Leaders and activists from around the world gathered last month, albeit virtually, to engage in meaningful discourse about the year that's left the world reeling.
The collaborative effort by Cashay, MAKERS, BUILT BY GIRLS, HuffPost, and Yahoo — all Verizon Media brands — live-streamed a town hall event to address the discontentment and illustrate the need for resilience in the face of weakness and weariness.
The event is being released to the public on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 3 p.m. EDT. You can watch it above. For highlights from the event, read on.
Subject matter experts in their respective fields, as a collective, lent their voices to address the pressing issues plaguing the country today: climate change, social injustice, and income inequality set against the backdrop of a polarizing presidential election during a global pandemic.
Topics explored the intersection of “activism, careers, starting your own thing, and managing money,” as Ja’Nay Hawkins, head of partnership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion programming at MAKERS and town hall moderator, put it.
Aiming to connect with those who are “struggling, angry, or having a tough time,” as Hawkins articulated, panelists represented diversity in generations and thought, and inspired others to take appropriation action in the workplace and beyond.
‘I knew I had to take some sort of action’
Panelists and Gen Z’ers Mitzy Gutierrez, a DREAMer who now champions fellow Latinx to vote in U.S. elections, and Alexandria Villasenor, a climate activist and host of EARTH FOCUS series, demonstrate that sometimes your cause can be personal or an injustice you see in your very own backyard.
Villasenor, for instance, is a Californian who saw first-hand the wildfires that continue to ravage her home state.
“One thing that was very upsetting was that there isn't a lot of public information about how to keep yourself safe from the smoke,” Villasenor said, remarking how she sees people inhaling smoke particles as a result of improperly sealed homes and businesses.
“It's not just a climate crisis, it's a health crisis,” she said. “I knew I had to take some sort of action.”
Another theme explored was taking leaders to task with their words and actions on the adoption of anti-racist principles.
As CEO of Awaken, a leading provider of interactive diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops, Michelle Kim, works everyday to create a compassionate space for uncomfortable conversations that go beyond just “checking the box.”
“I'm interested in seeing leaders —beyond training, beyond just policy changes — actually embracing what it means to be anti racist, what it means to be equitable, what it means to be socially conscious, and caring for another human’s lived experience and traumas that are continuing to unfold in front of our eyes,” Kim said.
Allison Arevalo, is the founder and owner of Pasta Louise, a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, that opened at the height of the pandemic and when stores and businesses in her community were forced to shut down.
Evaluating her investment and the plans she made, Arevalo saw the need wasn’t for in-person, but for carry-out meals and she pivoted her entire business model. Realizing the need for food was ever-present, she started a retail component with pasta kits.
“You come in and you get a pound of fresh pasta, you get our homemade bread, you get sauce, you get a bottle of wine, you take it home, and dinner could be ready in five minutes,” she explained.
Money is already an overwhelming subject for many and a source of anxiety.
To those strapped for resources, Erika Rasure, a certified financial therapist and an assistant professor of business and financial services at Maryville University, said to examine your financial “strengths or weaknesses.” Her suggestions include acknowledging the disruption but looking to how you can find a different job opportunity or supplemental income or make wiser investments.
Read more information and tips in our Planning section