This last Saturday, I attended a benefit for a local organization, The Freeman House, which helps at-risk children and adults, here in Austin, TX. They made barbecue, which was very good. I also ate a hot dog, and had an excellent barbecued pork chop and some potato salad. I took my CD player and some CDs to do some disk-jockeying, but it was not necessary since there were quite a few folks there who played guitars and bongos and a fiddle, and there was a lot of mostly folk music, along with singers and dancers who just plain enjoyed themselves. I made quite a few new friends.
Unfortunately, there was not enough publicity, or it was held in too out-of-the-way place, and the publicity was mostly signs. I’m not sure how that was handled, as I knew about it through my friend and her friend who lives in the venue, a place where poor and/or disabled folks live. So last I heard, another one is going to be held and I hope to volunteer my help to get more publicity. Perhaps we can find a more public place to hold it.
It was held outside, and there was shade, because the temperature got up to at least 100 degrees, and there was not a lot of pass-by traffic.
Below are some photos Jack McCabe took during the afternoon.
Anyway, the day was very profitable for me, friendship-wise, that is. I made a monetary donation, but to me the day was great because I made some new friends – Patty, Kim, Jack, Dana, Krislynn, and several of the folks who represented Freeman House. Some good music was to be heard, and I found it very gratifying to see the number of small children who were interested in the musical instruments, and the musicians who took the time to teach those children about the instruments, and talk to them about music.
Next time I am going to take my penny whistle (aka tin whistle) which I am not all that good on, but I can see how I could improve on it by joining some of the jam sessions.
Along with this, Krislynn works with the homeless. I don’t know how many of you recognize the name Leslie Cochran – I know he has some nationwide fans, though he is best known in Austin, and was one of those who represented the whole “keep Austin weird” pride many of us feel. Unfortunately, Leslie was assaulted a year or so ago, and spent time in the hospital, and earlier this year, that same injury sent him back to the hospital, where, unfortunately, he died. I considered Leslie a good friend, and talked to him often. Anyway, I was told by Kim about a magazine that is printed in Austin called Challenge, and is about the homeless, and I am going to write some articles for it. I plan to let Kim know about this blog and let her print this if she wants to.
Austin’s apartment rents are going sky-high. The average rent right now for a one-bedroom apartment is in the $1100 range. There was an article in the newspaper here recently (Austin American-Statesman, Sunday July 15 edition, front page), and there was a story about a young woman who works in a pizza place as a cook, making $700 a month, who was having to leave her apartment. She had had a roommate, but the roommate moved on, leaving her without the money to stay where she was. And she did not know where she was going to go. She was talking about getting a second job so she could afford to pay rent. I am hopeful that someone who read that article was able to get in touch with her, and help her out. Because I barely have enough to get by on myself, though being in government housing is a big help to me, I did not try to locate her. There was no information in the paper, and rightly so, about how to contact her. But I am certain there was someone who made the effort to help.
Rents are high because people are flocking to Texas, where the economy is not quite as bad as it is in other places. And so the apartment owners are taking advantage of that situation to raise rents, and many more apartment complexes are being built, mostly for higher-income folks. Affordable housing in Austin, TX, is hard to come by, and the several government housing units have long waiting lists. It took me 18 months to get in, before I got my place three years ago. Now there are so many more people in need of affordable housing that the lists are growing longer. I have thought about moving back to my hometown of Corpus Christi, TX, but probably will not because the way the economy is faring, and the thinking of right-wing politics, I would never be able to match the sweet deal I have now. So I’ll stick around until I die, at which time someone else in equal need will get my apartment. I hope that time is a long way away, but I can’t help but think that there is someone who needs my apartment.
I was told that someone big is trying to buy the property where this weekend’s benefit was in order to built another expensive high-rise on the property, mostly because it is fairly close to the University of Texas.
The American dream, of owning a family house, has disappeared, and I think that is mostly because we have had to become a real movable society, always having to move on to the next place where there are jobs to be had. A lot of the music that was played on Saturday was Woody Guthrie-style music, which was music written during the dust bowl in Oklahoma, and other situations where people had to move on. California was the paradise everyone wanted then, but now Californians are moving back to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas – one of the ladies there belongs to a Woody Guthrie organization, and she is in the process of trying to get help to re-write Woody’s “Do-Re-Mi”, to turn the words around to fit the processes of in-country immigration/emigration going on all over this country in today’s economies. Another one of the ladies works pretty closely with the “Occupy” organization, and she has written a song called “When Money Becomes History” – a very interesting, and believable, song. I hope it gets to be known nation-wide, and becomes one of the Occupy theme songs.
Just as an added aside, my friend Joyce and I stopped off at the Democratic Party Headquarters, with its Everything Obama store, and I got a lanyard, and a button that says “Old White Woman for Obama”. Which I have on right now. I also rehooked back up with a one-time representative, Glen Maxey, who runs the store. He was the one who got me involved in the Howard Dean campaign, although I was already a Howard Dean fan, and set up the bus trips we made to Iowa back in 2004. I’m going back on my “payday” to get a shirt and bag and thermos cup. And probably a few more buttons. I am not allowed to post political posters in my windows, and don’t have a car to put a bumper sticker on, but they can’t stop me from wearing clothes and buttons on the property.
Anyway, I added some cool new friends to my FB page, and found about a couple of new organizations that help folks in need, and found a place to use some of my writing talents that is not political, but is useful to get more information out about homelessness in this country.
Altogether, a most excellent day, and fun was had by all.
Carol Stepp, Austin, TX