Public Notice: Ted Talks
AISD trustee lays it on the line about LBJ / LASA
The AISD Board of Trustees held a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 13, related to the update of the district's facility master plan. A number of people spoke against various school closures, but the board seemed most vexed by the proposal to move the LASA magnet school away from its shared campus with LBJ High, to a new campus, likely to be built on the site of the current Alternative Learning Center, the old Anderson High in East Austin, which Trustee Ted Gordon refers to as "Black Anderson." Toward the end of the meeting – just after midnight – Gordon summed up with an eloquent and poignant speech about the difficult decision the board will face:
"If … the trustees decide that LASA is going to go there – and I guess there are reasons for doing so – I think that everybody has to … be cognizant of what that means. You know one of the things that is most painful to black folks in Austin is the fact that we're getting erased. Gentrification over the last 20 to 25 years has decimated the black community. We've done it ourselves, we've up and left, and we've been priced out, and schools haven't really been good enough to keep us here, etc. But that move of LASA to ALC could be read as the ultimate step in gentrification of the city. It's taking a historic space that is an icon for what used to be a space of black autonomy in the city, and it's handing it over to what is read as … there was a woman here who said LASA is not just elite white folks and I think that's probably true, but it's certainly read that way. And so as you take that community and if the idea is to tear down Black Anderson and rebuild a citadel to elite educational practices, the symbology of it is deep. And so if that's what we decide to do then we're going to have to figure out how to do it in a way which is sensitive to the sensibilities of important components of the population. And the students themselves are going to have to understand what it means to sit on that high ground in East Austin."
While lauding LASA and LBJ for their respective successes, Gordon also called the shared campus an "unprecedented failure in terms of the ability of the different kind of factors and sectors of our community here in Austin to get along …. What we do when we move LASA out of LBJ is to admit defeat …. Is this the model for the way that we do diversity, we do social justice, and we do desegregation in this district?"
Breaking in the Code
City staff begins their official public outreach sessions this week, presenting the draft version of CodeNEXT, the new – in some places radically new – land development code. At each meeting, they'll make a brief presentation, and set up displays of the key points in the code. Staff will mingle to discuss and answer questions, but they really want to take comments through the online commenting tool. See it all at www.austintexas.gov/codenext. Meetings are:
• Sat., Feb. 18, noon-2pm, Crockett High, 5601 Manchaca Rd., hosted by D5 CM Ann Kitchen.
• Wed., Feb. 22, 6:30-8pm at the Learning & Research Center at Bergstrom Airport, 2800 Spirit of Texas Dr., a District 2 Town Hall hosted by CM Delia Garza.
• Sat., Feb. 25, 1-3pm, Lanier High, 1201 Payton Gin.
• Sat., March 4, 1:30-3:30pm, LBJ High, 7309 Lazy Creek Dr.
Neighbors Demand Greater Density
NW Austin Neighbors, the neighborhood organization behind the valid petition recently filed with the city, opposing the Austin Oaks PUD, sent out a letter last week clarifying that their opposition is based on wanting "more residential housing, including affordable housing. … Right now only 250 residential units and 25 affordable units are proposed on over 800,000 sq. ft. of office space." They'd like to see at least twice that much, or preferably, up to 1,000 units on another parcel of the project, essentially replacing a planned hotel. NWAN's valid petition opposing the PUD as proposed was accepted by the city this week, meaning it will take nine council votes to approve the PUD.
Rebels and Refugees
A couple of timely exhibits this week at the Austin History Center (810 Guadalupe).
Celebrating the Rag: Austin's Iconic Underground Newspaper editors Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, and Richard Croxdale will speak and sign copies of that fascinating book, and also present a sneak peek at The Rag: Austin Underground Press, 1966-1977, introduced by the filmmaker Glenn Scott. Sun., Feb. 19, 2-4pm. See more at www.theragblog.com/the-rag-book.
"Finding Refuge in Austin, 1848 to 1980": Refugees are a hot topic right now. But of course, they've been settling in Austin for centuries – forced to leave their homelands for various reasons, and to create new lives here. This exhibit "explores the experiences of displacement, forced migration, and resettlement among various communities in Austin from 1848 to 1980," using documents, photos, and objects from the Austin History Center's archival collections. The opening reception is Tue., Feb. 21, at 6:30pm – free, and catered by the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. www.austinhistorycenter.org.
The Sixth Annual No Kill Anniversary Party is Austin Pets Alive!'s annual party to celebrate achieving No Kill status. Sun., Feb. 19 at the Palm Door on Sixth, with live music, a photo booth, and "a live animal portrait painting." APA! will also present its Lifesaving Award, recognizing people who've helped keep Austin No Kill, this year including Sen. Kirk Watson. Info and tickets at www.austinpetsalive.org.
PeopleForBikes is launching a national eight-week survey to develop a rating system to highlight the best towns and cities for bikes in the country (and motivate those that lag behind). Take the survey anonymously, or register for the chance to win a Trek bike: www.peopleforbikes.org.