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Hundreds of Cyclists Pedaled to Defeat Cancer at the Inaugural Tour de Pier Seattle, Raising $150,000

Photo: Pancreatic.org

Funds raised during the stationary cycling charity event benefit nonprofit organizations Virginia Mason Cancer Institute, the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and the Uncle Kory Foundation

SEATTLE – Sept. 17, 2019 – On Sept. 14, 2019, Tour de Pier, the unique stationary cycling fundraising event completed its first-ever Tour de Pier Seattle at Lake Union Park raising nearly $150,000 to support cancer research at Virginia Mason Cancer Institute, the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and the Uncle Kory Foundation.

More than 500 cyclists rode in the Tour de Pier to raise money for research, remember loved ones lost and support those who have been affected by cancer. Some of the West Coast’s best indoor cycling instructors, including Darsenio Hunter, Lindsey Ungar, Drew Shelton-Stewart, Alex Sweeney and PK Kessel, spun riders through a five-hour session with energizing music and entertainment.

“We were thrilled to see such a wonderful turnout for the inaugural Tour de Pier Seattle,” said Lisa Manheim, co-founder of Tour de Pier. “Our long-term goal is to expand this event across the country, and we’re proud that our first event held outside of Manhattan Beach had such a positive response.”

Seattle Seahawks sportscaster Jackie Montgomery emceed the event and country music recording artist Jessica Lynne sang the national anthem. Chaplain Tiji Murphy of Virginia Mason’s Bailey-Boushay House helped to guide a moment of silence and prayer at the start of the event. Ken Workman, a Duwamish Tribal Council member and direct descendant of Chief Seattle, gave an acknowledgement of the tribal land on which the event took place. Live entertainment during the Tour de Pier included a performance by the Seattle Seahawks Dancers, helicopter flyovers, a performance by the Seahawks’ Blue Thunder Drumline and a water show from the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol Unit. A free health and fitness expo during Tour de Pier included Vertra, Evergreens, Just Food for Dogs and Compfit Studios. Celebrity support from Miss Rainier Raechel Warren; Seattle Seawolves Mat Turner, Brad Tucker and Dion Crowder; and former NHL player Jamie Huscroft contributed to the fundraising success. Seahawks mascot Blitz and Seawolves mascot Rucky attended in support of the cause.

“It was truly awe-inspiring to see the number of people who came out to the event to support Virginia Mason Cancer Institute and others,” said Jeanne Jachim, president, Virginia Mason Foundation. “The funds raised through Tour de Pier will support vital efforts in our ongoing fight against cancer.”

Money raised from the Tour de Pier will be instrumental in facilitating research, in addition to developing better treatments and early detection methods and providing the latest resources for patients and families.

Since the first Tour de Pier was held in May 2013 in Manhattan Beach, California, the fitness fundraiser has raised more than $6.75 million for nonprofit cancer organizations and has grown to be one of the most popular outdoor charity events in Southern California.

About Tour de Pier
Jon Hirshberg, who started the first L.A. Cancer Challenge after the loss of his father Ron in 1997, came across the idea of doing a spin bike fundraiser after learning about an event that raised more than $3 million in one day at cycling studios across the country. He approached his friend and long-time cycling enthusiast, Heath Gregory, about the idea of putting on a one-day event in their hometown of Manhattan Beach, CA. Coincidentally, Gregory had participated in a similar event produced by Livestrong in Barcelona during the 2009 Tour de France and vividly remembered hundreds of riders moving in unison all for a common cause. With the Hirshberg Foundation on board to produce the event and a team of board members eager to participate, planning for the Tour de Pier began.

In March 2014, the City of Manhattan Beach Parks & Recreation Department won a prestigious award for Outstanding Special Event for the Tour De Pier, presented by the State of California Association of Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Competing against other cities throughout California, Tour de Pier was recognized as an event that significantly contributes to the overall betterment of the community. For more information, please visit www.seattletourdepier.com.

About Virginia Mason Health System 
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 500 physicians; outpatient medical facilities and services in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Edmonds, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the United States designed specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; Virginia Mason Foundation; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management method for improving quality and safety.

Virginia Mason Health System also includes Virginia Mason Memorial, a 226-bed hospital serving Yakima Valley in central Washington since 1950. Virginia Mason Memorial includes primary care practices and specialty care services, including high-quality cardiac care; cancer care through North Star Lodge; breast health at `Ohana Mammography Center; acute hospice and respite care at Cottage in the Meadow; pain management at Water’s Edge; an advanced NICU unit that offers specialty care for at-risk infants; advanced services for children with special health care needs at Children’s Village; and The Memorial Foundation.

Writers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts and Their Latest Project, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – 2019/2020 Television Season

As far as the upcoming television season goes, there is nothing that is garnering more buzz than the musical dramedy, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. Since the ending of the popular musical comedy-drama show, Glee, there has been a hole for viewers that love musicals. Glee was a standout show amongst the formulaic shows that dominated the television screens. Since it went off the air in 2015, viewers have been asking for something to fill that gap and Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts are set to deliver a brand new spin on the musical show.  

Popular shows like Law and Order, The Office, and Survivor had been capturing viewers for years but this was a time when shows where either comedies or dramas and there were no musical shows in existence. Glee was not only a comedy and a drama, otherwise know as a dramedy, but also it was also musical show. A musical show, outside of the reality television competition shows, was nonexistent at the time. Glee set the stage for future shows like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and there was no better writing team than Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts to help bring this extraordinary show to life.

The show, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, is a musical light drama starring Jane Levy, Skylar Astin, Alex Newell, Mary Steenburgen and Peter Gallagher. Jane Levy plays the character of Zoey, an incredibly intelligent computer coder living in San Francisco. Without spoiling the show, Zoey experiences an unusual event that grants her the ability to hear the innermost thoughts and desires of those around her. The twist? Zoey hears these desires through song. When she first hears people singing songs about what they want and desire, she questions whether she is losing her mind. Soon she realizes that instead of viewing this as a burden, she begins to see it as a gift that she can use to help others.

This show marks the first broadcast series for Lionsgate since Nashville. The series, directed by Richard Shepard, was picked up by NBC and each episode will be an hour long. The show is set to premier mid-season 2019/2020. Jane Levy is an actress who has played a wide variety of characters in everything from comedy show to horror films. Coming off of her current role of Jackie Torrance in Hulu’s Castle Rock, this new show will be another opportunity for Levy to flex her incredible acting skills. During an interview with Dailyactor.com, Levy said, “This is obviously a career that’s in a visual medium. It’s all about the human face, but I am not interested in roles that are going to necessarily make me look good. I also have a kind of a perverted sensibility, so that’s why I’ve veered towards horror films and comedies and things that push boundaries.”

Berg and Harberts are two veterans of the entertainment industry. As writers and producers, they have worked on multiple popular shows since their rare break into the industry.  The two have known each other since college but their working relationship came later. Since reconnecting in 1995, they have become one of the most sought after teams in the entertainment industry. They have worked on a wide variety of shows and have had the opportunity to write a wide variety of themes, characters, and topics.

When Berg and Harberts met in college at Northwestern University, little did they know that this chance meeting would lead to a successful career in the entertainment industry. They were both enrolled in the Creative Writing for Media Course at the college and they worked together on a student film. She was the director and he was her PA. Although they worked together on projects in college, it wasn’t until a few years later did their relationship really blossom into a fruitful career for both of them.

After she graduated, Gretchen Berg moved west like all young creative types looking to break into the industry. She landed in Los Angeles and hit the ground running but it was uphill battle. She was working hard but had a difficult time finding her groove. It was not until Aaron Harberts appeared back in her life that these two joined forces to create a writing team that would propel them into the industry. [Gretchen Berg official Website]

Aaron Harberts was a few years younger and once he graduated, he also came out to LA. He had a living situation fall through and was put in contact with Berg who offered Harberts a place to stay. When he first arrived, Berg was in the middle of working on a sitcom spec but was facing some issues with revisions before she presented it to studio executives. She asked Harberts for help, he jumped right in and they realized that their creative flow combined worked well with their individual writing styles. [Aaron Harberts official Website]

As they finished the revisions, they realized that they had a really good creative chemistry. Six months later they had their first script but neither of them loved it so it got tossed. At that point they knew they had something good going on, so they worked hard to get their big break. They hustled in Hollywood, working to get their screenplays in front of the right people. All their efforts paid off and they got their first break writing for the popular teen drama, Beverly Hills 90201. The rest as they say, is history.

Their combined impressive resume includes working on some of the most popular television shows of the last two decades. Starting with Beverly Hills 90201, they later went on to work on Roswell, Wonderfalls, Pepper Dennis, Pushing Daisies, Mercy, Revenge, Reign and Star Trek Discovery. They worked as producers for some of these shows as well. With this type of experience, they were posed and ready to start writing for the upcoming show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

This much anticipated upcoming show is already being hailed as a must see in the 2019/2020 viewing season.  As the buzz surrounding the show continues to grow, more people are getting excited to watch Jane Levy bring her A game to her latest show.  Her talent combined with the writing skill set of Berg and Haberts is a recipe for a surefire hit.

The Key to Getting Sleep: Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Faster

I have lived in Seattle all my life. My issues include allergies, asthma, and the inability to fall asleep easily. I’m sure living downtown doesn’t help with all the noise and air quality but I do eventually fall asleep. My issues with insomnia is something I have to deal with every night. I hope the information below is helpful for you.

For some people, sleep can be very elusive. In fact, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine about 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% of adults suffer from short-term insomnia and 10% have what is considered a chronic insomnia disorder. It affects far more people than previously suspected and insomnia can be devastating on the mind and body. Lack of sleep can cause poor memory, sleepiness, fatigue, low energy, lack of motivation, mood swings, and the inability to focus. In fact, due to insomnia it is estimated that adults who work and suffer from insomnia lose on average about 8 days of work a year. This adds up to an estimated $63 billion a year in lost production.

Insomnia can be devastating but there are a few tips and tricks that can help people get a better night’s sleep. There are many causes of insomnia. For some people sometimes medication is not an option. There are some natural methods that one can utilize to help alleviate the debilitating side effects of insomnia. Anywhere from changing the temperature of your room to listening to an ambient album by Moby can help people to achieve a successful night of sleep.

One tip that people swear by and science backs up is that in order to fall asleep and stay asleep is to either lower or raise the temperature of the room that one is sleeping in. In general, the suggested bedroom temperature should be set at 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleeping conditions. If the thermostat is set too low, then the body becomes restless. Sometimes wearing socks can also help dilate blood vessels faster and push the internal thermostat to an ideal body temperature for sleeping.

Popular musician and DJ Moby is known for his electronica dance music albums but one thing that most people don’t know about Moby is that he also struggles to fall and stay asleep. He has recently released an album named Long Ambients 2, a follow up to his Long Ambients 1:Calm. Sleep, and both albums are designed to help an individual reach a deeper level of calm. Ambient sounds have been known to help people fall into a deeper sleep. Moby’s Long Ambients 2 has 6 extremely soothing tracks that run about 37 minutes each. Relaxing music can be a key component to a successful night of sleep and Moby’s latest album is specifically designed to be a sleep aid. The album is also free to download.

Staying on schedule is key to a good night’s sleep. The body has it’s own regulatory system called the circadian rhythm.  This is the internal clock of the body that gives it the proper cues to fall asleep at night and to stay awake during the day. If you go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day, then the body begins to get used to that schedule. The body then naturally starts to become relaxed around the same time every night hence leading to sleep.

The ancient art of yoga and meditation are relaxing practices that help clear the mind and relax the body. Both practices have been shown to improve sleep by helping the body to release stress and tension. Both Yoga and meditation merge breathing patterns with body movement into the practice, which enhances melatonin levels in an individual. Playing music like Long Ambients 2 during the practice will help increase mindfulness and help to bring the focus to breathing patterns that promote relaxation.  

One good way to help a person fall asleep is to avoid taking a nap during the day. People with insomnia don’t get enough sleep at night so they have a tendency to sleep during the day to make up for the lack of sleep at night. These naps become a vicious cycle. The naps during the day make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Cutting out naps at first will be difficult but once that cycle is broken, it will be easier to fall asleep at night. Studies have shown that daily, long naps upwards to two hours or more can severely impact a person’s ability to fall asleep at night.

Another natural way to help aid sleep at night is to exercise during the day. Studies show that exercise, especially done early in the morning is an effective method to help people to fall asleep. Exercise can help with the duration and quality of sleep by increasing the production of serotonin in the brain and by decreasing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. A moderate intensity workout is recommended for optimal sleep. Sometimes, an excessive and heavy training can actually disrupt sleep patterns. These are just a few ways to help kick start a good night’s sleep. Certain techniques when utilized properly can help bring about a more restful and relaxing night of sleep. Bottom line, sleep is a necessity and not everyone is lucky enough to fall asleep without help. Improving the quality and duration of sleep will greatly improve the overall quality of life and health in a person.

The Emerald City Journal is a Seattle Newspaper for the people. If you have something you would like to share, please contact us. If it is valuable to our readers we may just publish it.

Seattle Housing Authority Residents Bringing Digital Inclusion to South Seattle

On Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019 Senator Patty Murray convened a round table discussion at the Seattle Housing Authority in support of her Digital Equity Act of 2019. At the table was the SHA resident-led initiative Building Our Bridge, funded by the City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund, which brings multilingual technology instruction to SHA’s Rainier Vista community.

Developed by SHA residents for SHA residents, this digital inclusion program uniquely understands the challenges poverty, disability and disenfranchisement bring. Laughter rang out in SHA’s Rainier Vista classroom on July 5th, 2019 as six Vietnamese elders and one grandchild gathered to learn technology in their own language. An 84 year old student says she didn’t get an opportunity to go to school and now she goes everywhere she can. She overheard someone talking about the Building Our Bridge classes and she asked them, “Please, take me where you are going.” With JAWS and NVDA assistive technology installed on our machines we were proud to welcome Joseph and Hoa Dinh to our Vietnamese program.

Building Our Bridge Vietnamese Instructor Xuan-Nhi Cao

Joseph has a degree in computer science and both he and Hoa are blind and are active on the Resident Planning Committee which includes the hiring of staff. Bilingual Instructor Xuan-Nhi Cao is a Primary Teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary who went door to door to Vietnamese households in Rainier Vista to promote the classes, and bilingual Assistant Thu Van Tran is an SHA Temporary Assistant Property Manager Trainer for HOPE VI who knows the community’s needs well and is acquainted with several of the students.

The Oromo program was taught by bilingual Instructor Mohamed Mohamed and bilingual Assistant Fekadu Tuli. Mohamed Mohamed is the Assistant Systems Admin / IT Technician at Refugee Women’s Alliance and Fekadu Tuli is an educator with the Seattle Public Schools who is spending his summer volunteering with the Horn of Africa. During the Oromo program students were excited to create resumes and access The Source, a Seattle Public Schools portal through which parents can monitor their children’s academic progress on-line.

English program Instructor Anjana Ravi is a computer literacy instructor at the community college level who hosted the program in June using our curriculum donated by the Seattle Public Library, which includes moussing, keyboard, email, internet, MS Word & resume, social media, parent engagement and The Source.

On Friday, August 16th, 2019 Building Our Bridge hosted a tri-lingual Tech Clinic in which volunteers from Full Life Care came to the site to help residents troubleshoot issues with their devices. In two hours participants were able to change their computers to write in their native language; install LibreOffice as a free alternative to MS Word; increase the font size on a tablet; address a malfunctioning CD drive; and learn from their peers where to buy low-cost refurbished computers. We’re delighted to welcome program assistant Sakina Hussain, herself a Rainier Vista resident who has worked with SHA Community Builder, Jennifer Calleja on numerous projects in the neighborhood. She has a background in journalism and has worked for MSNBC, MSN and Microsoft. We’re excited to have been recommended for funding by the City of Seattle Technology Matching Fund in 2019-20 and to include a Somali program next summer. We’re reaching out to East African and Southeast Asian organizations to build a network of local technology resources for our students which we will translate into their languages and share with community partners.

Individuals and organizations interested in partnering with us to achieve our goal of hosting multilingual computer classes year round at a permanent computer lab, please contact Elizabeth Kennedy at ekbuildingourbridge@gmail.com, (206) 495-3974 for more information.

Building Our Bridge Vietnamese Basic Computer Skills class graduates, July, 2019

Rachel Chandler Biography

Rachel Chandler is a fashion photographer, model, and American DJ. Her work history is as eclectic as her personal style and the way she spins tunes: when you spend time with Chandler, you never know exactly what you are going to get.  She is currently a partner in Midland Management and Casting, having founded the agency in 2016 with Walter Pearce.

Career At Midland Casting

Based in New York, Midland Agency is renown as one of the freshest and most revolutionary voices in the modern fashion industry. Chandler and her business partner, Pearce, work to burst through the traditional industry standards of beauty by engaging with diverse clientele and breaking down the walls of common fashion mores. This unique approach allows Midland’s clientele to move organically beyond the confines of traditional fashion modeling and into unique fashion concepts and casting opportunities. The prime goal of Midland Management is to give people a new way of looking at fashion, and critics agree that Chandler and Pearce have been successful.

Launch in 2016

In a piece by W magazine in 2016, Pearce and Chandler earned their reputation as an unlikely pair who would bring the practice known as street casting into the national spotlight. On paper, the two seemed like an unlikely pair; Chandler at the time was 29 and earning a living as a photographer; Pearce was 21 and a street-cast model best known for his work in Hood By Air. In the interview, Chandler noted that their agency’s goal was to thrust street-casting – and the cast of real-life characters that go with it – into the national spotlight. At the brand’s launch, the pair represented 16 clients that represented a wide variety of nontraditional fashion interests – there were local artists and musicians, and even a lawyer by training.

In an interview, Chandler noted that there is a trend in the industry toward less conventional modeling. It meshes well with her photography career – over the course of it, she has been naturally drawn to the icons living out their lives in the streets of New York. Her keen eye for seeking out beauty outside of the traditional standards speaks to a paradigm shift in the industry itself. Chandler and Pearce seized on the opportunity to celebrate the unexpected icons living among us. Indeed, brands like Calvin Klein and J.Crew have been turning to street-cast modeling, and Midland Management provides the opportunity for clients to have day jobs or other obligations, unlike other casting firms. [See Rachel Chandler on Models.com]

Chandler recalled a time when she was eating lunch with a friend and saw a person walk by outside. Abandoning her meal and her company, she ran after the man and convinced him to sign with Midland Management. Shortly thereafter, he was cast in a Helmut Lang Show.

Midland is also unique in that it is a hybrid organization that both manages and casts models. Though this dynamic is more popular in Europe, it is less so in the United States, and Midland is working to successfully fulfill a niche for those who may not fulfill traditional archetypes.

Photography Career

Chandler’s career in fashion photography matches her philosophy behind model representation and casting. Prior to creating Midland Management, Chandler worked with Eckhaus Latta year round. Eckhaus Latta, a fashion brand founded by Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, is renown in fashion circles for using unexpected materials and exploring texture in their design. They are also known for their use of unconventional models, having worked with non-model models like chefs, artists, skateboarders, and writers. Eckhaus Latta’s photography, video, and fashion work has been displayed at the Whitney Museum, the Hammer Museum, and the MoMA.

Working with Eckhaus Latta turned out to be a career boon for Chandler, who ultimately signed two of her own models for Midland who she met through Eckhaus Latta’s casting calls. Chandler is widely regarded as having a sought-after eye for capturing beauty and discovering talent in unlikely places. Her unconventional methods have always been coveted in fashion circles; in 2012, Vogue covered a New York store opening that she photographed using only Polaroids.

Personal Life

Rachel Chandler was born and raised in Los Angeles. In her teens, she moved to New York to study the History of Art at the Gallatin School. While studying there, she also participated in a number of internships and art organizations and photographers, including the renowned Patrick Demarchelier. She would soon be known for her uncanny ability to capture the vibrant scene in which she works, which would translate into finding fashion talent in the most unlikely of places.

Chandler has been a regular photographer and contributor for Purple Diary, Vogue, and Industrie Online in addition to her work at Eckhaus Latta.

To earn extra money, Chandler also DJed at the Standard Hotel, Avenue, and Beatrice Inn. But don’t think of her as another “slash.” In a 2011 interview with Paper, she noted that there are a lot of model-slash-actresses-slash-DJs. She didn’t want any part of that. She never wanted to DJ, but she did always want to be a photographer. DJing was a means to an end – it allowed her to buy equipment, cultivate her talents, and ultimately shaped the successful photographer and entrepreneur she is today.

Future For Midland Management and Casting

Today, Midland Management and Casting continues to break through barriers and reform what it means to be an icon in the fashion industry. Their unique vision is resonating with some of fashion’s most popular labels: to date, Midland has worked with Gucci, Miu Miu, Zara, Marni, Mulger, Jason Wu, and Rag and Bone. When asked how they choose the talent they work with, Chandler’s answer is simple. In an interview with Vogue, she noted that instead of finding a person who looks like a girl, Chandler will find you an “Actual” girl who is less gendered, less traditional, less overtly pretty, but more real.

This is the kind of future you can expect from Midland Management and Casting – less adherence to the traditional archetypes of fashion and more representation through a diverse cast of individuals who make up their own unique form of beauty. In Chandler’s view, Midland Management represents a cultural shift in what it means to be beautiful.

Billy Walters: Gambler, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Billy Walters is a perfect example of the American Dream made reality. Born William Thurman Walters on July 15, 1946 in the town of Munfordville, Kentucky, Billy grew up in the humblest beginnings to eventually become one of the most successful sports gamblers in American history and a storied philanthropist with a long track record of helping those in need and giving back to his community.

From Early Tragedy to Success

Billy’s home life began with tragedy. His father died when Billy Walters was only an infant, and his alcoholic mother abandoned him to the care of his grandmother to start a new life in Louisville. Without running water or indoor plumbing, Billy worked hard to help his grandmother who cared for him when no one else would. [WorldCasinoIndex.com]

Billy’s first job was mowing lawns at the age of seven, after his grandmother helped him secure his very first bank loan for $40 to purchase a lawnmower. He made enough to repay the loan within two years (quite a feat in the 1950s), and then moved on to delivering newspapers every day before school. His grandmother worked full-time cleaning local homes and taking shifts at a restaurant, and she instilled a strong sense of faith in him at an early age.

At 13, Billy’s grandmother passed away. This left him no other option but to find his estranged mother, who had since remarried in Louisville and started a new family. Despite years of abuse and mistreatment, Billy would eventually be the one to look after his mother as she approached the end of her life due to emphysema. He paid her medical bills and ensured her comfort until she passed.

Hard Work Pays Off

Billy learned the value of hard work at a very young age and never forget the lessons he learned during his tough Kentucky childhood. During high school he worked from 4:30 am to 7:30 am each morning before classes at the Davis Doughnut Bakery and then after school until almost midnight at a local gas station. He eventually moved into the world of auto sales, becoming so successful he eventually launched his own dealership.

After selling Taylor Boulevard Auto Sales, Billy decided to pursue his love of sports gambling as a profession, moving to Las Vegas and learning how to use computer analytics to improve his betting outcomes. He eventually earned a reputation as one of the most successful sports betters of all time. Separately, he also became one of the most famous poker players in Las Vegas, earning a reputation as “unbeatable” and eventually winning the No Limit Hold ‘Em Tournament of the 1986 World Series of Poker.

Billy Walters used his winnings to fund the Walters Group, an investment company he started with his wife that specialized in residential and commercial real estate development and the golf industry. A die-hard lover of the game of golf, Billy wanted to share his love of his favorite sport with the Las Vegas community.

Golf and Philanthropy in Las Vegas

Prior to Billy’s investments in the Las Vegas golf scene, most of the courses around Las Vegas were inaccessible and overpriced for many working-class people in the area. He built an affordable and accessible course in a rundown part of the city in an effort to revitalize the area and bring the game of golf to more people. He even started golf clinics for youth golfers, hosted charity events, and invested in golf course operations throughout the area.

The Walters Group regularly hosted charity events and provided funding to local non-profit youth organizations, including educational programs and youth success programs that fostered hard work, determination, leadership, and self-sufficiency among underprivileged youth in the Las Vegas area.

For years Billy avoided the media spotlight, preferring to focus his attention on improving others’ lives rather than becoming famous. However, he agreed to an interview on 60 Minutes in 2011, where he made his case for legalized sports betting and cemented his public image as not only an incredibly successful gambler, but also a dedicated philanthropist focused on improving the lives of others.

Billy Walters Today

Now a man in his seventies, Billy Walters has no plans to stop working toward helping others. In 1997, the city of Las Vegas named Billy and his wife Susan as the city’s Philanthropists of the Year. Their favorite project is Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit organization aimed at providing employment opportunities to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. To date, the Walters have raised more than $50 million for Opportunity Village.

Billy Walters has faced many challenges in his life. Many argue his prison sentence was unjustified and that he wasn’t treated as an equal under the law. Newsmax did an article that clearly discusses the matter related to Billy Walters titled, “There Will Be No Equal Justice for All Until There’s a Change in System” It discuss the case against Walters and is a must read.

Other charities and non-profit causes Billy has contributed toward include the Nevada Cancer Institute, Nevada State College in Henderson, the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, Boy Scout Good Turn, and the Las Vegas Sun Camp Fund. There is also a quiet history of many acts of generosity and kindness for the people of Las Vegas who have been struck by tragedy. Billy continues to live the virtues instilled in him at an early age and plans to continue helping improve the lives of others as long as he can. [Wikipedia]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/william.walters.50951101

Berg and Harberts – These People are Making a Difference in the Media

Photo: Showrunners Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts

Representation matters in the media. Although, there has been a push for more diversity and inclusion in films and television, Hollywood still has a long way to go. Breakout movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Call Me By Your Name, and Get Out with their diverse casts have opened the door to more films being made with different types of casts, themes and characters. Doors are starting to open but it has been such a slow, uphill battle and there are still a lot of changes that need to be made. Hollywood has a diversity problem that isn’t being fixed fast enough but there are individuals working to make a difference.

Currently, there are a few individuals in the entertainment industry who are making noise and disrupting the norm in Hollywood. These people are working hard to bring diversity front and center.  Talented individuals like Aaron Harberts, one half of the dynamic writing duo of Berg and Harberts, and Jordan Peele, the extremely talented actor/director have brought diverse issues and recognition to minority groups around the world in their work.  

The Hollywood Diversity Report 2018 completed by the UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences is an annual study that reviewed the staffing both in front of and behind the camera in the top theatrical and television releases of 2016. The study, titled “Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities”, had three main goals. The first of which was to create comprehensive research that analyzes the inclusion of diverse groups of people in film and television. The second goal is to identify best practices for inclusion and the appropriate way to disseminate those best practices. Finally, the report looks to provide the broader implications of diverse industry access.

The report examined 174 theatrical releases and 1,251 television shows either airing or streaming during the 2015-2016 season.  2016 did include some award wining movies with diverse casts like “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures”, but the report acknowledged that there is still a long way to go. The authors of the report say that diversity does sell but the industry is leaving money on the table by not providing more representation in film and television. One of the study’s authors, Ana-Christina Ramón, said, “Our reports have continually shown that diversity sells, but the TV and film product continues to fall short. So audiences are left wanting more representation on screen that reflects the world they see in their daily lives.”

Research has shown that people not only want a diverse cast but also that when the media depicts minority groups it can have a power educational impact on audiences. When a wider audience gets the opportunity to learn about a minority group through a movie or a television series, it broadens the knowledge that a person has about another group of people. Much of pop culture is what influences and sets the tone for what people are interested in and so by introducing diverse and different cultures into pop culture, people can learn more about others that are different from them. It is also very impactful for different cultures and ethnicities to see themselves represented in the media.

Jordan Peele is a prime example of an individual leading the charge for a change in Hollywood. He is an American actor, comedian, director, writer and producer known for his hit movie “Get Out”. His current horror film “Us” has hit the theaters and the reviews are amazing. The film celebrated the highest-grossing first weekend for an original horror film and his films are proving that an all black main cast can be a moneymaker for any studio.  His contributions to the film industry over the last few years have greatly helped to open the door to minority actors and actresses becoming the main in a movie. His movies have proven that the world wants to see a black main cast along with themes that are important to the black community. He is proving that the average moviegoer is interested in seeing diverse films and casts.

Aaron Harberts is a very well known name in the entertainment industry. The openly gay screenwriter has been working in Hollywood for a long time as a writer and producer for some of the most popular and impressive television shows over the last few decades alongside his long time collaborator, Gretchen J Berg.  Berg and Harberts have made quite the name for themselves over the span of their careers. Out of the many contributions that Aaron Harberts has made in Hollywood, his inclusion of a realistic depiction of a small-sex romance is one that he is very proud of. This type of LBGTQ representation resonated with viewers because it exemplifies an authentic experience.  Harberts is an openly gay man and has been with his spouse for over two decades. He wanted to share his experience and to increase LGTBQ representation in the media by introducing characters that are in LGTBQ relationships.

Hollywood has an issue with representation. There has been some changes made in the industry but overall, the media at large does not do a very good job of representing diversity. Diversity in the media is so important because it gives minority groups visibility. When movies like “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” hit the movie theaters, moviegoers were overjoyed with having a female and black superhero as a main character.  People get the opportunity to see different background represented on the big screen and it gives a positive portrayal of different groups of individuals and minorities.

The media teaches a wider audience about minorities, gender representation, societal norms, and LGBTQ issues. When screenwriters and producers like Aaron Harberts, and directors like Jordan Peele are able to draw on their own experiences to educate a wider audience about issues facing minorities and marginalized groups. They are both making a difference in Hollywood by bringing diverse storylines, characters and themes to the big screen. Their future projects will continue to delight, educate and enlighten audiences everywhere.  Follow Berg and Harberts on Twitter.

The Success Story of Berg and Harberts

The success stories behind several powerful Hollywood actors, writers, directors, and producers all have one factor in common: adversity. Like most people in the creative field, these people go through hard times in a very competitive industry to work in entertainment and thrill audiences with their talents.

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts fit this exact description. Both halves of the television creative team have gone through their struggles and lived in difficult conditions to stay on the path that could further their careers. However, through their hard work and determination, they have found success in the industry as the writers and producers of several hit TV shows.

Early Life of Gretchen Berg

Gretchen Berg was born on February 8, 1971 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ever since she was young, Berg has been fascinated with creating new worlds and characters, further assisted by her daydreaming when playing with friends in the woods. She was a fan of the series Remington Steele, about a woman struggling to succeed in a man-dominated world, further inspiring her. During her years at North Allegheny High School, Berg was active in drama class and writing. She even used the school’s TV production studio to experiment with filmmaking. [Berg was interviewed on Pittsburgh Magazine]

Gretchen Berg would end up attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois to pursue not just a TV/Film education, but also a complete liberal arts experience.

Early Life of Aaron Harberts

Aaron Harberts was born on January 20, 1973 in Waterloo, Iowa. Despite the town’s lack of a creative arts force, Harberts was an imaginative child who loved to daydream. Because of his parents’ nomadic life, he had difficulty settling in a single location as the family moved throughout Iowa, Indiana, and South Florida. Harberts found inspiration in his preacher father’s sermons, which had vivid descriptions that Harberts would use as fuel for his own stories.

After finishing high school, Aaron Harberts wanted to pursue creative writing education. He traveled to Evanston, Illinois and attended Northwestern, where he would have a fateful, life-changing meeting.

How The Creative Duo Meet

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts met at a class called Creative Writing for the Media, and would later collaborate on Berg’s student film, with Harberts as a production assistant (PA). Despite their constant time together and their mutual friendships, they did not develop a friendship at this point. Berg graduated in 1993 and moved to Los Angeles to build her career. Aaron Harberts would follow a couple of years later.

The Struggle of Starting a Hollywood Career

Harberts was supposed to live with other people when moving to LA. However, the plans fell through. Having difficulties finding a place to live, he remembered Gretchen Berg, and asked her if he could live with her. Berg allowed him to crash under her wet bar at her apartment.

Berg and Harberts went through the adversities that many Hollywood hopefuls have when pursuing a career. They spent months working on a comedic spec script that they ended up hating and disposed of it. The duo lived on cheap food and took on low-paying jobs until they became Hollywood assistants. They read and analyzed scripts and wrote a variety of specs and original screenplays, ranging over a variety of genres, such as dramas, sitcoms, and TV movies.

Despite their struggles, Berg and Harberts continued writing and submitting scripts to agencies. Their hard work would pay off when an agent liked one of their scripts and recommended it to a television agency. The rest is history.

Where are they now?

Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts thrive these days as an active writing and producing team. They have been involved on series such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Pushing Daisies, Revenge, and most recently, Star Trek: Discovery. They have also written for the movie Valentine and created the show Pepper Dennis. Berg and Harberts are proof that, despite adversity, hard work and initiative can take one from humble beginnings to well-earned recognition.

Pat Murakami Condemns Hate Speech Against City Council Candidate

Seattle, WA — Seattle small business owner, community leader, and Seattle City Council Candidate Pat Murakami has released the following statement in response to recent hate speech and threats of violence against Seattle Council candidate Ari Hoffman:

“Like many of you, I am disgusted and angered by the racial slurs and threats of violence against Seattle City Council Candidate Ari Hoffman and his family. Mr. Hoffman has repeatedly been accused of “weaponizing antisemitism” and we have frequently seen his concerns and those of the Jewish Community dismissed or treated with a sense of disbelief. While I am saddened to see how bad the threats have gotten, I hope this will finally open some eyes.

If a person from any other community had been treated the way Mr. Hoffman and his family have been treated, I have no doubt that there would be a line of elected officials and candidates ready to condemn this behavior. While I am very proud to see that both the Seattle Police and the FBI are taking these threats seriously, I am saddened at the silence from community leaders and elected officials.

Mr. Hoffman and I may come from different political backgrounds, but this is a moment that is beyond politics. We Seattleites pride ourselves on our progressive ideals and our willingness to stand up for what is right; this is a time to prove it. We prove it by standing up to hate in all its forms; by defending every individual against intimidation and violence; by fighting just as hard for those we disagree with as those closest to us.

I will not be silent when a member of my community and their family are treated this way. I call on all my fellow candidates and all leaders across the Puget Sound Region to join me in condemning this language that is universally evil. I call on all of you to join me in solidarity with Mr. Hoffman, his family, and the entire Jewish Community to let the world know that this hate has no place in Seattle.”

A Rainy Day in New York to Be Released in Italy Late 2019

Woody Allen’s latest rom com, A Rainy Day in New York is slated by Lucky Red Distributors for a debut in Italy on October 3rd, 2019. This release date finally comes after a year-long delay the film encountered due to a dispute with its original distributor, Amazon Studios. Despite Allen signing a four-year contract with Amazon for four pictures, Amazon shelved A Rainy Day indefinitely based on ties between Allen and the #MeToo movement. Now, however, fans are gearing up to finally see Allen’s latest flick, which he finished in 2017. Hollywood is not ready for this!

About A Rainy Day in New York

A Rainy Day in New York tells the story of two young people (Elle Fanning and Timothée Chalamet) on an adventure in New York – where they unfortunately meet with bad weather and a series of unexpected events. Selena Gomez, Jude Law, Diego Luna, and Liev Schreiber also star in Allen’s latest flick. Although not much else is known about the plot of the film, it’s sure to be infused with Allen’s signature humor, wit, and complicated romances – along with strong female leads and plenty of sarcasm.

Woody Allen is famous for writing and directing ensemble romantic comedies that check off all the boxes for cinematic excellence, and A Rainy Day is sure to be no different. Some of his most famous films include Midnight in Paris, Annie Hall, and Manhattan. Principal photography for A Rainy Day began on September 11th, 2017, and ended on October 23rd. Two years later, the film is finally hitting screens with a delayed international debut. Unfortunately for American viewers, at this moment, A Rainy Day will not be distributed in the U.S.

Why the Wait?

The tumult regarding Woody Allen’s newest film release date happened during the height of the #MeToo movement in 2018. Amazon backed out of its agreement with Allen to distribute four of his films (one each year) in the United States. Amazon Studios had originally planned to debut A Rainy Day in New York in 2018. However, Amazon paused the release date indefinitely, citing sexual assault allegations against Woody Allen as the reason for the fallout. Woody Allen has repeatedly denied the allegations, which came from his then seven-year-old daughter in 1992, and investigations in two states never led to any charges. Many have reported the true story by Woody Allen.

The #MeToo sexual assault awareness movement amplified Allen’s daughter’s voice right when production wrapped on A Rainy Day. Despite no evidence supporting the allegations, this was enough to rehash the old case and sully Allen’s reputation all over again. The subsequent media frenzy apparently pushed Amazon into shelving the project, in spite of having a signed agreement with Allen to distribute the film. Fortunately for Allen and his fans, Lucky Red (a film distributor in Italy) eagerly jumped at the chance to distribute A Rainy Day to overseas audiences instead. Woody has always supported strong women in his films.

Where You Can See Allen’s Latest Film

A Rainy Day in New York will debut in theaters on October 3rd, 2019, in Italy. The next day, it will appear in Spain. It will then reach theaters in Germany, Austria, Europe, China, Japan, Russia, South America, and South Korea. The managing director for the distribution company said in a statement: “[Woody Allen] is one of the outstanding directors of our time.” He said he was excited to be part of the group of distributors bringing the film to numerous countries.

BMF Media – Learn More About The Company

One of most effective ways to ensure the success of a brand is to make it super relatable to the masses. Consumers love brands that they can relate to on an emotional and trustworthy level. This is the responsibility of several marketing companies who are constantly looking for ways to reach and captivate specific audiences to get them invested in that specific brand. This work requires research, innovation, and persistence, which only a few can pull off successfully.

Brand Music Fusion (BMF Media) is a marketing firm that focuses on several brands and has a variety of strategies, including content creation, sponsorships, target audience research, influencer engagement, and talent management. The company has earned the loyalty of major clients such as Uber, Dell, MasterCard, and Revlon. It also has multiple offices across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Austin, and Miami. A recent expansion in later 2018 now includes London, the first international expansion. Other BMF client success stories.

What has BMF Media done to earn such strong loyalty from these recognized names? Read below to learn more about the beginnings of the company, its strategies, and how it has helped numerous clients.

The Beginnings of BMF

BMF Media was founded by two marketing visionaries: Brian Feit and Bruce Starr.

Brian Feit studied at the Stern School of Business at New York University from 1996 to 2000. During this time, he was interning with Clive Davis at Arista. Feit had sent him a letter and the music producer actually responded. This motivated Feit to make his next move. He became a member of Stern and Tisch Entertainment Business Association (STEBA) and worked hard to parlay his passion for both music and business into a solid career. Upon graduation, he worked at an independent music label for a few years. After considering attending law school, Feit instead worked with business partner Starr to found BMF.

Bruce Starr was born and grew up in the Chicago suburbs. After finishing high school, he moved to New York, where he became business partners, and later close friends, with Brian Feit.

(L) Brian Feit – (R) Bruce Starr

Feit and Starr founded BMF Media in October 2003. At that point, the company started with humble beginnings, operated out of Feit’s West Village Apartment. They only had two employees, but also two powerful clients: Maverick Records, a label company founded by Madonna, and Kiehl’s, the cosmetics brand that focuses on skincare and hair care. Despite the uncertainty of the company, it eventually grew in clientele and influence. 

Change in Direction

In the beginning, BMF Media lived up to its name (Brand Media Fusion) as it focused on combining several brands with musical talent. The marketing company essentially arranged for the brands’ musical events so they could raise their profile, humanize themselves to their customers, and reach a wider audience in general. At the same time, the duo also wanted to promote new musicians with these influential brands, which could also lead to new fame and recognition.

Eventually, the company had to grow in conjunction with current marketing trends and needed to expand. While BMF Media still has a powerful talent division at hand, it now also focuses on full event productions beyond music and concerts. The company also has a strong focus on experiential marketing, in which the consumers are involved directly with the brand’s growth through participation of several events, contests, and more.

The company has also recognized the rise of internet influencers as a method to entice audiences into trying the latest brand products. In addition to a musical talent department, BMF now also has a social media influencer division that increases the consumers’ engagement with the brands.

The Strategies of BMF

BMF Media has a general outline for any collaboration project with a brand that always guarantees results. While certain services can change and adapt to the clients’ specific requests or the specific event at hand, BMF provides the following services:

  • Strategize. BMF performs exhaustive research on trend activity and forecasting, as well as gathers consumer insights, to create the marketing strategy. The company comes up with the right sponsorship and talent for the campaign.
  • Execute. BMF actively procures the necessary talent, in addition to the partnership between the client and the sponsors. Other aspects worked on include brand immersion, the art direction, and the overall design strategy.
  • Amplify. The company now fully analyzes the analytics of the execution, such as ROI, KPI, and overall social impact. It also extends projects to talents, influences, and sponsors, among other tasks.

The staff and crew at BMF Media relish in the challenge of humanizing brands with new, innovative methods that create memorable experiences.

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