LAW: Fighting for the facts. I wasn’t quite sure what exactly the Center for Public Policy Priorities − CPPP or CP3 for short − did until I attended its Legacy Award Lunch. Basically, the Austin think tank finds facts that support health, education and jobs for Texans. From the looks of the luncheon, it attracts mostly Democrats, but they vigorously push a bipartisan approach. (You really don’t have any choice in Texas if you want to get something good done.) Many, many bigwigs and politicos attended the brisk lunch at the JW Marriott. Former Texas Speaker of the House Pete Laney introduced his good friend, Ambassador Ron Kirk − Austin native son and former Dallas mayor − who won the Texas Legacy Award. I’d never heard him speak in person and now I see why he has been so successful. Kirk combines intelligence and warmth with an authenticity that just shouts “Austin.” The Future of Texas Honoree was Karla Perez, a dynamic Dreamer who is fighting effectively for immigrants and the children of immigrants. This was one cool way to spend 90 minutes.
HEALTH: Add another benefit to the calendar. Already, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas stages some of the most spectacular fundraisers of each season, including its climactic winter gala. Now there’s the smaller Give Hope. Donors gathered for an early mixer at the W Austin Hotel, then they joined other guests in ACL Live for two musical sets and a live auction. Bill and Sharon Murray came up with this concept and others, including the indefatigable Jennifer Stevens, executed it. The gracious Murrays said they hoped to raise upwards of $150,000, no small amount for the first time out of the gate. A New West Austin crowd cheered the Mrs. − a local all-woman pop/rock group − and, later, rising familial stars the Band Perry, clearly a draw for much of the house. Give Hope hit some speed bumps along the way, but, hey, as they say in the biz, it’s for the children.
NIGHTLIFE: A month before your wedding? Call Sara Abrams. Taken from my column in the Statesman: “During the day, Austin event expert Sara Abrams works for Agile Velocity, which provides training, coaching and recruiting for tech companies. In her spare time, she’s a “month-of” wedding coordinator. “We are there to remove stress in those final weeks leading up to the big day,” Abrams says. “The planning gets turned over to me, and I handle things as much as possible from that point on.” New York-born Abrams, 24, grew up in Montana and Texas and attended New York’s Fashion Institute before earning a degree in advertising at the University of Texas. While in college, she took six internships in the event industry. Her first job out of the gate was as catering coordinator for Chi’Lantro, the Korean barbecue outfit. She then worked for Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, In Style Weddings and Events and, now, Mrs. Planner.”
FOOD: Hill Country wineries only getting better with age. Taken from Arianna Auber‘s fine story in 360 today: “Many Texas Hill Country winemakers agree that the state’s sometimes scorching temperatures can actually produce a fine harvest of warm-weather grapes — but which type defines Texas as a wine destination in its own right? Is it Tempranillo? Tannat? Aglianico? Each winery swears by a particular varietal or two, and each one has figured out how to turn them into stellar wines that are starting to earn global buzz. It’s a great time to explore wineries — it is, after all, Texas Wine Month. With 46 wineries scattered along the Texas Wine Trail in the Hill Country, there is no shortage to choose from, but make sure to include these seven on your day trip travels. They’re some of the best, with revolutionary ideas about how to take Texas wine to the next level and plenty of award-winning wines that can compete with France, California and other leading wine regions.”