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issue 4 • Vol. 1 • 2015

PHILANTHROPY

How to

get involved & GIVE BACK in Austin

HOLIDAY SHOPPIN LOCAL G G IFT GUIDE Pag e 8


Photo by Owen Laracuente.

Dear Reader, For this fourth and final issue of 2015, we’re focusing our stories on giving— giving gifts to those you love and giving your time and efforts to causes and charities close to your heart. For Philanthropy 101 (page 4), writer Nicole Beckley gets back to basics in an effort to encourage and educate a new class of volunteers and would-be philanthropists. For this year’s gift guide, (Wish List, page 8) we kept the criteria simple: awesome, covetable items that all help you keep your holiday shopping local. As it is for many people, the end of the year is bittersweet for me. It’s a time of reflection of the days passed (the year flew by, as usual!) and a time to prepare for the year ahead. I think about what I’ve accomplished, what I let slip through the cracks, and what I hope to change and make better in the year ahead. This year, The Austinite released its first issue in January, and we’ve now got four issues under our belt. I’m proud of each issue and what we’ve accomplished, but like everything else in my life, I plan on improving as we grow. If you’ve been reading since that first issue, thank you. If this is your first time to pick us up, I hope you enjoy it. Either way, I hope you stick around to see what we do in 2016.

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pUBLISHEr Torquil Dewar TORQUIL@octobercustompublishing.com

Editor in Chief Jennifer Segelke Jeffers js@octobercustompublishing.com

WANT TO ADVERTISE WITH US? TO ADVERTISE IN THE AUSTINITE , EMAIL TORQUIL@OCTOBERCUSTOMPUBLISHING.COM or call HIM at 512-797-8869. The views expressed by writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of October Custom Publishing or its employees. Photos from Flickr are used under a Creative Commons license. facebook.com/theaustinitemag twitter.com/theaustinitemag

As always, thanks for reading. Jennifer Segelke Jeffers Editor IN CHIEF

©2015 October Custom Publishing

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ATX SOS

Living in Austin is undeniably awesome, but there are a few obstacles standing between us and total utopia. We’re here to raise awareness of the greatest perils of life in the Capital City.

Hazard: HIPSTERS

Hazard: TRAFFIC

Hazard: FESTIVALS

Hazard: SUMMERS

Hazard: NEWBIES

They were a threat before it was cool.

People with vehicles + Austin infrastructure = disaster. A long, boring, inconvenient disaster.

Everything. Hurts.

We hear there’s this thing called fall. Still waiting.

Our city’s great. Get out.

Warning Signs The scent of mustache wax in the wind. Comes With PBR and pretention. The Real Victims The Mainstream. The Theme Song …is by a band you probably haven’t heard of. Your Coping Strategy Hang out where you know they won’t be…like West Sixth Street. Or J. Crew. Silver Lining Tattoo business is booming. Proposed Solution Survival of the Richest: Wait for high rent prices to drive them out— soon, baristas will only be able to afford Round Rock.

Warning Signs There are more than six cars on the road. Comes With Smog, suicidal thoughts. The Real Victims Anyone who has to drive between the hours of ANY TIME TO ANY TIME. The Theme Song “Highway OF Hell.” Your Coping Strategy Get a job and make friends in your neighborhood. Then never leave it. Silver Lining You can finish an entire season of “Serial” in one commute. Proposed Solution That light rail you didn’t vote in favor of.

Warning Signs Blocked-off roads, Facebook statuses about selling/buying/ wanting/needing wristbands, and that friend in Florida you haven’t talked to in 10 years asking if they can crash on your couch. Comes With Flower crowns, Uber surge pricing, tourists. The Real Victims Your liver and bank account. The Theme Song Something by the headliner who also played 15 other festivals this year. Your Coping Strategy Drink water, wear ear plugs, learn to go without sleep. Silver Lining Making an entire month’s rent by putting your apartment on Airbnb. Proposed Solution Change Austin to the “No Live Music Capital of the World.”

Warning Signs The calendar says May. Comes With Second-degree burns from leather car seats. The Real Victims Your electric bill. Anyone who has to go outside ever. The Theme Song “Hot in Herre” (and there… and literally everywhere) by Nelly. Your Coping Strategy Stock up on nonperishable food. Don’t go outside for six months. Silver Lining It’s always swimsuit season. (Note: Not an actual silver lining.) Proposed Solution This one’s probably out of our hands.

Warning Signs Construction sites with “Coming soon!” signs for condos. Comes With Californians. The Real Victims Anyone within earshot of transplants trying to pronounce “Manchaca.” The Theme Song “Bye, Bye, Bye.” *hint, hint* Your Coping Strategy Move somewhere else. Silver Lining You never run out of Tinder prospects. Proposed Solution Start a rumor Dallas is cool. Sam Sumpter


Facebook

LET’S GET IT STARTED According to a report on the Austin Technology Council’s website, our city was recently ranked first in the nation for startup activity, which begs the question: Silicon, who?

You undoubtedly have a friend who works at Facebook. And they probably post about it on Facebook. Since checking in several years ago, everyone’s favorite social network has been keeping you up-to-date on the lives of everyone you ever went to school with—plus some random friends of your mom and a bunch of people you probably couldn’t identify in person—all from an awesome building downtown. Whatever—you know you “like” it.

Google After originally opening and closing an office in Austin, Google regained traction and now has a solid presence in the city, with localized elements such as office conference rooms named after Austin landmarks and legends like Pecan Street and Stevie Ray Vaughan. (Need more info? We’ll let you Google it.)

Indeed The world’s number-one job site also became the largest Internet company in the city last year. Want to work there? We know one website that could help you with that…

eBay

While it was reported in January that the company would be cutting 2,400 jobs globally, the site and its subsidiary, PayPal, are still around in the Live Music Capital—and hiring.

+Austin Startups!

OPPOSITE PAGE PHOTOS BY: TODD DWYER, ELLIOT BROWN, CHEFROMAINE

Main Street Hub, Spredfast, SpareFoot…It’s not just big names opening up their second locations in Austin. Ideas—and companies—are being built from the ground up…probably by your neighbor…in their garage. (Hey— worked for Steve Jobs.)

RAISING THE (PRICE OF YOUR) ROOF As Austin explodes, so does the cost of living. Not-so-breaking news: If you want to buy a house in Austin… or a sandwich, actually…you would’ve been better off doing it a decade or so ago. In terms of housing prices, Austintexas.gov hosts a report charting the median prices of homes in the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from 2000 ($150,000) through 2013 (around $200,000), while according to Forbes, the median price of homes in the Austin-Round Rock MSA is currently a cool $206,000—which, based on other results, might even be a conservative estimate.

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And it’s not just buyers who are out of luck. Anyone with an apartment can attest to the fact that renting is no wallet-friendly walk in the park, either. So do we pack up and abandon ATX for a more affordable city—say, Detroit? Visit theAustiniteMag.com and find out how dire our cost-of-living situation really is. Sam Sumpter

www.theaustinitemag.com

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PHILANTHROPY

The basics to getting involved & giving back in the Austin area. Hear the term “philanthropist” and you might conjure images of Warren Buffett or Bill and Melinda Gates. That word might sound intimidating, but you don’t have to be a billionaire to give back to the Austin community. But, with thousands of nonprofits in the city, where exactly do you begin? BY NICOLE BECKLEY

FIND YOUR CAUSE According to Mission Capital’s “On The Verge: Value and Vulnerability of Austin’s Nonprofit Sector” report, which was released earlier this year, there are nearly 6,000 registered nonprofits in the Austin area. While that number includes public charities, private foundations, and tax-exempt organizations, the landscape is quite large and choosing an organization to get involved with might seem like a daunting task. To get started, Celeste Flores, executive director of I Live Here, I Give Here, recommends first looking for a few “big bucket” issues that 4

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you want to connect to. “It’s about figuring out what you’re most passionate about and what drives you and why you want to give,” Flores says. The I Live Here, I Give Here website allows users to search by category—including arts & culture, education, and health care—as well as by nonprofit name and keywords. Organizational overviews are provid-

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ed, giving viewers the chance to learn more about the missions of more than 500 Austin-area groups. “There’s a lot of different resources out there. Giving City is a good online publication that talks about what nonprofits are doing,” says Kiki Johnston, chief innovation officer at Mission Capital (formerly Greenlights for Nonprofit Success). “Hone in on an area that you’re passionate about and then start doing some research into it.” Looking to get more involved and build a network in the Austin community, Felicia Pena, a community events #theaustinitemag

manager at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, sought out nonprofit mixers and events to learn more. “I went to a few different ones to figure out what I wanted to commit to, and then when I found something I really liked, dove in and committed,” she says. GET INVOLVED “I always see getting involved as a way to learn the community,” says Frances Jordan. “That’s why I volunteer—to better understand Austin and the people who live here.” Currently working as an external relations and community engagement specialist for the Department of Family Protective Services, Jordan moved to Austin from Indiana in 2013 and started volunteering through the United Way’s Young Leaders Society. Through volunteer projects at Decker, Mendez and Webb middle schools, she saw first-hand the needs of area schools. “One of the reasons I do service is that I like the direct connection with the people that you serve,” says Jordan. www.theaustinitemag.com

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PHILANTHROPY

That feeling of direct connection brought Albert Swantner, an Austin entrepreneur, to volunteering as well. “Between undergrad and grad school, a friend of mine was in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. I raised four or five thousand dollars to go down there and build a community center,” he says. “I came home and I thought, man, I gotta plan another trip. And then I started thinking, you know, there are a lot of people here I could probably help by doing something.”

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While in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, Swantner became a regular volunteer at the Micah 6 Food Pantry, spending one or two Saturdays a month distributing food to shoppers. For the past couple of years, Swantner has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters (and was recently named a 2016 Big Brother of the Year in Central Texas), spending two to three hours every other week with his “little.” “Even if you do something small for someone, it changes their life in a way that you can’t really imagine,” Swantner says. “That kind of keeps you going.” SPEND YOUR TIME “So often people want to do something, but they’re not sure how to do it,” says Simone Flowers, executive director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT). “So, we have lots of opportunities. Through iACT’s Hands On Housing program, participants work to repair homes for low-income homeowners, most of whom are elderly or living with disabilities. In two large events a year, individuals and groups can sign up to help refurbish 10 homes. “The people who actually do the serving always say that they leave feeling that they received a service, because it’s through service that we make these connections with others. It uplifts the spirit so much that you want to continue doing good,” Flowers says. In addition to the housing repair program, iACT looks for volunteers to help serve refugees—coming from some 15 different countries—through ongoing classes and monthly luncheons. Other organizations in Austin also make it easy to get plugged in as a volunteer. Austin Pets Alive!, Capital Area Food Bank, Austin Parks Foundation, Ronald McDon6

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ald House Charities, Bike Austin, Urban Roots and many others offer simple ways to sign up for volunteer opportunities, either as an individual or a group. Additionally, a onetime event can be a great way to acquaint yourself with an organization before jumping into a longer commitment. DOLLARS AND CENTS In addition to its online research tool, I Live Here, I Give Here launched Amplify Austin in 2013, in an effort to bolster a 24hour period of community giving. In 2015, over $7.7 million was raised to benefit more than 500 Austin-area nonprofits. “There’s a sense of excitement immediately and a sense of urgency,” Flores says of Amplify Austin. “It’s bigger than yourself, but it’s for the greater good of the community.” One of the benefits of Amplify has been attracting new donors who might not otherwise participate. In 2015, 41 percent of the financial gifts came from new donors, and Amplify hopes that trend carries on into the 2016 event, already in the works for March. Even if you do something small for someone, it changes their life in a way that you can’t really imagine.

Financial support is especially important as nonprofits look to grow and expand their reach. Many Austin area nonprofits are small—less than 15 percent have any staff members, according to Mission Capital’s “On The Verge” report. “That presents opportunities, but it can also present challenges,” says Mission

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Capital’s Johnston. To help address this, Mission Capital instituted their Social Ventures Partner program, which helps bring Austin’s business and entrepreneurial leaders together with nonprofits. “The whole notion of the program is that giving is not just about money, it’s about your time and your expertise and your connections, and sometimes that capital can be even more important than money,” Johnston says. “For those people first getting into philanthropy, it’s a really important notion to get across. Money is absolutely important, but it’s not everything, and there are a lot of other things that nonprofits need.” USE YOUR SKILLS For the past year, Lacy Shawn has spent 75 minutes a week coaching kids and teens in the art of make believe. The kids spontaneously transform themselves into characters and create stories, not in a theater, but in the downtown location of the Salvation Army. “It’s very institutional here, and families are often residing in dorm-sized rooms with another family,” Shawn explains. “It’s delightful and wonderful that they have a safe place to be, but a lot of times these kids don’t have a creative outlet.” Drawing on her work as a licensed clinical social worker and her passion as a trained improvisational actor, Shawn worked to create a program (“Building Connections,” aided by the Hideout Theatre) that would help kids in transitional housing have a creative voice. “A lot of these kids have been in homeless situations or have come out #theaustinitemag

of domestic violence situations, and being able to give them that space and a format for engaging with each other, it’s really powerful,” Shawn says. For Shawn, her service comes from a personal place. “I spent time in the child welfare system when I was a kid and definitely have firsthand experiences, and that’s what brings me to the work overall,” she says. Devoting her time to this program allows Shawn to utilize the skills she has for the betterment of others, which is a great way to get involved in giving back. Figure out a way to apply your personal skill set to an issue or organization you care about. Albert Swantner explains, “There are a lot of nonprofits that love having people with special skills help them do stuff they don’t know how to do.” He notes that tech-savvy individuals are especially helpful and can lend a hand by “setting up social media or managing a donor database. If you have a special skill, offering that to nonprofits that you believe in is really helpful, in a non-traditional volunteering way.” JOIN A GROUP You don’t have to go it alone. Many Austin-area groups and organizations—such as the Austin Young Chamber, Junior League, Young Men’s Business League, Austin Area Urban League, Young Women’s Alliance, Young Hispanic Professional Association, the list goes on and on—help provide service opportunities for their members. And groups like Habitat Young Professionals, Generation Waller and Emerging Professionals in Conservation take engagement a step further by pairing cause-specific volunteerism with financial giving and networking. There’s myriad ways to get involved, and ultimately, giving back is about connecting with others. As iACT’s Flowers says, “We understand that we are all on this journey of life and to be able to have a more peaceful world, a peaceful community, we have to share resources, and allow people to have access to opportunities.” austinite t he

For a list of volunteer opportunities and charitable organizations, please visit our website at theAustiniteMag.com

Nicole Beckley is writer whose work has appeared in Tribeza , 7x7 , Austin Monthly , The Onion AV Club , and other publications. www.theaustinitemag.com

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WISH LIST Gifts so good, you’ll want to keep them for yourself. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DENNIS BURNETT

The season of giving is upon us, and if you haven’t yet finished your holiday shopping list, we’re here to help. With a mission to “go local,” we’ve rounded up some of Austin’s coolest gifts for him and her. 8

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FOR HIM Leather goods, classic accessories and vintage game sets—give him everything he never knew he needed. Previous page, clockwise from left: Distressed brown leather book, $85, at Iona Handcrafted Books. • Fox & Brie pocket squares, $28 each, at Parts & Labour. • The Cacti dog collar, $65; vintage poker chips set, $55; both through The Distillery, thedistillerymarket.com. • Sertodo Copper Barman’s Setup (only cocktail shaker pictured), $165, at PRIZE. • Nothing But a Pigeon faux taxidermy fox head, $55; Fox & Brie child’s bowtie, $32; Fox & Brie floral bowtie, $48; all at Parts & Labour. • Natural daily catch-all, $85; solid brass bottle opener, $60; black drum leather watch strap, $100; all at Noah Marion Quality Goods. • Son of a Sailor leather coasters set, $38; SOS leather and brass key chain, $54; both at Mercury Design Studio. • Organic Eau de Parfum, $180; black leather eyeglasses case, $110; both at Noah Marion Quality Goods. 10

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FOR HER Jewelry, art and things that smell good— give her all the pretty things this holiday season. Clockwise from left: Mid-century sand art wall hanging, $85, through The Distillery, thedistillerymarket.com. • Bungle watercolor pouch, $32, at Mercury Design Studio. • One-of-a-kind leather journal with vintage lock, $185, at Iona Handcrafted Books. • Pake moss agate necklace, $68; Pake vintage brass knife necklace, $88; both at PRIZE. • Diamonds are Evil triangle necklace, $74, at Parts & Labour. • Pake garnet drops bangle bracelet, $48; Pake spike bangle bracelet, $44; both at PRIZE. • Seda France bar soap, $10, at Mercury Design Studio. Agate slab, $275, at PRIZE. • Son of a Sailor gold necklace, $78; gold bangle bracelet, $58; leather coasters set, $38; all at Mercury Design Studio. • Assorted Amelia Beth Scrabble rings, $12, at Parts & Labour. • Pake textured aluminum chain bracelet, $42; Pake Coco Chanel rolo chain bracelet, $42; both at PRIZE. • Seda France ceramic vessel candle, $42, at Mercury Design Studio. austinite t he

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Parting

Finding Your Niche Know what you love, do what you can and the rest will follow. by LIZ PARKER

control. While I don’t suggest bringing a hula-hoop to all committee meetings, I do suggest you learn to pick your battles. Yes, development staff will make mistakes, and guess what? They’ll learn from them. Bend and be kind, knowing your ideas are not always the best. You are there to help, not to make extra work. I’ve also learned to start small. It’s easy to get pumped up about helping an organization, especially when its mission and vision are aligned with your own. Under promise and over deliver. Dedicate as much time to an organization as you can comfortably, but don’t spend so much energy volunteering that you run out of it. Feeling like a giant failure sucks, and it’s inevitable if you’ve vowed to clean 800 kennels a week, but can’t find the time to make it to volunteer orientation.

Years ago, when I was a baby volunteer, I accidentally signed myself up to travel to area elementary schools, delivering puppet shows to children, illustrating proper pet care and the importance of spay and neuter. I’m not saying the whole Also, don’t offer to help wherever the experience was terrible, but it was uncomfortable—at least organization most needs it, unless, of for me. I’m sure there is a way to explain surgical sterilization course, you’re good at everything. Be to a 7-year-old that doesn’t include the truth about where honest about your skill set. If you want babies come from, but kids ask too many questions, and they to get your hands dirty, then by all means, scoop cat litter boxes. But look you in the eye when they if you’re more comfortable do it. It’s unsettling. There Dedicate as much time to planning a fundraiser, do were several occasions when an organization as you can just that. It’s all meaningful. I knew I had said too much. comfortably, but don’t spend so much energy volunteering Now that my life has fastOnce, when I was crouched forwarded 15 years, I am down behind our foam that you run out of it. again serving in a volunteer board backdrop, puppet on one hand, script in the other, the program’s coordinator, role with the same organization for which expressing her gratitude, confessed that I was the only I once performed pet puppetry. This time, volunteer who had stuck around for more than a show or I have a seat on the Board of Directors. two. In that moment, I felt a strong sense of responsibility I’ve had a decade of nonprofit experience to our youth—I knew I was playing a key role in developing with other organizations, which has given a generation of empathetic, humane people who would me a better sense of where I fit in (not in someday work to end animal overpopulation. Then I a 3rd grade classroom) and where I can do remembered that puppetry creeps me out—almost more the most good. So, I’ll stay just as long as than kids do. I don’t recall if I made up a lie bout losing both they will have me. austinite of my hands, or if I just never returned another call from the leader, but I heard that the program ended soon after anyway. Maybe not every parent was in favor of me teaching Liz Parker is the publisher of Austin Pets Directory . their kids about testicles and euthanasia, I don’t really know. She is the immediate past chair of the Emancipet Board t he

Someone once told me that if you stand inside of a hulahoop, the space inside of your circle is all that you can ever 12

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of Directors, and currently serves on the Animal Trustees of Austin’s Board. She once suggested a belly dancing performance at A charity luncheon.

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THE AUSTINITE MAGAZINE ISSUE 4  

For this fourth and final issue of 2015, we’re focusing our stories on giving—giving gifts to those you love and giving your time and effort...

THE AUSTINITE MAGAZINE ISSUE 4  

For this fourth and final issue of 2015, we’re focusing our stories on giving—giving gifts to those you love and giving your time and effort...

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