Tag Archives: #OrlandoUnited

What you need to know about tomorrow’s #OneOrlando Town Hall

Are you interested in providing feedback about how OneOrlando funds will be distributed to Pulse victims’ survivors and their families? Attend one of two Town Hall meetings at Amway Center on Thursday, and give your feedback directly to OneOrlando Board Members and representatives.

If you can’t make it in person, City of Orlando will livestream the meetings, in both Spanish and English, on oneorlando.org/townhall.

OneOrlando Fund Town Hall

 

Two town hall meetings will be held tomorrow, Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 12:30pm and 6:30pm. (Check in is an hour before each meeting.) Amway Center parking will be available at GEICO Garage (Parking/Directions: http://www.amwaycenter.com/plan-your-visit/directions-parking). Attendees are asked to enter through pedestrian bridge on the 5th floor.

Both meetings will be conducted by Fund Administrators to explain the contents of the draft Protocol and the claim submission process and to invite input and comments from potential claimants and the general public. Information collected from these group meetings and various communications and correspondence between the claimants and other interested parties and the Fund Administrators will be considered in finalizing the Final Protocol.

Osceola County has partnered with Pegasus Transportation to offer free transportation to the Osceola/Kissimmee victims’ families and survivors, and will be departing from Osceola Heritage Park, in front of Exhibition Hall. Departure times are 10:45 am (for 12:30pm) and 4:45pm (for 6:30pm).

Parking warning: Church Street and Division will be closed to provide parking for media live trucks. Church Street will close starting at 6 a.m.

Orlando City Soccer #OrlandoUnited

Here are a few frequently asked questions from OneOrlando.org:

Who is behind the OneOrlando Fund?

Following the horrific tragedy at Pulse, there was a tremendous outpouring from the community seeking to provide financial support. In response, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the formation of the OneOrlando Fund.

On June 30, Equality Florida (website: www.eqfl.org/), the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (The Center’s website: www.thecenterorlando.org/) and the National Compassion Fund (website: http://nationalcompassionfund.org/) announced a partnership with the OneOrlando Fund to ensure all funds collected for victims are disbursed in a unified process that will expedite funds, ensure transparency and safeguard against fraud. Equality Florida raised $7 million largely via social media in a campaign that has set records for online philanthropy. The statewide LGBT organization partnered with the National Compassion Fund, experts in managing disbursement following mass shootings.

How are the funds being distributed?

Attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg, considered the world’s foremost expert on victim compensation, will administer the OneOrlando Fund in partnership with the National Compassion Fund, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime, a nonprofit group that is dedicated to assisting victims in the aftermath of mass shootings.The process will be open and transparent to ensure that these decisions are made with input from victims’ families, survivors and the larger community.

How will victims’ families and survivors be able to get money from the OneOrlando Fund?

Once the final process for fund distribution is approved, victims and their families will be able to submit a claims form that will be available on this website. Based on the current draft Protocol, claim forms will be available on August 11, 2016. The deadline for submission is proposed as September 12, 2016 and payment would then begin on September 27, 2016. By the very nature of its name you will find that a payday loan’s term is going to be around two to three weeks until you are paid. Some loan companies with no real hard credit checks will look at restructuring your loan should you not be able to pay it off once you have been paid. Because payday loans are so easy to get by comparison to other lending alternatives, don’t forget why you would want to get one and the typical fees, interest rates you will have to pay. So by all means enjoy the benefit of getting a loan quickly but only ever go for the least amount you need and take into consideration the impact the payday loans now will have on your cash flow when you get paid at the end of the month. 

I’m a family member or a survivor and I need support today. How can I get help?

While OneOrlando works through this process to get funds to victims as quickly as possible, the City of Orlando and Orange County Government have partnered with Heart of Florida United Way (Call 2-1-1 or go to http://www.hfuw.org/orlandounited-community-information/) to meet the immediate needs of those impacted by the Pulse tragedy through the Orlando United Assistance Center. This center serves as a navigation point for those who need support during this critical time of healing as well as moving forward. For personalized services, appointments can be scheduled by calling 407.500.HOPE or by visiting cityoforlando.net/hope.

What is the process for distribution of funds?

The Final Distribution Protocol, which will govern the OneOrlando Fund, will be developed by the Administrators, incorporating feedback from the OneOrlando Board, Equality Florida, the National Center for Victims of Crime/National Compassion Fund, the Orlando Community and the general public, including those present at the Town Hall meetings to be held by the Administrators on August 4, 2016.

A draft protocol is on the Process and Transparency page.

The proposed timeline based on draft protocol is:

  • August 4, 2016: Two Town Hall meetings at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. conducted by the Fund Administrators in Orlando, Florida, each lasting for 90 minutes.
  • August 11, 2016: The Final Protocol and Claim Forms disseminated to all known claimants and potential claimants who registered through the Fund website. These documents will be made available on the Fund website for families and all interested parties.
  • August 11 – September 12, 2016: Claim Forms completed and submitted to the Fund Administrators along with the required documentation.
  • September 12, 2016: Deadline for submission of Claim Forms.
  • September 12 – September 25, 2016: All personal meetings requested with the Fund Administrators completed.
  • September 12 – September 26, 2016: All claims reviewed by the Fund Administrators and recommendations for payments to eligible claimants submitted to the OneOrlando Fund Board for independent review and approval.
  • September 27, 2016: Payment Distribution to approved eligible claimants begins on a rolling basis.
  • After October 15, 2016: Independent Audit begins.

Who makes up the OneOrlando Fund Board?

The OneOrlando Board, chaired by Orlando Magic President Alex Martins, was developed to provide oversight and guidance to ensure that funds are dispersed in a timely, accountable and transparent manner.

The members of the board represent the diversity of Orlando, including those in the Hispanic and LGBTQ communities. OneOrlando Board members include:

  • Rena Langley, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Worldwide Government and Industry Relations, Walt Disney World
  • Diane O’Dell, Vice President of Community Relations, Universal Orlando Resort
  • Stephanie Ghertner, Director, Darden Foundation & Community Affairs
  • Mark Meyer, Industry Manager, JPMorgan Chase
  • Paul F. Bryan, Chief Executive Officer, Grover Bryan, Inc.
  • Jennifer Foster, Owner and Executive Producer, Foster Productions, Inc.
  • Diana Bolivar, President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando
  • Carlos Carbonell, Chief Executive Officer, Echo Interaction Group
  • Ken Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Phillips Inc. and The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation
  • Mark Shamley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP)
  • Michael Farmer, Statewide Deputy Director of Development, Equality Florida Action, Inc.
  • Tim Vargas, Board President, GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (The Center)
  • Chris McCullion, Chief Financial Officer, City of Orlando
  • Walter G. Hawkins, Director of Urban Development, City of Orlando Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency

Orlando, you are #TRULYLoved

It’s been a heavy month for the world, and in Orlando specifically. Our local City and County government, as well as our LGBTQ and Latinx communities have been working through their grief non-stop since the tragedy at Pulse. People here are slowly healing but still, we can’t forget. But we can make it better, all of us.

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

#LocalLoveOrlando Map (Pulse Edition) by Macbeth Studio

As a citizen and resident, I knew I wanted to do something. More than just saying ‘thank you,’ more than just a friendly tweet of encouragement. Smiles were the first thing that came to mind. They’re free, and anyone can inspire one, anywhere and at any time.

Many individuals and Orlando agencies have had to work through their grief, non-stop, over the past month including; City of Orlando and Mayor Buddy Dyer‘s office and communications teams, City of Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan, Orange County and Mayor Teresa Jacobs‘ office and communications teams, Orlando Police Department and Chief John Mina, Orlando Fire Department and Chief Williams, The Center, Orlando’s LGBT Community Center of Central Florida, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Metro Orlando.

So… what’s the plan?

First things first – the smiles. I don’t know about you, but when I see one of Truly Nolen’s Volkswagen Bugs driving down the road, I immediately smile. From the ears on the roof to the tail on the back, I could be sitting in the worst traffic ever, see that mouse car, and smile. Did you know that Truly Nolen also has a Mouse Limo? It’s true! If seeing a huge, yellow Mouse Limo roll down the road doesn’t make you smile, I’m not sure what else will.

Truly Nolen Limo Side

Another thing that makes me smile? CUPCAKES. Win! Little cups of cake and icing, and enough joy to fit in the palm of your hand. Who doesn’t love a good cupcake? Even when they’re bad, they’re good. (Note: I have never had a bad cupcake, even ones I’ve baked myself. And I don’t cook.) 

So… I decided to combine the two, and thanks to Truly Nolen and Sprinkles Disney Springs, tomorrow’s JOYride will be a little sweeter!

How did I come to cupcakes and Mouse Limos?

At last month’s Mascot Games at the Amway Center, Jack Martin, who drives Truly Nolen’s Southeast U.S. Mouse Limo all over the country, offered to take me for a ride in the limo – and of course I said yes! After the attack on Pulse happened on June 12th, I knew I wanted to do more than just take a joyride around town in an unusual, but really cool limo.

Wait. JOY… ride. JOYride!! Makes PERFECT sense. 

Luckily Truly Nolen is as active in their communities (all over the United States) as Central Florida Top 5 and I are here in Orlando. In fact, we’ve teamed up a few times before. We received a not-as-scary-as-it-sounds bug education at Truly Nolen University and they also introduced us to a young quilting expert named Faith-Christina Duncan and her friends at the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.

After brainstorming with Truly Nolen’s Community Events, Social Media, and PR Manager, Toby Srebnik, we came up with a plan. Why not share smiles with everyone in Orlando (including those on the road) on our Mouse Limo JOYride through Orlando?

Next, I needed to locate cupcakes… dozens of delicious, colorful cupcakes. The first company that came to mind, who was equally as community-minded, was Sprinkles Bakery.  Sure, they have an amazing new Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs, but could they fill a very tall order of 5 dozen cupcakes? A quick call to Sprinkles Los Angeles and Sprinkles Disney Springs sealed the deal! The answer was an immediate YES!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

The answer is always YES to cupcakes. Especially Sprinkles cupcakes!

[To learn more about them, read our 5 Things You Never Knew About Sprinkles Bakery post!]

So, tomorrow, I will be hand delivering smiles and Sprinkles cupcakes, via Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo (the Official JOYride Vehicle!) to – just a few – of the people who have tirelessly kept our Orlando community safe and loved; City of Orlando, Orange County, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and The LGBT Center of Central Florida!

Does all of this sound goofy or sweet? I’m okay with either. As long as smiles are smiled tomorrow, it’s a good day. We’ll have to play it by… ear. (Ha! Mouse… Ear.)

I will also make a small delivery of wheelchair afghans and cuddly stuffed frogs for an out-of-state friend to Give Kids the World at some point on Wednesday! Please, I-4, be kind to us!

You can follow my Orlando JOYride on Google Maps! I will also post a link tomorrow beginning at 1pm from the app Glympse, so you can follow our JOYride in REAL TIME, and maybe catch a glimpse of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo. (More puns! Okay, I’ll stop.)

Want to join in on the fun? When you’re out tomorrow, if you see us on the road or at one of our ‘sweet’ stops, snap a picture of Truly Nolen’s Mouse Limo and hashtag it #TRULYLoved!

Not in Central Florida? No problem! Snap a picture of you and your friends smiling or forming a heart (with your hands, arms, pencils, a drawing – anything you like) and share it on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or Facebook using #TRULYLoved! We’ll be sure to share them all!

Also, be sure to follow @TrulyNolen, @CentralFLTop5, and me, @jenvargas on Twitter for live, on the road and inside the Mouse Limo updates!

 

About Truly Nolen
Founded in 1938, Tucson, Arizona-based Truly Nolen of America is the largest family-owned pest control company in the United States. Our East Coast Operations Office is proudly headquartered in Orlando and is visible off Interstate 4. Truly Nolen has over 80 branch offices in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The company also has independently owned and operated franchises in an ever-growing number of territories including Kentucky, Georgia, New Jersey, Canada, Puerto Rico and over 60 countries. To learn more about Truly Nolen, visit www.trulynolen.com or follow us on Facebook(www.facebook.com/TrulyNolenand Twitter (www.twitter.com/TrulyNolen).

About Sprinkles Cupcakes
Sprinkles Cupcakes opened “the world’s first cupcake bakery” in Beverly Hills, as reported by the Food Network, and is credited by the Los Angeles Times as “the progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.”  Founded by Candace Nelson, judge on Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars,” and husband Charles, Sprinkles has inspired long lines of devoted Hollywood stars and serious epicureans alike.  From Tom Cruise to Oprah Winfrey, Blake Lively to Ryan Seacrest, celebrities are abuzz about Sprinkles!  Baked fresh in small batches throughout the day, Sprinkles Cupcakes are handcrafted from the finest ingredients and contain no preservatives, trans fats or artificial flavors.  Sprinkles has 20 locations nationwide, a traveling Sprinklesmobile – the world’s first cupcake truck, and sells its cupcake mixes at over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the US and Canada.  In 2012, Sprinkles debuted the world’s first Cupcake ATM and continued its foray into classic American desserts with the launch of Sprinkles Ice Cream. For additional information and a list of future locations, please visit www.sprinkles.com.

Happy Independence Day, Central Florida! #WeAreAmerica

It’s in the air. You can feel it. You can SEE it. Something’s very different about the fourth of July this year in Central Florida. It’s in the way people treat one another. It’s in the courtesy shown in public places. It’s in the rainbow colors and flags seen waving proudly EVERYWHERE in Central Florida. It’s in the way people drive… well, maybe not yet on I-4, but we have HOPE!

One World Shelbie Press

Shelbie Press in Mills 50

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Central Florida has changed since the early hours of June 12th, and it’s been harrowing, emotional and beautiful to see. Constructive action over destructive assumption. Helpful gestures over harmful posturing. Doors are opening for all instead of closing in the face of most. More hands are being held in public, and more hugs are being given for all to see – by strangers, friends, and lovers alike.

Photo Credit: LoveHasNoLabels.com

Photo Credit: LoveHasNoLabels.com

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

John Cena put out a beautiful video this morning about, and yes I’m capitalizing it, Patriotism. “It inspires passion and debate, and it’s worn like a badge of honor with good reason,” he says. “Because it means love and devotion for one’s country. Love.

Facebook.com/PulseOfOurHeartbeat

Central Florida bloggers gather at WMFE to sing a song written by local mom, Kelly Green, “Pulse Of Our Heartbeat.”

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

But, what really makes up this country of ours? What is it we love?” Cena asks. “It’s the people,” he answers. “Almost half the country belongs to minority groups. People who are lesbian, African American, and Bi, and Transgender, and Native American, and proud of it.

We Are America gif

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Cena continues, “After all, what’s more American than freedom to celebrate all the things that make us, US. This year, Patriotism shouldn’t be just about pride of country. It should be about LOVE. Love beyond age, disability, sexuality, race, religion, and any other labels.

Visit www.spearlife.com

“You Mattered” mural on the corner of Mills & Colonial by local artist Andrew Spear of spearlife.com

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

As Cena points out, quite correctly, “Because the second any of us judge people based on those labels – we’re not really being Patriotic, are we?

Things are different now. Thanks to terrible tragedy we have been left with 49 less neighbors, grieving parents, and a huge hole on the mend, in the heart of Orlando.

But we’ve also been left with love. 

Love for the friends and families of the 102 injured and slain at Pulse that Sunday, and for each other. The shooter’s act of vile hatred did not ultimately accomplish its intended goal. Orlando’s heart was ripped in half, but our community spirit was not. In fact, we became closer, stronger, and more unified than ever.

That is Patriotism.

Pride and Patriotism at Church Street Station

Pride and Patriotism at Church Street Station

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. In other related post, If you're planning to put American Flag on your home to show your patriotism, Knowing what size flag to fly on flag poles of various sizes is a constant question we've seen. Fortunately, we found this helpful guide on Star Spangled Flags.

Read more stories of inspiration, and learn more about bias at lovehasnolabels.com, and add your photo to the gallery here.

Watch Ad Council’s full version of We Are America featuring John Cena here.

How to participate in tonight’s #PulseOfOurHeartbeat FlashCast

Tonight, something special will take place. Call it a ‘musical hug’ for the City of Orlando created by Central Florida mom, Kelly Green.

Members of the Orlando community are meeting tonight at host studio WMFE Orlando for a flashcast (think: FlashMob but performed by anyone online) of this inspired musical anthem honoring the 49 victims of the Pulse Orlando shooting and Christina Grimmie, shot and killed by a deranged fan.

Anyone with a social media account (Twitter Live, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Blab, Instagram, Periscope, etc) is invited to participate in tonight’s flashcast and to share beyond this evening. Viewers are encouraged to learn this simple, one minute song and can sing, sign, dance, even play a favorite instrument along to the track and share it with the world using the hashtags #PulseOfOurHeartbeat and #flashcast.

No fear (of singing). No shame (of sharing). All love for Orlando.

Aren’t musically inclined? That’s ok. You can still take part by sharing the virtual, musical hugs of others.

Our Central Florida community, and the City of Orlando, are beginning to heal. There’s a long road ahead. It will not happen overnight but our community will never lose our love and light.

Upon hearing the news of Christina Grimmie death on Friday, June 11th, local mom and blogger, Kelly Green of SeaWorldMommy.com (also a contributor here at Top 5) found herself says, “I had insomnia the morning before and ‘watched’ the news of Christina Grimmie unfold on social media as it happened,” she shares.

As any mom and concerned friend would be, Kelly started to worry. “I was sick to my stomach as I had stood at that very spot numerous times,” Kelly says. “The next morning I saw even more horrific news on social media. I immediately started texting my friends who I knew might have been there.

Many Central Floridians were doing the same in the early hours of June 12th, and Kelly’s friends were among the fortunate ones. “My immediate friends were thankfully OK, but friends of theirs were not as fortunate. One friend lost five friends. Another knew a handful. Still another has the same last name as a victim and I called her immediately. She did not know him, but often got mistaken for being a relative, and was a sister in spirit.

So, Kelly did what many other creatives in need of an emotional outlet did – she wrote her feelings down. This stream of consciousness and deep emotional pain turned into a heartfelt song called, “Pulse Of Our Heartbeat.” Thus, the musical hug was born.

I’ve been writing music since I was 5, and seeing how my city… the city of family fun, incredible natural beauty, and all-out joy… was attacked truly shook me to my core,” she says. “The words and music poured out of me as I said musically what my soul breathed: We stand UNITED.

Be part of the live #PulseOfOurHeartbeat #flashcast TONIGHT, June 29 at 8pm ET across most social media platforms. This Anthem for Orlando is a musical hug to our city. Listen to it. Learn it. Sing it to your followers. Broadcast it yourself and keep the music rolling across the ‘net to all those affected by the tragedy that hit our city. We stand UNITED!

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnthemForORL/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnthemForORL

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/AnthemForORL

Valencia College Grad Brandon Chang starts ProjectPri.de

There is no doubt. Orlando is a town of love and compassion. Our community has shown its heart to the world this week. We’re more than just a vacation town. We are a town of culture, compassion, and creatives. Members of our arts, tech and digital media industries want to volunteer and help our families just as much as anyone else. Enter: local web engineer and graphic designer, Brandon Chang.

After moving to Central Florida with a good friend to attend Valencia College’s Graphic Design program, Brandon Chang fell in love with Orlando and made our city his home. After graduation, he got a cool job at PurpleRockScissors, a local digital design agency, and met and fell in love again with an even cooler lady named BG. Kingston, Jamaica may be the place of his birth but like many, he made Orlando his adopted hometown.

Upon hearing of the attack on Pulse Orlando, like all of us, Brandon immediately wanted to help his hometown. With a unique skillset and a simple idea, he turned to his co-workers at PRPL to make it happen. “I was inspired by the community and the people who decided to come together after the shootings, and took time to gather for a gesture towards the affected families and friends, and to the larger LGBTQ community,” he says. “I also could not of done this without the amazing talent of my peers and co-workers at Purple Rock Scissors who really helped make the idea a reality.

Check out Purple’s moving video tribute to Orlando called, “Orlando United.”

His idea has now turned into a website called Project Pri.de, a site where Facebook users can include their profile images on what he hopes will be an infinite rainbow flag on the web filled with pictures of Orlando’s LGBTQ community, its allies, and eventually the allies and members of the LGBTQ around the world. “I hope that with Project Pride, I can hope to bring the amazing sense of community that has been happening here, to places and people who want to show their support and make a stand, no matter how small, for those affected. I hope that over time, we can show this collaborative flag as a measure of the strength of the community.

Great idea from ‘just a guy with an eye for small details!’ A social show of solidarity to bring us all together. Simple, right? Brandon says, “Anybody can help by taking part! Add yourself to the project, and be a piece of the whole. Share it and hopefully share some love along with it.

Project Pride 2 #OrlandoUnited

Currently there are 819 supporters, including yours truly. How cool would it be to see this number grow into the tens of thousands… millions… BILLIONS?! Click on the image above to add your profile picture! Oh, and don’t worry Twitter and Instagrammers. Brandon and the team will try and support linkage to these social sites too, and as soon as possible.

Speaking of the Project Pri.de team, it’s a big one. Brandon wanted to make sure to extend gratitude and shout outs to all his co-workers for their time and extraordinary efforts. “I’d just like to to thank the people who took part in building this project along-side me, who really shaped and molded the idea into what it is today,” he says. “A huge shout out to Matt Eagle, Devin Jacoviello, Rob Ignasiak, Don Page, Dean Wagman, Erin Butler, Brandon Shaw, and others who took their time to make this happen. Also a thank you to all those who participated and added themselves to the project, and shared.

Find out more about Brandon Chang and check out his impressive portfolio here: http://brandonchang.me.

[UPDATE] Local note: In tribute to the lives lost at Pulse and in support of freedom lovers worldwide, tomorrow morning, June 17th, Orange County Government will display Section 93 of the Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag on their Administration Building at 201 S. Rosalind Ave. Today, Executive Director of LoveisLove Key West, Mark Ebenhoch will be in town with the flag. Find more information on their Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/179054329164226/

The Sea-to-Sea Flag has become a globally-recognized symbol of the LGBTQ movement and symbolizes acceptance, understanding, education, solidarity and inclusion.

The original rainbow flag was designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride in response to anti-gay activities. In the spring of 2003, Baker and a team of volunteers cut and sewed a 1.25-mile-long version of the flag in Key West, to celebrate the iconic banner’s 25th anniversary. On June 15, 2003, some 2,000 volunteers unfurled the flag from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico along the entire length of Duval Street, in a sea-to-sea representation of pride and diversity. Sections of the flag have since traveled worldwide.

#WhyWeLoveOrlando: It’s our HOME

It’s been three days since the attack on Pulse Orlando. Forty-nine of our friends and neighbors have been killed, and over 50 more have been injured. We are still shocked, saddened, and angry to the point of tears. Not to mention this was the second senseless act of gun violence this past weekend. Acts like these are not the “norm” here, and they should and will not be the “norm” anywhere else if we have anything to say about it.

Orlando’s response to Sunday’s hateful act of terrorism? LOVE. Citizens of Central Florida are lining the streets, waiting in line for hours to donate blood, water, food, umbrellas, sunscreen, a hug – you name it. Local businesses and moving company of all sizes offer round the clock help to those caring for victims’ families and the survivors, local and federal law enforcement, medical personnel and for the staff at Pulse Orlando in every way possible. THIS is Orlando, and THIS has always been the heart of our Central Florida community. On other news, if you have needs for infrared heating panels for your home or business checkout the link!

THIS is #WhyWeLoveOrlando.

Such senseless acts of hate and violence should not be tolerated anywhere on Earth, and especially in our own backyards. Hearing stories of heroism from Pulse Orlando night club’s staff and patrons, seeing the names on the victim list grow, reading the social media streams from people in countries around the world… this worldwide call to love and action cannot be ignored.

Our community is hospitable and welcoming to all visitors, frequent or first time. We are known globally as the number one tourist destination IN THE WORLD. At a time such as this, we are showing the world what Orlando is REALLY about, no matter the county you live or who signs your paycheck. We will not allow these tragic events to define us nor stop us from living, working, and LOVING where we live.

For the past seven years, Central Florida Top 5’s heart has always been in and with our Central Florida community – and with that of our country and, yes, even our planet. This core philosophy is what made me fall hard for this website and [platonically] with our owner (and heart) Brian Wilson, who is a proud member of the LGBTQ community as are a few of our other writers.

Our entire writing team are of different ages and viewpoints, from different backgrounds, religions, languages… we have it. One thing we agree on, without a doubt; We are all as proud to be Central Floridians today as we’ve ever been, and this will never change. 

You know why WE love Orlando. Why do YOU? Locals respond:

https://twitter.com/AlexandraLoCruz/status/743454618391318528

https://twitter.com/eneffbuzz/status/743455158659612672

https://twitter.com/JeanMoorjani/status/743431770947846144

https://twitter.com/Bennie_39/status/743436905547710464

https://twitter.com/nehaadeshh/status/743449842060496896

https://twitter.com/JeanMoorjani/status/743430515357802497

 

#OrlandoUnited: Five images of hope from the aftermath of hell

The Pulse nightclub slaughter has given Orlando the hellish distinction of being the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Early morning at the club on Sunday, June 12, [shooter’s name omitted] killed 49 people and wounded more than 50 people in a gory shooting rampage.

While the city — and the world — grapples with shell-shocked grief, mourning and bewilderment, many people from widely diverse backgrounds are calmly coming together to comfort one another, clean up the mess, and perhaps forge a stronger community for the long term. (Photos by Top 5’s Joe Thoma)

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Thousands gathered Monday night in downtown Orlando to grieve together and console one another.

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Former State Rep. Linda Stewart with Tim Vargas, executive director of the LGBT Center, Orlando, on Monday.

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Counseling volunteer the Rev. Frank Faine with Lt. James Young of the Orlando Police Department, and Galen Hentzell of The Center.

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Impromptu vigil at Lake Eola just hours after the shooting.

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The Florida-Georgia District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, invited the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs to work through Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando. Trinity has a ministry of outreach to the LGBT community that surrounds their congregation.

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