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Last week, the Washington Post shared a harrowing story about a 17-year-old girl and her family living in poverty in an aging motel off Highway 192 in Osceola County. The piece received national attention and shed light on what Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Maxwell calls “Orlando’s dirty little secret”.
In an op-ed for the Sentinel, Maxwell wrote, “For years, we’ve been writing about the impoverished working class that makes Orlando’s fantasy land run — the low-wage workers who scrub toilets and bus tables to keep tourists’ happy, only to live lives of destitution in the shadows of Cinderella’s castle. They are Orlando’s Shadow Class.”
Maxwell highlighted the work of Rev. Mary Lee Downey — the muscle behind the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, the Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year, and the woman who refuses to give up on helping people currently experiencing homelessness in Osceola County.
He also reminded us of some significant stats: that last year, Orlando ranked worst in the country for affordable housing and that in 2018, we ranked dead last for median wages among America’s 50 largest metros.
The Washington Post piece titled, “A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future” has since spurred a GoFundMe for Rose, the 17-year-old at the center of the story, raising $80,000 so far.
But as Maxwell says, “We cannot charity our way out of this crisis”.
I encourage you to add both stories to your reading list today. And if you’re called to help, you can start by looking for volunteer opportunities at places like United Against Poverty, the Community Hope Center, Pathlight Home, and Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.
In other news…
The City of Orlando’s new Curbside Pick-Up Program starts today. Local businesses can now designate existing parking spaces as curbside “pick-up zones”, giving customers and couriers 15-minutes to grab their to-go and pickup orders. If your business wants to participate, you can apply online. (City of Orlando)
Persimmon Hollow Brewing opened its new location this week in the old Panera beneath EO Inn on Lake Eola. The brewery and taproom is serving coffee at 8 a.m. and food and beer at 11 a.m. (Bungalower)
Halloween Horror Nights is making a bit of a comeback. Universal said Monday that it would host two daytime haunted houses this weekend — one themed “Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Live” and the other, “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy”. Premier passholders get a sneak peek on Friday, with registration beginning at noon today. (ClickOrlando)
Rep. Anna Eskamani is holding a candid conversation on school funding, school board member responsibilities, and the school to prison pipeline tonight, courtesy of our friends at the Kollective Ko. If you’re interested in attending, an RSVP is required and they’re accepting your burning questions here. (Facebook)
In COVID-19 news…
📊 By the numbers, the Florida Department of Health reported Tuesday:
Playgrounds in Orange County will reopen this weekend after being closed to the public for six months. The new norms include daily sanitization and limited capacity in some cases. (ClickOrlando)
Case numbers reported today are expected to be higher in Orange County than we’ve seen in the last few weeks due to a “data dump” according to Dr. Raul Pino. (ClickOrlando)
“Orlando has so much to offer and so many great things to experience — it’s hard to keep up! I appreciate that Pulptown keeps me in the know and specifically highlights local businesses.” —Jessica L.
That’s why Jessica said she became a supporting Pulptown member.
Maybe you find our newsletter useful. Maybe you find it entertaining. I hope it’s both. But creating it isn’t free. By becoming a member, you are ensuring that Pulptown sticks around for the long haul — whaddya say? Would you chip in $8 per month to help us keep doing what we do?
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So many happenings at our local library, so little time. Tonight you can learn to make tostones, tomorrow you can “go” on a museum tour, and this weekend, you can attend a film fest. Get cooler, OCLS.
#69 Oliver Jeffers Livestream: Catch a Livestream tomorrow from Orlando Museum of Art as the library tags along on a tour of the exhibit Oliver Jeffers: 15 Years of Picturing Books. You can check this award-winning artist, illustrator, and writer’s books from the library.
#70 For the love of library cards: Of course you love your library card, and so does Special Projects Coordinator for Growing Bolder Amy Sweezey. Read why on page 5 of this month’s digital edition of Books & Beyond.
#71 Melrose Film Festival: Experience this year’s Melrose Film Festival – like everything else in 2020 – from the comfort of your couch. This year’s screenings will premiere this Friday at noon and will remain accessible through Sunday, Sept. 27. Have your voice heard and cast a vote for the Audience Choice award, with full details to come on the Melrose Film Festival event page.
#72 Ongoing conversations: The Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College is leading a conversation with local law enforcement and protesters in order to understand the complexities of racial injustices in our community. Register here for the Sept. 23 event.
#73 Hispanic Heritage Month: The library is celebrating Hispanic Heritage in a number of ways this month. Tonight, learn how to make tostones and on Tuesday, dance it out bilingual style to original and folk tunes in Spanish and English.
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🗣 Talk with Rep. Anna Eskamani about what elections really entail and how to create change on a local level (Online)
💪 Flex on 'em with this HIIT workout, then treat yo self to a local brew after (Ivanhoe)
🎨 Learn to paint like Bob Ross while sipping cocktails at the new Wildflower concept (Baldwin Park)
🗣 PARTNER Talk to business leaders about how they're pivoting during the pandemic (Online)
🍿 "Stand by Me" when you park by me for this pop-up drive-in (SoDo)
👟 Learn to run from this Olympic Trials qualifier and then stick around for some brews after (Downtown)
❓ Show off your usually useless Harry Potter knowledge (Ivanhoe)
📚 Sign your kids up for Mayor Buddy Dyer's weekly book club (Online)
☮️ Start your weekend off with some yoga and beer at Orlando Brewing (SoDo)
🧚♀️ Take the kids on a scavenger hunt of all the magical fairy doors at Leu Gardens (Audubon Park)
💻 Reserve your (parking) spot for this drive-in pitch night of Orlando's up-and-coming tech startups (Downtown)
ICYMI: It’s Hispanic Heritage Month!
And yesterday, I asked you for your favorite Latinx-owned businesses to support. Several of you shouted out Sam and George Coffee Co. and Mecatos Bakery & Cafe, both of which have been on my to-visit list for a while now. I promise to make it happen asap and tell you about it. 🙌
Marilyn said Old Cuban Cafe and Papa Llama were her favorite eateries, @herrant said Cilantros, Tamale Co., and Pig Floyds for food and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for extensive resources, and then Emily gave a shout to Black Bean Deli.
I highly recommend checking out Yelp’s new Latinx-owned business collection for more suggestions.
Didn’t get to shout out your favorite local Latinx-owned biz? There’s still time. Just send me an email — today, tomorrow, next month, anytime really because I encourage you to support these businesses not just in a month, but all year-round.
‘Til Friday, friends,
– Katie at Pulptown