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Tracy Reyes Franklin p. 14

Volume III, 10 | February 2012

INSIDE Why Permanent Residents Should Vote p. 5 Observing the Year of the Dragon p. 8 Shanghai Chinese Orchestra Chamber p. 11 Yadira Izquierdo’s Caribbean Perspective p. 15

Bringing Darkness into Light:

Ballet Austin and Community Collaborative Battle Bigotry and Hate By Katie Walsh

512.538.4115 new website coming soon

Bridge2Bridge From Montopolis Bridge to 360 Bridge, Everything Austin

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(Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County

Volunteer Spotlight Jennifer Coffee, a legislative aide for Senator Chris Harris, spends a lot of her time volunteering. She’s a provisional member of The Junior League of Austin. She helps her mother run Big Dog Rescue in south Austin and works to get pets adopted. She is also a CASA volunteer on her first case working with a young boy. Jennifer shared that going through her parents’ divorce years ago and

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the support she and her three older siblings provided to each other throughout that process inspired her to volunteer with CASA. She remembers how overwhelming court hearings and lawyers were to her as a child, even with the support of her siblings, and she wants to make sure that no child has to face the daunting court and child welfare system alone. “I was so grateful for my family helping each other through our experience, and now I’m glad to be that person for a child who doesn’t have that kind of family support,” says Jennifer. She finds that volunteering with CASA is an exercise in “overcoming the fluff to get to the heart of an issue. It is soul searching. You get to see what you’re really made of and how far you’re willing to go to make sure kids are well represented.”

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Diego Huerta’s 31K “Portraits for Peace,” now showing at Mexic-Arte Museum, represents the over 31,000 people killed throughout the ongoing drug wars in Mexico. Diego and Daniela Gutiérrez’s large-scale vivid photographs portray the breadth of lives lost and the hope for peace that still remains in Mexico. In the photography, there is no distinction between the sitter’s color of skin, social status, religion or political beliefs. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • The 19th FronteraFest’s Short Fringe program continues at Hyde Park Theatre through February 18, with the Long Fringe through February 5 at Salvage Vanguard Theater and Blue Theatre. Offering the best in alternative, offbeat, new, and just plain off-the-wall fringe theatre, the fest is a great opportunity to discover emerging playwrights and developing new dramatic works. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Austin Lyric Opera presents a tale of superlative passion, “Lucia di Lammermoor,” on Friday, February 3/Sunday, 5 at Dell Hall at the Long Center. Caught in a blood feud and deceived by her brother to give up the man she loves, Lucia is driven to murder and madness in Donizetti’s thrilling, dramatic masterpiece of classic Italian opera. International star soprano Lyubov Petrova shines in the legendary title role. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • With their unique mix of rock, blues, Tex-Mex, folk and traditional Spanish and Mexican music, Los Lobos has created some of America’s most inventive and inspiring music. In their 36-year history, they have notched numerous #1 singles, won three Grammys and sold millions of albums. Shows at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Saturday, February 4 at One World Theatre. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Jack Ingram and Hayes Carll will co-headline this year’s Grounded in Music 2012 Benefit Concert to raise funds for the organization’s music education program. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. at the Gibson Guitar Showroom on Wednesday, February 15. The organization’s mission is to leverage the power of music to transform young lives by creating self-confidence, opportunity and hope. $35 and $50 tickets can be purchased at • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Young passions, feuding families and star-crossed lovers set the scene as the City Theatre Company brings to the stage William Shakespeare’s first great tragedy and one of his most beloved works, “Romeo and Juliet.” A tale of young love thwarted by circumstance, the production plays February 16 March 11, Thursday - Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday 5:30 p.m. 3823 Airport Blvd. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • UT’s Middle Eastern Studies presents “Mesopotamian Magic in Action: A Ceremony Against Witchcraft,” Monday, February 20 at 5 p.m. in Burdine Hall, Room 436A. Tzvi Abusch, Rose B. and Joseph Cohen will discuss the Akkadian magical series Maqlû, “Burning,” the longest and most important Mesopotamian text concerned with combating witchcraft. This ancient series prescribes the incantations and ritual of a single complex ceremony. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


february --------------------------------------------------Natalie Cole + Austin Symphony – Dell Hall

The nine-time Grammy Award-winning artist will perform for one night only with the Austin Symphony, conducted by Peter Bay, as part of the Sarah & Ernest Butler Pops Series. Hear this legendary singer perform some of her hits, such as, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love),” “Inseparable,” “Our Love,” “I’ve Got Love On My Mind,” “Pink Cadillac,” “Miss You Like Crazy,” and many more. February 10, 8 p.m. --------------------------------------------------Ballet Austin New American Talent/Dance – Dell Hall

Ballet Austin’s nation-wide search for the country’s most exciting choreographers returns as the 4th Biennial competition culls a national pool of applicants down to three finalists. Each will be given 40 hours of studio time, the opportunity to work with BA’s world-class dancers and cash prizes. The public is also invited to help decide who wins this prestigious event. February 17-18 (8 p.m.) & 19 (3 p.m.). --------------------------------------------------Diavolo Dance Theatre – Bass Concert Hall

Reinventing dance, re-imagining theater and redefining thrills. DDT’s dancers, gymnasts, and actors take movement, athletics, and daring to the extreme, creating abstract narratives through surreal tableaux. It’s an almost cinematic experience of powerful images that develop conceptual accounts of the human condition, utilizing everyday items to provide the backdrop for an evening of dramatic movement. February 23-24, 8 p.m.

A child’s future depends on a voice from your community.

C A S A O F T R A V I S C O U N T Y, I N C .

Restaurant & Bar

Latin American Cuisine

Live Music

Ma r i a c h i Tama z u l a every Fri at 8 pm

SAT 4 Clemencia Y Amigos 8:30 PM SAT 11 Sister Sister Y Los Misters “Latin PopRock” 8:30 PM Sat 18 Chrissy Flatt’s New Mystery Girl “Rock and Blues” 8 PM SAT 25 Gerard Edery “Edery Sings Yupanqui” 8:30 PM We have relocated from our long time home on South Congress to Austin’s Historic Sixth Street.

TUE-THU 11 AM-10 PM // FRI-SAT 9 AM-1 AM // SUN 9 AM-4 PM 600 East 6th Street // 512.444.7770 //

Use your voice. Become a CASA volunteer. 512.459.2272

Volume III, Number 010 Publisher/Editor – Gavin Lance Garcia

HABLA Austin

News and notes on current affairs and issues impacting our community from advocates and business leaders of Austin. Andrew Ramirez – Rare Huichol Indian Handcrafted Guitar to be Auctioned // Bellas Artes Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, preserving, and advancing the music, arts, and culture of the Hispanic community by producing festivals, programs, and events that strengthen the public’s awareness and appreciation of our Hispanic heritage; that encourage social advocacy on behalf of the Hispanic community; and that support, educate, and expose Hispanic artists residing in the Americas. To support our efforts we are raising funds by raffling a rare Huichol Indian Handcrafted Guitar. For only $20 a ticket, you can be part of this worthy cause. Join the experience. Become a patron today! The guitar is being raffled by Latinitas on behalf of Bellas Artes Alliance. The drawing will be held on Saturday, March 17, 2012, at the Pan Americana Festival Held at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River Street, Austin, TX 78701. For more information, or to purchase a ticket, please contact lramirez@ —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Paul Saldaña – Holly Power Plant Decommissioning and PARD // By now the community is aware that the Holly Decommissioning Project is underway, which includes the dismantling of the Holly Power Plant structure. One of the t-ball fields will temporarily be relocated in an effort to initiate the pre-mobilization and deconstruction work. The t-ball field will be used as a temporary staging and parking area for contractors to ensure all safety measures are met. This is a 15-18 month project. Once the work is complete, the ball field will be reinstated and improved. Prior to any work commencing, the community will be respectfully notified ahead of time. We have set up a 24/7 Holly Decommissioning Project Hotline number 1-855-444-6559 (1-855-44HOLLY). My office is working in partnership with the Holly Neighborhood, Austin Energy and the contractor hired by the City, TRC. Feel free to contact us directly at 512.394-6193 if you need any project info and/or have other questions. We also have a live website that provides additional information about the project. So there are two issues to be aware of concerning this project. First, the new Parks and Recreation Department policy regarding the use of balls fields have gone into effect requiring all use by organizations to have a non-profit status. Central Austin Youth League (CAYL) is one group which lost its non-profit status, like many other organizations. Last summer, PARD held a meeting with all of the sports organizations/ leagues currently utilizing the ball fields and announced that moving forward a non-profit status would be required. Unfortunately, CAYL had a few challenges filing the appropriate paperwork. As I understand it, they have now submitted all required paperwork to the IRS (as of December 2011); however, because CAYL is seeking re-instatement it could potentially take up to six weeks to regain status. The City and PARD are aware of the efforts by CAYL and have indicated that they will work with CAYL. Parallel to this issue is the Holly Decommissioning Project, which will interfere with ONE of the existing ballfields. Because of the magnitude of the project and for SAFETY reasons, as stated before, one ball field will be temporarily relocated so that the field can be used for a staging area and required parking for the contractors. —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Joe Almazan – Austin Energy and Privatization // Austin is already the most expensive livable city in Texas. Austin Energy is about privatization and adopting the private corporate business model 04 TODO Austin // February 2012 //

and not public government delivery model of services. Increasing rates is a lot like increasing taxes, which is perceived as surprising and unfair, but maybe the focus should be first to identify their inefficient and unaccountable practices on conducting business with Austin customers. If Austin Energy is all about privatization then let’s invite more utility competitors in the city limits to bring balance. —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Fidel Acevedo – Get Out to Vote in 2012 // The GOP will continue to stay behind the 8 ball on the issues with Latinos. My 2 cents is that we love to work. Jobs, health care, education, immigration: I support all of the above. But we need to G.O.T.V to secure all them. We need a record number of Latinos to vote this year. “Si No Hoy Cuando.” —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Paul Saldaña – City Council Electoral Reform Debate // The debate about City Council electoral reform has largely revolved around the practical consequences of incremental changes to the status quo. But underlying these arguments are contested visions about the fundamental principles of representative democracy. Very robust and passionate discussions took place at the January 5th Charter Review Committee meeting. What became abundantly clear however is that our community is very much in denial given that many claim that Austin is a progressive and liberal city ... we are NOT. We still have much work to do as it relates to race/ethnic relations and acknowledgment of the damaging political history in this town. I was extremely disappointed with the disingenuous political chatter and motives that took place last night. Our City cannot move forward when we simply continue to ignore the past! A special thank you to Kathleen Vale, Fred Cantu, Delia Garza and our Senator Gonzalo Barrientos for their passionate, thoughtful and excellent representation on behalf of our Hispanic/Latino community. —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Eliza May – Supporting Single Member Districts // The 10-1 plan is the best system for the equitable representation of Hispanics. 10-1 will provide two Latino seats and one opportunity seat. We have yet to elect a Hispanic female. Hybrid plans retain the vestiges of the current system retaining control in the hands of moneyed characters, special interest ( the folks who pick our Hispanic voice) and the political consultants who control the outcome of elections at the expense of you, me and the neighborhoods. Show up and testify in favor of the only plan that will allow our fair share at the Council table, 10-1. —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Martha Cotera – Say ‘No’ to Hybrid Council Plan // Please support the 10-1 plan since a hybrid council plan will result in the disenfranchising AISD model, where the chair and the vice chair, huddled with the Superintendent, now have inordinate power. A hybrid plan in the city will give the mayor and two council members, acting as an “executive committee,” inordinate control of the council. As Eliza May states, it will continue the current system of disenfranchisement. —-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—//-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—-—Celia Israel – What You Can Do for Fair Representation // For those of you who aren’t sure what plan you want or like or what will pass, I encourage you to not let that deter you from showing up to public meetings to support single member districts. Even if all you do is come by and speak from your personal perspective about civic engagement in Austin and the need to have greater turnout and some form of single member districts, your voice will help us to keep the momentum for the concept.

Art Director – Dave McClinton Deputy Editor – Katie Walsh Contributing Editor - Erica Stall Wiggins Senior Editors – Güner Arslan, Harmony Eichsteadt, Sonia Kotecha, Esther Reyes, Yvonne Lim Wilson Associate Editors – Yadira Izquierdo, Harish Kotecha, Alexandra M. Landeros, Julia Lee, Blake Shanley Contributing Writers/Artists – Pratima Agrawal, Mohammad Al-Bedaiwi, Deborah Alemu, Joseph Banks, Stefanie Behe, Padmini Bhat, Adriana Cadena, Cindy Casares, Jason Cato, Sirsha Chatterjee, Jennie Chen, Priscilla Cortez, Layla Fry, Mita Haldar, Jillian Hall, Maria P. Hernandez, Paul Hernandez, Fabiola Hurtado, Ryan Hutchison, Gabino Iglesias, Nandini Jairam, Chaille Jolink, Jamie Jones, Ryan Jordan, Sushma KhadepaunParmar, Ramey Ko, Vandana Kumar, Callie Langford, Heather Lee, Liz Lopez, David Marks, Jessica Meyer, Lata Narumanchi, Cristina Parker, Monica Peña, Aleah Penn, Kathy Pham, Tracy Reyes Franklin, Jorge Reyes, Rebecca Robinson, Paul Saldaña, Marion Sanchez, Hani Saleh, Lorenzo Salinas, Sameer Shah, Jaya Shukla, Rupal Shah, Sachin Shah, Vinit Singh, Walter Trejo, Kristina Vallejo, Kuetzpalin Vasquez, Vanessa Valdovinos, Joseph P.A. Villescas, Bowen Wilder, Sait Yavuz Photographers – Raul Angon, Heather Banks, Jenny Fu, Mark Guerra, Mari Hernandez, John M. P. Knox, JoJo Marion, Anna Moreno, Aimee Wenske, Matt Ziehr Cover: photography Hannah Neal TODO Austin: Multicultural Media for All of Austin ( TODO Austin is a free, colorful print and online journal for all of Austin highlighting our multicultural heritage. Our mission is to promote the concept of community in an ethnically diverse city. TODO Austin’s content closely mirrors the changing demographics of Austin. TODO Austin is circulated throughout Austin, spanning the city from the West Side’s Pennybacker Bridge on Loop 360 to the Montopolis Bridge in East Austin. TODO Austin provides a platform that profiles Hispanic, Anglo, Asian, African American and other individuals, groups and organizations that are representing a positive vision in the community. TODO Austin is published by Spark Awakened Publishing. © 2012 Spark Awakened Publishing. All rights reserved. Unsolicited submissions (including, but not limited to articles, artwork, photographs) are not returned. TODO Austin is a free print and online journal for all of Austin highlighting our multicultural heritage, promoting the concept of community in an ethnically diverse city. Advertising/Submissions/Editorial: Contact@todoaustin. com, 512.538.4115 // TODO Austin - P.O. Box 4142 Austin, TX 78765-4142

To Vote or Not to Vote? Why Permanent Residents Should Become Engaged Citizens By Deborah Alemu and Walter Trejo

Last year, the immigrant community in Texas battled against one of the most anti-immigrant legislative sessions that the state has seen in more than a generation. Being that 2012 is an election year, it is now more important than ever to have informed and eligible voters particularly among immigrants. Often times, however, potential voters are lacking either information or eligibility— sometimes even both. There are undocumented students (DREAMers) who register other voters even though they themselves can’t vote; conversely there are citizens who can vote but choose not to bother with the politics of voting.

Three Progressive Voices to Speak on Faith and Community

Therefore it is essential to encourage permanent residents to become citizens in order to attempt a balanced representation of immigrants in the voting booth and avoid violations of civil rights. In 2011 alone, the Texas legislature filed 85 bad immigration bills in the regular session, six of which sought to repeal in-state tuition for DREAMers. One of the bills that was filed but eventually defeated by Texans was SB 9. SB 9 sought to create a massive dragnet which would require immigration screenings for simple traffic stops at the expense of taxpayers and public safety. This type of legislation is alarmingly similar to Arizona’s highly controversial and racially charged SB 1070 bill where local law enforcement has the added task of regulating immigration. Also in the last legislative session, Texas passed the voter ID bill (SB 14) which has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of poor, rural, and elderly minorities who are citizens but don’t have the required identification. Laws like these will continue to be filed and signed unless immigrants vote for candidates who actively work for and stand by the community.

even smaller (35%) for residents who were born in Mexico, a key pool of potential voters in Texas. Naturalization of these individuals would dramatically change the political landscape of Texas. Voting privileges are not the only benefit of becoming a citizen, one also gains diplomatic protection abroad, the right to cross the U.S border at will, the right to sponsor family members interested in citizenship, the right to run for office and many other federal benefits. For these reasons the student chapter of University Leadership Initiative (ULI) at the University of Texas at Austin will be hosting a citizenship drive. This event will allow eligible residents to work with immigration lawyers to fill out the N-400

application for citizenship; ULI will also provide passport photos required by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and qualified lawyers to review the application. This will all be done free of charge thanks to the help of many local donors, and the partnership of Univision, United We Dream and State Representative Eddie Rodriguez. The citizenship drive will take place February 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Travis High School, 1211 East Oltorf Street, Austin, Texas 78704. We ask that all applicants arrive early with the proper documentation and required payments. For more information please visit

One way our community can ensure that minority groups are not overlooked by negligent lawmakers and subjected to unjust laws is to encourage widespread support for citizenship drives. According to the 2007 Pew Hispanic Center, in 2005 only 52% of all eligible permanent residents actually became citizens. The percentage was will join local religion writer Eileen Flynn, who will moderate a panel discussion including a conversation with those in attendance. Savory, sweet refreshments from Sweetish Hill will also be served.

Vibrant, fresh expressions of living a Christian spiritual path in the Anglican (Episcopal) tradition are popping up around the country. St. Hildegard’s Community at St. George’s Episcopal Church presents three voices from that community in a public forum on Monday, February 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Comfort the Children International Garden (1102 East Cesar Chavez). The free event features journalist and religion commentator Becky Garrison, author of “Ancient Future Disciples: Meeting Jesus in Mission-Shaped Ministries,” who will share the big picture of varied communities she’s met across the country with Reverend Judith Liro of St. Hildegard’s and Carol Bradsen of Mariposa Community in Tucson. Each will tell stories from their own context. St. Hildegard’s and the Mariposa Community, both featured in Garrison’s book, are rooted in contemplative practice, transformative community and calls to social justice. In her book, Garrison shifts the popular focus from the pioneers who founded emerging congregations to those finding appeal and belonging within them. Following a reading from her book, Garrison TODO Austin // February 2012 // 05

Immigrants for Development and Education of Austin Youth Aid Inc.

Jolisbeth Cabrera and Christine Sepulveda are entering their second semester at Austin Community College this winter. Cabrera, a 2011 graduate of Austin McCallum High School, is working towards an Associate’s Degree. Sepulveda, who graduated from Austin Travis High School last year, is earning credits towards becoming a sign language interpreter. Each is a recipient of the 2011 Immigrants for Development and Education of Austin Youth Aid Inc. (IDEAYA Inc.) Scholarship. The IDEAYA Inc. Scholarship Fund was established in November, 2010, to help motivated, inner city Austin high school graduates who possess a grade point average below 3.0, are at or below the poverty line, have a good attendance record and an ability to stay on the task. The scholarship goes to support vocational or technical training at a tertiary education program in the Austin area, or a Texas state institution. By providing often forgotten young adults with appropriate educational skills, the organization hopes scholarship recipients will be better equipped to enter the legal workforce. The mission of IDEAYA Inc. is fueled by the vision that by making small, positive changes in the life of those who most need it, we can help provide for the most meaningful changes in a youth’s life while giving encouragement to

his or her family and the community. The 501(c)(3) non-profit is guided by the hope that “if at least one parent is gainfully employed, the family life of the children will be better. They will have chance to succeed.” IDEAYA Inc. was formed by a group of first generation Americans and recent Immigrants who wanted to show their support for their community. Kumari Samineni, Chair and founder of IDEAYA, Inc. states, “We greatly appreciate the opportunity to work, live and raise our children in Austin. In return we want to participate directly in the growth of our community and city.” The IDEAYA Inc. Scholarship Fund is based on the premise that by providing opportunities for atrisk, inner city youth to become self-supporting, we enhance the growth of our community as a whole. The organization works to address the financial and logistic barriers that keep many at-risk youth from gaining tertiary education. In addition to financial assistance, IDEAYA Inc. provides mentorships and guidance to help students and their families navigate through the rigors of college life.

06 TODO Austin // February 2012 //

The September 2011 wildfires in Bastrop reportedly claimed the lives of two people and caused much human agony and destruction of property. With over 1600 homes destroyed and the insured property damage over $325 million, the Bastrop fires are said to have been the most destructive single wildfire in Texas history. In the wake of this misfortune, programs such as Adopt a Family emerged to house those left homeless. After aid came in from government, businesses, organizations and individuals to help restore the community, less obvious needs were identified and charities and communities continue to help as these needs surface. Hindu Charities For America (HC4A), established to contribute to the education of homeless children, joined with the Texas Homeless Education Office to determine two specific areas of need that had

not been completely addressed. The first was the replacement of library books lost by Bastrop schools, and the second, the replenishment of non-insured funds set-aside in Bastrop Independent School Districts to help support homeless students that need medical services such as eye exams and glasses, hearing exams and possibly hearing aids and emergency dental assistance. The local Hindu Community has been energized through HC4A and S.E.W.A. International, a group that overseas thousands of charitable projects, to donate library books ($2,200 worth) for five campuses while donating $2,500 through S.E.W.A. to replenish the non-insured fund. Reina Gallegos, Parent and Homeless Facilitator, Adelaida Olivares, Principal of Lost Pine Elementary Campus, and librarians were very grateful for the donations. Harish Kotecha, Founder of HC4A said, “We thank you for the opportunity to serve.” He reminded that restoration work in Bastrop has not stopped and that there are many areas where help will continually be needed.

IDEAYA Inc.’s goals for the 2012 academic year are to provide a minimum of three full scholarships to Austin area graduates. The scope of IDEAYA Inc. has expanded in 2012 to include applicants from the Austin Homeless Centers in addition to AISD High Schools and GED graduates. As a volunteer organization, IDEAYA Inc. depends on new arrivals and first generation Americans for funding and operations. The group welcomes people looking to help Austin’s inner city youth. To learn more about the IDEAYA Inc. Scholarship Foundation, please visit the website at

Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Engaging Community On January 4, Sri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, 2509 W. New Hope Drive in Cedar Park, made a $601 donation to the “Cougar Cupboard,” a nonprofit organization that provides food to needy families associated with Running Brushy Middle School in Cedar Park. The Temple also made a $1,500 donation to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas in early January. On Christmas Day, volunteers from the Temple distributed thermal underwear and sweatshirts to the homeless gathered near Eighth Street in downtown Austin. “Love for one’s neighbor is the common currency of all religions,” said Temple President Craig Edwards. The Temple distributes 35-40,000 sandwiches and meals to the homeless each year through Salvation Army and Caritas of Austin.

Hindu Community Supporting Bastrop Victims

Jill Edwards and Shanti Satyan of Sai Baba Temple present Asst. Principals Jeremy Bell, Robin Burwell and Moises Trejo a check for the Cougar Cupboard.

Nikhil Patel of Sai Baba Temple presents a check to Emily De Maria, Community Relations Director of the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Volunteers from the Hindu community receive the donations. Photo by Krishna Gobburu

Ride for Refuge Pledges Support of Refugees

Participants in this year’s ride will be raising money to provide housing, assist in job placement, and other vital social services that enable independence for these people A few days prior to Valentine’s Day 2012 groups. (February 11th), Refugee Services of TexasAustin (RST Austin), will promote community engagement on the growing issue of displacement through the Ride for Refuge, a pledge-based bicycle ride to benefit local refugees, asylees and survivors of human trafficking. Starting at Fiesta Gardens, participants can choose an admirable 10-mile or a brave 38-mile trek, both rides ending back at Fiesta Gardens for a late lunch, live music and celebration with the Austin Bike Zoo. To accomplish this year’s goal, ambitious team For the commencement year of Ride for captains are needed, as well as individual riders Refuge Austin, the goal is to raise $25K for of all shapes and sizes. Team Captains who displaced peoples by promoting a fun event recruit 6-8 friends also commit to raising a specific to Austin’s unique culture. RST minimum of $2,000 per team (about $280 per Austin provides basic needs assistance and team member) but individual riders without self-sufficiency services to displaced peoples teams can ride, sweat and raise money by from a number of countries, including places joining the Refugee Services of Texas team. such as Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Guatemala. For more, go to

Austin Celebrates Black History Month 13th Annual African American Heritage Festival // State Representative Dawnna Dukes and Pro Arts Collective invite the community to attend the 13th Annual African American Community Heritage Festival on Saturday, February 25 from 1-5 p.m. at Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon Street. Last year’s festivities were the most successful yet with over 60 vendors, nearly 3,000 in attendance and fundraising efforts that granted $5,000 to the Huston-Tillotson University Scholarship Fund. With a purposeful objective to raise scholarship funds for HTU, Austin’s prime long-standing institute of higher learning, the event is a familyfriendly extravaganza filled with games and vendors, including a Kid’s Zone with bounce houses, safety demonstrations, arts and crafts, home décor, books, clothing, jewelry, storytelling, health, vision and dental screenings, plus insurance outreach, coupled with dance, giveaways, prizes and a live entertainment mix to satisfy varying musical tastes.

internationally to critical acclaim. The play was turned into a television movie starring Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee, earning a Peabody Award for Excellence in Television and a NAACP Image Award nomination. Join acclaimed local actresses Jennifer Cumberbatch and Carla Nickerson as they take you on a historical journey revealing truths about Jim Crowe, Civil Rights and cultural resiliency. You’ll leave the theater knowing you’ve had an intimate encounter with wisdom. RunWay Underground Auditions Black/Afrikan Models // RunWay Underground (the Evolution) Fashion Production Group & Network is holding open calls for Black models, both men and women ages 16 and up on Saturday, February 11 from 1:303:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 25 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the Carver Museum. Petite women (5’-0’ to 5’-5” tall and size 0-2 are especially encouraged to attend. RWU is hoping to cast 20-30 new models for its full 2012 season of fashion shows, events and

editorial photo shoots. RWU is getting a head start for August’s Austin Fashion Week and readying for its first annual International-Afrikan Fashion Week/ Austin event in October. Folktales Black Women’s Literary Society // On Friday, February 17, 6 p.m. at the Carver Museum’s Book Club convenes again. If your new year’s resolution was to find a book club where the selections were a bit more serious than the latest by-the-numbers romance novel, then look no further. 2012 marks the beginning of the 20th year of Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society. Enjoy a wide array of works by African American authors including recent releases and classics; first time authors and well established writers; short (less than 300 pp.) and longer works (up to 600pp.); and genres of all kinds, such as fiction, biography, Taylor Henry, Photo by Christina Rosales; Hair/MU by commentary, mysteries and historical. February’s Nailah/Sankofa selection is “Assumption,” a novel by Percival Everett. Coming March 16 the group will discuss “Their Eyes Were watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston. Carver Museum // In honor of Black History Month, the Carver Museum presents a gospel concert on Saturday, February 18 featuring Spirited Journey. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 21 brings another rousing musical outfit, Keys of Life, to the stage at 7 p.m. There’s a genealogy workshop from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, followed by a presentation, “Ancestors Talking,” with Myra Sampson on Wednesday, February 29 at 6:30 p.m. For more see

“Having Our Say”: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years // The Carver Museum (1165 Angelina St.) hosts a sit down on Friday-Sunday, February 3-5 with Sadie and Bessie, the unparalleled Delany sisters. “Having Our Say” received three Tony nominations in 1995 and has since been produced

Asian Austin: About Town

Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Council Member Bill Spelman and many others in attendance.

By Yvonne Lim Wilson

2012 honorees include Judge John Dietz, Lifetime Achievement Award; State Rep. Scott Hochberg and State Rep. Donna Howard both receiving Legislator of the Year; and Yvonne Lim Wilson, Activist of the Year.

Austin was full of festivities welcoming the Year of the Dragon. From firecrackers to dragon dances, food and fun, a good time was had throughout town at various events, some of which are still scheduled throughout February. The Asian American Cultural Center hosted their free, family friendly event on Jan. 21 complete with dragon and lion dance, cultural performances, food, community booths and activities for children. Amy Wong Mok, CEO and founder of the Asian American Cultural Center, commented that the year of the yang water dragon, which means active water (such as rivers) as opposed to still water (such as lakes for contemplation), and is a good year for action. “People need to have a plan so they know where to go,” she said. “This year, we have to think big. You have to match the energy of the dragon. This is a good year for materializing everyone’s big dreams.” On Jan. 19, the Capital Area Asian American Democrats (CAAAD) held the first Lunar New Year event of the season at Satay restaurant in what turned out to be a star-studded event for the politico set, with Congressman Lloyd Doggett, Representative Elliott Naishtat,

“Tonight’s amazing turnout from the community and our public servants demonstrates that Asian Americans in Central Texas are not only growing by leaps and bounds in population, but also in how we contribute to our community,” said Judge Ramey Ko, president and founder of CAAAD. “Greater numbers can translate into greater influence, but also require greater responsibility.  CAAAD will continue its work to ensure that Asian Americans are part of the fabric of Austin, as responsible citizens, good neighbors, and caring leaders.”

the Democratic Party,” Ko said. “With Republicanled efforts to disenfranchise and exclude Asian Americans at a fever pitch, CAAAD will also fight to protect the right of ALL Americans, including Asian Americans, to vote.”

________________________ “This year, the year of the Water Dragon, is going to be a transformational life-changing year! Generally, there are more goodies in store for you in the year 2012 than 2011. It’s a good year to improve oneself, take calculated investment risks and build wealth. The year 2012 holds much promise and may be a major transition in your life. Whether it turns out extremely good or really bad, will depend on how you ride the mighty Water Dragon.” - From

What do you expect to see for 2012 Year of the Dragon?

The fundraising event supports CAAAD’s outreach efforts to Asian American voters in this very important election year. CAAAD is working to oppose the “Voter Photo ID” law, register more Asian American voters, ensure language access and other aspects of the Voting Rights Act are protected and enforced.

“Normally, water dragons can cause two effects they make waves and the water can move high in one area and low in another area. It’s a good year for those who have a water sign, and I was born in a water year. It should be a very good year, especially for those in the food business. I am looking forward to a very good year!” - Foo Swasdee, restauranteur

“In the coming election year, CAAAD will be working hard to elect progressive candidates who will stand up for the Asian American community, as well as pushing for a larger, more visible role for Asian Americans and our issues in

“According to Feng Shui experts, the lucky location inside the house of the Dragon year is Southeast. This area must be kept clean and planting some green plants will bring luck and wealth to you and the family.” - Cherry Li, artist and student

“I’m excited about the Year of the Water Dragon as it looks to be a promising year for real estate. Job creation and population growth continue in Central Texas and along with a shrinking inventory of rental units, demand for housing is expected to increase. If the Water Dragon could break the drought this year, it would be good fortune for all!” - Susanne Lee, Austin realtor “I’m hoping to travel more and visit a country I’ve never been to ... at least that’s what my latest fortune cookie said would happen!” - Edward Lim, test development specialist “My hope for this year is that my life will fall into place. It has started out great with a new boyfriend and new friends and I hope it will continue to get better. I hope to find a better job that will fit me, remove drama from my life and happiness fills me to the core.” - V.L., bank teller “I’m looking forward to a healthier year. The world is so unstable, even our own country. I am very concerned about how Congress is so partyoriented and things don’t get done. I’m hoping people will work more together and have the community in mind and that will meet the vision of the dragon. Hopefully we’re dreaming of world peace.” - Amy Wong Mok, community activist Yvonne Lim Wilson is founder and publisher of Asian Austin at, an online news magazine featuring news about Asian American people, organizations and events in Austin. Contact Yvonne at yvonne@asianaustin. com. TODO Austin // February 2012 // 07

Asian Austin: About Town

2012 Year of the Dragon

Dragon chasing pearl at the Xiang Yun Temple. Photo by Steve Rogers

Vyvi, Jessica and Tiffany of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society.

Kyong C. Ganaha (left), director of the Park Koyng-Cha Dance Studio, performs a Korean Angel Fairy dance along with her students. Photo by Yvonne Lim Wilson.

Brycen Craig, a student at the International Shaolin Wushu Center, performs traditional Shaolin kung fu with a sword. Photo by Yvonne Lim Wilson

Photo by Steve Rogers

CAAAD officers Ramey Ko, Nick Chu, Lily Vo, George C. Thomas, Kathleen Santos, Rick Cofer with award winners State Rep. Donna Howard, State Rep. Scott Hochberg, Judge John Dietz and Yvonne Lim Wilson. Photo by Mitch Wilson

Good Times at Güero’s For great tunes and great rita’s! Please join us for live music on our outside jardin stage, every Thursday through Sunday. Thanks to the fans & bands who support us!!! All outdoor shows are “weather permitting”

February Line-up

Taco Bar

1412 S. Congress Avenue • Austin, Texas 78704 Open Weekdays 11am-11pm; Weekends 8am-11pm

----------------------------------------------------------------THU 2/2 THE BOB FUENTES SHOW (6:30) FRI 2/3 LOS FLAMES (6:30) SAT 2/4 ALVIN CROW & THE PLEASANT VALLEY BOYS (6:30) SUN 2/5 THE TEXAS TYCOONS (3:00) ----------------------------------------------------------------THU 2/9 THE FABS (6:30) FRI 2/10 LOS FLAMES (6:30) SAT 2/11 THE PEDERSON BROTHERS (6:30) SUN 2/12 TRENT TURNER & THE MOONTOWERS (3:00) ----------------------------------------------------------------THU 2/16 MATT SMITH’S WORLD (6:30) FRI 2/17 GRUPO GRUVO (6:30) SAT 2/18 ROSIE & THE RAMBLERS (6:30) SUN 2/19 MITCH WEBB & THE SWINDLES (3:00) ----------------------------------------------------------------THU 2/23 THE A.M. BAND (6:30) FRI 2/24 LOS FLAMES (6:30) SAT 2/25 TOO BLUE (6:30) SUN 2/26 CHICKEN STRUT (3:00)

and emotions of the Holocaust in order to best understand, communicate and address them.

Bringing Darkness into Light:

“My journey through this project, as anyone who has encountered this knowledge understands, was emotionally challenging,” Artistic Director Stephen Mills said. “Studying one of history’s darkest periods of war, dehumanization and systematic genocide changes the way one considers humanity.” Mills’ own personal education included intensive research at the Holocaust Museum Houston and visits to Israel and seven death and concentration camps. He feels the most important aspect of his learning, though, was speaking directly to 15 Holocaust survivors. It was one of these survivors, Naomi Warren, who inspired Mills to incorporate dance into the program’s elements through “personal, intimate, frank and raw” first-hand accounts.

Ballet Austin and Community Collaborative Battle Bigotry and Hate

“History influences and sets the context for the present,” Mills said. “For me, the voices of the survivors brought a 60-year-old, historical event forward in time, creating for me the idea of past and present existing simultaneously.”

By Katie Walsh

Stephen Mills

For many, the Holocaust is simply a dark moment of the past; a tragedy read about in history books and delicately remembered in private moments and popular culture. But its implications are still alive today, coursing through the veins of modern society in the form of fear, division, and continuing displays of prejudice against and hate for the “other.” For the past seven years, Ballet Austin and a network of supporters in the Austin community have taken the lessons of the Holocaust off of the shelf and into the public dialogue, using the power of art to bring its lessons into the “Light.” “Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project” is a full-length contemporary dance production paired with a three-month, community-based public education and dialogue program. It explores the Holocaust and other past and present themes of human rights struggles, working with a network of community partners to create meaningful learning experiences for Austinites. The Ballet and its partners, a group of individual artists as well as arts, education and human rights organizations, collaborate each year to create a wide range of opportunities and modalities for public conversation about the Holocaust and human rights. This year’s “Light 2012” begins on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 15) and will run through Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

on April 19. The program has grown and evolved considerably since it was created in 2005, at that time with only 13 community organizations on board. “Today, 40 community partners are working together as part of ‘Light 2012’ to ensure a crossdisciplinary, multi-genre approach to a sustained conversation about our individual and collective responsibility for the protection of human/civil rights for all our citizens,” Executive Director Cookie Ruiz said. Among this year’s partners are community pillars like the City of Austin, APD and AISD, as well as education innovators like MindPop, human rights organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and many others. “ADL recognizes how uncommon it is for a civil rights organization to partner with a ballet company,” Community Director Karen Gross said. “We applaud [Artistic Director] Stephen Mills and Cookie Ruiz for their courage to do this work. And for creating new mediums for members of our community to think critically about bias and prejudice and the role it plays in society.” Ballet Austin’s preparation for the program went far beyond the level of research and planning typically required for a new program or performance. Light’s creators, along with every other member of the Ballet staff, became deeply and personally familiar with the events

Ballet staff members—dancers, teachers, administrators, crew and everyone in between— also immersed themselves in the history and horror of the Holocaust, each learning in their own way what the information meant to our own community and modern humanity as

a whole, and how it could be translated and communicated through the arts. Using “light” as the vehicle for knowledge and justice is a concept the program was inspired to embody by Dr. Martin Luther King, who said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” “Through this project, using art as a convener of dialogue, we hope to shine the light Dr. King referenced on contemporary issues of intolerance and indifference,” Mills said. The goal of “Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project,” then, became “Identifying the ways this difficult knowledge could be transformed to not only draw parallels to contemporary genocide but also to create resonance around contemporary issues of bigotry, homophobia and bullying.” Mayor Lee Leffingwell recognizes how addressing these broader issues can help the Austin community break down barriers and better understand each other as people and comrades. “This is an opportunity for our city to set aside differences and to talk, to observe, and to learn what it really means to take a stand against hate and bigotry in our own backyard,” Leffingwell

said. “My hope is that this project will change us. That it will change—in whatever way, in big steps and small—how the people of our city view action, and inaction; community, and isolation; love, and indifference.” Indifference about hateful attitudes and actions may not seem to be a big threat, but the pervasiveness of it prevents communities from standing together and standing against everyday micro-injustices. Police Chief Art Acevedo notes, “People often ignore acts of hate and bigotry because they simply don’t know what to do about it, or they don’t feel empowered to take action. The idea of stopping this indifference is very important. And the fact that this message will be introduced to all different ages and groups across Austin in dozens of ways is simply amazing.” Transforming indifference into inspired action has long been an objective of “Light.” Ruiz worked with Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel at the program’s outset to launch the “Stay Awake” campaign, encouraging students and community members to maintain awareness about the injustices taking place around them. “As he spoke to an audience of over 3,000 area students, he cautioned us ‘not to sleep,’” Ruiz

recalls. “We believe it is our moral responsibility to avoid a sleeping conscience. In order to see and understand what is happening around us and to take an active role in our surroundings, we must stay awake to remain aware and active against bigotry and hate.”

“These young people are empowered to use their voice, to speak up and to recognize the responsibility they each have to call out unfairness, injustice and to act,” Gross said. They are learning—as should we all—that there is no such thing as an innocent bystander.”

This concept is especially important for young students, who encounter individual and institutional instances of prejudice and social isolation often throughout their growth and education. The Austin Independent School District joins “Light” as a partner for this reason.

This is just as true for adults as it is for our children, which is why the ADL will carry on the spirit of “Light” with continuing opportunities for adult anti-bias education once the program ends. Gross explains the importance of engaging and empowering the entire population in support of one another.

“The ‘Light’ Project provides an opportunity for students to examine the extreme consequences of bigotry and hate, but we know our students encounter less extreme examples every day,” AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said. “I know our students will transform what they learn to become leaders who are committed to ending intolerance.”

“When acts of prejudice occur we should all speak out, even if our particular community is not the target,” she said. “Those who harbor prejudice are usually equal opportunity haters. When one community is targeted all communities should be concerned.”

The ADL is also working with Austin and Central Texas students at 213 campuses to foster awareness and action through their “No Place for Hate” campaign, in which participants pledge to “combat prejudice, to be aware of their own biases and to gain understanding of those perceived as being different.”

This is perhaps the most powerful idea behind “Light,” articulated and emanated throughout the ballet and among its community partners: None of us is responsible only to ourselves or our immediate families or social circles. We are all each other’s stewards, each other’s keepers and protectors, and together we can unite to eradicate hate and bigotry from our collective community experience.

Mills rehearses with Ballet Austin company dancers. Photo by Hannah Neal

Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Naomi Warren serves as the inspiration behind “Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project”

Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra A rare musical treat coming to Bass Concert Hall By Yvonne Lim Wilson

Chinese music has a rich and long history spanning more than 7,000 years with sounds and emotions evoking poetic images from subjects as diverse as moonlight reflections to the happiness childhood to warriors off to battle. On February 18, the Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra makes its Texas debut with a performance at Bass Concert Hall. Austinites will have the opportunity to experience traditional and contemporary Chinese music, as well as award-winning original compositions. Asian American concert cellist Hai Zheng Olefsky remarked that this Austin performance is a rare opportunity to hear this internationally acclaimed group.

The early 20th Century brought increased interest in Western music which led to the formation of the first symphony orchestras. The Chamber Ensemble of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra perform on the zheng, dizi, erhu, pipa, and other Chinese instruments. The erhu has been compared to a violin and the pipa is commonly described as a Chinese lute, however, these comparisons are not an exact match and do not capture the unique techniques that are used to develop their distinctive sounds.

“When they play, it imitates the human voice,” explained Olefsky, who is also the artist director of the Young Musicians Festival Competition at the Asian American Cultural Center. “With different techniques, it can be really mellow, or really “Not even in New York or California, you still don’t brilliant with a fast technique.” get a group like this. I think it’s wonderful they can bring them here. If someone hasn’t heard For DaXun Zhang, a professor of double bass at UT traditional Chinese instrument they will be in for Austin and concert bassist, the music is a special a treat,” she said. reminder of home. The Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, founded in 1952, is hailed as the first modern Chinese orchestra in China. Historically, Chinese instruments had been played on solo instruments or in small ensembles.

that instrument played, they are always impressed a major, multi-year cultural exchange with by the technique.” Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest, the Chinese Ministry of Culture, and the US Major University Zhang commented on one of the pieces that Presenter’s consortium. Support for the tour has will be performed, “Moon’s Reflection on Er- been provided by the Ministry of Culture, People’s Quan,” which he said is one of the most famous Republic of China. pieces from China composed by a blind, destitute musician-composer who was close to dying. Amy Wong Mok, founder and CEO of the Asian American Cultural Center, which is a community “He composed it by memory, evoking what the supporter of the show, remarked that Austin has moon is like in the spring. It’s really beautiful,” become a more international city, as evidenced by Zhang said. the cultural offerings from all over the world. With the developing relationship between the “It’s a wonderful opportunity for people who have United States and China, Zhang sees music as an never traveled to China to listen to this music and ideal way to bridge any cultural gaps and increase enjoy these really ancient Chinese instruments. understanding. And for those who are from China, this is a good “I think China is a frequently talked about on TV way to remember home.”

news, good and bad. In China we know a lot of Western music; classical music is blooming in China,” Zhang said. “[Listening to Chinese music] is a good chance for people to know more about China. We don’t need to know to the language of “The sounds are very different from things people China to appreciate Chinese music.” here have heard. The pipa is a lute, a plucked instrument, which is something you don’t have in The 2012 national tour of the Chamber Ensemble a Western orchestra. When Western people see of the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra is part of

The Asian American Cultural Center is hosting a reception for the performers on Friday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Asian American Cultural Center, 11713 Jollyville Road. Local students will perform on the guzheng and Chinese bamboo flute. Seating is limited, please RSVP to attend: email or call 512- 336-5069. TODO Austin // February 2012 // 11

Andrea Bocelli to Make Austin Debut World-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will make his debut performance in Austin on Friday, February 10 at the Frank Erwin Center. Bocelli has sold more than 65 million albums worldwide and continually receives rave reviews throughout the world on his sold out tours. He

is an artist who shows confidence and mastery in both the classical and pop worlds. Called a legend for the new millennium, he is described as a refined tenor whose use of voice combines the unmistakable power of the heroic tone with the youthful fragrance of a graceful tenor. Fortified by an unusually polished timbre who scrupulously studies the score, he can sing anything from Verdi to Puccini, from Mascagni to Massenet. “The more I immerse myself in singing, the less I understand, Bocelli has stated. “I only know that God has given me a voice which allows me to express what I feel.” The Austin concert will make for a perfect romantic evening out with loved ones during Valentine’s Day weekend. The show will highlight Bocelli’s renowned repertoire featuring both classical and pop performances of soaring arias along with the world’s most famous love songs. Last year, Bocelli thrilled a sold out crowd in Houston, and this year, he plans to give Austin fans an unforgettable Valentine’s weekend gift. Tickets available at

Brandi Cowley 1611 W. 5th Street 512.473.0700 |

Local Filmmakers Give Their Weekend to Charity By Callie Langford

Amy Averett of Alamo Drafthouse and David J Neff of Lights.Camera.Help

A starter pistol marked the kick-off to 48 hours of charitable filmmaking on Friday, January 13th. When Alamo Drafthouse and local nonprofit Lights.Camera.Help. met last summer, they realized they had a shared idea – a weekend devoted to creating films supporting local nonprofits. Within the year they had recruited 10 nonprofits and 10 film teams to take part in this weekend adventure appropriately titled the Reel Change Film Frenzy. The nonprofit causes ranged from advocacy for children who’ve been abused or neglected (CASA of Travis County), to writing and literacy (Badgerdog Literary Publishing and Austin Bat Cave) to food (Sustainable Food Center and The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas) and beyond.   “We were so excited to bring together nonprofits and filmmakers in a project that used everyone’s time and resources to make a difference in our community.  We were thrilled with the quality of the films and impressed, as always, by the cause-driven stories they told,” said Amy Averett, Community Relations Coordinator for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. During the weekend Amy shared her own story of the difficulties of trying to create a film for a nonprofit she used to work for. Her hopes for this weekend included simplifying the filmmaking process so that more nonprofits can begin using video to tell their success stories.  David J. Neff, CoFounder and CEO of Lights. Camera. Help., agrees: “I believe that the point of the Reel Change Film Frenzy is to connect filmmakers and nonprofits on a deeper level than just the weekend. It’s to show nonprofits that filmmaking is not an impossible task, it’s something they should budget for, and that there is real power in showing your mission instead of just talking about your mission.”   A week before the 48-hour filming period was allowed to begin, filmmaking team Dreamtown told representatives from CASA of Travis County how excited they were to have been matched up for the film competition. One of their team members, Amanda Farmer, is the niece of a

CASA volunteer in another community. From that auspicious beginning came a productive week of preparing concepts, scripts and securing talent for the video. Amanda and Brent Graham of Dreamtown have participated in many other 48hour film festivals and were very happy with the outcome of this weekend. “It worked out well. It was of one of those ‘everything that can go right, will’ weekends, for a change,” said Farmer. The film, titled “We, the Grown-Ups,” features CASA volunteer Jennifer Coffee calling grown-ups to action to protect childhood. “We – the grown-ups – we’ve made an agreement with each other. We’ll deal with the ugly stuff. We’ll take on the burden, so they get to be kids for just a little longer,” pledges Coffee in the film. Dreamtown cared deeply about CASA’s mission and understood just how to deliver a strong call to action for adults to volunteer and advocate on behalf of children who’ve been abused or neglected. The weekend culminated with a screening at the Drafthouse just 7 hours after the films were turned in at noon on Sunday. Two awards were presented that night – Judges Choice went to Austin Bat Cave and Audience Choice to The Whole Planet Foundation. The voting isn’t over though, as an online competition has been instituted on where you can purchase MoneyVotes and donate them to the nonprofit and film of your choice. All films created during Film Frenzy weekend can be viewed online at youtube. com/lightscamerahelp. “Lights. Camera. Help. is a great partner to further the Alamo’s commitment to both the film and nonprofit communities,” said Averett. Austin and local nonprofits can look forward to future collaborations between Alamo and Lights. Camera. Help. and hopefully Film Frenzy has inspired organizations to get out and create their own film projects. For those who don’t feel quite so ready, Lights. Camera. Help. is ready to teach them. Check out their classes at

Greater Expectations By Ryan Hutchison

Most every parent has pride and trust in their neighborhood school. They function as the nexus of our children’s lives and strengthen our ties to our community. When we hand our kids over to our schools, we do so in blind faith, expecting that our children will gain the skills they need to succeed in their education. Sure, some parents conduct exhaustive research into their local schools and decide on a different option, but the majority of us take what we get and hope for the best.

wasn’t. We both agreed it was a good school, but she began challenging my expectations for him and his school. “Good doesn’t mean good enough, Huskel needs to be somewhere great and can be achieving even more,” she said.

My wife, Audrey, and I fell into the latter category. Our son, Huskel, spent his first two years at our neighborhood school in south Austin. It was a good school, close to home and had nice teachers who genuinely cared. I was content and prepared to keep him there until middle school.

I’ve learned that there is a remarkable difference between good and great schools. I understand the hesitation of parents to challenge their expectations for their child’s school. My family was blessed to have the ability to move out of our neighborhood so Huskel could go to a better school. You may not have that option, but don’t be afraid to search for the BEST school for your child. You may be surprised to find there are many high-quality options for your student that can provide much more for you and your family than your well meaning neighborhood school. Good doesn’t always mean good enough.

Huskel is exceptionally bright but needs a little extra help to thrive in a structured learning environment. He was making steady progress in his academics and had a fair amount of support to fit his needs. As he progressed through kindergarten, I was still comfortable with the status quo at Huskel’s school. Audrey increasingly

Southwest Key to Unveil MLK Mosaic at Walk of Heroes Event By Layla Fry

In the end we decided to move to west Austin and Huskel began first grade at Casis. Now in second grade, his academics and social skills are flourishing more than I had ever hoped or dreamed.

Joella Brooks Honored With CCAACC Citizenship Award

First honoree Pedro Garza (center) with Ed and Bertha Cline

Austinites will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the unveiling of a memorial mosaic on Southwest Key’s Walk of Heroes. The dedication is part of a community brunch and learning fair celebrating Black History Month at El Centro de Familia in East Austin on February 25.

By Cindy Casares

COO for Southwest Key Programs Joella Brooks was honored by the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce (CCAACC) last month for her commitment to the cause of youth education, justice and empowerment. The Chamber hosts the annual program for  black elected officials, community leaders and trailblazers  in an effort to express appreciation, network  and address legislative changes. CCAACC’s first annual Citizenship Award was presented to Brooks at the 2012 Black Elected Officials Program on January 12.

Dr. Eric L. McDaniel, Associate Professor in the Department of Government at UT Austin and an affiliate of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, will deliver the keynote speech during the event.

CCAACC President & CEO Natalie Cofield was impressed to find Brooks in the second-incommand position at Southwest Key, managing a budget of over $60 million and a workforce of over 1000 employees in six states. She was also struck by Brooks’ 20-year dedication to disadvantaged youth.

“The key was,” according to McDaniel, “that he did not allow his anger and frustration to turn to hate.” Dr. King’s message was “not to demonize those we’re in conflict with, but to remember they are very much like you—they care about their families and are trying to do well. If you demonize and develop a hate for those in opposition … you become something worse than the thing you are fighting against.”

Brooks began as a caseworker in Houston and worked her way to Atlanta by 2000 where she established tracking and wrap-around programs for youth involved with local Juvenile Justice. Those programs now operate in 35 different counties in Georgia. “I always intended to go to law school,” Brooks said. “But I got connected with Southwest Key and

According to McDaniel, who studies the intersection of race, politics and religion, Dr. King has become like a fictional character, depicted as “happy all the time. But what we must remember is that this was a man who was very angry about what was going on.”

felt such a strong commitment and connection to the cause.” By 2007, Brooks moved to Austin to become COO at Southwest Key’s national headquarters. “Joella has committed her professional life to ensuring our most vulnerable youth have the resources and supports they need to turn their lives around,” said Jennifer Nelson, Vice President of Community Programs for Southwest Key. “It is wonderful that the community chose to recognize a woman who gives of herself so passionately and recognizes the strength and importance of her leadership and guidance of a national organization such as ours.”

Joella Brooks, chair of the event and Chief Operations Officer for Southwest Key, hopes to expose the next generation to these nuances of Dr. King’s philosophy. “We want our students and the youth in this neighborhood to connect with Dr. King, the man. His name is on the street many of our kids walk to school, his portrait will be on

the Walk of Heroes outside their classroom, but to some he is a distant iconic figure in storybooks. We want to establish a deeper connection.” The event will feature interactive art and learning stations where visitors will listen to speeches and watch highlights from various parts of Dr. King’s life while constructing origami Peace Cranes or contributing to a civil rights art installation. Students at East Austin College Prep, a public school located on Southwest Key’s campus, will submit essays about Dr. King’s life. One essay will be selected to be read by the author at the unveiling ceremony. Acclaimed poet-performer Zell Miller III, Sadé M. Jones of Ballet East, and the Huston-Tillotson University Concert Choir will perform. The event will close with the unveiling of MLK’s memorial on the Walk of Heroes. Opened last May, Southwest Key’s Walk of Heroes was incorporated into the design of the 42,000 square foot El Centro de Familia to commemorate the legacies of local and national social justice trailblazers. The Walk of Heroes provides an interactive pathway leading to the community center, adorned with mosaic installations designed by Texas artist Rosalinda R. Toro. The first hero, Pedro Garza, was honored last May for his contributions that paved the way for establishment of the community center in 2007. A mosaic will be commissioned to honor an East Austin activist next year. The public is invited to witness the unveiling and participate in free activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 6002 Jain Lane. TODO Austin // February 2012 // 13

training, but decided to continue with training and the triathlon in her brother’s honor. The Team rallied around her with support. “I truly believe that without the support of the Team and without the regular exercise of training, I would not have gotten through that time in my life as well as I did.” In honor of the Team’s support after her brother’s death, Reyes Franklin will be participating in the LLS/TNT South Central Texas Chapter’s “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride,” a 100 mile century ride around Lake Tahoe on June 2, 2012.

Latina Heroines Profile:

Tracy Reyes Franklin

Reyes Franklin is now chair of the Central Texas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “I was just elected in December, 2011 to chair the Central Texas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “When I lost my little brother Donald to suicide on April 24, 2009, the hardest part was discovering that my brother was in so very much pain. It was like a stab to my heart that someone I loved so much was suffering so very much. It was also extremely difficult to face the fact that I did not get to say goodbye to Donald and I did not get to tell him one last time how very much I loved him.”

By Tracy Reyes Franklin

Tracy Reyes Franklin is an Austin lawyer who is a local advocate for cancer research. Born and raised in Houston, she is the child of a Mexican-American mother and Russian Jewish father. She moved to the Austin area at age 16 to live with her father in Lake Travis. After graduating from Lake Travis High School she attended the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate degree. After receiving her law school degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, she headed to Brownsville where she served as an Assistant District Attorney. She returned to Austin seven months and is an attorney currently working in the area of criminal defense. Three years ago her life changed. “‘Suicide’ was just a word to me,” she wrote in a letter to media recently. “That was before my brother Donald William Elster, III took his own life. Now that word has inspired action, inspired me to make suicide prevention my life’s mission.  Sadly, as the tenth leading cause of death in the nation, suicide continues to take an enormous toll on families, friends and entire communities.  In February, she will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress and the House of Representatives to urge their support of legislation furthering suicide prevention, education and research.  Her involvement is part of a national movement coordinated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) as part of their Annual Field Advocacy Forum.  Before her brother’s death three years ago, she trained for a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (“LLS”) Team in Training (“TNT”) South Central Texas Chapter’s triathlon. “I had heard about LLS/TNT when I was in law school from some friends that had participated,” she recalled. “It intrigued me that this 14 TODO Austin // February 2012 //

organization had come up with the idea to train regular people to complete athletic endeavors such as triathlons, marathons, and century bike rides. I mean, what a great way to raise money! It gets people in shape, promotes a healthy lifestyle of activity and eating right, builds confidence and helps such a great cause. What’s even better is that the teams are full of survivors.” “Survivors actively participate in all of the practices, training, fundraising and events. It’s incredible inspiration for the average ‘non-athletic’ person such as myself. I would have never imagined that I would be able to complete any athletic endeavor before I did TNT. But what I learned is that if I train hard, I actually can complete an athletic endeavor. This spilled over into every area of my life; what a great way to get inspired and get some confidence in my abilities.” While training for the Capital of Texas Triathlon with TNT, Reyes Franklin received the call with news of her brother’s sudden, unexpected death. She took a week off from

“After my brother died, I decided that I did not want to spend my time asking ‘why?’ and being sad and focusing on my loss. I decided I wanted to honor Donald’s memory and remember him as the generous, loving, often very goofy person he was. Along with honoring his memory, I decided I wanted to do whatever I could to help others in mine and my brother’s situation. I joined the board of my local AFSP chapter to help champion mental health issues and to eliminate the stigma of mental health issues and suicide. I am committed to bringing these issues out of the darkness and into the light so that those who are suffering from mental illness can ask for help openly and without fear and shame.” For more information on suicide and mental health initiatives, please see Reyes Franklin will be participating in local fundraisers for the June 3, 2012 bike ride in Lake Tahoe to raise funds for LLS/TNT. “I look forward to becoming a field advocate for mental health legislation as well as raising money for mental health initiatives, all in honor of my brother Donald’s memory. If my work helps one person with mental health issues to ask for help, then the work is well worth it for me. I will always miss and love my brother Donald William Elster III.”

Riding for a Cure to Leukemia and Lymphoma By Tracy Reyes Franklin

I did a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training triathlon almost three years ago. One month before I was to compete in my event, I lost my brother Donald to suicide. I went on to complete the triathlon and credit TNT and the training with helping me get through a very difficult time in my life. If not for the group support, companionship and rigorous six day a week training schedule, I’m not sure I would have held up as well as I did under the circumstances. Having the team around me and doing all that exercise really made a difference in my life. In order to thank TNT for helping me through the loss of my brother, I have decided to participate in a 100 mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe on June 3 called, “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.” I am hoping that my participation in Team in Training will help bring hope and support to the nearly 958,000 Americans who are battling blood cancers. Together, we can work to accelerate finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. I am raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) as a participant in their Team in Training program and I’m asking you to help by making a donation to my fundraising campaign. Please use this address to donate online, quickly and securely: http://pages. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation. On behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thank you very much for your support.  I greatly appreciate your generosity. For more info please see www.

Plum Writing

Chronicles of Undercover Mexican Girl:

Why I Never Dated a Latino By Alexandra M. Landeros

Frame of Reference It’s easy—E.A.S.Y.—to appreciate and be thankful for those moments, experiences, days that are “good.” The ones that make you feel like you’re on a roll: Your boyfriend told you he loved you. Your boss gave you a raise. Your mama made you apple pie. Your dog didn’t wee when you walked in the door. Your hair looked pretty. Your wife let you watch telly in silence. You hit every green light on the way to happy hour. You lost a pound. Your allergies aren’t acting up today. Yes ... THANK YOU, UNIVERSE! That’s easy, right? At least you should be doing that … (do be doing that, would ya?) BUT those other moments ... ALL of those other moments: Your tummy hurts. You’re “bored.” No one invited you to happy hour. Your car is making burping sounds. You’ve got a Mount Vesuvius pimple erupting on your nose. Your friend forgot your birthday. You’ve got a headache. Your dad commented on how gray your hair is growing. Someone cut you off on the road and threw you a finger. Your ass looks fat. You’re broke. You didn’t sleep last night.

Undercover Mexican Girl and Shand Walton in Guanajuato, Mexico

I never purposely chose not to date a Latino. My first major crush happened when I was 10 years old, and it was on a boy from Mexico City just a couple of years older than me – I suffered a horrible case of unrequited love (although he never knew about it) until I was 16 years old. As a teenager, of course, I thought he was “cute”, but I was also drawn to the fact that he read a lot of books and played classical violin. Most of all, I thought the way he spoke perfect Spanish was absolutely dreamy. Eventually, I got over him, especially when I figured out that Latina girls weren’t part of his dating repertoire. I went to a mostly Mexican-American high school bordering East Los Angeles, and even though I liked some of the boys, they just never seemed to pay attention to me in any romantic way. They always regarded me as a pal or buddy, an honorary sister, or the girl they’d come to for academic advice. I guess it didn’t help that I was at the top of my class, somewhat eccentric, and extremely shy. To be fair, I did attract the attention of a few boys, but they were the creepy, weird ones that were even too odd for me. The girls in my school who got asked to the dances or had the boyfriends were socially outgoing, athletic and confident, and way more fashionable. It wasn’t until the summer after the 11th grade, when I traveled all the way across the country to Pittsburgh for a pre-college summer camp, that I liked a boy – and he liked me back. He was Jewish (culturally, but not religiously, whatever that means), and he played the violin. It might have turned out happily ever after, but I returned to California and he to Vermont. We intended to maintain a long-distance relationship until we were old enough to get married, and we wrote piles of love letters to each other for nearly seven

months. It didn’t work out. In fact, I think the only reason I fell for him was because he played the violin, and I was still heartbroken over the violinist boy from Mexico City. I met another non-Latino boy of Irish ancestry in Southern California when I was in the 12th grade. All my Mexicans friends teased me for it because he was “white,” as if I was some sort of traitor to the cause. This definitely didn’t help my status as the girl who acted so “white.” There were a few boys in college of course. None of them were Latino, either, I guess because I didn’t know any at all. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is not necessarily the hotbed of Latino culture. To make the lng story short, I moved to Austin in 1998, but it wasn’t until ten years later that I came across Latinos who were potential matches for me – college-educated, interested in music and the arts, and slightly unconventional. (Austin, compared to Los Angeles, seems ethnically segregated to me.) But by then, it was too late. I’d already fallen in love with a handsome and talented musician of Scottish and Prussian heritage, who – as it turns out – has schooled me on Mexican history, border politics, and traditional music. Our first trip together was hopping on a bus in East Austin down to Monterrey, from where we journeyed to Saltillo and then to Parras, home of the oldest winery of the Americas. We’ve learned mariachi songs and cooked traditional Mexican cuisine together. His favorite gift I’ve given to him is a vintage serape. And one day, we plan to build a little adobe house in the Chihuahuan desert of Terlingua and have pet donkeys. So his last name isn’t Martinez, and he is fair-skinned and reddishhaired, but he is definitely a Latino at heart.

Those are moments that require a great big “THANK YOU, UNIVERSE” as well. Those moments are precursors to change. They are the precious moments that allow you the opportunity to grow, do something different, say something different, feel something different and react in a different way. Those are moments that are giving

Caribbean Perspective A few days ago I read an article on El about female pop singers. The author wrote an exposé about why he considers pop singers like Shakira, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga vedettes (showgirls). At first, I was inclined to disagree with him, but then I started to ask myself: “Which one of these pop singers are you a fan of?” None, but that was not always the case. When I was 14 years old Shakira’s music was one of my favorites. In that period of my life her music was a reflection of my own thoughts. It was like she was able to put into songs what I was feeling. Based on that romantic idealization of her, it was almost painful to see her among the others on the author’s list. Then I started to question myself again: “When did I stop buying her music?” I realized that I had been a fan until Laundry Service, her first English album and her debut as a blond. Sadly, I have to recognize that I do not like her anymore. This was even more painful than seeing her on that list; it felt like losing a friend. Did I stop buying her music or going to her

you pause for thought. THOSE are the moments that “make or break” you, that challenge you to be bigger, better, kinder, stronger, happier, healthier. Those are the moments that may lead you directly to the next greatest moment of your life! How you react to those moments is how you shape your character, your path, and your actual experience of that next moment of your day and of your life.

Challenge yourself to genuinely THANK those moments, in all of their potential, to reveal to you something you didn’t see. In their potential to remind you of something you forgot or ignored. In their potential to shine light on a part of you or your life that may need some attention. In their ability to challenge you to think something, try something, do something, feel something, say something, experience something new. In their potential to allow you the opportunity to learn. Thank them all because that is where gratitude gets really interesting. By Yadira Izquierdo

concerts because I considered her a vedette? No. My rejection to her music, just like many other Latinas, came from a deep disappointment in the turn that her career had taken. I’m fully aware that she was very young when she started; she was a charismatic teenager who promised to develop into a wonderful artist. Nevertheless, that did not happen, Shakira is a very successful woman, but not an accomplished artist. Her art did not develop at the same rate as her bank account. Unfortunately, the desire for money, recognition and fame won the battle against art. Now, she gives us noise and moaning instead of music and nonsensical phrases instead of inspired, challenging and even poetical/political lyrics. To all original Shakira fans, I can only wish that something in her life happens that makes her look in other directions; something that forces her to question herself or even to challenge the mainstream. Until then, I’ll stay away from her and accept that the author was right, most pop singers are juts like vedettes: a lot of glamour, but little substance. TODO Austin // February 2012 // 15

By Blake Shanley

Chamber ensemble Of the

Shanghai ChineSe OrCheStra Wang fujian, conductor

Pan Americana Fest coming March 16-17 to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center

To enter a raffle for a Huichol Guitar,

visit to or contact or call 512.282.9112

February 18, 2012, 8 pm bass COnCert hall

presented in partnership with the asian american cultural center $10 StuDent tiCKetS. tickets at

TODO Austin February 2012  

TODO Austin is a free-distribution, full-color, monthly newspaper that focuses on Austin's multicultural community. TODO Austin is published...

TODO Austin February 2012  

TODO Austin is a free-distribution, full-color, monthly newspaper that focuses on Austin's multicultural community. TODO Austin is published...