Posts tagged with "social change"

Miss America Diverstiy, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Selected

Miss America DEI

During this time of national protest and unrest, many participants and volunteers within our organization have reached out to MAO to express their thoughts and feelings regarding the ongoing conversation around racial justice and MAO’s role in it. We have heard you and we are committed to further action.

As many of you know, a few years ago MAO formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force led by Miss America 1990 Debbye Turner Bell. A few weeks ago, the Miss America Organization put out the ask to Current Titleholders, Forever Miss Americas, Miss America State Titleholder Association, Executive Directors, and Volunteers to gauge their willingness to form a new committee with renewed focus. We are grateful that 68 women and men from across the country expressed interest in being a part of the forward movement of Miss America.

Given the current makeup of the Miss America Board of Directors and staff, we felt that it was appropriate to have an outside Selection Committee take on this important task. Below are the professionals who volunteered their time and energy to MAO:

Samantha M. Fennell

Samantha is the founder of HONE, a New York-based business development consultancy that helps purpose-driven organizations in three key areas: revenue growth, strategy, D&I sales talent, and strategic partnerships. Her clients include media enterprises, advertising agencies, B Corps, and e-commerce platforms who share her passion for driving societal transformation through corporate action and social change.

Samantha has held senior-level and management positions at both major media companies and start-up ventures. From a nearly decade-long stint at Condé Nast where she rose to become the first African American Advertising Director of Vogue, to growing an international advertising agency and building a digital division from the ground up, Samantha has achieved many “firsts” in her 20+ year career and continues to push boundaries.

Samantha launched an online publication this year- A Blessing of Unicorns- a repository of inclusive insights that seeks to dispel the myth of scarcity of outstanding BIPOC and change the world for the next generation.

Brian Vaught

Brian has over 14 years of experience in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. In his current role, Brian leads Publicis Media’s US Talent Inclusion practice across its six brands – Starcom, Zenith, Spark Foundry, Blue449, Digitas, and Performics. Brian leads internal inclusion programs including the Publicis Media Multicultural Talent Pipeline and the agency’s Inclusion Council. He also serves as a mentor and coach to the company’s business resource groups (BRGs) and drives awareness of professional development experiences.

He is a member of Publicis Groupe’s Talent Engagement & Inclusion Council, a board member for the American Association of Advertising Agencies Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, Do The WeRQ, and the T Howard Foundation. He is a recipient of the 2018 Leadership Excellence Award by the Tri-State National Diversity Council

Jason Bryant

Jason Bryan is an Associate Clinical Professor in Educational Leadership at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama for the past 4 years, and is now serving as the director of the Truman Peirce Institute with the College of Education at Auburn. Jason spent 17 years in public K-12 schools serving as a science teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal.

Linda Karbo

Linda Karbo serves as Marketing Brand Manager for Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS) at Michigan State University where she is responsible for strategic marketing initiatives & brand oversight of both REHS and the MSU Union. She is proud to be part of the task force that has advanced the “Hate Has No Home Here” and “You Have a Home Here” initiatives at MSU, which pledge and promise to foster a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and safe environment for all within the Spartan community.

Prior to joining the REHS team, Linda served as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Special Events for the MSU College of Arts and Letters for six years and the Assistant Director of Development for the MSU College of Music for three years.

Linda is passionate about relationship building, empathetic listening, mentoring, bridging connections, and the art of the written word. She always has her eye out for a quality life hack or budding trend, and sincerely appreciates good manners and a can-do attitude. Linda describes herself as a realist with a very real layer of imagination mixed in and believes that integrity with a side of empathy is key.

Jennifer Munger

Jennifer Munger is a former elementary school principal and special education teacher. Jennifer’s experiences showed her the importance of every child having an effective teacher, especially students struggling academically and/or engaging in challenging behavior impacting their learning.  She is currently an instructor in the area of special education at Dakota State University.  Jennifer helps preservice teachers and strives to teach effectiveness by developing awareness and understanding of the students that will be entering their classrooms, leading them to better research-based instructional and behavioral tools and strategies.

Abby Charles

Abby Charles is a Program Director at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), The public health institute for Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. At IPHI she provides leadership and coordination for the Community Health Worker Initiatives and provides oversight to a network of Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs in which the Institute for Public Health Innovation addresses cross-jurisdictional policymaking and information sharing, program refinement, policy, research, training, implementation, evaluation, and technical assistance.

Abby is one of IPHI’s lead trainers and provides technical assistance to organizations regionally and nationally on health and racial equity, collaboration & partnership development, community health workers, health in all policies, women’s health, gender-based violence, and HIV.

Abby is an Adjunct Instructor of Clinical Research and Leadership at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is also a graduate of the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Health in Global Health Promotion. She presently serves on the board of The Well Project, the Bishop Anstey High School Alumnae Association of Washington, DC and serves as a Commissioner on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for Washington, DC.

Octavia Spencer illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Octavia Spencer × Ruderman Family Foundation

Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer today joined the Ruderman Family Foundation in calling on the entertainment industry to increase the casting of people with disabilities, including in on-screen roles that portray characters with disabilities.

“Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities,” Octavia Spencer says in a new public service announcement with the Ruderman Family Foundation

Appearing in a newly released public service announcement, Spencer recounts Hollywood’s long history of inauthentic representation and exclusion of marginalized populations — from men playing women until 1660; to white actors playing Black, Asian, and Native American characters; to LGBTQ stories getting left out of film and television until the last two decades.

“All of these communities of people had to endure not only their stories being told inauthentically, but also seeing themselves portrayed inauthentically,” says Spencer in a message filmed for the Ruderman Family Foundation. “But nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation. That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role, and that means people with disabilities as well. Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust, and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities.”

She continues, “I am joining with the Ruderman Family Foundation to call on the entertainment industry to increase casting of people with disabilities. There is no reason that we should continue to repeat the same mistakes of the past. Together, we should and can do better.”

Spencer’s call amplifies the Foundation’s series of initiatives to foster greater inclusion in the entertainment industry.

Last December, the organization circulated an open letter calling on studio, production, and network executives to pledge to create more opportunities for people with disabilities, and to make more inclusive casting decisions. Among those who signed the pledge were Oscar winners George Clooney and Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar nominees Ed Norton, Bryan Cranston and Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe winner Glenn Close, Oscar-winning director Peter Farrelly, accomplished actress Eva Longoria, and acclaimed filmmaker Bobby Farrelly.

A separate Foundation-initiated pledge to commit to auditioning more actors with disabilities was signed by CBS, while the BBC pledged to implement more authentic and distinctive representation of people with disabilities on screen. The Foundation also released a white paper showing that half of U.S. households want accurate portrayals of characters with disabilities, and despite that only 22% of characters with disabilities are authentically portrayed on television.

“As an Oscar-winning actor, Octavia Spencer embodies Hollywood’s vast potential to serve as a powerful catalyst for positive social change if studio, production, and network executives commit to more inclusive and authentic representation,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We are gratified that Ms. Spencer has joined our call and we look forward to have other actors and actresses, filmmakers, producers and studios continue to create unprecedented momentum that brings about greater casting of people with disabilities.”

To view Octavia Spencer’s video message in full, please see here.

Follow Octavia Spencer: Instagram | Twitter

Follow Ruderman Family Foundation: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Poor People's Campaign illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Poor People’s Campaign

The Poor People’s Campaign will demand a moral policy agenda to heal America in a congressional briefing Thursday as it follows up on its digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington that drew millions of viewers.

Legislators and other political leaders from both sides of the aisle have been invited to attend the digital briefing, where campaign leaders will lay out the specifics of the Moral Policy Agenda to Heal America: The Poor People’s Jubilee Platform

The agenda is grounded in constitutional and moral values and offers concrete solutions to end the ongoing, concurrent crises of the five interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, militarism, ecological devastation and the false moral narrative of extreme religious nationalism.

“It’s time that we lift from the bottom, which requires us to address all five of the interlocking injustices,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “We cannot put more money in systemic racism, corporate interests and the war economy than we do in living wages, health care, public education and guaranteeing equal protection under the law. Poverty is lethal; systemic racism is lethal; COVID-19 is lethal. This agenda demands what must be now and after the election to heal the nation.”

Also invited to attend are the tri-chairs from the 45 states where the Poor People’s Campaign is organizing, along with the campaign’s national partners and faith partners.

The briefing follows the campaign’s digital justice assembly on June 20th, when millions of people tuned in to the digital justice gathering to hear the reality facing 140 million people who are poor or low-income in the wealthiest country in the world and where 700 people die each day from poverty — even before COVID-19.

Also on that day, the campaign’s coordinating committees from 45 states and over 200 organizational partners, labor unions and religious denominations came together around the moral policy agenda to heal America.

“Biblically, the Year of Jubilee was a time to release people from their debts, release all slaves and ensure that all people have what they need to thrive, not just barely survive,” said Rev. Liz Theoharis, director of Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “Our Justice Platform provides a way for this country to do the same with policies and budgets that lift people out of poverty and revive the economy with the promise of a brighter future for all.”

The sweeping platform offers a roadmap for lawmakers to take seriously the moral and constitutional principles upon which this country was founded: to establish justice, promote the general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility, secure the blessings of liberty and provide for the common defense.

In addition to Barber and Theoharis, the policy director for the Kairos Center and the Poor People’s Campaign, Shailly Gupta Barnes, will address the briefing. The briefing begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 2:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s open only to the media and invited guests. Reporters can register here.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral  Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, the Poor People’s Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform addresses these issues.

America can’t address the moral crisis of poverty without addressing healthcare. Some 140 million people in the U.S. – or more than 43 percent – live in poverty or are low-wealth” Rekindling a Prophetic Moral Vision for Justice, Social Change and Movement BuildingFollow Poor People’s Campaign: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Isabella Laws

Isabella Laws x Saski QxA

Isabella Laws, the General Manager of Tammy Hembrow’s Saski Collection, shares her insights, experiences, and aspirations related to working in the fashion industry, and particularly with the up-and-coming Saski brand.

  1. How did you first get involved with the fashion industry?

I’ve actually been working in the fashion industry since my first job when I was 14 years old! I worked in retail for 10 years before Tammy hired me to work at Saski Collection. Ever since I was a kid I have been obsessed with fashion and knew it was where I was going to end up career-wise.

  1. What makes the Saski brand unique as compared to other athleisure clothing brands?

Something that’s different about Saski Collection is that all of our collections are limited edition capsules. Whenever we launch a collection it’s only available for a limited period of time and then we move on to the next – Tammy’s constantly designing new pieces for Saski and we launch new collections almost every month.

  1. It’s incredible that the exclusive Saski Collection sold out within 12 hours and it was only launched around 3 years ago. Which factors led to this success?

When Saski launched back in 2017 we did sell out almost immediately! I think the reason for our initial success was Tammy saw a gap in the market and designed pieces she loved that she couldn’t find anywhere else. She was wearing everything for months before the launch and the demand really built up.

  1. What are some of the most pressing issues within the fashion industry, and how do you work to improve them through Saski?

Sustainability is a huge issue facing the fashion industry and is something that we’ve put a huge focus on at Saski Collection. One of the biggest issues is “fast fashion” – clothes that are made cheaply and in bulk to meet consumer demands. Saski prides itself on offering limited-edition capsule collections that are made ethically with our hand-picked ethical manufacturing partners. All our collections are made in limited quantities to ensure there is no wasted product. As well as this, all of Saski Collections’ packaging and post bags are biodegradable. Of course, there is always room for more and we hope to continue to work on improving our environmental footprint as we grow.

  1. What have been some of the key challenges that come with management?

At Saski Collection we have a really close team. We’re all very collaborative and open with one another which makes for a very comfortable environment for everyone. However, a lot of the team are very close friends (including Tammy and I specifically) – and a challenge I’ve had to work through since becoming General Manager is making sure I can differentiate between work and friendship. In saying this, this is something that my team has been very good at, and we are all very transparent with each other which has resulted in us only growing stronger.

  1. Who has/have been the most supportive person/people in your life that has/have allowed you to reach your achievements?

My dad (Brett), my partner (Morgan), and Tammy. My dad was a single parent, he brought me up all alone, drove me to and from school every day, put me through university, and has just overall been the driving force behind my entire life. I’m so lucky to have him.

I’ve been with my partner Morgan for almost 10 years and he has definitely been one of my biggest supporters since the day we met.

And, of course, Tammy, who hired me back in 2017 when I was fresh out of university with no experience. Her guidance and support have been hugely important to me and I never would be in this role now without her believing in me.

  1. What is your favorite or most rewarding part about helping to run an athleisure brand?

Seeing something go from an idea in Tammy’s mind and watching it come to life. My favorite part of my job role is design meetings with Tammy. We have such a similar taste and it’s so exciting to see what she comes up with and then working through the process of fabrics, colors, and sampling to get the final product.

  1. How have the donations from your proceeds sparked real social change in women and children around the world?

We’re so excited to now be working with i=change, which means that $1.00 from every sale on saskicollection.com will go to a life-changing product. Customers can choose from three sustainable charities to donate to when checking out. This gives us a chance to give back to those who need it most.

The three charities we have partnered with are:

  • UN WOMEN, to end violence against women
  • National Breast Cancer Foundation, to prevent women from dying
  • My Room’s Children Centre, support children, and their families

We’re so passionate about these projects and are excited to be able to give our customers the chance to choose where our donation goes when shopping with us.

  1. How do you and your team plan on expanding the Saski brand, and if so, to which kinds of customers?

Tammy has huge plans for Saski Collection and how she wants to expand upon our existing collections and customer base. I don’t want to give too much away at the moment, but we’ve already moved from athleisure to our first swim range in late 2019, as well as our most recent ‘mini’ and ‘unisex’ collection which sold out in less than 2 minutes. There is definitely lots of room for us to continue on expanding Saski and we’re looking forward to showing more of that in the coming months.

360 Magazine, Chadwick Journals

“The Chadwick Journals” QxA

“The Chadwick Journals” is a 3-season series featured on Amazon Prime that deals with psychological and sexual journeys of men of color while they lead double lives and explore their identities. Deondray Gossett, a Los Angeles native, has been writing and producing this series since 2011. Married to Deondray, Quincy Le Near is also a producer and director of this series. Below, both masterminds share their experiences and insights related to creating the series:

1. How did your past directing experiences prepare you for directing “The Chadwick Journals?”

DEONDRAY:

Our whole franchise The DL Chronicles and The Chadwick Journals has always been produced the same: no money, guerilla-style, last-minute shooting. Chadwick Journals was just business as usual for us: no money and last-minute. We greenlit it 1 week before shooting and was still casting the project all the way up until 17 hours before call time on the first day. 

QUINCY: 

If I think about it, from the scope of my earliest experiences, this is literally how I began as a child. I created short films as a child, casting my younger cousins and friends in roles, and shooting in and about our homes. It’s pretty comical to recognize that directing the Chadwick Journals is basically the same process, albeit with real SAG actors and much more expensive equipment but with the same Indie spirit and approach.

2. What have been some of the biggest challenges with directing this series?

DEONDRAY:

Money… (laughs). With our limited budget, we often don’t have a lot of money to finesse our scenes. We get a max of three takes from each very limited angle on our very short shot list. It’s very intense and fast-paced. We shoot 10 pages a day on average, so casting is crucial; we have to get actors who are well-trained, come to set extremely prepared, and can nail the material in the limited amount of takes we give them. The cast and crew are completely exhausted after our typical 12-hour workdays and 5 consecutive days of shooting, so as I directed, I have to find creative ways to help them keep up with the pace. We keep a very Zen and fun atmosphere so that the exhaustion never compromises their performances, but instead enhances them.

QUINCY: 

In the beginning, season I, it was basically a two-man operation; cinematography, lighting, wardrobe, sound, direction, editing, etc. Not having money means you have to juggle all of the plates and it’s much more difficult to give 100% focus on perfecting one aspect of production. Luckily, we both have very versatile skill sets and experiences so we can perform those roles, but a director should only have one important job to focus on. A cinematographer has one job to focus on. A sound engineer, gaff, grip, etc. all only have to do their jobs when there is a full paid crew and you create a better-quality project because of it. 

Trying to do it all yourself, out of necessity, leaves a lot to be desired in the end. We managed to spend a little more and afford more crew each season, but it’s been an uphill battle. Luckily the fans are captivated by the great story and the strong performances but the perfectionist in me wishes we could remake the first season the way it deserves to be seen. Who knows? Maybe if we strike a deal to bring this show to cable or streaming networks like Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix, we can remake and expand upon them. That would be amazing.   

3. What have been some of the most rewarding experiences of working with the actors?

DEONDRAY:

Watching them have breakthroughs as artists. Particularly from the latest season of The Chadwick Journals, Damian Toofeek Raven, Jemar Michael, and Skyh Black all had breakthroughs right before my eyes on set. There was no time for a pre-table read, so a lot of my direction was on-the-fly. I was amazed at how quickly they adjusted to the slightest nudge from me. They would go from zero to a hundred with emotion with just a simple, “Dig deeper.” It was at these moments, even in the midst of all the exhaustion and all of the fires that were burning that I thought to myself, “I made some damn good casting choices.” They made my job so much easier, and Damian’s breakthrough garnered him a 2020 Daytime Emmy® nomination for “Outstanding Principal Performance in a Daytime Program” for his leading role in this season of The Chadwick Journals.

QUINCY:

Damian Toofeek Raven who plays Chadwick has been with us for 15 years since the DL Chronicles series was created in 2005. He is our brother and working with him is like playtime for us. He’s always very concerned about connecting to the backstory and inner world of Chadwick. He cares about how Chadwick is portrayed as much as we do. Just to be able to create with someone we’ve grown to love is a plus and with someone who cares for your creation the same or even more than you do is priceless.   

4. How have the LGBTQ+ and African-American communities responded to the series?

DEONDRAY:

Honestly, though we’re critically acclaimed in the larger LGBTQ+ community, we’re really only known by the film connoisseurs and the gay Hollywood Elite. To the average white viewing audience, we still remain largely unknown even after 15 years of making this show. Conversely, gay and lesbian African-American, LatinX, Asian, and other people of color hang our posters on the wall. Two very different worlds that still remain separated by cultural and racial lines. We also surprisingly have a large straight African-American female audience who watches the show. They are some of our most vocal viewers who astonishingly aren’t always harping on the DL phenomenon, but actually are engaged in the characters and the plots. To have them as part of our fanbase is SUPER flattering for us. 

QUINCY:

I second that. 

5. What kind of audience(s) would you advise or want to watch the series, and why?

DEONDRAY:

Though we obviously are a series that’s trying to give a voice to the gay black community, we feel like our stories are universal. I think most people can identify with identity and self-love issues, which is ultimately the theme of both of our shows. Love is the undercurrent of every single episode, and I feel like you possess any amount of empathy, you will resonate with the characters whether you’re straight, gay, black, or white.

QUINCY:

Anyone who has ever felt like they had to pretend to be someone they weren’t to be accepted. Anyone who has felt forced to make decisions that were not in their best interest or desires out of fear. Anyone who has felt they would be unloved for being their authentic selves or voicing their dissent. That’s who these stories are about. Regardless of gender, race, or sexuality, we hope that anyone watching who might share those experiences can identify with these characters. 

6. How has the series evolved over the 3 seasons and why are the seasons spread out in the way they are over the past decade?

DEONDRAY:

The Chadwick Journals literally began as a fundraiser for the, then upcoming, re-launch of the The DL Chronicles back in 2011. It was meant to be a hybrid prequel/sequel that was going to energize the fanbase and raise funds. Fans always wanted to know who Chadwick Williams (the narrator of the The DL Chronicles) was and how he was tied to the characters, so this spinoff web series idea done much like HBO’s In Treatment seemed like a perfect vehicle. The first season, “Donovan” (co-starring Nic Few) took the festival circuit by storm and added more than 10,000 subscribers to our YouTube channel in just a month. We knew we had something, and we knew we needed to make more episodes, but just didn’t have the funding. We still self-finance the series to this day. Our second season, “Niquarterli” (co-starring Thomas Hobson) didn’t happen until 2016, and the current season, “Oren” (co-starring Jemar Michael) in 2019. The gaps are simply due to financing. We’re making moves now to up our content volume so that our &SEEN Network streaming platforms can provide more programming to our viewers, which will create a stable and consistent subscriber population.  

7. What does it feel like to be nominated for an Emmy and how will you use this accomplishment to move forward with your careers?

DEONDRAY:

This honestly feels like a dream. We’ve been creating this content for the past 15 years. We’ve gone from being independent, to being on the air, then back to independent again. We’ve sat on the front seats at award shows and won, and then years later not even able to get into the afterparty. Hollywood can be very mean and two-faced. We kept our chins up and continued to believe in the work we were doing thanks to our very loyal and loving fanbase. This current season of The Chadwick Journals almost died after having been passed around to several would-be investors who ultimately weren’t interested. Something told me not to let this die, so I took out a personal business loan and once again financed it ourselves. Looks like it was the best decision I could have ever made.

QUINCY:

I’m honored and still pretty flabbergasted. We’ve had a good campfire once before and when that died down there was no more heat. We managed to keep the ember smoldering, waiting for that gust of wind that will ignite it again. This industry is all about the heat, whose bringing it, whose flame is brighter, whose sending up the visible smoke signals this week. Who can I make s’mores with? LOL. One minute you’re hot, the next minute you’re not, so you have to be ready to jump on the opportunity when the opportunity comes back around. This nomination feels like that gust of wind. If we win, it will open the doors again to “be in the room where happens.” 

So, I feel just like Alexander Hamilton, “I’m not gonna miss my shot.”   

8. What is the overall message that you both want to convey through the series?

DEONDRAY:

It sounds cliché now, but the message simply is, it gets better. DL and closeted men are often seeking approval from the folks that ultimately don’t matter.  Everybody you want to love you, won’t, but you can find your own tribe. Stop seeking out the things and people that can’t see your beauty. Pay attention to the ones that can. 

QUINCY:

To find a way to heal yourself and be authentic. I want people to feel free and unafraid. I want people to know that they may only have this one life to live and to not waste it on conformity. Live in your truth and not in a lie that someone else, society, culture, or religion, coercers you to accept. There is joy to be had if you let it lead you.  

9. How has the past decade’s pop culture and history informed the series’s direction over the course of the 3 seasons?

DEONDRAY:

Pop culture has had very little impact on the show really, as we are still dealing with an age-old and unfortunately timeless issue. This question has been posed to us before: “How does The DL Chronicles and The Chadwick Journals fit in with the current state and condition of LGBTQ+ people? Is it still relevant? Is it dated?” And my answer to those questions is always yes, it still has a place, yes, it’s still relevant, and no, it’s not dated. While the larger white LGBTQ+ community is becoming more and more emancipated, the subsets (LGBTQ+ African Americans and people of color) have largely been stagnant. I’m not talking about life for the Black Gay Elite (myself included), which is drastically different in terms of acceptance and access than it was 10 years ago; I’m talking about the average gay, lesbian, trans-Black and LatinX folks who still live in the hoods and barrios of America. It’s still unsafe for them to walk the streets in their truth and to be out and open in their churches. This series is speaking to and for them.

QUINCY:

I’m not sure that Pop Culture itself has had a direct influence, but I can say that some modern social issues have had an influence, specifically with episode Oren which deals with an HIV serodiscordant relationship and the use of PrEP for prevention. Even season 2 Niiquartelai touched on sex-positive sex work and polyamorous relationships which were once pretty taboo subject matters. Those weren’t topics of conversation that were openly discussed 10 years ago or even existed. If I think about season II it did include a sex tape that was found on a smartphone. Does that count as Pop Culture since everyone seems to have them? 

10. Are you both planning on directing more seasons, and in any case, how do you both want “The Chadwick Journals” legacy to live on?

DEONDRAY:

TV and Film directing is our passion, so yes, we will definitely continue to direct on the shows; however, we don’t have to do all of them. It has always been our plan to nurture new talent to be able to pass the torch and allow them to add their creative spin on our shows and possibly help them to produce their own original ideas.

We hope that the Emmy® nomination will help get the much-needed eyes on the show to enable us to not only continue to make this two needle-moving and groundbreaking series to be there as moral support for the community, but to also be able to create new original content that graduates our community from a place of self-acceptance to a place of full unapologetic existence and expression.

QUINCY: We have created a franchise and this character, and these stories can live in so many ways; TV, film, podcasts, novels, interactive books, chapter books, graphic novels, web shorts, etc. So, the sky’s the limit and I look forward to exploring it.

 

UNIQLO, 360 MAGAZINE, kids

UNIQLO – ‘Rise Again’

The latest collection from the famed Japanese artist titled “Rise Again” employs his distinctive typographic treatments in a range of uplifting messages, aligning perfectly with LifeWear’s ethos as a unique vehicle for people to express themselves. In addition, men’s items have been added to the launch due to popular demand from the previous SS19 collection.
 
The FW19 designs retail from $14.90 – $29.90 and will be available in a full run of adult & kids sizing. The collection will be available in UNIQLO stores worldwide starting on September 20th.

THE ATITLÁN PROJECT

USING ART AND DESIGN AS CATALYSTS FOR SOCIAL CHANGE IN GUATEMALA.

Filling a crater surrounded by conical volcanic peaks, Guatemala’s Lago de Atitlán – Central America’s deepest lake – has been a center for colorful textile production since Mayan times. Local women still wear the traditional huipil dress, patterned with iconography derived from the natural world, and a strong connection with the region’s craft heritage remains.

But today, the 12 towns sprinkled around the lake’s verdant, sloping shores are experiencing economic struggles due to lack of job opportunities for young people. A dearth of arable land, low fish stocks and substandard education are all impacting the communities. Guatemalan journalist Harris Whitbeck, whose family has a house in the lakeside town of Santa Catarina Palopó, witnessed these problems first-hand three years ago. So he devised a plan to help reinvigorate the place with which he has had “a very long and intense relationship”.

Remembering the success that Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas (Haas & Hahn) had in revitalizing the Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro, simply by painting the buildings in bright colors, Whitbeck contacted the duo and asked if they could do something similar for the 850 hillside houses that make up Santa Catarina Palopó. Thus, the Pintando el Cambio: Santa Catarina Palopó project was born – following other art-focused initiatives around the world, like Jodipan village in Malang, Indonesia, which was painted in rainbow hues by local artists and students to prevent evictions, and a variation on the same theme in the Tepe neighborhood in Kuşadası, Turkey.

Initially, the team presented their vision for repainting the Santa Catarina Palopó buildings, but the designs were rejected by the townspeople. The project evidently needed a more personal, and local twist. So Whitbeck invited Guatemala-born designer Diego Olivero – co-founder of Meso Goods – to join the effort. The two had collaborated for a decade on various social schemes in the country, and the appointment seemed like a natural fit. “Diego’s really good at connecting to the people he’s working with,” Whitbeck told The Journal.

Yet there was still push-back from the town’s residents when Olivero put forward his first ideas. “We did a couple of initial proposals, and the community was like ‘no, this really doesn’t represent us’, because I came with a design without first doing a workshop with the community,” the designer said. “So we went back to the sketch paper, and had a meeting with the 20 community leaders that represent the 5,000 people who live there. Then we went back to the studio, created different patterns and proposals for how it would look, and then it was approved.”

Olivero’s updated vision was to use the colors and patterns of the local textiles as a starting point for the facade designs, providing a selection of base hues, and a set contemporary graphics based on the heritage motifs to be applied on top. Each homeowner could choose from this palette, ensuring their building treatments are “traditional and sentimental”, while keeping visual cohesion to the town overall. Residents gave it the thumbs-up. “All the roofs are red and windows are white, based on the antique huipil, then the rest is based on the contemporary huipil, so blues and greens are applied to the front of the houses,” Olivero said.

Volunteers, painters and residents began working together to wash the facades with the preferred shades, then applying the patterns using stencils. One house at a time, the town is being transformed into a patchwork of vivid buildings that serve as a backdrop for vibrant daily life. “For a $500 fee, anyone can ‘adopt’ a house and participate in choosing a design with its inhabitants, then join in painting the facades,” said Olivero.

As a result, visitor numbers are increasing, spurring young families to open new businesses, tour offices and cultural centers. The skilled weavers are also creating more traditional textiles to sell to tourists, helping to preserve and continue the ancient craft techniques. “The community has received a lot of attention recently, and a lot of tourism has arisen from that,” Olivero said. “Design was a tool to create that impact.”

The success of the project so far, according to both Olivero and Whitbeck, has been tied to working so closely with the town’s residents – listening to their needs and preferences, and implementing solutions that go beyond a lick of paint. Creating work for the manufacturers in the community – alongside the new enterprises popping up organically – is key to long-term economic success.

But the job is not yet done. There are still hundreds of houses in the town left to paint, and additional funds are needed to see the project to completion. That’s where West Elm comes in. Olivero contacted the American furniture retailer about Pintando el Cambio in 2017, and also introduced Mitzie Wong and Wendy Wurtzburger of Philadelphia design firm Roar + Rabbit – whose debut collection launched with the brand – to the region and the cause.

After traveling to Lago de Atitlan, painting one of the Santa Catarina Palopó houses themselves, and meeting some of the local artisans, Wong and Wurtzburger were impassioned to create a capsule collection of furniture and home goods that incorporated the Guatemalan craft techniques. “They brought a lot of enthusiasm to the project,” Olivero said. West Elm, which has a long-standing commitment to sustainable production, also jumped at the chance to support the communities around Lago de Atitlán.

Some of the textiles used for the furniture, homeware and objects in the capsule are manufactured by the women of Santa Catarina Palopó. Along with the age-old weaving techniques, new skills like beading and wool-work were introduced to the artisans, helping to increase jobs and productivity. What’s more, West Elm is pledging $100,000 to the Pintando el Cambio cause, which should be enough to bring the project to 70% complete.

“The social mission of this, combined with the design component and making it accessible to people, really resonates and felt natural and organic for us,” said West Elm’s Dru Ortega. “Having worked with both Diego, and Wendy and Mitzie, it just felt natural for us to be able to do it, in a way that didn’t feel forced, and felt like we were giving back to a good cause.”

The Atitlán Project capsule collection by Olivero and Roar + Rabbit includes 14 one-of-a-kind chairs and ottomans that highlight the craft of Guatemala. Textiles beaded and woven by hand, in contemporary patterns and colors influenced by the huipiles, are used to cover the pieces. West Elm is also selling a limited-edition selection of rugs, artwork, cushions, towels and other accessories that follow a similar aesthetic.

The one-off designs will be auctioned off during May 2019 to raise additional funds for Pintando el Cambio, and Whitbeck hopes that the tangible connection to the town will encourage potential buyers. “The project created work in the community, and the designs are manufactured by women in the community,” he said. “People who consume design want to have a story attached to it, and are looking for more meaning in what they spend their money on.”

The online auction, hosted on Paddle8, will launch May 6, 2019. To coincide, a panel discussion between Whitbeck, Olivero and Roar + Rabbit will take place at A/D/O on May 7, 2019, when the group will discuss the importance and impact of the project in more detail. The Atitlán Project furniture will also be on show at A/D/O May 6-9, 2019, and the auction will continue taking bids thorough May 22.

By raising awareness and funds for the project with events like these, the whole team hopes that support for the communities around Lago de Atitlán will continue to grow beyond Pintando el Cambio, and create a stable and sustainable economy in the region for generations to come.

“The idea is to continue the development,” said Olivero. “Painting is one thing, but the handcraft is another. Education is super important. Raising awareness about the lake, which is on the verge of very high contamination. The art is just the start.”

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