Northwestern Mutual Receives Ninth Consecutive Score of 100% on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index Company earns the Equality 100 Award for LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion MILWAUKEE, Dec. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Northwestern Mutual announced today that the company earned a 100% for the ninth consecutive year in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s (HRC) Corporate Equality … [Read more…]
Bobby Berk is known for his ultra-chic yet functional decor choices. Since Queer Eye rebooted in 2018, Bobby’s helped make interior design feel more accessible to millions of people. I am obsessed with his style and love how he masterfully uses accent pieces to make a space feel more loved and lived-in without it looking too crammed with stuff.
Speaking of stuff, Bobby Berk doesn’t just decorate spaces—he designs home decor. Right now, several of his pieces from the Design Your Home With Bobby Berk collection at QVC are on major sale.
easy fall decorating that won’t break the bank.
Bobby Berk Home Decor at QVC
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I sifted through the QVC sale section to find the best home decor deals from the Design Your Home With Bobby Berk collection so that you don’t have to. These are my very favorites, but there’s a lot more on offer, with nearly 70% off some of Bobby’s collection.
Bobby Berk Woven 19″ Indoor/Outdoor Lantern
Add some accent lighting to your space with the Bobby Berk Woven Indoor/Outdoor Lantern. This chic rattan lantern comes in a natural tan color and a dark black and comes with a light-up LED candle and remote to set the ambiance. The lantern works well on a porch or outdoor space in the summer and then can easily brought indoors in the fall for a seasonal fireplace display or centerpiece.
Bobby Berk Printed Floral Stripe Lumbar Pillow
Accent pillows are a fun way to spice up your space with new decor. Although this floral lumbar pillow for the Bobby Berk QVC collection has a floral print, it’s actually versatile enough to use in the spring, summer, and fall, thanks to its blue and orange colorways. The pillow is made from a durable 100% polyester material and features fringed edges for some extra texture.
Bobby Berk 24″ Wall Mirror with Rattan Border
Rattan is one of the most popular home decor materials this year, and the Bobby Berk Wall Mirror with Rattan Border boasts a more elevated approach than other options I’ve seen. This mirror features a tightly woven, basket-like textured frame that sits on top of a lightweight MDF board with a glass mirror.
Bobby Berk 18″ Poly Rattan Side Table
If you’re looking for a side table for a cozy fall reading nook, look no further. The Poly Rattan Side Table from Bobby Berk’s QVC collection comes in three different colors—black, gray, and brown—and is durable enough for both indoor and outdoor use. I love it because it has an option storage feature that allows you to tuck away a throw blanket and pillow when not in use.
Bobby Berk 100% Cotton 2-Sided Matelasse Throw
It’s not fall without cozy vibes—and I am absolutely eyeing this throw blanket from Bobby Berk. The 2-sided Matelasse Throw is made from 100% cotton, so it’s warm yet breathable, making it a good option for more transitional weather. Available in gray and beige, the blanket measures 80 x 60 inches, too, so it will definitely keep you covered while taking a couch nap.
Bobby Berk Faux Leather 63″ Hanging Headboard
Adding a headboard to your bed decor can elevate the design of room and anchor everything together. If you don’t want the hassle of a headboard, a handing headboard such as this gorgeous faux leather option from Bobby Berk is the way to go. Designed from faux leather with durable stitched straps for hanging, the headboard helps tie a bedroom look together in a way that feels more intentional.
Bobby’s collection isn’t the only decor on sale this fall. I’ve already covered the best QVC fall decor and found some sneaky discounts that can help you cut costs and keep cozy. Elsewhere on the site, we’ve tackled the best Walmart fall decorations and the best Target fall decorations, but it’s not just about shopping. You need to have style as well, so don’t fall into the same old outdated fall decor.
Kristen Chapman, 52, doesn’t know anyone in Virginia. She doesn’t have a job lined up or a home there. But this summer, the Tennessee mother of three will uproot her family from Nashville and move 600 miles away to Richmond, VA, so that her transgender daughter can continue receiving the gender-affirming care that Chapman believes has saved her child’s life.
In March, Tennessee banned gender-affirming care for transgender minors.
“My youngest child cannot get care here legally. I no longer feel welcome here. I no longer feel safe here,” says Chapman, a social worker and artist, who identifies as queer. “I literally feel targeted, like someone painted a big X on our door and we have to get out.”
Chapman is part of a growing number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people and their families fleeing neighborhoods, cities, and states where they are worried about their safety. Some have faced harassment as anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric has spread throughout the country. Others are desperate parents of children whose gender-affirming health care has been outlawed by their state governments. Most are relocating to blue and purple cities and states, where housing costs are often much higher but they feel welcomed.
Since June 5 of this year, more than 525 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in 41 states, creating a new record, according to the Human Rights Campaign. More than 220 of those bills targeted transgender individuals with at least 20 states now banning gender-affirming care. More than 76 bills have become law, more than double last year, according to the HRC.
While there are no official estimates of how many LGBTQ+ people and families are relocating, it’s a growing number, says Anita R. Blue, a Realtor® in Houston and president-elect of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. It’s an issue that’s increasingly spilling over into the housing market.
“Housing’s going to suffer,” says Blue. “People don’t want to live or buy a home in a state where they don’t feel safe.”
In 2020, several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Chapman received a three-word email from her daughter. It said, “I am trans.”
What followed was about a year of doctor’s visits, tests, and mental health evaluations before her child, now 15, began receiving puberty blockers.
Chapman explains that her child was suicidal before receiving treatment. Now, if her daughter misses a treatment, she will go through puberty—as a boy.
“If I don’t get her to a state in August where she can receive a shot, then she literally could resume puberty immediately. Her voice could drop, and there’s no fixing that,” says Chapman. “The more she passes as a [cisgender woman], the safer she is. That was our big motivation to move quickly.”
She chose Richmond because she hopes that her husband, whom she is separated from, will be able to transfer his job to one of his company’s offices there to be close to their 15-year-old and 17-year-old autistic daughter. Their oldest is away at college. Chapman started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for moving costs.
“I’m really angry. But the overwhelming feeling is I’m just heartbroken,” Chapman says through tears. “I’m exhausted, and I’m scared for my family. At this point, my children deserve to feel some peace and stability.”
Dallas-area real estate broker Bob McCranie has helped 27 clients worried about anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and legislation move out of Texas. Most are going to blue states, such as Illinois, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Colorado, or even abroad.
Last year, he started FleeTexas.com, which was followed by FleeRedStates.com. The sites help connect homebuyers and sellers to LGBTQ+ real estate agents.
“There’s a migration going on right now,” says McCranie. “We’re trying to get people out of harm’s way and to a place that’s a little bit safer.”
But moving, especially cross-country, takes money.
Those leaving red states might find that home and rental prices, as well as everything else, are much higher in blue states. Transplants are often leaving behind their support networks and essentially starting over.
Callen Jones, a Realtor® with the Dalton Wade Real Estate Group and who is based in Tampa, FL, has seen many people leave Florida due to the state’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws. This spring Jones, who identifies as transgender, helped four people sell their homes. Jones’ clients, who were self-employed or worked remotely, relocated to the Midwest and Northeast.
Last year, Florida made headlines for banning classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools for kindergarten through third grade. The law, which has since been expanded to higher grades, resulted in a teacher being investigated for showing her fifth-grade class the Disney movie “Strange World,” which has a gay character.
In May, Florida Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation to restrict gender-affirming health care for transgender minors. The law also allows children who undergo treatment to be placed in the state’s temporary custody.
“A lot of our folks who are openly LGBTQ and their parents are fearful,” says Jones. “Home is so vastly important to everyone, the ability to have a home and feel safe and feel settled. If you don’t feel safe, secure, and affirmed, you’re not going to be your best self.”
Nicole, who did not want to be fully identified, moved from the Fort Worth, TX, area to Denver with her husband and 14-year-old twin boys in mid-November.
One of their twins came out as bisexual in 2019 and then as transgender a year later. He began gender-affirming health care six months later.
In February of last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents of transgender children receiving gender-affirming care. The order was successfully challenged in the courts but is now being appealed. On Sept. 1, it will become illegal for doctors in the state to provide gender-affirming care to those under 18.
“It was urgent that we needed to leave,” says Nicole. “The thought of both of [our kids] being taken from us because we support gender-affirming care was terrifying.”
She was advised to create a “safe” folder for affidavits from people who knew the family and could testify they were good parents. Their children were advised not to answer questions from adults they didn’t know unless Nicole and her husband were present.
“I couldn’t in good conscience stay any longer,” says Nicole.
The family chose Denver, despite not having family or friends there. They had searched online for LGBTQ+-friendly places, and Colorado kept coming up.
Their three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, which they purchased in 2019, took five months to sell. They barely broke even. In November, they moved into a rental house in Denver, which was considerably more expensive.
Nicole, who is a mortgage lender, was able to continue working remotely. Her husband is retired from the Air Force. Most importantly, their son is able to continue with his treatment.
“We didn’t realize how we were living down in Texas until we got up here. This massive weight was lifted, and the fear was gone,” she says. “We feel like we can take a deep breath.”
CHICAGO — Summer in Chicago means countless street markets and arts fests, outdoor concerts, parties at the park and so much more.
Whether you’re shopping local at Englewood Village Market, competing for prizes at a Pilsen street cleanup, admiring Japanese floral arrangements on display in the Southport Corridor or dancing the night away at a Shrek rave, there’s something for everyone this weekend.
Here’s a roundup of 18 things to do in Chicago this weekend:
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
On Catalpa Avenue between Clark Street and Ashland Avenue
This neighborhood resale market returns this weekend for the first of three summer events. Shop vintage clothing, decor, accessories, music and other items from more than 30 vendors, including Fad 2 Fresh, Field Mercantile and Ruby Baby Vintage. There will also be live music and potato-based pastries from Downstate Donuts. The market is pet-friendly and there is a $5 suggested donation for admission.
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday
Along West Waveland and North Southport avenues. See map here.
Browse artwork by some of the city’s best artists at this family-friendly art festival. There will be a variety of mediums on display, including oil, acrylic, watercolor, jewelry, sculpture, photography, wood, glass and more. Plus, kids can enjoy interactive games and activities. Find more information online.
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday
The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave.
Since 2018, Passport Vibes has brought partygoers together for a festival all about Afrobeats. Groove to Afrobeat and African music from local and international DJs, enjoy food and retail vendors, play outdoor laser tag, enjoy photo installations and more.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, 3015 W. Division St.
Celebrate Puerto Rican art and culture at the 23rd annual Barrio Arts Festival with live musical performances by local Puerto Rican artists, family-friendly arts workshops, Puerto Rican delicacies, handmade crafts and more. Admission is free. Learn more and see the fest’s full schedule here.
Noon-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday
Southport Corridor, 3200-3900 N. Southport Ave.
The Japanese Culture Center, Lakeview Roscoe Village of Commerce and Japanese Arts Foundation are partnering to host a Japanese floral arrangement exhibition in the “unofficial Japantown of Chicago.” Stroll through the Southport Corridor this weekend and you will see Japanese art of flower arrangements, or ikebana, featured in over a dozen locations, including local restaurants and business storefront windows. Galleria Liqueurs, 3409 N. Southport Ave., will also be hosting free sakes tasting through the weekend. There will be an informational table to learn more about this free event near J. Crew, 3423 N. Southport Ave.
Noon-2 p.m. Saturday
Meeting House Tavern, 5025 N. Clark St.
Lighthouse Foundation, a Black, queer-led social justice organization serving Black LGBTQ+ people in the city, is celebrating its fourth anniversary with live music, drag performances and storytelling. Drinks will be available for purchase at Meeting House Tavern’s bar. Purchase your ticket for a donation of $35-100 online. Proceeds go toward supporting the work of Lighthouse’s flagship research project, the Black Queer Equity Index.
5-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday
On Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson avenues
Enjoy live music, family fun, vendors, local restaurants and a craft beer showcase at this Lincoln Square summer festival. You can catch performances by artists from Chicago and beyond, like Lala Lala, Superchunk, Slow Pulp, Mucca Pazza, Disaster Kid and more. The street fest is easily accessible from the CTA Brown Line Western stop. There is a $20 suggested donation for families, $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids.
9 p.m. Saturday
House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St.
Party like you’re “Far Far Away” and dance through the night to your favorite Shrek tunes. Tickets are $22.50 to $37.50. Buy them online for a party of “ogre-sized fun.”
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
Independence Park, 3945 N. Springfield Ave.
A haven for art enthusiasts and shoppers, there will be more than 40 vendors at Summer Artisan Fest showcasing their handmade items at Irving Park’s Summer Artisan Fest. Shop jewelry, home decor, candles, baked goods and other one-of-a-kind items. Pets and all ages are welcome.
6-8 p.m. Friday
Kilbourn Park, 3501 N. Kilbourn Ave.
Pack a picnic and grab chairs and blankets for some free, family-friendly entertainment at the park. Enjoy the sounds of summer at this free-to-attend concert series.
2-6:30 p.m. Sunday
Picnic Grove 5 in the Dan Ryan Woods, 8700 S. Western Ave., near 85th Street and Western Avenue
Learn how to make your own zines — or handmade mini magazines — at this second annual Zine Camp. Connect with the city’s zine community, learn tips and tricks and more. This free event is hosted by Zine Club, a group that meets monthly to discuss zine-making, and sponsored by Quimby’s Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave.
Noon-10 p.m. Saturday
Lincoln Abraham Park, 1800 N. Stockton Dr.
Celebrate electronic dance music with and dance to tunes spun by local DJs and producers in Lincoln Park this weekend. This is a free event hosted by a group called EDM Chicago is free. Donations are appreciated and will count towards a merch and ticket giveaway.
Noon-4 p.m. Sunday
Metropolitan Brewing, 3057 N. Rockwell St.
Chicago Vegan Test Kitchen and Ascend Cannabis are hosting a Vegan Summer Sesh this weekend with local plant-based chefs, cruelty-free artisans and mindful wellness alchemists. The event is open to all ages and pets are welcome. Admission is free with RSVP.
1-4 p.m. Sunday
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts – Screening Room, 915 E. 60th St.
Kicking off this Sunday and running through August, the Logan Center for the Arts is hosting free film screenings of celebrating Black cinema, self-representation and freedom. Two summer screenings will be paired with selections from the South Side Home Movie Project, which archives home movie recordings from Chicago’s South Side to protect the neighborhood’s history and films. The “Screening Freedom” series draws from decades of Black film production and showcases works that reflect and enrich Black life, from blockbuster movies to intimate family records. RSVP for free online.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday
Englewood Village Plaza, 5822 S. Halsted St.
Shop fresh produce, food, goods from local farmers, Black businesses and more at this Saturday market. There will also be live music, fun for the family and a weekly rotation of programming, from art activations to health and wellness activities to community information sessions.
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.
Watch the documentary “What These Walls Won’t Hold,” hear from survivors of police torture, learn about COVID-19 in prison and more at this exploration into art, death and imprisonment. Find the full schedule and RSVP online.
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday
Corner of 16th and Paulina streets
Help clean up 16h Street in Pilsen with Cleanup Club Chicago and Pilsen-based environmental justice group PERRO. There will also be “litter races” with prizes for those who want to compete. Grabbers, bags, water and some protective gloves will be provided during the event. Attendees are encouraged to bring a five-gallon bucket, gloves and sunscreen. Register for the cleanup online.
4-7 p.m. Saturday
Hops & Scotch, 720 S. Wells St.
Taste award-winning, premium Italian wines paired with Limoncello while supporting local, women-owned businesses. RSVP online.
PLUS: Four Picks from Our Partners At
7 p.m. Friday
Radius, 640 W. Cermak Rd.
Vibe to hip-hop and reggae this Friday with the Dirty Heads at Radius.
7 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted St.
Come and experience this explosion of color and sound and hear the sounds of unique instruments that you can’t find anywhere else.
7 p.m. Sunday
Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.
The Oakland hip-hop group is celebrating 30 years of 93 Til Infinity this Sunday at Metro.
10 p.m. Friday
PRYSM, 1543 N. Kingsbury St.
Get ready to dance the night away with this wild mix of house and techno at PRYSM.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”:
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a wild imagination and, consequently, a lot of big ideas. While this prepared me to be a natural entrepreneur, it wasn’t always enough to make me confident in my ability to pave my own way. After all, it was incredibly rare for me to see folks like me, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, successfully running small businesses in my rural town.
It wasn’t until I met my first LGBTQ+ small business owner, at a Pride event, that I realized that I could turn my big ideas into a business. This is exactly why supporting LGBTQ+ small businesses is so important, not only so that the world can continue to enjoy their amazing goods and services, but so kids like me don’t have to grow up thinking business ownership is out of reach.
This Pride Month, and beyond, I encourage you to try your best to support LGBTQ+-owned small businesses. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Little Woodfords – Portland, ME
When my husband and I first moved in together, we were right down the street from Little Woodfords. I quickly found myself finding every excuse to walk by them, that way I could pop in for one of the most delicious cups of coffee that I have ever had (seriously, their coffee is incredible).
However, what I love about Little Woodfords, even more than their coffee, is the community that they have built from within their tiny little shop. When you walk in, you are greeted with a genuine smile that sticks with you the entire day.
2. Queer Candle Company – New York City, NY
Founded by couple, Ab and Al, Queer Candle Company makes some of the best smelling candles on this planet. If you love candles as much as I do, it will be your new favorite place to shop. Trust me, as soon as you burn their Sweet Grapefruit & Mint soy candle, you won’t want to buy from any other shop.
Supporting Queer Candle Company isn’t just about filling your home with delicious scents. When you buy from them, you are not only supporting Ab and Al, but you are also supporting other members of the LGBTQ+ community. The business is proud to employ other LGBTQ+ people, to work hard at building a sense of community amongst themselves and other similar businesses, and to donate 10% of their profits to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
3. Wish Me Luck Tattoo – Chicago, IL
In Chicago, Illinois, it isn’t hard to find a tattoo shop. If you ask me, however, Wish Me Luck Tattoo is where I would book my next session. Wish Me Luck is Chicago’s first Black/Indigenous, queer, and trans-owned shop, and is welcoming to people from all walks of life.
What makes this shop truly special, besides the beautiful art that walks out of it, is its owner, Faith. Faith decided it was time to open her shop after experiencing racism, homophobia, and transphobia at other tattoo shops. So, she hit the ground running and didn’t look back. What she has built is a tattoo shop that is not only inviting to all people, but is a safe place for those who feel unwelcome in other shops to get tattooed.
4. Guardian Brewing Company – Saugatuck, MI
If you love craft beer, good food, and live music, you will want to head towards the shores of Lake Michigan, just 36.5 miles from Grand Rapids. There lies Guardian Brewing Company, which opened in 2018, and features an extensive draft list of 22 craft beers, 14 wines, and 2 hard ciders. Not only that, but they offer cocktails made of local (and imported) liquors, absolutely delicious food, and a 3,500 square foot patio that is dog-friendly. It even features a six-foot gas-fired fire pit!
Best of all: when you visit Guardian Brewing Company, you are also helping support their efforts to make a difference in their community. Every year, they accept applications for philanthropic partnerships where they’ll donate to local organizations. Past recipients have included companies like Saugatuck Center For The Arts, Black Visions Collective, Out On The Lakeshore, and more.
5. Spellbound Sky – Los Angeles, CA
Along Santa Monica Boulevard is Spellbound Sky, a metaphysical shop owned by Mark Phillips and Martin Anguiano. For anyone looking to indulge in a little magic, Spellbound Sky is the perfect place to stop. You’ll find crystals, minerals, ritual candles, and much more.
Mark and Martin chose to open Spellbound Sky back in 2011 after over 20 years in the fashion industry in LA. They both had a mutual love for all things metaphysical and wanted to take the plunge and finally open their doors so they could share their vision with their community.
6. SuLei – Walla Walla, WA
I’m a huge lover of wine, so I felt like I had to include a winery. When I came across SuLei, I knew they were the perfect choice! For Elaine and Tanya, opening a wine cellar seemed like a natural transition, especially since they spent all their time researching (and tasting) wine anyway. The name SuLei was created by Elaine and Tanya to celebrate their partnership. It’s a synonym for “Sulis Minerva”, a Celtic goddess.
With red and white options, paired with names such as “Beet Red” and “Roller Girl Jammer”, you’ll find that SuLei has a lot to offer. Elaine and Tanya use both old and new world techniques when making their wine, and are deeply proud to be one of the growing women-owned and operated wine cellars in Washington.
7. Big Gay Ice Cream – New York City
Big Gay Ice Cream is quickly growing beyond small business status and it is more than easy to see (and taste) why. Their ice cream, which comes in soft serve at their locations, is some of the best that I have ever tried. My favorite? The Monday Sundae, a crispy waffle cone, lined with Nutella, filled with chocolate and vanilla twist, drizzled with dulce de leche, and adorned with whipped cream. What takes this cone sundae over the top, though, is the finishing touch – a sprinkle of sea salt. It is an out-of-body experience.
Big Gay Ice Cream goes beyond just supporting your taste buds and strives to make a real difference in the world. When you support Big Gay Ice Cream, you are also supporting their efforts to aid LGBTQIA+ organizations, education, homelessness and hunger initiatives, children, animal shelters, and more.
You don’t have to live by a Big Gay Ice Cream location in order to enjoy them, though. Big Gay Ice Cream now sells pints in stores.
Above are just a small handful of LGBTQ+-owned businesses throughout the United States, but it is by no means a comprehensive list. This Pride Month, I encourage you to venture out into your community to find the LGBTQ+-owned business local to you, and to show them your support.
After all, you aren’t just supporting LGBTQ+ business owners, but you are showing the kids with big ideas that their businesses can be successful.
It’s summer, which means people are headed to the beach, to their favorite city destinations and to every type of hotel on the way and in between.
Like always, we’re constantly trying to provide you with the most up-to-date hotel news, including the latest on the lawsuit regarding Marriott and “junk fees,” Marriott launching its 32nd brand and the top destinations Hilton Honors members are traveling to this summer.
In between those big stories, some hotel news gets bookmarked to share in this monthly news roundup so you can feel informed and knowledgeable about what’s happening in the hotel space. From new hotel openings to one-of-a-kind suites, here are some of the most exciting hotel updates you might have missed in June.
Move over Barbie — Ken’s taking over the Malibu DreamHouse
Airbnb is well known for its over-the-top, once-in-a-lifetime pop-up stays — and now Barbie’s Malibu DreamHouse is back. This time, it’s been totally revamped with Ken playing the role of host.
To celebrate the July 21 premiere of the new “Barbie” movie, two lucky guests will get the chance to spend the night in the pink pad. It’ll be complete with Ken’s wardrobe, a dance floor with a disco ball, a pool with a waterslide, and even yellow-and-pink rollerskates and surfboards.
The chance to book happens July 17 at 10 a.m. PDT at the house’s dedicated website.
Dolly Parton’s opening a new hotel — and reservations are now open
Here at TPG, we’re big fans of Dollywood, whether we’re visiting the theme parks or spending the night on Dolly’s retired tour bus. While the park and its DreamMore resort are practically perfect, it’s all about to get better: HeartSong Lodge & Resort, an all-new place to stay, will open in the Smoky Mountains.
Set to open to guests Nov. 23, the new resort will feature 302 rooms, including rooms with bunk beds and fun themes. The property will also offer a full-service restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools, priority access and free transportation to Dolly’s parks, and Dollywood TimeSaver passes to skip the lines.
You can reserve a room now — and you know we’ll be there when it opens to share the experience. If it’s half as good as DreamMore and Dollywood, you know it’ll be perfect. Until then, check out what Dolly herself recently shared with TPG about the future of her “Tennessee Mountain Home.”
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JW Marriott’s heading on a Tanzanian safari
Marriott Bonvoy loyalists who have been dreaming of a points-based safari better save some dates in 2026. That’s when an all-new JW Marriott is set to open in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Right now, the details of the camp are light (and there are no renderings yet), but we know that it will feature 30 private suites, including two presidential suites, all with private pools.
This isn’t JW Marriott’s first foray into safari lodges. Marriott recently opened the JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge in Kenya, where you can book award nights starting at 77,500 points.
Related: How to choose a sustainable African safari
This NYC Pride-themed hotel suite is sticking around until September
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Pride month may have come to an end, but travelers to New York City can still experience a suite-turned-art gallery at the Innside by Melia New York Nomad.
In collaboration with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art — a space dedicated to LGBTQI+ artists — artist Tura Oliveira transformed a suite into an out-of-this-world, science fiction-themed suite centered around “queer futurity.” Oliveira painted murals, dyed textiles and curated books, furniture and other interesting objects to bring the space to life. (Not to mention, the suite has a massive deck with beautiful views of the Uptown skyline.)
Rates for the suite — which is available through Sept. 23 — start at $399 per night and come with tickets to the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art.
A new designer hotel is finally open in Rome
There’s no place like Rome, the Eternal City — and few cities have such a booming hotel scene.
The city recently celebrated the opening of Bulgari Hotel Roma. The hotel, in Campo Marzio near the Tiber, has 114 rooms and suites in a 1940s building that has been updated and restored. The hotel, part of Marriott, has a Bulgari Spa, an indoor swimming pool, Italy’s first Bulgari sweets shop, a rooftop terrace bar with breathtaking views of the city and the brand’s signature restaurant, Il Ristorante — Niko Romito.
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First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes house hunting?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Americans are increasingly buying homes as they get engaged or married, or form other formalized relationships, and have children, according to a recent report from the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. The alliance is a national trade group of LGBTQ+ real estate professionals and allies. The report was based on a survey filled out by nearly 400 alliance members in March.
“The LGBTQ+ community’s homeownership journey follows a very traditional cycle,” says Ryan Weyandt, CEO of the alliance. “They start as renters early in their careers and just like everybody else. Relationships, jobs, and advancements in their careers are driving homeownership. Children are also becoming more impactful in buying decisions.”
There are more than 1.2 million same-sex couples in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau data included in the report.
More than a third of the surveyed LGBTQ+ first-time buyers, 37.7%, said that a formalized relationship was one of the top three reasons they wanted to become homeowners. For lesbian couples, it was a much stronger motivator, with 58.4% reporting it was one of the main reasons to buy homes.
This is compared with 53.8% of straight survey respondents.
Children were another top reason that members of the LGBTQ+ purchased homes, whether their first or their fourth. It was a motivating factor for nearly 44% of survey respondents. About 29% of LGBTQ+ individuals have children, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Where LGBTQ+ people want to live
Cities remained the destination of choice for members of the LGBTQ+ community as they’re just beginning their careers, often as renters. Nearly two-thirds of members of the alliance chose to live in an urban area or central part of the city with gay men more likely to pick these destinations than lesbians or straight individuals.
That’s likely because the social and dating scenes of a prospective area are important when they’re choosing a first place to live. Being in a place with a strong LGBTQ+ presence and good nightlife was also important to many younger members of the community.
However, the community isn’t monolithic. Interestingly, nearly a fifth of lesbians started their professional careers in small towns—compared with almost 5% of gay men and about 6% of straight folks.
“The LGBTQ+ community is everywhere,” says Weyandt.
Nearly half of LGBTQ+ folks bought their first homes in urban areas, compared with about a third of straight people. More than 40% purchased in the suburbs, while roughly 10% bought in small towns or rural areas.
When purchasing a home, the social, dating, and nightlife scenes weren’t top considerations. That might be because many buyers are older, in relationships, and more settled down—and they might not be as interested in partying into the wee hours.
“We value so much of the same things as everyone else,” Erin Morrison, alliance member and a Realtor® in Texas, said in a statement. “We want access to good jobs, affordability, to be near our friends and family, have loving relationships and live in welcoming communities.”
LGBTQ+ Americans still face housing discrimination
A record 520-plus anti-LGBTQ+ bills had been introduced in state legislatures as of late May, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Seventy have been enacted.
In the past year, about 29% of LGBTQ+ people said they had experienced housing discrimination or harassment, according to the Center for American Progress. And about a fifth of alliance members say that discrimination against LGBTQ+ homebuyers is on the rise.
“Discrimination and the fear of it are a pervasive problem,” says Weyandt. “Imagine your LGBTQ+ child looking for a home and having to consider so many aspects to the decision that others might not. It’s not only the home, the neighborhood, and the schools they’re looking at. It’s how will they be welcomed? Will they be welcomed? What if they have children? How will the children be received in the neighborhood, in the school district?”
Transgender buyers might have to sign forms with names that do not reflect their gender identities. Sellers might be reluctant to choose LGBTQ+ buyers. And real estate agents, landlords, and leasing agents might discriminate against members of the community.
This is leading many LGBTQ+ Americans to consider moving out of their communities and states. Some are worried about being harassed or bothered by their neighbors because of their sexual orientations or gender identities.
“The hope is this period of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and rhetoric are just another blip and a barrier to overcome for the community to be fully accepted,” says Weyandt. “The most important thing we have to remember is that LGBTQ+ people are people. And we have to welcome them for who they are.”
Maximalism in home décor and design is an aesthetic style that embraces boldness, extravagance, and abundance. Unlike minimalism, it emphasizes an eclectic mix of patterns, colors, textures, and objects to create visually vibrant spaces. Maximalist interiors are all about exuberance and excess when it comes to design. Some elements of this style are rich colors, various patterns and textures, and a mix of furniture styles, eras, and influences. According to Bobby Berk, some people are drawn to maximalism for the “comfort and layered look” that it offers.
There are hardly any limits to the maximalism trend; various ideas and concepts can come together to create a unique and diverse environment. This free range of self-expression is a big part of why people love it so much. It encourages the reflection of the homeowner’s personality and interests in a playful and exciting way. It also allows people to proudly embrace sentiments and memories through objects. Ultimately, maximalist décor sees a strong sense of self as a great approach to decorating a home.
*Please note that this article contains affiliate links. Fancy Pants Homes will receive a small percentage out of the value of anything you buy if referred by our site, money that will go into creating content for you. Thank you for supporting Fancy Pants Homes.
We make a goal out of building our dream home one day and we work hard to make it happen. Ever passed by a gorgeous house and just stared at it for a few minutes? I know I did! Then went about my business thinking I’ll probably never afford it anyway…
But what if you could create an amazing home using dollar store decorating hacks? After all, it’s just about combining cool ideas with good taste. And if you’re not the creative type, don’t worry! We’ll give you a list of ingenious home hacks that will transform your interiors.
Here are 16 of our favorite decor hacks for an affordable fancy home:
1. Use lighter colors when painting a small room to make it feel bigger
If you’re lacking on space, the first trick you can use to make a room feel larger is painting the walls in softer, lighter colors. White and beige never get out of style, but if these seem a bit dull, you can always choose soft shades like straw, pearl grey, blush, sage, sky blue or eggshell.
2. Signal your style by painting your front door in a vibrant color
Your front door is your home’s first impression. Tell your neighbors about your personality by painting it in a bold, glossy color.
In fact, you can even use take things a step further and make a statement with the color you choose for your front door and make use of conventions. For instance, in Feng Shui, a red front door simply means “welcome.” While in Scotland, painting your front door red means that you paid off your mortgage.
3. Hide your router inside a hollowed-out book
Tired of that router ruining the looks of your bookshelf or coffee table? Use a hollowed-out book to hide it. Just make sure to cut out the part that covers the router’s vents. This way you’ll prevent it from overheating.
4. To cast a lovely shadow, use a Sharpie to draw shapes on a light bulb
Or color it entirely if you love soft light. However, if you choose to simply draw a smiley face (let’s say) on a light bulb, the pattern will not be reflected on the walls. Not as you’ve drawn it anyway. But you can still do it for the sake of design.
5. Paint the sides of your doors a bright, playful color
This is a small DIY home decor hack that can actually make a big impact. Besides, it requires minimum time and effort. So grab a little tin of paint, pick an awesome color that you think goes well with the accents you’ve already incorporated in your home decor and dedicate an hour of your time for this small home project. You will love the result!
6. Use an old ladder to create your own shoe rack
We love DIY hacks that require little to no money. Depending on how your old ladder looks like, you can repaint it or just put it in the desired spot. At least now you won’t stumble over 10 pairs of shoes piling up at your front door.
7. Reinvent a boring dark lampshade by poking holes in it
Well, it’s more like creating a design or an image by poking the lampshade. You want to make it look more interesting, not ruin it. With a little dedication you can create a dreamy starry effect or your own big city lights.
8. Restore old furniture by using contact paper
If you’re looking for cheap home DIY decor ideas, breathe life into an old piece of furniture by covering the ‘damage’ with contact paper. The good thing about contact paper is that you can stick it on any dry, clean and flat surface (not to mention it comes in so many beautiful colors and patterns that your design choices are endless).
And just like that, your kitchen countertop has that marble look you love but can’t afford.
9. Use coins to decorate… whatever you want
Time to break the piggy bank and get creative. Make yourself a penny floor; glue your coin collection on a mirror frame or on a plate. Home decor hacks are a wise way to use your pennies.
10. Frame your favorite pictures with washi tape
Most of us love hanging memories on the wall, but when we lack space, picture frames can crowd the place even more. A great and cheaper alternative would be to frame your pictures with washi tape after attaching them to the wall.
11. Brighten your room with colorful throw pillows
Those small cushions are great accessories for your sofa. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors and textures. Some crisp new pillow covers will change the overall appearance of your room.
>> Buy them here: Colorful and affordable throw pillows that will add extra flair to your room
12. Go bold with a stylish backslash
You can do it for both your kitchen and your toilet without breaking the bank. Pay special attention to colors and patterns to bring a cheerful feeling with very little work on your part. You can use peel and stick tiles so you don’t break the piggy bank.
>> Buy it here: Add Color And Drama To Your Room With Peel And Stick Wallpapers
13. Use mirrors to make your room look larger
Large mirrors reflect the room back and will trick you into thinking a place is bigger than it actually is. It’s a great visual trick to use to make your room feel larger (and fancier), just make sure not to try going into the ‘other room’.
14. Get rid of useless things
If you still have things you haven’t been using for years or a certain object makes you groan, get rid of it. Don’t act like a hoarder and give yourself some space to breathe. Less is usually better when decorating your home.
15. Pick fluffy towels you’ll love to use
Time to throw away those old discolored towels that make your space look dirty and cheap. Use the fluffy ones you keep in your closet. You know… those that make you feel like you’re staying in a fancy hotel. 🙂 You can easily score extra points here by playing around with the way you showcase them.
16. Place dishwashing products on a cake stand
This is literally one of the easiest decorating hacks out there. Add style to your boring dishwashing products by placing them on a cake stand. Talk about an easy hack to make your kitchen look more fancy in an instant!
What home decor tips have you tried and loved the results? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to feature them!
Bonus: 17. Breathe life into your space by adding indoor plants
Decorating with indoor plants is a cost effective way to add visual interest to any room without breaking the bank. Plants can be displayed in many different ways from bohemian macrame plants hangers to more expensive stand alone planters, depending on your budget. The great thing about decorating with plants is that unlike other home decor they are truly timeless and will grow and adapt to your interior over time providing a unique look.
More tips for your fancy home
10 of the Most Stylish Minimalist Wall Clocks You Can Buy on Amazon
7 Top Decorating Ideas for Your Bedroom this Fall: Making Your Room More Cozy & Stylish
Here’s Everything You Need to Set Up a Meditation Corner in Your House
These are ‘Queer Eye’ Bobby Berk’s Top 6 Choices for Wall Décor
This is the first of a planned series in which I interview friends and family about their attitudes toward money. Most of these will be anonymized (and much shorter). Some will not. This first interview is with Scott Durbin, a member of Imagination Movers, a rock band for kids. This band is an entrepreneurial venture that required a huge leap of faith.
Scott, what made you and the other Movers decide to form a band? And why a band for kids?
Once you get into your 30s, you begin to feel opportunities to be creative evaporating. This time in our lives is often devoted to starting families, working for the company, paying bills to stay above the proverbial water, or working on our various relationships (wife-husband, boyfriend-girlfriend, other). I could get philosophical about the conflict and guilt of doing something seemingly self-indulgent versus being a good father/husband/worker, but let’s save that for another day. Luckily I have an amazing wife!
Several forces led to the founding of the Imagination Movers.
1. First, the guys in the group are very creative fellows. Creativity bubbles to the top given an opportunity.
2. Strangely enough, having families created an environment that allowed us to pool our creativity. That and proximity. When the Movers started, we lived within walking distance from one another. We all started having kids at the same time (minus Smitty who is the Mover without children). Kids have birthday parties. Parents gather. A ritual is established, and instead of going to bars or wherever to hang out with your mates, you’re left with your two-year-old’s birthday party as a means of convening. But it’s all good. These gatherings became the second peice of the puzzle.
3. When you have kids, you are immediately introduced into a foreign culture. You acclimate yourself as best you can, discovering the latest coolest educational toys, kids’ music, enrichment opportunities, places to play or visit, restaurants where kids eat free, any video/audio that might make your kids smarter — the whole kit-n-kaboodle. You discover your children want to listen to something over and over and over and over and over again, so as a survival parent, you want to make sure you can tolerate whatever that music is. This was the third key to development of the Imagination Movers.
4. Meanwhile, my wife has a friend who works at the local PBS affiliate. My wife’s friend often asks me to participate in commercials or promos they do. So there I am dancing for a commercial advertising the station’s fundraiser, a Beer Tasting Fest. The commercial is a hit, so I am receiving a lot of local affiliate PBS love which I put on the shelf for later use. This is a fourth thread. (All these threads will come together, so stay with me.)
5. Finally, I am a huge fan of Mister Rogers and Captain Kangaroo — people who possess a sincere desire to better the lives of their audiences and an almost palpable integrity that assures you they are not full of crap. And on top of that, they are REAL and not cartoons. I love cartoons just as much as the next guy, but heck, you know live action children’s entertainment is needed. A cartoon can only model so far or translate so much. It’s two-dimensional. So when Fred Rogers passed away, I felt called to take his place. Sounds crazy, but that become this nagging gut thing for me. I wanted to create a local kids’ show that treated kids like people and not consumers. This was the last factor in the band’s creation.
So here’s where the threads start coming together:
- I mention that I want to start a local kid’s show to my wife’s friend at the local PBS affiliate.
- I talk about the idea with my friends (and future Movers) at parties or the local grocery (the neighborhood essentially).
- As I begin waxing, I arrive at a name for the show — “Imagination Movers” — and a broad concept that Movers work in the other-worldy land of imagination, and it’s the job of a Mover to bring people good ideas when they have idea emergencies.
- I pitch the initial notion to the guys at a party. They’re in. We start writing a treatment/script in the attic of Dave’s house that we plan to pitch to the local PBS station. As we work on the show, music becomes a cornerstone. Rich and Smitty whip out the guitars and jam. Since the first script is about ‘healthy snacks’, most of the songs are in that vein. Well, we start writing songs and sometimes play them at get-togethers. People love the songs. Really love the songs.
- We pitch the show to the local PBS affiliate and they love it, but with PBS-type entities, they have NO money. We are disappointed, but everyone loves the songs. So Rich decides to invest in a home studio and we begin recording the music we wrote for the show.
The rest is Mover history.
So why did we become a kids’ band? For the most part, our children/families were where we were, and what we were about, so our songs became part observations of our lives, part honoring our wee ones (and hopefully creating something meaningful for other wee ones), and a sincere desire to be the new Mr. Rogers. But in our case, Mr. Rogers has been divided into four parts, and instead of wearing a cardigan … wears blue coveralls.
What was your family’s financial situation at the time you started the Imagination Movers?
At the time the Movers started, I was entering my sixth year of teaching. Picture if you will, being the ‘bread winner’ on a teacher’s salary. Ahhh, the luxury of it all. My better half worked full time-ish as an office manager for a web firm and was earning a little less than me. Our income, however, was supplemented by a rental property. Even so, we rented to friends and consequently asked for $150 month lower than market value for the area.
Having two wee ones, we were quite honestly living paycheck to paycheck. We had some credit card debt but nothing crazy.
Our biggest financial problem — and this sounds strange — was vacations. Here’s the recurring scenario: we would finally get ourselves into some kind of financial stability and then boom, we would go on a family vacation and put ourselves right back into a mini-hole. Not trying to shift blame from self, but ‘we’ were not as frugal when it came to vacations as we should have been. My wife having been raised in a close knit family that always took summer vacations, was pretty adamant that we take similar family vacations. The problem with vacations is that you’re more apt to splurge thus obliterating your vacation budget. It’s the mentality of saying to yourself, “Hey, we’re on vacation! We won’t be able to do this for awhile or eat this good or whatever.” And soon enough, your food budget no longer exists and you’re stuffing your face with $20 crab cakes. Viva la vacation!
How did starting the Imagination Movers affect your personal finances?
For a while, everything we did was out of personal pocket. As the organic nature of our project began to take root and blossom, it was clear that some kind of real investment needed to be made so our Big Ideas could be realized. That investment was a gut check: it meant we needed to use more of our own money. So began the Movers. Honestly, everything we did — from purchasing blue suits to buying equipment (such as a PA and wireless mics) to investing in a home studio — came from the pockets and sacrifices of Rich, Scott, Dave and Smitty. The great part is that we so believed in what we were doing that money, time and energy aligned themselves and we went into overdrive.
Rich and I were the initial big investors. Dave and Smitty pitched in when possible. Rich took the burden of financing a home studio, which led to the biggest collective cost we faced early on: the creation of our first audio release, Good Ideas. Taking into account the manufacturing of the CDs, paying someone to master them, and PR, we were looking at a few thousand dollars head-on. We didn’t have much disposable income, but we found the money. (I think Smitty sold plasma. I sold balloon animals. Dave panhandeled and Rich washed cars.)
All in all, to get the Movers started, we had to get out the shovel and dig into savings so the machine could begin to turn. Our first big hope was that sales from the CD and early shows would allow us to reap what we sowed. Either we’d get back what we paid into the project, or allow the money we made to lead us to other opportunities. The latter became the yellow brick road.
So to answer your question: my personal savings was hit, parts of my home were converted (putting up shelves for inventory, setting up a network system, getting filing cabinets), and little costs (mailers, paper, postage) sometimes cut to the bone. Instead of buying a six pack or going to a movie, my disposable income went to buying CDs and labels to burn early demo copies for people.
How did you and the other guys feel about this? It sounds to me exactly as if you’ve been starting a business. Do you feel this way too?
We had big ambitions from the start. Although it seemed like a great side project, we secretly treated it as an opportunity to become self-employed and as such worked it like it was a small business. I took on the role as visionary, aspiring to some very lofty goals.
When our demos turned into real products, the fire was lit and we added more goals: creating a coloring book based on one of the songs, printing t-shirts, looking to establish distribution for our burgeoning product line. You name it, and we were plotting it. We even financed a trip to Toy Fair in New York in an attempt to introduce the world to the Movers.
I will say we were smart about resisting investment from outside of the group. Some financial advice we received led us to just say no to third party investors. I remember something about us selling securities in the group if we did so; in other words, we’d be opening ourselves up to a very complicated financial and legal world.
We also had some great friends who encouraged us to form a business plan. Sounds incredible impetuous, but we formed an LLC, met with local business leaders (Idea Village, a business incubator in New Orleans), and started working on goals.
Naturally, guys in the group participated in the project as best they could. Some did much more than others, but we were aware of the sweat equity certain people were giving early on. Rich and I were in working situations that allowed us to devote more time to the project than Dave and Smitty. Dave was working hard as an architect and Smitty as a fireman. We were — and still are — doing something that we loved, so turning it into a business simply allowed us to keep everything on the up and up, as well as kept us organized.
Scott, how did Hurricane Katrina affect the Imagination Movers? How did it affect your personal financial situation?
Katrina, without question, was a reminder of just of fragile we are; how life can turn on a dime with very little warning. Its effects were truly devastating, but with destruction there comes new life and so it was with my family personally and the Movers professionally. First off, Katrina destroyed three Mover homes and most (if not all) possessions. Here is a picture taken near our home a few days after the levees broke.
Keep in mind, most of this water stayed around for days. Sadly enough, photographs, videos of a child’s birth — you name it — met a watery and moldy grave. Actually, it went further than that — it destroyed the neighborhood. The places you went to have coffee, ‘make’ groceries, the church you attended or the school you dropped your kids off were gone. In the blink of a wink, everything you saw for miles became ghost-like. Even today — more than a year plus after — empty houses, lonely streets, lost neighborhoods now whisper for anyone, anything to bring them back to their former selves.
The Mover office was also trashed. Countless CDs, coloring books, musical instruments were ruined. And guess what? The Movers didn’t have insurance. We had liability insurance, but we were so small and Mom-and-Pop-ish that we hadn’t needed more insurance — or so we thought.
Luckily Smitty lived on the West Bank, so although his home experienced minor wind damage, it escaped the destruction. The material things naturally hold memories, but not life and our thoughts focused on the well being of him and others like him soon after Kat hit.
Right after the disaster, everyone was reeling from the new reality we were forced into and for all intent and purpose had not processed the extent to which our lives would change, but we knew at the very least we did have the Movers. In particular, the Movers had two shows booked in Texas, one in Dallas on the Labor Day weekend and another in Plano. With the exception of Smitty (who was knee deep in search and rescue), we all rallied and went to Texas to fulfill our obligation. Quite honestly, no one knew about their jobs or future income or anything. All we could see in front of us was a small payday and so we went with quite honestly the clothes on our back. We had no instruments, no Mover suits — nothing, but we went. And we played. Here is a picture of the Mover suits we used in place of our trademark royal blue ones. Note: Kyle is our ancillary Mover and plays drums for live shows with us.
Life afterwards was surreal. We no longer had a place to live. My family lived with my parents and my brother and his girlfriend in a tiny house with one bathroom in Lafayette, Louisiana (about two hours west of New Orleans). My job as a teacher was in limbo. I spent time in line for food stamps and wondered what queer curiosity tomorrow would bring. All the while I was still a dad and husband and the well-being of my family was paramount to everything I did. I’m sure the rest of the Movers felt the same way.
Personally speaking, my family received help from people we knew and didn’t know. Friends sent us giftcards for bookstores so we could buy the kids books as our wee ones love to read. Other friends and people we didn’t even know sent assistance of clothing and toys and hope. Churches helped. Companies helped. People helped us restore the basics. The Movers too received emails of support and even a guitar was sent. The emails, for the Movers sake, really kept the project going. The simple act of someone somewhere taking the time to share with us how important what we did — musically speaking — meant in the lives of their children (many whom were going through the same situation as us) humbled us. Buckled our knees. We knew. We knew we had to continue despite the overwhelming sense of powerlessness we all felt.
All in all, looking back, I am a better person. Though I wouldn’t wish the ordeal on anyone — the goodwill (and Godwill) of so many showed taught me about selflessness and how truly to give of the heart. As for my personal financial situation, well I was unceremoniously dumped from my position as a teacher in an independent school in New Orleans. I hold no grudges but wished they would have done it with a little more humanity and compassion. It was a phone call and a FedEx package. Either way, no job meant no income and no health insurance. My wife had to go to work full time so we could have health insurance. Our situation was so transformed that we were unaware of what might happen next (food stamps, unemployment, ect). Lots of ‘what ifs’ came along. Lots of ‘how did we get here.’
On the good side, the reality of our immediate financial situation was: we forced ourselves to save, to tore up those proverbial nuts for winter. Some pluses included no longer having to pay some of our bills: electric, cable, water, etc. We did receive some emergency funds from Red Cross, FEMA and some monies from of our insurance companies. All in all, our financial situation was made very clear to us: the ins and outs of our money was front-and-center and we were forced to deal with our financial situation head on. Credit card debt — what to do about mortgage payments on a home we no longer lived in — paying rent, too — you name it. We dealt with how we were going to handle it, especially having lost my salary.
Since I had no job, the Movers became a full time gig. As it did with Rich and then later with Dave. Any reason we had not to jump headfirst into this venture disappeared and so we signed with Disney. What a crazy juxtaposition that is — you sign a deal with Disney and you still are having difficulty making ends meet. Most people believed we were rich once the Disney deal came — biggest misnomer you could ever imagine. Hopefully our financial situation will improve, but the fact is: reality and perception are clearly two different things. Our main source of income is not Disney. Instead it was and is playing live. It’s our favorite thing to do and so we do it — right now to survive financially and emotionally. As a sidebar: Major props to Music Rising as it was a Godsend. Without it, the Movers would be instrument-less.
It’s now been a year since Katrina. How are things now with the band? With your financial situation?
A year plus removed from Katrina, it seems everyone yearns for routine and normality. My life now is spent in a city two hours west of New Orleans. I am the only Mover who has not returned to NOLA. My family sold our house after having sat on it, hoping the city and state would give us reason to reinvest and rebuild. Translation: a plan of some kind or another. Unfortunately, they have failed miserably in my humble opinion. The local leadership has become invisible and crime has riddled a city in desperate need of hope.
The world wonders why the Saints meant so much to the city of New Orleans. The inside scoop: a simple football team allowed the city to be one, regardless of color or creed or financial state. It allowed all people to smile and be hopeful because the city itself didn’t offer those commodities.
Back to the Movers — We’ve been fortunate to have videos rolling on Playhouse Disney so it does raise our profile. We’ve been working our tales off to make half of what we were making as professionals: architect, journalist and teacher — so we could make this dream come true. Sidebar: Smitty still works as a fireman in New Orleans. Shows you our true reality. Even with that said, we have opportunity and that is all we can ask for. We finished a pilot presentation (we felt was incredible) and five new videos which will hopefully air soon. All of the filming was shot in LaPlace (which can be considered Greater New Orleans to some). We felt humbled to know that an idea we created was now employing 75-ish people, most of whom were from the local area. Good story. Gives you lumps in your throat.
As I type this, I really have no idea what the future holds — financial or otherwise. I just hope I can make my next payment! Money is, after all, like all the things lost in Katrina: it comes and goes. A person defined by money gets short-changed by life. Family and friends are what make life special.
Thanks to Scott for sharing his story. Look for more money interviews with other real people in the coming months.
To date, the Imagination Movers have released the following:
Good Ideas (2003), Calling All Movers (2004), Eight Feet (2005)
Stir it Up (2005)
Want to hear what the Movers sound like? Here’s a song called “My Favorite Snack”. This song is popular among both the kids and parents we hang out with. You can find more mp3s for download at the Imagination Movers site.
Scott reports that the group has a brand new CD coming out on a major label in March. Want to hear what the Movers sound like? Here’s a song called “Clean My Room” that — among other things — reminds me of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion”. You can find more mp3s for download at the Imagination Movers site.
Thanks to Scott for sharing his story. It’s a great example of the need for emergency funds and the realities of entrepreneurship (and making money from hobbies). I hope to do more money interviews in the future. I’m exploring the idea of making these podcast-based. If you have any thoughts on this, drop me a line.