What our Austin party spies report

We can’t make every major Austin party. Especially since they often occur simultaneously. So we depend on reliable party spies to give us insight into the events that we missed. At times, we offer a few reports from them.

Disclosure: Our party spies sometimes also back — or represent — the groups celebrated. We still trust them with the facts.

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Ingrid Spencer and Michael Hsu at the Gateway Awards. Contributed by Alan Pogue.

Gateway Awards for American Gateways. “Guests from Austin and Central Texas gathered at the University of Texas’ Etter-Harbin Alumni Center to honor the contributions of the immigrant community to our city, state and country at the sold-out inaugural Gateway Awards ceremony hosted by American Gateways. The Awards raised over $75,000 for one of the largest human rights advocates and nonprofit immigration legal services providers in Texas. Gina Hinojosa, civil rights attorney and candidate for Texas State Representative (she later won the seat), served as the master of ceremonies, while Qi Dada of Riders Against the Storm began the evening with a blessing and a song. The event also featured the music of Polish immigrant Peter Stopschinski. A special VIP cocktail hour preceded the ceremony, which began at 8:30 p.m. with the honoring of Elizabeth Avellan, Michael Hsu and Dr. Alejandro Moreno.” — Will Mills

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John Cavallo, Luis Valadez and Jonathan Louis Melendez at Midtown Independence Title’s 10th Anniversary Party.

Midtown Independence Title 10th Anniversary Party. “In a city as quickly changing in Austin, it’s always great to see something that combines old and new . Over the past 10 years, co-founders of Midtown Independence Title Ed Ishmael and Douglas Plummer have remained business partners, an anomaly in todays fast moving Austin market, creating a thriving business that keeps the old Austin personal touch aesthetic that has attracted both long standing local clients as well as the new “Net 110” (150 moving in, 40 moving out) of Austin each day. It seems only fitting Midtown Independence Title celebrated this incredible milestone with a 10th anniversary bash at Palazzo Lavaca, located at 1614 Lavaca Street, an event venue that happens to be in a structure built in the 1890s — the perfect way to celebrate a business that has also given to many locally based non profits over the years including AIDS Services of Austin, Austin Children’s Shelter and Emancipet.” — Rob Giardinelli

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Diane Riehs, Ron Oliveira and Sarah French at Beer, Wine and Swine for Manos de Cristo.

Beer, Wine & Swine for Manos de Cristo. “Almost 200 guests gathered at Mercury Hall to sample craft brews, delicious wines, culinary treats from RQ SmokeMasters and dance to the sounds of Sons of the Salt Fork. More than $30,000 was donated by Manos de Cristo’s generous supporters with proceeds from the event benefiting over 25,000 local children, adults, and seniors with access to low-cost dental care, adult education classes, and emergency food and clothing relief. A squealing good time was had by all!” — Lily Lombardi

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Don Tate and Sara Hickman at Illumine for Austin Public Library Friends Foundation.

Illumine for Austin Public Library Friends Foundation. “Many of the heavy hitters in Austin’s literary and cultural crowd gathered at the W Hotel for the Illumine fundraiser supporting the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation. Cultural figures like Bill Wittliff, Stephen Harrigan, Elizabeth Crook, Brittani Sonnenberg, Liz Garton Scanlon, Sara Hickman and Becky Beaver were chatting with award winners Amy Gentry, for First Book (‘Good as Gone’); Don Tate, for Children’s Literature; and National Book Award winner Tim O’Brien for Fiction. High tech was part of the crowded and energetic scene, too. Executives from Google and Google Fiber were on hand to accept their Luminary Award for supporting the Library’s digital inclusion programs. Author Owen Egerton proved once again that he is a fine emcee, maintaining a fast pace for the program and delivering plenty of witty remarks.

“When O’Brien accepted his award, he shared a story about the importance of libraries. He said that he was inspired to write his first novel after he checked out ‘Larry of Little League’ in his small-town library. (By the way, that book was written by legendary Austin author Curtis Bishop.) After sitting there and reading the book straight through, he went up to the librarian, asked for a pencil and some sheets of paper and in less than an hour had written his first novel. A middling ballplayer in real life, in his fledgling tome he was the star who was responsible for a crazy number of runs. He talked about how when authors win awards, they don’t always allude to the first great works they read as children. ‘Thumbelina’ and ‘The Boxcar Children’ were two of his favorites and the mention of those books elicited sighs of fond remembrance from the audience. He thanked public libraries for being public.

“The parents of the two winners of the Forrest Preece Young Author Awards were over the moon about their children’s success. Eighth-grader Jason Luo’s mother said that he told her he has decided he wants to be a writer after winning for his poem ‘Fearless.’ Fifth-grader Nitya Ganesh’s family got a special surprise when the Foundation’s executive director Tim Staley quoted a line from her poem ‘Joy’ during his opening remarks. Staley said that when the envelope-pushing new Central Library overlooking Lady Bird Lake finally opens, it will be ‘like a cupcake behind plates and plates of broccoli.’” — Forrest Preece


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