Honoring Akwasi Evans, remembering old Austin

Akwasi Evans was an East Austin activist, publisher, warrior of the beloved community and an original voice for KAZI’s Breakfast Club. He launched a community newspaper, NOKOA, in 1987 to shine a light on progressive political action in Central Texas. Known for speaking truth to power, he advocated for people of color in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of East Austin. I attended his tribute yesterday and found a heartwarming vestige of Austin’s Beloved Community at Kenny Dorham’s Back Yard, a venue for DiverseArts productions. While the condos are creeping, music is flowing and food trucks are circling this small fortress of cool on East 11th.

For those of us who remember Austin in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, seeing an alley or a field that hasn’t been destroyed or a venue that has stood the test of time brings a rush of nostalgia. Yearning for the freedom of youth, good old days of cheap rents and eats is a way of life. Those were the daze my friends, we thought they’d never end. Glad to see a little left.

Blossoms, Bunnies and Butterflies

Very nice to be welcomed back to the Wildflower Center by this chill cottontail, who also said goodbye when I left.

June in Texas brings waves of yellow and purple wildflowers, a followup to the blues and reds of April and May. Pink is always in season.

Sauntering into resilience


Sauntering integrates resonance, rhythm and rejuvenation – a walking meditation connecting us to our environment. As Lady Bird Johnson said, “My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.”

When we flow in rhythm with the trail, awakening our senses to the life around us, we are rejuvenating. In gratitude, we share healing energy with the earth. Spring flowers become dewberries in the fall, reflecting the organic process of unfolding and ripening that also applies to projects and resolving problems.

wild onion

This wild onion springs forth from a hole in the rock – undaunted, zesty, pink, flourishing – resilient.

I felt resilient, resonating with the color and fragrance of so many, gorgeous wildflowers.

These tough cacti pushing bright green shoots from their dry, winter skin speak to the power of regeneration. Resonating with the vibrant energy of Spring brings joy in the transformation of browns and grays into rainbows of red, green, blue, pink, white, yellow, purple and orange flowers.

As temperatures rise, our dormant friends come out to play. Athena the owl returns to her nest at the Wildflower Center to raise her owlets. To everything, there is a season.

Luminations at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

If it’s holiday enchantment you’re seeking, look no further than Luminations. Beginning with an ethereal performance by the Blue Lapis Dancers, thousands of luminarias and colorful mood lights illuminate the garden paths at the Wildflower Center. Dancers performing Oneness of Being.

Festive food and drinks are available for children of all ages at stations sprinkled throughout the gardens, including build your own s’mores. It was misty when I went, but that only added to the magic, evoking memories of snowy street scenes and hearth fires to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.

One more chance to see this Winter Wonderland tonight and to support the good work of the Wildflower Center.

Art for the People lights up SoFi

The People have Spoken
As the season of giving draws near, a lunch stop and shop at SOCO’s quirky cousin, South First Street offers a refreshing alternative to the swarms of scooters on Congress and the usual suspects at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.  Next to Fresa’s and a block down from Sway, Art for the People offers something for everyone. Gallery owner, Deanna Serra has succeeded in her mission to create a welcoming space for artists to thrive in the heart of South Austin. Lynnie Goodman,  gallery director and artisan market mavin, magically weaves a vibrant array of art and designer crafts. Hats off to the fine flow of the exhibit and celebration of local talent. Do yourself a favor and saunter over to SOFI for a shop and stop during the holidays. The welcome pugs highly recommend it and saunteringarts photo cards are available for a very modest sum. All the more reason to support this woman run, locally sourced enterprise!

Sauntering – nourishing the body mind

I described the 5 benefits of mindful walking in my prior post, which were: 1) a settled mind, 2) an appreciation of nature, 3) a chance to breathe deeply, 4) problem solving moments and 5) gratitude.  Mindful walking unfurls the senses and allows the imagination to roam. Sauntering embraces nature with respect, love and joy. Respect is both the requirement and the outcome of a caring practice.

When I resonate with the life around me and begin to feel gratitude, sauntering begins.   My body falls into rhythm, flowing with the energy of the earth. Resonating with light and shadow, warm and cool, the scent of grass and trees and vibrant textures of sound and color.  Connecting with the “flowering earth,” as Lady Bird Johnson liked to say, helped me discover the 3 R’s of sauntering .

Resonance is generally defined as 1) the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating and 2) the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object.  In sauntering, resonance occurs by realizing our mutuality and connection with life.  It reveals beauty in humble and unexpected places, like these unassuming wood sorrel flowers. The way the light, shadows and color resonate illuminates their modest beauty.

Rhythm invites the body to join in the dance, as we sway with the movement of the trees and grasses, the flitting birds and butterflies. It helps the mind drop its concerns and open into being.  Connecting with the rhythms of nature brings the world alive.  Feeling the energy of the earth through the swing of your hips, tapping into the flow of life is joyful.  Rhythm can complement resonance in composition, creating vibrant, dynamic impressions.

Rejuvenation arises by grounding resonance and rhythm in Nature.  The many benefits of being in nature include building brain plasticity and reducing stress. Releasing your body mind from accumulated toxins, inactivity and too much indoor time is an act of self-care. Sauntering tells children of all ages that it’s okay to play.

Sauntering walks at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center integrate nature, art and health, mindfully.  Being in nature and experiencing the body as an antennae for the energy of the earth is to be well, a part of life rather than apart. 

Green Mind Theory: How Brain-Body-Behaviour Links into Natural and Social Environments for Healthy Habits  is an interesting, far reaching research study in the UK detailing the ways in which the body mind flourishes in connection with nature, which could produce a more empathetic, integrated and environmentally healthy culture. Go green!