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Michael Barnes

Maria Hernandez, New UT Arena, SXSW and more

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Maria Hernandez, founder of Growing Roots.

Maria Hernandez, founder of Growing Roots.

HEALTH: Helping parents help their kids. Taken from my story in the Statesman:

Five years ago, Maria Hernandez, a speech pathologist and therapist, was working in a private Austin clinic for the needy. “When I walked out to the waiting room to grab the next kiddo — because I would see eight in a row — there were about 25 moms in the waiting room,” Hernandez recalls. “They were reading the same tattered magazines. The same cartoons were on mute. I thought: ‘Shouldn’t we do something for those who are waiting?’ After three beers at the end of the workday, I said: ‘OK, let’s do that!’” Her original thought was to include the parents in the clinical therapy. “Parents are with them the other 23 hours a day,” she says. “Maybe they should see what the therapist is doing. Then try it. Get feedback.” Along the way, the families could take classes to understand diagnoses, connect to resources, handle immigration issues, and gain emotional support from other parents.

Courtesy of the Erwin Center.

Courtesy of the Erwin Center.

SPORTS: City not excited about helping build new UT arena. Taken from Brian Davis, Ralph K.M. Haurwitz and Lilly Rockwell‘s story in the Statesman:

When the University of Texas athletics director said the city of Austin should help pay for a new arena to replace the Erwin Center, the collective response of several elected officials essentially amounted to three words: Not so fast. “I think we have to have more discussions about how much the city would benefit,” Mayor Lee Leffingwell said Tuesday. State Sen. Kirk Watson, who promoted a voter referendum that earmarked $35 million a year in local property taxes for UT’s fledgling medical school, put it more bluntly. “I was very disappointed in what I read,” the Austin Democrat and former mayor said, referring to the American-Statesman’s account of comments by Athletics Director Steve Patterson. “It’s not inconceivable that the city might want to go into a partnership with the university, but there should not be a sense of obligation.”

SXSW Executive Director Mike Shea speaks at a news conference at the Long Center in September. Photo by Jay Janner.

SXSW Executive Director Mike Shea speaks at a news conference at the Long Center in September. Photo by Jay Janner.

FESTS: SXSW say Austin should put its events first. Taken from Lilly Rockwell and Deborah Sengupta-Stith‘s story in the Statesman:

Officials from the city of Austin and the South by Southwest festival agree on one thing: Something has to change with next year’s festival to ease the crush of people downtown and prevent another catastrophic event. South by Southwest planners have long argued the problem is nonsanctioned “splinter” events that draw oversized crowds with free booze into downtown venues that aren’t equipped to handle that many people. Now a report obtained exclusively by the Austin American-Statesman from a consultant for SXSW says the city should come up with a safety plan that limits the scope of activities during that week. In a cover letter sent with the report Tuesday night to the City Council and the mayor, SXSW co-founder and managing director Roland Swenson said the festival should get priority permitting for all of its events — a move that could limit the number of unofficial “pop-up” events allowed that week.

SongOfSolomonBOOKS: What kind of town bans books? Taken from Annie Julia Wyman‘s story in The New Yorker:

Last week, during the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, I found out that a group of parents had recently pressured the public school I attended, in Texas, into “suspending” not just one but seven different books from assigned reading lists. The plain fact of the suspension wasn’t surprising to me. Highland Park High School, situated in perhaps the best school district in the state, serves a conservative community in two small towns that thrive on football and prayer and whose combined population of thirty-one thousand is ninety-one per cent white. During my time there, we had a chaplain for every sports team, creationists on the teaching staff, and a mandatory daily recitation of the Texas State Pledge. But people who live in places like my home town are not necessarily ignorant. People who ban books do sometimes read them. The towns my high school serves, Highland Park and University Park (collectively known as the Park Cities) are the two most educated municipalities in Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported that more than a hundred concerned residents attended a school board meeting to debate the suspension, many armed with “books flagged with sticky notes” from which they argued.