This past Saturday, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) was sworn in as Governor for a Day, an opportunity provided the President Pro Tem of the Texas Senate when both Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst are out of the state. While the position and scenario are very real, in terms of duties, yesterday was more about a celebration for Democrats and San Antonians at the Capitol. But, seizing that moment, Gov. Van de Putte issued a call for equality for all Texans, pointing out the inequality faced by the LGBT community in Texas, especially in terms of employment discrimination. She closed her speech with a memorable statement, saying “Someday, on these walls, there will be a portrait of a Texas hero, who just happens to be gay, and it won’t matter because they’re a Texas hero.” But until then, it does matter.
Today, I was listening to some of the reasons that people are in opposition to the Pre-K 4 SA initiative. One given was that not enough details have been provided. Actually, quite a bit has been provided through the city’s website (remember, it is a city initiative). Most likely, there will never be enough detail so this is just an excuse than a reason. Regarding the target population itself, some have focused on the parents. When you consider the program, it has a parenting component above and beyond what is offered in the school districts so, once again, another excuse, even when presented a solution. In other words, all that’s afforded by the opposition are excuses but no real reasons. When looking at San Antonio’s future, we’ve had enough excuses. It’s time for solutions and Pre-K 4 SA is a solution. Read more…
London 2012 will probably be the first truly social media Olympics and to help you stay abreast of the action I’ve built a blog post that follows the Twitter feeds of key San Antonio athletes. It’s a single page with the latest tweets from athletes who have a San Antonio connection, either from here or who compete here. Not all the San Antonio athletes have Twitter accounts or have protected their accounts. But for those who do, you can see what’s happening with them as they experience the 2012 Olympics. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s a way to really connect with the Olympic experience from an insider view. I’ll probably keep updating this page or add other pages as I find new ways to explore the Olympics socially. Read more…
It’s been two years since the 2010 Census and cities in Texas are either finished with or are finishing their realignment of council districts. Houston and Dallas are done, Fort Worth and El Paso are in the final stages, and Austin and San Antonio are in the middle of their processes. San Antonio’s redistricting will most likely just involve a shifting of boundaries, primarily to accommodate the increased population growth to the north, specifically the northwest side. The same is true for most of the other districts in Texas, except for Austin. Austin is going through a much larger discussion about moving from 7 at-large districts to a different make-up, primarily focused on geographic districts but with some hybrid options offered as well. So in this discussion, you have to ask what really is the best type of city council make-up.
Yesterday the City of San Antonio released its latest schedule of food truck locations and vendors, highlighting some of the changing dynamics of the program downtown. Gone are the City Hall Hall Annex, Hemisfair Park, and the never really started Maverick Park. Added are Main Plaza, the Weston Center, and Travis Park. The vendors seem to be the same set of vendors launched under the first round of the pilot. This pilot is expected to last through Oct. 31st when the city will evaluate it one more time. Yea, I had to put that emphasis on the the statement because it really feels like the CoSA is overanalyzing this issue. I’m beginning to wonder if this issue will get so piloted and analyzed everyone will hope it goes away, or at least the city will hope so. So why is this so hard to implement in San Antonio when other cities around the nation have active downtown food truck environments?
Tomorrow a group of the Fiesta family will be traveling to Portland, OR to attend the Portland Rose Festival, a citywide festival not quite as large as Fiesta San Antonio but similar in many ways. For me, it’s both a chance to enjoy the great city of Portland and to learn how they do sustainability and recycling. You see, the Portland Rose Festival is one the greenest festivals in the nation. So when the opportunity arose this year, I jumped at it and decided to travel with the Fiesta team to Portland. Not only will I be observing but I volunteered to help with the parade clean-up, knowing the best way to learn is to get your hands dirty, literally. However, I’m starting to discover that there’s much more to this festival than just being a green one. Portland seems to have a different outlook on life and fun, in a way that really kind of makes me want to bring some of it back to San Antonio. Read more…
I thought I’d get a to take a breather before San Antonio kicks into its summer of festivals. I mean, sure we celebrate Cinco de Mayo here in San Antonio. But after eleven days of Fiesta, it’s really anticlimactic and pales to something as big as Fiesta. However, that little rainstorm we had back in March pushed one of our other big celebrations to May, this weekend in fact. So, for the first time I’m going to experience something all my friends have been enjoying for several years – Luminaria. In fact, not only will I be seeing it for the first time, I’ll be a part of a team from the Social Media Club of San Antonio helping NowcastSA live stream the fun and festivities from Hemisfair Park.
Yesterday I met a friend of mine who works in the Weston Centre for lunch at one of the food truck pilot locations. It was a good break from the usual downtown dining and also the chance to be a part of something potentially big for downtown San Antonio. While the selection of trucks at the Weston Centre was pretty limited (Cheesy Jane’s and DUKTRuck) the food was pretty good and the atmosphere Puro San Antonio. Far from the penetration of trucks you’ll find in downtown Austin, it’s a pilot by the city to see how to infuse these mobile eateries amongst the many restaurants and storefronts of our downtown. One thing I can attest to in the first week, it’s definitely a pilot with some things needing to be tweaked.
It’s great to get up in the morning without having to worry about “all things Fiesta.” Yes, I probably obsess over the 11-day festival a little too much but that’s because I really do care about how Fiesta presents itself to San Antonio and the world. Each day was spent making sure the recycling plans were being executed, that we were keeping people informed via Facebook through status updates, and that any questions were being answered as promptly as we could. One FB inquiry was almost completely in Spanish (thank goodness for Spanish-English translation tools). The picture I posted pretty much sums up why I do what I do for Fiesta and invest the time and effort into the organization. Seeing Ebony and Eleazer recycling on their own after the Battle of Flowers Parade made all the work a worthwhile endeavor.
Since moving downtown, I’ve found the experience to be interesting in many ways but it hasn’t really had a true urban feel. Yes, where I’m at is really in the urban core, located right across from Milam Park and between Houston and Commerce Streets. When there’s a march down Commerce I hear the drums and shouts. When Friday or Saturday night rolls around I know it’s best to drive away from the Riverwalk on Houston. When I have a meeting downtown, I walk or take the bus to it. But to say I’m “living” downtown, I have to say there are several things missing. But last night it was apparent things are starting to change and in a good way.
This past week I had an invitation from a Facebook friend to attend an event helping Steve McHugh, executive chef of Lüke and a good downtown friend, in his candidacy for King of the Riverwalk. Of course I’m going to be down for that. Steve’s a great guy and one of the friendliest people you’d ever meet. Top that off with the wonders that come out of the kitchen at Lüke and you have a great combination. Besides, I’m all for helping out anything associated with downtown and the Riverwalk. But I had to ask the question – where did this new set of royalty come from and what’s going on with it? Didn’t we used to have a Mud King and Queen of the Riverwalk?
This past month has made me realize we may be turning the corner into the “Decade of Downtown,” as proclaimed by Mayor Julian Castro and described by Andi Rodriguez of the Downtown Alliance. Ever since I moved downtown over two years ago, I’ve never seen as much activity as I have during this past year. What’s even more encouraging is the level of conversation by people about downtown and what’s happening here. More of my friends are asking about living downtown and where are the places to live, work, play and eat. People are buzzing about the possibility of a grocery store and new transportation options. More and more people seem to be getting bitten by the “downtown bug.”
The past several weeks have been busy for anyone following the redevelopment of downtown San Antonio. Last week city council gave the go-ahead to help fund planning and implementation of a downtown streetcar system that would criss-cross downtown. After much negotiations and route wrangling it looks like we’ll have a North/East line that starts at the Pearl Brewery and runs through downtown and Hemisfair Park to the Thompson Transit Center on the eastside of downtown. Couple that with both The Mosaic and 1800 Broadway breaking ground and starting construction and you have a downtown going through some significant changes. With all this new development coming we need to make sure to take advantages of all the opportunities.
Sunday, when I was wading through my feeds, I found an interesting one from a fellow blogger, Charles Kuffner in Houston, highlighting an NPR story about SAWS water conservation and reclamation efforts. Charles didn’t say much in his piece but ended it with an interesting point about how San Antonio has taken an adverse situation and made the best of it. “The point here is that while San Antonio’s population has been growing, the amount of water available to it is finite. Either you make the best use of what you have, or you suffer for it. San Antonio’s good choices mean that the city can continue to grow and prosper,” said Kuffner. He’s right about how our city, specifically SAWS, seems to be taking some very critical steps to make sure that even in drought conditions our water source will never be compromised. That’s a key thing employers consider when evaluating new business locations. If the water system is ever in question then business operations will most likely be disrupted. So how do these efforts stack up in the overall picture?