CITY: Do you know AARO? No, not the eatery Arro. Rather, the Austin Area Research Organization, which, for 35 years has taken on some of the region’s most intractable problems, such as mobility, affordability and inequality. It has done so very quietly. That said, the very visible Ashton Cumberbatch called to order several hundred of the area’s best and brightest for an AARO luncheon at the Hilton Austin. They heard about changing demographics from Steve Murdock (7.8 million to live in the Austin area in 2050, much of the increase in the Latino communities); transportation from Joseph Cantalupo (any-and-all approach needed, including tolls); homelessness from Alan Graham (his friends are family-less, not home-less); understanding Latinos from Juan Tornoe (get to know your neighbors); and all sorts of future shock from Tom Meredith (chiming in on the need for education: “We are going to be a big market, but what are we going to market to others?”). Meredith also gave the best line: “Millennials want experiences, not things.” That would include the Waller Creek vision for five parks that he backs. Glad to see that Austin still thinks it can tackle the biggest challenges out there. It’s one of the things that makes the city work.
SCHOOL: Thanks to Communities in Schools and the Boys and Girls Clubs, graduation rates are climbing. For the past four years, 100 percent of the Boys and Girls Clubs members in the area have graduated to the next class level. We just learned at the Food for Thought sip-and-sample benefit that 99 percent of Communities in Schools clients stay in school. This is astounding. Whatever they are doing, they should keep doing it. And Austinites should keep supporting them, as they did at the Long Center Terrace for a food circuit that included exceptional bites from eateries such as Congress, Moonshine, La V and the Driskill. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul was in great spirits, as was Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo as they mobilized folks to give, give, give. Everyone talked about how the heat would be unbearable, but a dry breeze erased all cares on the Terrace.
ARTS: Character actor Dave Jarrott takes on a whole new role. Taken from my story in the American-Statesman: “Native Austinite Dave Jarrott’s first crack at the stage came at age 10. The San Antonio Little Theatre presented the musical “Call Me Madam,” and the director needed somebody for a comic walk-on part. They wanted young Jarrott to hide in a suit of armor, suddenly come to life, then do a “take” and run off stage. “I did not want to do it,” Jarrott, 70, says. “I could see through the slit in the armor all these people, and my knees were knocking. After the take, there was uproarious applause and laughter. That was that. I had to be an actor.” For 60 of his 70 years, the deep-voiced, longtime radio personality has performed on Central Texas stages. He returns Wednesday, not only playing Sigmund Freud in “Freud’s Last Session” but also, for the first time, serving as producer at the Trinity Street Theatre.”