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Michael Barnes

Your Own Austin History, Austin People to Watch, Lower Rio Grande Valley and more

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During the slow holidays, we share some stories that have filled our time.

From the Texas State Library and Archives' current show of early Texas photographs.

From the Texas State Library and Archives’ current show of early Texas photographs.

HISTORY: Build your own Austin history project in 2015. Taken from my Statesman story: “Hey, do you remember when … ?” During 2015, your best resource on Austin’s past could be sitting right next to you. Or maybe that person is reading quietly in the guest bedroom. Or down the street on a porch watching the world go by. Austin histories start with questions for actual Austinites. Take this one: “How long has your family lived here?” That back-fence query, made 18 years ago, led to the discovery that our section of the Bouldin neighborhood was founded after the Civil War as one of Austin’s 15 freedmen communities. Some African-American families in South Austin — and elsewhere — didn’t move to East Austin after the 1920s, when city planners hoped to concentrate services there. Brackenridge or South Side, now subsumed in the SoCo frenzy, remained 100 percent African-American into the 1940s.” http://shar.es/1H4clG

CITY: Austin people to watch in 2015. Taken from group Statesman story: “From books and movies to recipe apps, new bars and new music, folks in Austin have a lot planned for 2015. The Austin360 staff rounded up a selection of people to watch, people we expect to do fun, inspiring and creative things well into the year and beyond. Cheers! … Mark Madrid: Few people injected more energy into the Austin social, business and nonprofit scenes in 2014 than Madrid, president and CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He graduated from UT, spent time in New York, Mexico City and Houston, then hit the ground running last year here, uniting disparate forces around the chamber as never before. (Look for a larger profile on Madrid on Monday in print and online.) http://shar.es/1H4c5s

TRAVEL: Rivers, resacas and rare birds in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Taken from my travel story in the Statesman: “The Rio Grande staggers the imagination. Almost 2,000 miles long, it defies the type of sustained Texas “river tracing” that Houston buddy Joe Starr and I have ardently pursued by car and on foot during the past few years. The Texas-Mexico border alone is 1,000 miles long, which Keith Bowden tackled by kayak and canoe and then recorded in the riveting, even if sometimes irritating, “The Tecate Journals.” The Rio Bravo is further revealed — in fragments — in Jan Reid’s magnificently edited collection “Rio Grande,” which we dipped into on this, the 32nd of 50 planned Texas river tracings.” http://shar.es/1H4cUZ

CHARITY: Why the Salvation Army shortfall? Well … Taken from James Barragan‘s story in the Statesman: “The Salvation Army of Austin is facing a critical funding gap of $300,000 for 2014, without which the group might be unable to continue providing its services at the same level next year, the charity announced Tuesday. The charity’s branch in Austin provided food, shelter and other services to more than 400,000 people in Travis and Williamson counties in 2014, said Jan Gunter, communications and community relations director for the group. If the funding gap isn’t closed, she said, it could mean the Salvation Army won’t be able to serve as many people next year.”  http://shar.es/1H4cVE