HEALTH: Million Mile Month is branching out. The Austin group, known for encouraging social exercise, is moving into nutrition and environmental health. A small but devoted group gathered at a Rollingwood-area house of Meredith aand Alan Mason to hear leader Steve Amos and others talk about this trilateral approach to wellness during a Health Champion Reception. Also, the group has chosen a new name, but it’s all hush-hush for now. But the big celebrity of the evening was Dr. Philip Landigran, the pediatrician and epidemiologist who did much of the early research on the effect of lead on children. Starting with large studies on its effect on children in El Paso, he helped point the way to stripping lead from gasoline and paint. A modest-sounding man, the honoree of the evening kept the guests spellbound with stories about other equally preventable environmental health dangers (he played key roles in the research on pesticides and asbestos). Bracing stuff!
CHARITY 1: Well, it was an opportunity to Periscope. Under the patient tutelage of food writer Addie Broyles, I had downloaded Periscope, which gives one live-streaming video capabilities. Other reporters have been experimenting with this and similar apps for a while. It seemed a natural tool to join Out & About and Indelible Austin reporting on Word Press, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and so forth. So I streamed, with some success, the opening of the Building Bridges gala for ARC of the Capital Area, which provides services for clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, along with their families. A good number of clients and families showed up for the event at the Hyatt Regency Austin’s Zilker Ballroom. Luckily, I immediately ran into KLBJ’s talk rock star Ed Clements, who often serves as emcee for ARC, and the wonderful Casie Wenmohs, president of the Junior League of Austin, who noodled with me on the origin of the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Now that made some good streaming. The lovely evening included volunteer auctioneers at each table spontaneously selling the centerpieces, made by ARC clients. Haven’t heard the final fundraising tally yet.
CHARITY 2: So much is happening the Austin world of victim services. Let’s see if I got this right: Austin Children’s Shelter became for a while Austin Children’s Services. It allied with SafePlace, once known separately as the Center for Battered Women and Austin Rape Crisis Center, which merged in 1998. Now, under the umbrella of SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone), Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace share one board, with Julia Spann as president and Kelly White as CEO of the alliance staff. At its annual Celebration luncheon, Spann introduced longtime employee Melinda Cantu as the new director of the SafePlace part. After nibbling on our neat Hyatt Regency Austin bento boxes, we heard victim’s advocate William Kellibrew IV speak and sing with maximum feeling about his recovery from a horrific domestic situation, then Justin Garcia, more circumspectly, related how SafePlace had helped his family at a critical time. Julie and Tom Stevenson were honored for their leadership, including work on A Day to Shine fashion show and gala that has raised almost $1 million for the group’s Expect Respect program.
HISTORY: After interviewing my Season for Caring subject, I had an hour to kill. So I headed into history. First, I walked through two smallish graveyards on Springdale Road that opened in the late 19th century when space became scarce in older Oakwood Cemetery‘s section for African-Americans. Just on the other side of the creek is Evergreen Cemetery, a larger and still quite active graveyard that I recently profiled. Sitting on matching hills are Plummers Cemetery and Bethany Cemetery, which are actually in better condition than the looked from the street (more reports later). Still having time, I searched for − and found − the Texas Historical Marker for Fort Colorado on MLK (more on that later, too). My next appointment was atop historic Rogers Hill near Decker Lane. Here I interviewed the leaders of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, which is doing groundbreaking work on sustainability. And guess what? Right behind the complex are three historic cemeteries − plots for the Rogers and Burleson families, plus another African-American graveyard, also still in use. So if you are counting, I did reporting on five stories in one swoop.
MEDIA: One of the sharpest pieces of investigative reporting in a while. Taken from J. David McSwane‘s story in the American-Statesman: “Weeks after dropping out of the Republican race for president, former Gov. Rick Perry used his connections as the state’s longest serving governor to set up a sales meeting between a secretive Austin technology company and the top two officials at the Texas Lottery Commission, the American-Statesman has learned. Perry on Monday introduced Executive Director Gary Grief and Chairman J. Winston Krause, a Perry appointee, to GovWhiz, a company that isn’t registered to do business in Texas despite having an office across from the Capitol and a website.”