TELLING STORIES, CHANGING THE CONVERSATION

Puerto Rico: Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria | Panel Discussion

in Hurricane Trifecta/Major Collaborative Project by

In Ark Republic’s culminating event for our first, major collaborative project, “The Hurricane Trifecta: One Year Later,” a panel discussion exploring post-Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, shows on one hand, gross government neglect, while on the other, creative and effective grassroots and community organizing.

Hurricane Maria’s devastating, aftermath is still being felt on the island, so Ark Republic, in partnership with Lisa Durden Unlimited Productions, hosted a first ever panel discussion titled, “Puerto Rico: Nearly A Year After Hurricane, moderated by Lisa Durden, on Thursday, September 6, 2018, at Rutgers Express Newark.

This public dialogue focused on how the category 5 storm revealed the disparity in how the US responds to natural disasters according to race and class, and punctuated the lingering after-effects. Lydia Valencia, the CEO of the New Jersey Puerto Rican Congress, Masiel Valentin Esq., the Manager of The Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria Relief Fund of Newark, Evelyn Mejil, the Chair and Organizer of The Unity March For Puerto Rico, Alvin Suarez, Director and Drummer of the all blind band, “Los Ciegos Del Barrio,” and Khadijah Taylor, CEO of Newark Speaks 2U, were the esteemed panelists, who had boots on the ground in the . Lisa Durden, TV Personality and “A Plus Panel” Contributor on My 9 Network’s Chasing News, served the moderator.

The panel discussion was lively and informative; tackling the issues of Donald Trump’s slow response after #HurricaneMaria, its affects on the blind and disabled, disparities in the government’s response between Hurricane Maria vs Hurricane Harvey and the dark implications, the climbing death toll and why the government is under reporting it, the insensitive media coverage or the lack thereof, the impact law enforcement’s divisive mentality have on that community and the biggest challenges facing Puerto Rico now.

Puerto Rico: Nearly A Year After Hurricane, panel discussion was conceived and produced by Lisa Durden Unlimited Productions, is part of ‘The Hurricane Trifecta: One Year Later,’ as the culminating event to Ark Republic’s inaugural major collaborative project (MCP) exploring the three consecutive massive storms that tore through the Caribbean, Central America and parts of the US, in 2017. The MCP is a signature reporting initiative telling stories about a theme from a multi-angle narrative. Because the hurricanes revealed the disparity in how the US responds to natural disasters according to race and class, this panel focused on this glaring disparity and highlight the lingering after-effects.

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As a sought after television personality, pop culture commentator, producer, content creator, celebrity blogger and motivational speaker, Lisa Durden, was born and reared in Newark, NJ. Involved in a number of media initiatives in-and-around New Jersey, she is also a strong fixture in her community.  Holding such positions as Vice Chair of Membership for Diversity Newark, formerly a New Jersey based organization that helped to bring diverse groups of people together in Newark and the surrounding cities. Since 1994, she has mentored inner city youth.

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