusive policies, such as those established by theNCAA and theInternational Olympic Committee (IOC), are better informed by the current scientific evidence, and this evidence shows that transgender women do not have an inherent competitive advantage over cisgender women.

Furthermore, discriminatory legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender people from sport has a number ofserious consequences for transgender students. Such legislation dehumanizes transgender students, refuses them the opportunity to participate equally and equitably in athletics, undermines their support in educational settings, damages their mental health, and ultimately harms these students, while also contributing to an exclusionary athletic environment and a more hostile school climate for all students.

We immediately call for 1) an end to such legislation in all states and 2) a repeal of such laws in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, and Tennessee. And finally, we also encourage our legislators to better consider theNCAA best practices and importance of an inclusive athletic environment for all student-athletes.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

Timothy R. Bussey, Ph.D.

Pronouns: they/them

Associate Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Kenyon College

Kayla Hayes, M.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dept. of Athletics | Denison University

Kyrstin Krist, Ph.D.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Faculty Athletic Representative | Methodist University

Melynda Link, M.B.A.

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletic Facilities & Game Day Operations, Dept. of Athletics | Haverford College

Kathleen M. Murray

Pronouns: she/her

President, Office of the President | Whitman College

Jess Duff

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Services & Internal Operations Dept. of Athletics | Bates College

Jessica Weiss

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Randolph-Macon College

Jennifer Dubow

Pronouns: she/her

Executive Director | Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)

Maura Johnston

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Fairleigh Dickinson University

Scott McGuiness

Pronouns: no pronouns

Director of Athletics, Dept. of Athletics | Washington & Jefferson College

Danielle Lynch, M.S.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Track and Field/Cross Country Coach Athletic Department | Penn State University – Harrisburg

Melissa Walton

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Associate Athletic Director Athletic Department | Albion College

Amy Reed

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dept. of Athletics | Rochester Institute of Technology

Donna M. Ledwin

Pronouns: she/her

Commissioner | Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC)

Donnesha Blake, Ph.D.

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Dept. of Student Affairs | Alma College

Tim Wilson

Pronouns: he/him

Assistant Track and Field Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Stevens Institute of Technology

Anne Kietzman

Pronouns: she/her

Head Field Hockey Coach, Dept. of Athletics | Washington College

Ashley Crossway, D.A.T., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Clinical Education Dept. of Kinesiology | SUNY Cortland

Melissa Brooks

Pronouns: she/her

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Athletic Department | Fairleigh Dickinson University – Florham 

Tiffany Thompson

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Director of Gender and Sexuality Initiatives, Intercultural Center | Swarthmore College

Kirsten Clark

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Athletic Director, Dept. of Athletics and Recreation | Clark University

Kate Levin

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Sports Information Director Dept. of Athletics | Ramapo College

Cori Collinsworth

Pronouns: she/her

Head Softball Coach, Athletic Department | Hanover College

Bethany Dannelly

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Director of Athletics, Dept. of Physical Education and Athletics | Washington and Lee University

Jennifer Childress-White, M.Ed.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director and University Title IX Coordinator Dept. of Athletics | Pacific Lutheran University

Elise Fitzsimmons, M.S., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Trainer, Dept. of Athletics| SUNY Oswego 

Amanda Walker

Pronouns: she/her

Athletic Program Coordinator Athletics Department | Lake Forest College

Danielle O’Leary

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Athletics Department | Mount Aloysius College

Crystal Lanning

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletics, Dept. of Athletics | University of Wisconsin – River Falls

Neil Virtue

Pronouns: he/him

Assistant Director of Athletics and Head Swimming Coach | Dept. of Athletics, P.E., and Recreation Mills College

Jose’ Rodriguez, M.Ed.

Pronouns: he/him

Chief Diversity Officer, Office of University Diversity Initiatives | Cabrini University

Karen Moberg, M.Ed., L.A.T., A.T.C.

Pronouns: she/her

Associate Athletic Trainer, Athletic Department | Macalester College

Yishka Chin

Pronouns: she/her

Coordinator for Tutoring Services and Trailblazer Program Director, Dept. of Student Success | Notre Dame of Maryland University

Renee Bostic

Pronouns: she/her

Director of Athletics & Wellness Dept. of Athletics & Wellness | Notre Dame of Maryland University

Megan Cullinane

Pronouns: she/her

Assistant Athletic Director and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Athletics Dept. of Athletics and Recreation | University of Massachusetts – Boston

Maureen Harty

Pronouns: she/her

Executive Director | College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW)

Stephanie Dutton

Pronouns: she/her

Commissioner | North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC)

Sharia Marcus-Carter

Pronouns: she/her

Senior Woman Administrator and Director of Compliance, Athletics Department | Brooklyn College

Agriculture illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

USDA Announces Investment

USDA Announces $218 Million Investment in Land and Water Conservation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the USDA Forest Service will invest more than $218 million to fund Great American Outdoors Act projects to conserve critical forest and wetland habitat, support rural economic recovery, and increase public access to national forests and grasslands.

Leveraging the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provided by Congress, this investment will improve public access by funding strategic land acquisitions. Funds will also support work with state agencies to encourage private forest landowners to protect their land through conservation easements or land purchases.

“These investments reflect President Biden’s commitment to supporting locally-led conservation efforts from coast to coast and to honoring and building on the proud private land stewardship traditions of farmers, ranchers, and forest owners,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The investments will not only protect our natural heritage, but they will also create jobs, expand access to the outdoors, and help tackle climate change.”

The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs: The Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition program. Together, these programs conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests on both private and public lands. The Forest Service will invest more than $94 million to fund 28 projects under the Forest Legacy Program and $123 million to fund Land Acquisition Program projects, including projects for recreation access and other needs.

Land Acquisition Program highlights include:

  • $6.4 million in FY 2021 to acquire 8,590 acres for the Lolo Trails Project in Montana. This project aims to mitigate the effects of climate change by providing the cold water that federally listed bull trout and other species need to sustain healthy populations in a warming climate.
  • $3.7 million to acquire 1,550 acres in the Yakima River Basin for the Washington Cascades Project. Supported by a wide coalition of public, private and non-profit partners, this project seeks to ensure a long-term water supply in the face of climate change.

Forest Legacy Program highlights include:

  • Protecting 12,500 acres of habitat, water and timber on the Ceylon Forest in Georgia. 2.5 million people depend on the Ceylon for drinking water that flows from and through the forest. As a working forest, the Ceylon supports a local wood-based economy that includes 121 mills, with a $1.69 million payroll impact. Once completed, the area will also become part of a much larger Wildlife Management Area and serve as an ideal hunting and fishing destination for sportsmen across the Southeast.
  • The East Grand-Weston in Maine builds on a century-old tradition of sustainable forestry and expands recreation opportunities over more than 4,300 acres. The property supports a thriving local recreation industry by protecting lands, waters and trails while also providing sustainable wood products to up to 15 mills. The property will remain in private hands while continuing to be managed for public benefits.
  • The second phase of the Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project will permanently protect nearly 28,000 acres of land in northwest Montana. The project area belongs to the Stimson Lumber Company and contributes to the local economy while allowing free public access as a recreation destination for hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, snowmobiling and more. The project will also protect the area from further residential development, reducing future firefighting costs by more than half.

Background

The Forest Service has been administering LWCF projects since 1964 along with the Department of the Interior. The fund supports Forest Service-led conservation projects including acquisition of critical non-federal lands within the boundaries of national forests and grasslands. Now, with full and permanent funding through the Dingell Act and the Great American Outdoors Act, the Forest Service is poised to strengthen its conservation program and provide greater recreation access to national forests and grasslands.

The agency worked with partners, considered multiple criteria and used established competitive processes to select projects for fiscal year 2021. During the review, the agency evaluated the environmental, social, and economic benefits of proposed projects and whether they contributed to other conservation initiatives. The Forest Service also considered local recreation access needs, the level of local support for strategic land acquisitions and how likely it would be for project areas to be converted to non-forest uses.

For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act and related projects, visit the website.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration under Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit USDA.

No More Hate illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Atlanta Shooting

By: Carly Cohen × Heather Skovlund

Early this week, a tragedy had occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. A total of eight victims were killed at the Georgia spa. Six of the eight victims were Asian, and when the suspect got caught, he claimed that “his actions were not racially motivated.” It was stated that it was too soon in the investigation to claim this shooting as a hate crime; however, the shootings were “aimed at a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.” The suspect claimed that apparently “sex addition” drove him to commit these murders.

There were multiple incidents: the first occurred at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in a mall off Highway ninety-two, about thirty miles north of Atlanta. When the police got the call, five people were shot, and two were dead while three were rushed to the hospital. An hour later, after this tragedy, two other shootings happened right across the street- one being on Piedmont, the other at the Gold Spa and Aromatherapy.

There were seven women and one man; most of them were Asian. The victims have been identified as Delainia Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.

Yaun and her husband, Mario Gonalez, were off work getting a couples massage at Young’s Asian Massage when the tragedy started. Her husband safely made it out of the salon, but he and his wife were in separate rooms when the shooting was started. They had a family together; a thirteen-year-old son and an infant daughter. It is sad to say that this woman was a victim in this shooting that not one person deserved -separating families, taking parents, taking siblings. It is a terrible, terrible thing that no one deserved. John Beck, Yaun’s manager, voiced to BuzzFeed News that “her heart was so big.” She would feed homeless people and offer them clothes and a place to shower. Hearing a person who is so kind and so pure as Yaun makes you ask the question, “why do bad things happen to good people.” It doesn’t make sense and is not fair.

Xiaojie Tan was the owner of Young’s Asian Massage as was another victim of the attack. She was known for being an extremely hardworking small-business owner and had such a big heart filled with love and kindness. Her client, Greg Hynson, stated that when he came for an appointment on his birthday a year ago, she had a birthday cake waiting for him. Another victim, Paul Andre Micheals, was a U.S Army infantry veteran married for more than two decades. He was a “dedicated, hardworking, loving man,” his brother stated.

These killings brought a “wave of outrage and attention to violence against Asian-American people.” As soon as social media was notified of the attacks and assumed to be focused on Asian’s, you could see all over the media celebrities, influencers, and people left and right posting regarding standing up for the lost lives and spreading awareness to this hate crime and all hate crimes in general. The media has been outraged and will continue to stand together.

Georgia Comes Alive Virtual Music Festival

On Saturday, December 26th, Live For Live Music in partnership with HeadCount presented Georgia Comes Alive. The one-day virtual music festival presented performances by 50+ artists and aimed to promote voter participation in the upcoming Georgia runoff elections, taking place January 5th, 2021. Conceptualized to support local grassroots organizations like Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and CivicGeorgia, the event garnered over one million viewers, and raised over $170,000 through 8,000 individual donations (averaging $20 per donation).

The event, powered by Nugs.net and Plus1, was the latest virtual festival from the team behind Democracy Comes Alive, Quarantine Comes Alive, and Justice Comes Alive, events which collectively raised close to $300,000 for various charitable causes and garnered nearly two million views.

As with past Comes Alive events, the lineup of performers throughout the day spanned an eclectic range of genres, presenting everything from bluegrass to singer-songwriters, neo-soul to rock n’ roll, funk, R&B, electronic, and more. Highlights included the debut of The Lame Ducks, a one-off supergroup project featuring Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Company), and Jay Lane (Wolf Bros, Primus); collaborative sets including Phil Lesh & Friends and R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills with BIG Something; long-running musical institutions like Blind Boys of Alabama and Preservation Hall Jazz Band; dance music sets by Diplo and Big Gigantic; and a range of hit-making artists, Grammy winners, and cult favorites from across the musical spectrum including Dave Matthews, Foo Fighters, Big Freedia, Nathaniel Rateliff, Ben Folds, The Revivalists, Chuck Leavell (The Rolling Stones), Tank and the Bangas, Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), Musiq Soulchild, Amos Lee, Bobby Rush, Warren Haynes, Portugal. The Man, Samantha Fish, Grouplove, and Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers).

While live music dominated the nine-hour event, some of the day’s biggest highlights came during the many illuminating guest conversations with host Ari Fink (SiriusXM). Featured speakers included Jake Sherman (Politico, MSNBC), Helen Butler (Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda), Kevin Shanker Sinha (CivicGeorgia), MaryPat Hector (HeadCount), Andy Bernstein (HeadCount), Kam Franklin (The Suffers, HeadCount), Rachel and Jessica Jackson (HeadCount), Dayna Frank and Dave Weingarden (National Independent Venue Association), Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits), and more.

Americans turned out in record numbers to vote during the 2020 elections, largely thanks to dedicated activism of grassroots organizations and the historic participation of underrepresented communities in battleground states like Georgia. Neither Georgia Senate seat garnered the 50% +1 majority vote during the general election, triggering a runoff election set to take place January 5th, 2021. While the Georgia runoffs will be decided by local voters, the results will have national implications by deciding which party controls the Senate. For more information on the specifics and implications of the Georgia Senate runoff elections, click here. Georgia residents can find information on polling places, early voting, mail-in ballots, and more here.

“Georgia Comes Alive was a work of art encapsulating the year 2020 for live music that I believe will go down as a defining moment of this period,” shares the founder of Live For Live Music and the Comes Alive event series, Kunj Shah. “The artists put so much creativity, time, and precaution into recording these segments during a pandemic whether from their own homes, by sending each part to one another remotely, carefully playing outside six feet apart with masks on, or in empty venues around the country observing safety measures like COVID testing and masking for video operators. We will hopefully never need to host an event in this manner again, but in the context of rock and roll history, Georgia Comes Alive will be remembered as the embodiment of the fortitude of live music during this unprecedented time.”

“This was an amazing end to a challenging but unforgettable year,” adds HeadCount co-founder and executive director, Andy Bernstein. “Each of the livestream performances were unique moments in history. The artistry was really apparent in each segmentߞthe musicians really put their hearts into every performance and the cause itself was at the forefront. I hope every viewer got a sense of the grassroots organizations getting the vote out in Georgia and why they are such worthy recipients of the charitable funds raised.”

Georgia Comes Alive was produced by Kunj Shah (founder, Live For Live Music), Don Strasburg(president, AEG Rocky Mountains), and Paul Peck (president, Fandiem; co-founder Okeechobee Music Festival, formerly Bonnaroo) in partnership with HeadCount, the non-partisan organization focused on voter empowerment. Committed to promoting involvement in democracy, HeadCount uses the power of music to register voters, reaching both young people and music fans where they are. Since 2004, it has registered over 600,000 voters through partnerships with touring musicians like Ariana Grande, Dead & Company, and Beyonce, to name a few, at events like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and more.

Connect with Georgia Comes Alive

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Georgia Comes Alive Featured Performances By:

The Allman Betts Band

Allman Brothers Band (archival set)

Amos Lee

Andy Frasco and the U.N.

Ben Folds

Big Freedia

Big Gigantic

Big Head Todd

Billy Strings

Blind Boys of Alabama

Bobby Rush

Chuck Leavell

Dave Matthews

Diplo

Dragon Smoke

The Foo Fighters

Fruition

Futurebirds

G. Love

Galactic

Grace Potter

Grouplove

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Houndmouth

Jackie Venson

Judith Hill

The Lame Ducks ft. Bob Weir, Dave Schools, Jeff Chimenti & Jay Lane

Lawrence

Lee Fields

Los Lobos

Midnight North

Mihali

Mike Mills ft. BIG Something

Moon Taxi

Mt. Joy

Musiq Soulchild

Nathaniel Rateliff

Nicki Bluhm

Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers)

Phil Lesh & Friends

Peter Yarrow

Portugal. The Man

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Revivalists

Roosevelt Collier

Samantha Fish

Shah

The Soul Rebels

The Suffers

Tank and the Bangas

Taylor Goldsmith (DAWES)

Warren Haynes

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

The Real Housewives of Atlanta – Returns Dec. 6th

BRAVO’S “THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA” RETURNS WITH A STEAMY SEASON ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 AT 8PM ET/PT

Coming up this season:

  • With her wedding quickly approaching, Cynthia Bailey is elated to be marrying the man of her dreams, even as they face wedding planning obstacles set in place by COVID-19. Determined to walk down the aisle, moving forward with her dream ceremony in the midst of a pandemic creates tension between Cynthia and her fiancé. Back at the ranch, Lake Bailey is a full house with Cynthia’s sister, Mal, temporarily taking residence there, leaving little alone time for the happy couple.
  • Kenya Moore’s fairytale romance continues to be on the rocks after a difficult year, but she remains determined as ever to live her life on her own terms. Still undecided about the future of her relationship, Kenya decides to reclaim her life and remodel her house – adding in the pool and cabana she’s always wanted. As she continues to delve into motherhood with her beautiful daughter Brooklyn, a budding friendship with newcomer LaToya Ali begins to develop right on time.
  • Less than a year after welcoming baby Blaze, Kandi Burruss’s life shows no signs of slowing down. Her restaurant empire continues to boom as she and Todd prepare to open an upscale steakhouse in Atlanta, but despite being as busy as ever, their personal life remains hot and heavy. As Riley prepares to leave the nest to start college in New York City, Kandi worries this may be a permanent move.
  • Porsha Williams steps into her family legacy, tirelessly lending her voice and efforts to the Black Lives Matter movement. Speaking out against systemic racism, attending protests and amplifying the message, Porsha is passionate about fighting for justice. Surrounded by the support of her mother and sister, her daughter Pilar Jhena continues to be the sunshine in Porsha’s life as her relationship takes a bit of a backseat. Porsha’s fun-loving side is always around, despite working overtime on her many business endeavors.
  • Actress and singer Drew Sidora joins the group as the newest housewife, ready to make some waves and spice things up. In addition to juggling her career, Drew has a lot on her plate as a wife and three children to care for. With her mother currently living in their house, trouble may be brewing between Drew and her husband. From getting ready to direct her first feature film to moving into her dream house, will her relationship be able to withstand her busy lifestyle?

“The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is produced by Truly Original with Steven Weinstock, Glenda Hersh, Lauren Eskelin, Lorraine Haughton-Lawson, Luke Neslage, Joye Chin, Glenda Cox, Julie “Bob” Lombardi and Anthony Sylvester serving as Executive Producers. Markus Burns and Tom Ciaccio serve as Co-Executive Producers. Andy Cohen also serves as an Executive Producer.

Lecrae inspires DJJ youth

Lecrae inspires DJJ youth

Grammy Award-winning artist Lecrae shared his road to restoration with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth during a visit to the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC). There, he inspired youth to reach for their dreams. Lecrae is not only a platinum-selling recording artist but also New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, speaker, thought leader, and philanthropist.

Youth from DJJ’s Chat and Chew Book Club at the Rockdale RYDC and female youth from the Macon Youth Development Campus (YDC) discussed life topics with Lecrae, including how he handles his success, money management, maintaining integrity in difficult situations, and the importance of self-worth. 

“I am grateful Lecrae was able to spend this vital time with our youth,” said Commissioner Tyrone Oliver. “It is important for youth to hear positive messages from someone they admire and respect. Lecrae’s story is truly inspirational and we will continue to provide opportunities like these to youth to show them that their past experiences do not determine their future.”  

Lecrae donated copies of his book, I Am Restored: How I Lost My Religion but Found My Faith, to youth ahead of his visit to the Rockdale facility. He performed several of his hit records, including the single “Set Me Free” off his latest album, Restoration. Approximately ten female youth from the Macon YDC were able to join the Chat and Chew virtually. 

“Today was incredible,” said Lecrae about his visit with DJJ youth. “They had great questions and it was very authentic. My hope for youth in these circumstances is that they understand that this is not the end of their story.”

He shared the critical role his faith plays in his everyday life, his struggles with growing up in a rough neighborhood, his experiences with incarcerated loved ones, what motivates him to be better, and how writing helped him process his emotions. 

Lecrae first began visiting incarcerated youth before his first album after one of his closest friends asked him to volunteer. “Hopefully, it is a seed planted,” said Lecrae. “The work is never done and I’m just a little blip on the radar, but I feel like the staff here is continuing to do the work. I’m glad that I could support everything that they are already doing.”

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ABOUT DJJ

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is a multi-faceted agency that serves the state’s youthful offenders up to 21 years of age. The Department’s mission is to transform young lives by providing evidence-based rehabilitative treatment services and supervision, strengthening youth and families’ well-being, and fostering safe communities.

LaMelo Ball illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 magazine

LaMelo Ball Joins PUMA

By Justin Lyons

LaMelo Ball, top 2020 NBA Draft prospect and younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, signed with the sports company PUMA for a long-term sponsorship deal.

Ball said he’s excited to join the PUMA family as he kicks off his basketball career.

“I believe the brand is the perfect partner for me because PUMA will allow me to just be myself. I want to be 100-percent authentic whether that’s playing basketball or showing off my personal style, and that’s what I want to do with PUMA,” Ball said.

The 6-foot-7-inch guard with elite passing skills opted out of college basketball in favor of professional contracts in Lithuania and Australia.

Adam Petrick, the global director of brand and marketing at PUMA, said Ball is a natural fit for PUMA because of his personal style and his “physical gifts and dynamic play on the court.”

“We are thrilled to add him to our roster of talented athletes, and at just 19 years old, we can’t wait to see his impact on the broader culture surrounding basketball,” Petrick said.

The first collaboration between the young phenom and PUMA will come in the form of a PUMA x LaMelo Ball T-shirt and hoodie set. The set will release Nov. 18, the same day as the 2020 NBA Draft where Ball is expected to go in the top five.

PUMA also intends to blur lines between sports, culture, music and fashion with its approach to the collaboration with Ball, which will likely be seen in the form of shirts, shoes and other apparel.

The partnership will follow PUMA’s “Not From Here” concept, something Ball cooked up himself to represent his unique attitude.

“I don’t know what normal is. I personally chose a different path to achieve my success because that defines who I am,” Ball said. “I know some people think I am mysterious or ‘not from here,’ and I might have to agree. I am someone who likes to be different and consider myself to be one of one. That’s the message I want to share in my upcoming projects with PUMA.”

Ball and PUMA will also join forces to host basketball camps, clothing donations, court refurbishments and more to support programs that encourage young athletes stay active.

With names like RJ Barrett, Kyle Kuzma and Deandre Ayton highlighting the list, Ball is the latest in a line of young talent to join PUMA.

In Ball’s 2019-2020 season as a member of the Illawarra Hawks, he played just 12 games before injuring himself during practice and deciding to leave for the NBA Draft. He averaged 17 points, 6.8 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft after winning the NBA Draft Lottery. The Timberwolves had a 14% chance at landing the first pick, tied for the best odds with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the team holding the worst record in the league.

With the Timberwolves trading for star guard D’Angelo Russell last season, mock drafts appear to have Minnesota targeting Anthony Edwards, the wing player out of Georgia.

Without a consensus first pick, there is also speculation that Minnesota could trade out of the first pick, opening an opportunity for a team looking for a point guard with passing abilities like Ball’s.

It all remains to be seen the night of the Draft Nov. 18, where one thing is for sure: LaMelo Ball’s name will be called.

Elixir

By Payton Saso

Twin sister music group, Elixir, may be new to the music scene but should definitely be on your radar.

Originally from Carroliton, Georgia, the sisters, Aleeya and Aleexus Crowder, were raised in a structured and comfortable home, but that never hindered their creative abilities. The twins say that they were able to discover their musical talents from the encouragement of their parents to stimulate their creative side.

Once a shared past-time the twins loved, music quickly transitioned to a hobby to a career.

By channeling influence from the realness of nature, lyrically emphasizing the truth, and the hopes to provide relief through music, the twins have released nine songs across the streaming platform Spotify.

With their devotion to individuality and putting out creative energy through their music, it is no surprise that they feel inspired from Masego and Andre 3000 as well.

While the onset of the pandemic has halted many artists ability to grow and perform, Elixir is using this time to tap into their creativity. When asked how they’ve been using their time they said, “We have been working on more music and projects and we also are starting a new business wire wrapping healing stones that is keeping us busy as well.”

With live performances also on halt, Elixir is planning a virtual performance toward the end of October in order to still connect with their fans, while still following regulations.

What’s next for the twins? Well, they say they plan on creating and sharing music videos for their previously released singles and continue to grow as a duo.

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