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Michael Barnes

Champions of Justice Gala, Reading Austin’s Rings, Three Generations of Brewing and more

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Peter Hofer and Kelly Walton at the Champions of Justice Gala.

Peter Hofer and Kelly Walton at the Champions of Justice Gala.

LAW: How many times do all nine justices of the Supreme Court of Texas attend the same party? Any party? What if you added two former Chief Justices, the current Speaker of the House and a mass of legislators? And, as the keynote speaker, why not invite a retired four-star Admiral and Navy Seal — whose team killed Osama Bin Laden — who now serves as Chancellor of the University of Texas System? That would be some party! On Tuesday, the Champions of Justice Gala benefited the Texas Access to Justice Commission, a group founded in 2001 by the Supreme Court of Texas to help with the state’s anemic legal aid safety net. Chancellor William McRaven‘s speech was stirring on the subjects of America’s challengers in the world and the status of returning veterans, the theme of the evening. Retired Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and longtime legal aid champion James Sales received the Emily Jones Lifetime Achievement Award, named after the former director of the commission. I was able to corner civil rights lawyer Peter Hofer, winner of the James Sales Boots on the Ground Award, and convince him to share his roundabout life story with our newspaper.

CITY: Reading the rings of Austin’s development. Taken from my column in the Statesman: “We tend to split Austin into east and west. For a long time, the dividing line followed East Avenue, before it became Interstate 35. At other times, we have split the city north and south, with the Colorado River as the boundary. But what if we visualized the city — socially, historically and culturally — as united instead by concentric bands of complementary development? What could we learn from these Austin tree rings? Take, for instance, the thick girdle of 1930s and ’40s cottages. These houses are modest in scale, solid in assembly, some made of brick, often with fireplaces. They run through Travis Heights, Bouldin, Zilker, Old West Austin, West Campus, Heritage, Hancock, French Place and Central East Austin. Even segregation did not break this continuity. We can read into this circle of cottages, first, a longing for snug domesticity and social closeness. From anecdotal and archival evidence, we can also surmise that the Great Depression and World War II did not hit Austin as hard as elsewhere in Texas.” http://shar.es/1gkmHS

FOOD: Three generations of Austin brewers. Taken from Ari Auber‘s story in the Statesman: “Daytona Camps has tasted countless beers, worked at two breweries and recently brewed her own recipe, a Belgian red ale. That might seem like only the beginning of a long career as a brewer — but it’s all the more remarkable considering that she turned 21 just two weeks ago. She’s simply following in her family’s footsteps. Her grandfather and her mother, Pierre and Christine Celis, were also very young when they were bitten by the beer bug: Pierre was only 16 and living in Hoegaarden, Belgium, when he began mastering the witbier recipe that would later transform Austin’s definition of what good beer is. Before he ever brought it to Texas, he was making Hoegaarden a household name, and it’s at that brewery where Christine learned all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a brewery run.” http://shar.es/1gkaMv