10.25 Community Meeting in Austin, Texas

Everything I learned, I learned from MLK

The  arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards  justice - MLK

Moving to a new city is hard.

It is especially hard when your speciality is community organizing and civic engagement.

Like any good social scientist though, one must collect data before taking action. In grassroots organizing, collecting data and building community are one in the same.

Lucky for me, I love people.

I have lived in Austin for a little over a year, and my primary goal of this past year was to simply, build myself a community. I have been volunteering with a local chapter of Women Entrepreneurs (EBW 2020), started consulting with small non-profits, and continue to submerse myself in the neighborhood I live in: South East Austin. For a while, I volunteered with a nearby latin dance studio, helping the owner expand her business to attract new customers with hope, that her business can withstand the growth and future gentrification of the area. I'm not sure if it can, but I certainly believe in the power of fostering community through dance; plus, everyone loves a good Zumba, merengue, and bachata class ;-) (go visit Corazon Latino Dance Studio off W. William Cannon and 1st - this is certainly a GEM!).

There are seven massive apartment complexes under construction in a 3 miles radius from where I live right now, with rent prices that surpass the local average income. According the the Austin Independent School District 2016-2017 report, all the schools in SouthEast Austin are considered low-income, with approximately 75-90% of the children qualifying for free or reduced lunch.

This is my neighborhood.

This is not good.

I want to contribute to change this.

My community in Colorado is comprised of artists, educators, public servants, non-profit workers, and community organizers looking to empower youth, women, and local schools. I know what kind of work it takes to earn your spot on the team. I had worked my way into this sector in Colorado, and I plan to do it here too. It's a marathon, not a race, as my mentor has told me many times this past year (Thank you Jack Allen, PhD.).

Why did I leave Colorado? My partner was called to Texas for his career. I'm in my 20's, I love him, and Austin is weird (AKA: welcoming). This town is crawling with creative, educated, skilled, and social-impact minded individuals looking to change the world. It is easy to feel overlooked, or lost in a sea of inspiration.

This is why I want to start a series of community meetings. MLK (my hero) showed perseverance, faith, and tenacity while organizing community members around the civil rights movement and it's an understatement to say that I am inspired by his tactics and methods of building community.

Though I am still looking for a way I can sustainably pay my bills and student debt off (and actively still applying!) I simply have a calling to keep this grassroots approach alive. Tomorrow's meeting will be the first of many, I thankfully have the support of Full Life Chiropractic (Dr. Andrew Newell) and Orange Coworking (Shelley Delayne) who will feed and host us. I have welcomed my network and others in the community to bring their localized knowledge and be a part of the conversation. Thank you to those who intend to show their support tomorrow!

Meeting Agenda, October 25, 2018

We will be discussing the Civic Health Index report, and how future community meetings can bring people together and create a community that is informed on local needs.

Can't make it? Start this conversation with your neighbor or at your dinner table and tune in... After each point, ask yourself, "AND WHY IS THAT?"

The Report finds....

  • Voter turnout in the Greater Austin area has remained relatively high at 62% — Texas was 55%.

  • Residents stay informed about community issues with 69% reporting awareness of key issues. 

  • Over two-thirds residents report that they give $100 or more to charitable organizations. 

  • Rates of volunteering have slightly decreased in the last 10 years. 

  • Residents feel things in common with their neighbors, with 65% reporting strong similarities.

Questions? Concerns? Contact Audrey at audreyebrazeel@gmail.com

Audrey Brazeel