Stories, Locations, and Characters

New Orleans

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Albuquerque

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Pacific Northwest

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Why New Orleans?

Post Katrina brings to light the exodus and aging of the African American middle class and how that is potentially affecting cultural cohesion of this unique city. While signs of economic recovery show progress, led by a vibrant tourism sector as well as increasing entrepreneurial infusions, opportunities are not reaching the middle and working class and especially lacking for young New Orleans African Americans.

Katina exposed much of the problems—e.g. inequalities, racism, crime–that existed prior.
Frequencies of fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes are increasing nationwide and recovery efforts are inadequate. Environment is a factor everywhere. For the Crescent City, currently with over 50% of residents facing lack of housing affordability, this compounds societal opportunities and challenges in ways that require modifications to how resources are applied and how unifications of disparate efforts may be achieved… 00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190730085650716_COVER (1)

Andreanecia M. Morris (New Orleans, LA)

Andreanecia is dedicated above and beyond to creating a more equitable New Orleans. As the executive director for HousingNOLA, she states their mission is simple, ” We believe New Orleans can and must provide high-quality, safe and accessible housing that is affordable to individuals and families of all income levels throughout New Orleans.” Andreanecia fights tirelessly for her city and has allowed us into her life as a leader, a woman of color in politics, and a voice for the voiceless. Her expertise and first-hand experience exposes the truth about housing and economic inequalities that many Americans have yet to fully comprehend.

After some period of slumber, there are signs of economic growth with likes of Netflix and Facebook, albeit also foretell indicators of the same factors—increasing housing costs pressuring affordability that can quickly spiral in favor of investment class, high crime activities, stagnant wages, gentrification, lacking opportunities for youth (NM is worst in nation for child wellbeing)–that plague Seattle and New Orleans. The Facebook development reveals that tech growth is not limited to urban centers but into sprawling regions.

But unlike how Seattle and New Orleans have reached current state, Albuquerque, representing a “flyover” scenic state urban center, has potential to shape this episode with careful consideration and not allow its progress towards “economic” prosperity compromise the well being of its middle class, local historic, surrounding communities and wealth of culture. Santa Fe, the City Different hiding behind a creative culture façade, less than 60 miles away, also provides warning signs for Albuquerque—high costs of living and housing, apparent disparities, limited opportunities for diverse economy.

Why Albuquerque, NM?

Wendy and Ronda (Albuquerque, NM)

Wendy and Ronda are two hardworking women who fight every day to stay in business doing what they love. After leaving the comfort of corporate jobs, the two best friends opened their own salon to pursue their passion as hairdressers. Together they have experienced loss, a changing neighborhood, and multiple break-ins. However, through each trying moment, hey have remained dedicated, positive, and loving. Their story resonates with us and many others as the story of how community, passion, and dedication can fuel those who are living paycheck to paycheck.

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Aaron Dixon (Albuquerque, NM)

Aaron Dixon is a former Black Panther Party member and founder of the BPP Seattle chapter. His memoir My People are Rising details his life during a tumultuous time in American history and Civil Rights history. Now, 60 years later, Dixon is noticing a similarly divisive period in the U.S. As a lifelong activist fighting against racial, social, and economic injustices, Dixon gives warnings about what the future may hold. His wealth of knowledge from both experience and education provides insight into the walking nightmare that many Americans have yet to wake up from.

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Jaime (James) Galindo (Albuquerque, NM)

James is a straight-forward, foul-mouthed, no bull-shit type of guy. He ran a store selling antiques in a once familiar neighborhood. However, as a new apartment building moved next door and started renting at $2,000 a month, the neighborhood changed. In the midst of gentrification, James lost his store, his income, and almost his house. All of this toppled with an unexpected medical emergency has left him wondering what his next steps will be. James’s story unfolds one raw twist and turn to the next, yet one thing that remains true is that his story is not unfamiliar to the many Americans walking in his same shoes.

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Why the Pacific Northwest?

Seattle has experienced the boom of technological innovations but it’s also the technology prosperity bomb, resulting in extreme disparities for many. This serves as a lesson for others in the US. It has the third highest rate of homelessness in the nation.

Many middle class households have fallen into status of asset limited, income constrained, but employed. Barely maintaining a survival budget with not much to spare and unlikely to be able to cope
with unexpected expenses. Housing costs is out of reach for majority of working persons.

As many get pushed out to surrounding areas in the Pacific Northwest, increasing geographic inequality compounds existing racial and socioeconomic disparities further affect access to opportunities. With technology and automation accelerating changes, this too will influence the societal and community structure we are all part of.

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Cameron Sigler (Eugene, OR)

Sigler works for a program that helps find housing for families coming out of treatment or involved in DHS child welfare. They assist these families with the first year’s rent as well as other bills as much as they are able. Through his personal life, Sigler has similarly struggled to find housing he could afford making minimum wage. Through helping other more vulnerable families, he witnesses first-hand the absurdly high housing market rates, discrimination against people in need of affordable housing, and the status quo that works against them. Sigler is a transgender male, an old soul, and an activist through and through.