Archive for: April 2015

Not On My Campus comes to UT


Words By Jacob Kerr, Video By Jewel Sharp and Megan Breckenridge

Not On My Campus from Megan Breckenridge on Vimeo.

A student movement aimed at preventing sexual assault has been gaining steam at college campuses around the country. And now, it has arrived at UT.

NOMC handIn late March, three students launched Not On My Campus at UT before the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign first started more than a year ago at Southern Methodist University and has been spreading to other colleges in the state and the country.
“This issue has been present on campus for a while, and it was never talked about. It was never a topic of conversation,” said Caroline Bennett, Not on My Campus volunteer and UT senior. “Actually after all the success we’ve had in bringing awareness to the issue, we now realize just how big of a problem it was.”

According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men are victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, 80 percent of rapes occur before age of 25.
As part of the campaign, the group has been encouraging students to sign a pledge vowing to help end sexual assaults on campus. According to Bennett, the pledge has more than 1,600 signatures.NOMC Names
“That’s going to be one of ongoing initiatives and goals is to continue getting more signatures,” Bennett said.

Using social media, the campaign has passed along its message by posting photos of supporters writing “Not on My Campus” on their hands. Participation hasn’t been limited to just students, even UT President Bill Powers took part.

“It’s been able to show people what our message is,” said Meredith McDonald, Not On My Campus volunteer and UT freshman. “This is kind of like a stop sign. We want to stop sexual violence.”

 

Not On My Campus has partnered with other campus groups working to prevent sexual assault such as Be Vocal and Voices Against Violence, which offers resources to students.Last month, an organization, "Not on My Campus" was formed at UT. Representatives from the group attended the event.

“They have given us so much support,” Bennett said. ”We really like that our message aligns with their efforts and all that they have done thus far on campus.”

While the group has plans going forward to offer self-defense classes and support legislation in line with its goals at the Texas State Capitol, McDonald reiterated that main goal is to make UT a safer place to be.

“I’m hoping that we are able to build a more safe and aware campus,” volunteer Meredith McDonald said.

@notonmycampus

Take the Not On My Campus pledge here

 

Sports Injuries and Recovery

 

Katie Watson came to The University of Texas with dreams to make it to Track and Field Nationals, but due to repetitive injuries, the student athlete was cut from the team in her senior year.

“I had made running who I was,” said Watson.” “It was what defined me and that’s what I wanted with my college career.”

After suffering from multiple stress fractures in her femur, Watson, like many other athletes had to face an uncharted road to personal recovery, a journey that doesn’t always guarantee the full comeback for athletes.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, while college athletes are generally healthy members of society, participation in competitive sports often brings the unavoidable risk of injury. But when one instance can literally take a player out of the game for, months, years or even permanently, what is the emotional damage an athlete must face while also dealing with their physical injuries?

Heidi Armstrong, owner of Injured Athletes Toolbox uses her own experiences to work with injured athletes and provide them with the tools for coping through feelings of anger, frustration and despair that often accompany the physical components of a sports related injury.

“I have unfortunately and fortunately had a lot of experience with physical injury,” said Armstrong. “I was a professional mountain bike racer about 15 years ago, had a bad mountain bike crash and I just fell into this really bad pit of despair. I lost my identity.”

After realizing she couldn’t do it herself, Armstrong sought help beyond physical therapy and met with a psychotherapist to work out her frustrations in productive ways. She later found that her experience could be of help to others in a similar situation and spent 12 years supporting athletes who simply needed to “talk with someone who’d been in that hole before.”

Armstrong suffered another injury in 2010 after a bad ski racing accident and decided to spend her 13 month recovery period researching the mental effects on injured athletes and how they described their suffering.

“I found that no matter a person’s age, sex, sport, or level of experience in the sport, the words that people described for their suffering were the same,” said Armstrong. “The most common word to come up was disconnection. Not only disconnection from their body, but also from the teammate’s social network and things like that.”

Watson’s recovery left her in a similar situation of disconnection.

“It’s a business so coaches have to focus on the better athletes who are getting them points,” said Watson.” “A lot of it was kind of put on me to decide what was wrong [with my injury] and I was kind of thrown on the back burner.”

Armstrong saw this common but often overlooked struggle for athletes and used her newfound knowledge to create Injured Athletes Toolbox.

“I thought back on all of the years I was helping people informally and providing a support they needed while injured, and those things became my services,” said Armstrong. “So through all of this I’ve helped people from all over the world and it’s been a really fulfilling experience.”

But while external injuries are often to blame, concussions brought on by sports are often a far more dangerous culprit to the student athlete. In a span of one year, 13.1 percent of women student athletes and 19.4 percent of male student athletes reported suffering from a concussion.

Former UT baseball player, Benjamin Kennedy suffered a concussion last fall during a scrimmage and described his recovery to be a very tricky process.

“At first there was nothing I could do for it,” said Kennedy. “Doctors told me the best thing I could do was lay around and after a month passed I was not feeling any better.”

Kennedy went on to see a concussion specialist who later diagnosed a problem in his vestibular system that deals with balance and vertigo.

“Everyone can see you break your arm or pull a muscle but a concussion is something that outsiders cannot identify just by looking at you,” said Kennedy. This kind of sent me into a depression because my brain was injured and I wasn’t sure how I would ever be normal again.”

Kennedy attributed his successful recovery to the support of friends and family who were there to help him out. Like Armstrong, he believes the emotional support of others helped him to overcome the injuries and their mental effects.

As for Watson, her injuries came as a blessing in disguise. “I’ll be running for A&M next year and it was because of the support of my previous coach and friends who encouraged me and told me I was going to be fine,” said Watson. “It has definitely been a growing experience every time I’ve been injured.”

 

Literacy program helps toddlers to succeed in school

By: Carola Guerrero De León, Anderson Boyd, Taylor Turner

Maricela Orozco wants her son and daughter to have quality educations, regardless of her socioeconomic status.

“I came here because of my little boy and my little girl,” said Orozco, who does not speak English. “I want them to be ready for when they start school.”

Orozco is part of the Play and Learning Strategies, or PALS, program that the Literacy Coalition for Central Texas hosts and operates. PALS is a research-based parenting program that helps parents support their young children’s emotional, cognitive, and language development. The program targets low-income families with toddlers ranging from 18 months to three years who are at risk for entering school far behind their peers.

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PALS Coach Rob Juarez said the age group the program focuses on is important because this is when cognitive ability is most pliable.

“[The kids we work with] are at that point where the building blocks, social skills and cognitive abilities are forming, and we want to start on that early so that they will be successful in life,” Juarez said.

While Juarez said many PALS participants are minorities from low socioeconomic backgrounds, people of all ethnicities use the program. PALS primarily targets families that face financial or emotional risk, according to Juarez.

“[These] families are at risk of losing the child, or they do not have financial stability or any other social economic issue that is causing an effect on the family,” Juarez said. “We work with a lot of at-risk families so their children are ready to go [when they enter school].”

Juarez said the programs are weekly, and both the children and parents are actively engaged in the course.

“Children come with parents and there is a childcare room where the children are being taken care of while the parents learn,” Juarez said. “Then we bring the kids back in and the parents get to practice what they learned for the day. Each class we build on what we learned last time.”

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PALS coach Liliana Galvez said by working with the children’s parents and teaching them how to better interact and teach their children, the program is working to reduce these rates.

“We know [the parents] are the child’s first teacher, so we are not trying to tell them how to parent or to do it this way because it is the right way,” Galvez said. “We are just there to support them and show them different ways to interact with their children.”

Juarez said the program extends beyond what happens in the classroom.

“It is all about helping children, finding a routine and the time in your daily schedule to interact with them, whether it be playing with them, reading a book or giving them a bath,” Juarez said.

Besides PALS, a similar program aiming to better children literacy rates exists internationally and nationwide. Save The Children, a non-profit organization that provides literacy services to more than 143 million girls and boys in 120 countries, operates a program called Early Steps to School Success that works very much the same as the PALS program but on a much larger scale.

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Orozco said she is a part of the PALS program because she wants to give her children what she did not receive from her parents.

“My parents never read to me, but I read to my children,” Orozco said. “Maybe it is because they did not have money or time. I’m trying to change that with my son and daughter.”

Sexual Assault Awareness Month at UT Austin

By: Julianne Staine, Hymi Ashenafi, Jessica Barrera and Stacie Richard

 

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Take Back the Night, a rally supporting victims of sexual violence, took place Wednesday, April 8 at the University of Texas at Austin.

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness month, the rally was hosted by UT’s Voices Against Violence as part of a series of events to raise public awareness.

The series includes nine programs focusing on preventing sexual assault, with an overall emphasis on consent.

Not On My Campus, a student-led initiative to end the silence surrounding sexual violence, was co-founded by UT students William Herbst, Edwin Qian and Ellen Cocanougher.

“Through a strong social media campaign, we were able to get our message out there and have students take pictures and sign our pledge,” accounting major Herbst said. “The main goal of Not On My Campus is to unite and educate students about rape culture in an effort to protect victims and put an end to it within our community.”

To get involved, students can sign a pledge online and share photos through social media with the words “Not On My Campus” written on their hands.

The movement originally began at Southern Methodist University when students reached out to student body president Ramon Trespalacios.

“Students reached out to me the first semester of my presidency and asked me why were there so many sexual assaults and what was the university doing about it,” Trespalacios said. “So I asked back, what are we as students doing about it?”

After calling a meeting with different organizations at SMU, Trespalacios and his fellow classmates launched the movement with three goals in mind: raising awareness, creating a sense of ownership of the issue, and calling for action.

“Not On My Campus allows each school to create their own events, have their own ideas implemented, and apply the movement to their campus,” Trespalacios said.

Current goals of UT’s Not On My Campus include self-defense classes and mentorship programs for students.

“We are trying to organize a program for orientation to teach incoming students about rape culture at a more personal level and have it available whenever they have questions or need help,” Herbst said. “We are also organizing efforts to go teach at high schools around Austin.”

By empowering students to become active and creating a supportive environment for survivors, the Not On My Campus initiative aims to end the silence around sexual assault.

“I hope Not On My Campus continues to inspire students across the nation,” Trespalacios said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raw Jeans

An example of what raw jeans look like when worn for over a year with minimal washing.

 

 

By Rocio Tueme

 

Austin is a city of eccentric taste and eclectic flair, known worldwide for it’s local attitude highlighted with worldly mentality. Austinites take oddity as a point of pride, pushing the limits of the norm as if the very existence of their lifestyle depends on it. Arguably, it does, as the real attraction of the city is its sense of individuality.

 

A local startup that never intended to gain the traction they now have, Traveller was started with one goal: provide the purest and most individual experience available for their customers. They are tackling an old stable in Texas: jeans. Each pair of jeans blends perfectly with the lifestyle of the individual, molding to their day to day activities; good and bad.

 

The raw material shapes along with the choices of the wearer: cell phones leave long last imprints, keys wear holes, creases create a “feathering effect”.

 

A pair will cost anywhere from $350-500. The company stands by their longevity and versatility, with jeans being easily repaired and sturdy in equal measure. It’s great to see an austin based company doing what austin does best: their own thing. The company uses high quality Japanese denim and vintage machines that were commonly used when the original raw jeans were being made.

 

 

Ironically, the company was started by a man who only owned one pair of jeans but now all of the new prototypes are made to Erik Untersee’s size. While they are not “his” he can use the jeans while he is working.

 

Untersee started making jeans out of his home but he eventually got together with Seth Mitch. Mitch had some sewing machines and an interest in making jeans. Together they were able to produce more and slowly but surely more people willingly joined their team and the company has become what it is today.

 

While the company has been popular among locals, a lot of their customers are international. They come from countries like Germany, South Africa and Japan to Austin to get their own pair of customized raw jeans.

 

It is safe to say that Austin’s authentic vintage style is still alive and vibrant and thanks to companies like traveller these trends will stand the test of time.

 

Peter Pan in Two Languages

By: Judy Hong, Samantha Rivera, Mackenzie Drake, and Garrett Callahan

In front of a small stage at the Ridgetop Elementary School, a swarm of rambunctious students dart around, attempting to find his or her right spot.

The group of about just over 30 students has been together since January, practicing each week for their annual school performance, which occurs every spring and is put on by Helping Hornz, a service organization of UT students.

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Peter Pan and Tinkerbell interact on stage. Photo by Samantha Rivera.

 

But the most unique feature of the play, this year being Peter Pan, is its script, as it is conducted in two languages, both Spanish and English, since Ridgetop Elementary is a dual-language school.

“We wanted to make sure we gave everyone at the school a chance to participate,” said Melanie Diaz, a co-director of the production.

Before 2013, Ridgetop didn’t have a yearly school performance and it wasn’t until Helping Hornz reached out that its theatre program began.

Originally, Helping Hornz had a partnership with the school, where college students visited Ridgetop and worked with students as mentors. However, two years ago, the organization saw the opportunity to put on a theatre program, which didn’t exist at the time. One of the older members of the group wanted to give the students an outlet to perform since many of the students at Ridgetop will attend a magnet art school once they leave.

“Nowadays we really focus on STEM, and you have to be good at math, and liberal arts isn’t as important,” said Austin Hill, the soundboard technician for Peter Pan. “But the arts are super important.”

A Helping Hornz volunteer, Austin Hill, makes sure that the students have their mics. Photo by Mackenzie Drake.

The organization gets its script from Children’s Arts Scripts and then translates and modifies the work to their own liking. The bilingual script gives an opportunity for any student interested in a chance to perform and to practice a second language. Ridgetop is one of 16 two-ways dual language schools in the Austin area.

“You can travel more and get better jobs because you speak more than one language,” said Ella Williams, a student playing Peter Pan in the production.

Currently, around 18 Helping Hornz members volunteer to put on the production, which ran April 10-12. While they mostly work around 6-7 hours per week, some members, like Diaz, work upwards of 20 hours, especially the week before the show.

When the production first started in January after auditions, the students met twice a week for rehearsals; however, as the performance closed in, they met more frequently.

“It’s stressful, but its rewarding,” Diaz said. “Every year it has been stressful, but every year it has come together in the end. So you just have to wait for the performance night to see it all come together.”

Currently in its third year working with the theatre program at Ridgetop, Helping Hornz has put on the Lion King and the Wizard of Oz in addition to this year’s musical, Peter Pan. The plays, which are open to all grades, give students an opportunity to participate in artistic performances, which they may not have otherwise.

Ridgetop students perform Peter Pan. Photo by Mackenzie Drake.

 

Many of the students involved in the play hope to perform when they grow older and the Helping Hornz program gives them a chance to express that interest before moving on to a bigger school.

“I like theatre a lot,” said Abby Layman, who plays Captain Hook. “I like seeing all the people performing without a connection to a screen. We’re doing it live.”


There’s a revolution happening, and it’s being fought with craft supplies and Instagram.

By Scarlett Klein, Chelsey Pena, and Claire Hogan

The internet is transforming the market of home goods and jewelry. Consumers are no longer restricted to options from major retailers, but can find items through specialized e-commerce websites. Creators of handmade home goods and jewelry are also no longer restricted to selling their items at craft shows.

Though familiar sites like Ebay have long been around for individuals to sell items on, websites like Etsy and Aftcra are offering a more niche marketplace for handmade items.

Etsy, Inc. was founded in 2005 and functions as an e-commerce website where people can sell their handmade items through personal accounts. The majority of items sold are either handmade or, if not handmade, lean towards the vintage and antique aesthetic. According to their released records, Etsy had 19.8 million buyers as of December 31, 2014.

Kirsten Bjornsen is a college student who regularly purchases items from Etsy.

“I buy fleece products for my guinea pigs and little shelters for them. They make the product with their pets in mind, which is different from a major pet store. You can also customize your order, like which type of pattern you’d like, which a major pet store couldn’t do,” she said.

Bjornsen finds that the prices are much cheaper on Etsy. “The products are also better quality, I think,” she said.

Etsy sellers are able to sell non-handmade items, but Aftcra, which began in 2013, is even more niche, only selling handmade items that are created in America. However, to sell on these websites you must have an account and this is what some sellers are finding is not worth the time.

Evan Rauch is a full-time student at The University of Texas who crafts jewelry and sells it online. Her business, Designs by Evan, began over five years ago while she was still in high school.

“I originally was making bracelets for myself until people at school started requesting jewelry,” Rauch said.

While she may not have a marketing department or advertising team, she does have one powerful tool- Instagram. She began posting pictures of her jewelry on the popular social media website, along with prices and color options. Customers would comment if they wanted one and she would respond with her phone number so that they could text their preferences directly to her and then pay her using Square.

This direct creator-to-customer contact over Instagram benefits both the consumer and creator. Bjornsen, while she does do the actual purchasing from Etsy, originally discovered her guinea pig products through Instagram.

“I found out about the specific person I was buying on it, so I knew they had guinea pigs also,” she said.

Being a student, Rauch said that Etsy was more difficult to keep up with, due to having to maintain an account and a more complicated process of shipping the items.

“For me, Instagram is the best form of social media to put a hand-crafted, self-run business on the map,” Rauch said, “but it depends on what type of person or what age you’re trying to show your things to. I know a jewelry designer who is in her 40s, and she posts on Instagram every once and a while…but because that demographic typically isn’t on Instagram as much as the people my age are, this designer focuses more on advertising with stores and makes events on Facebook.”

Rauch also sells at trunk shows, but Instagram is her primary way of getting the word out about her jewelry. She hopes to have a website someday, but like many small business owners, she is making do right now with what she has.

CHELSEY TRIES IT: ETSY WINE GLASS CHALLENGE

COMPANY PROFILE: DESIGNS BY EVAN

To view how Evan used Instagram to grow her business, check out the Storify below.

 

Video Games: From Concept to Console

Video games have come a long way since the days of Atari’s PONG or Super Nintendo’s Duck Hunt. Today 59 percent of Americans play video games and the industry brings in more than $21 billion in revenue each year. However, long gone are the days of video games being played on game consoles that are tethered to an outlet.

Now video game consoles are portable laptop computers, totable tablets, handheld players and pocketable smartphones. There are video game development courses at the college level, an industry full of creative, driven developers and a consumer audience eager to play the latest games.

Game Development Infographic

Game development is a team effort and there are many different layers and people involved in bringing a game from concept to console. There are game designers, artists, programers, producers and developers. “Video games are a growing genre,” said Bailey Lund, a University of Texas video game design student. “For the fact that there’s an interactive element to it.”

A number of people are drawn to video games because of their interactive side. Not only are more interactive games fun to play, they are also more fun to make. To find out more about how video games are made and how you can make one yourself slide through this slideshow of helpful links.

Make Your Own Game

SXSW Interactive Goes Gaming

In late March, South by Southwest hosted SXSW Gaming, a three day gaming expo at the Palmer Events Center. The South by Southwest organization proudly says, “with the full force of SXSW Interactive behind it, SXSW Gaming heads the next era of gaming expositions.” There were Gaming Awards, the Gaming Expo, Special Events, Geek Stage Programing and Gaming Programing during SXSW Gaming.

The expo, which was free and open to the public, was at capacity with wide-eyed children and teens excitedly playing playing games and patiently, sometimes not so patiently, waiting to play next. The gamers aged 18 and up, which make up 71 percent of total gamers, were enjoying talking with developers and industry professionals in the dimly lit space. Bright screens, flashy graphics and imaginative sound effects filled the Palmer Events Center’s main hall with a vibrancy it rarely sees.

Across the way at the Long Center for Preforming Arts were a variety of talks, panels and interactive opportunities for gamers to participate in. One topic many panels mentioned by only one covered was the role of women in the gaming industry. In a 2014 survey conducted by the Entertainment Software Association, 48% of game players are female.

Age and Gender in Gaming

While game developers play a huge role in the industry as a whole, the people playing the games are the most important. Without the huge number of men and women of all ages being interested in video games the industry would not exist. Take a sneak peak inside the SXSW Gaming Expo and hear from some games who can’t get enough gaming in this video below.

Why Play Games

Women & Gaming: A Love Story

A growing number of women are playing games in addition to becoming game designers, artists and developers, but on the first day of SXSW Gaming a panel dedicated completely to women drew a meager crowd.

Women in Gaming: Navigating Successful Careers, was a panel of four industry professionals who tried to tackle some of the tough questions about women’s roles in the gaming industry and how to get ahead of some of the challenges young women in the industry will face.

“The positives outweigh the negatives but they’re still there,” said Alison Carrier, a designer for Electronic Arts’ Red Crow mobile game studio. “Sexual harassment is one of the biggest challenges to have to overcome.”

Women in Gaming

“I had to abandon manners,” added Carrier. “Interrupting was something I never did before gaming.” The women who are successful in the gaming industry have had to assert themselves in order to be heard because their work is judged even harder than their male peers’.

These women are working harder to fit into a heavily male dominated industry. Why? Because they love it and because gaming is in their blood. Video games are more than just a hobby for these women and for many women game developers and players. Gaming is a passion, a way of life and the ultimate creative expression.

Game Studios Around Austin

Written by Katelyn Orlowski
Photos and Video by Lazaro Hernandez
Graphic and Map by Lauren Lowe

Crushin’ It Up in Austin

by Alyssa Brant, Sylvia Butanda, Kim Carmona and Rebecca Salazar

In order to cater to their large client base, Water 2 Wine in South Austin offers about 60 different wines on their menu. Photo by: Rebecca Salazar

In order to cater to their large client base, Water 2 Wine in South Austin offers about 60 different wines on their menu. Photo by: Rebecca Salazar

Wine is not just another alcohol. It is a way of life and a changing culture.

Before making his way to Austin five years ago, Chris Latzko worked in the Napa Valley wine industry for 18 years. During that time, he attained his vintner’s license as well as a degree in oenology from The University of California, Davis. He now makes and serves wine at Water 2 Wine, which is an urban winery located in South Austin.

“We’re like the old petite wineries in Europe,” Latzko said. “Everything is hand bottled, hand corked and hand labeled.”

Water 2 Wine is a small urban winery, which means they do not grow grapes on site. They instead import grapes from around the country, and complete the rest of the process in house.

“It’s a little more romantic, a little more labor intensive but it is a lot of fun,” Latzko said.

In comparison to larger scale wineries that produce from 500 to 5,000 gallons of wine at a time, Water 2 Wine produces around six to 10 gallons. To start the process, the juice is poured into a bucket and heated up to around 75 degrees in order to start the fermentation process. The flavors are blended in and then oxygen and yeast are added. The mixture is capped to ferment.

“We are low in preservatives, and sometimes a little higher in alcohol,” Latzko said.

Water 2 Wine has one other location in North Austin as well as four other locations in Texas. There is also one location in Wisconsin as well as Colorado. They each sell their wine by the glass, by the bottle or by the batch. Also on every visit, a customer is allowed up taste up to five wines for free.

Damian Schillaci considers himself a wine connoisseur and is a club member at Water 2 Wine. He ventures into the South Austin location about one to two times a month.

“I looked at some of the other custom wineries in town, and I like this wine better than the other ones,” Schillaci said.

On the menu there are about 60 different wines, and in general they pour about 30 of those. According to Latzko, some don’t sell as well as others, but they keep them around to cater to their large client base. However there are about four wines that are very popular and are kept on hand at all times.

“It’s also a social thing,” Schillaci said. “It is just a fun place to come, and it is fun that it’s custom wines.”

In addition to wine tastings and selling custom wine, Water 2 Wine hosts additional events like live music on Saturdays, paint and wine parties and cooking contests in order to cater to the booming culture.

“Beer is still popular. Mix drinks are still popular, but wine culture has definitely taken over Austin these days,” Latzko said.

The concept of small custom wineries actually started in Canada about 30 years ago, according to Latzko. The tax to bring wine from California over the boarder was outrageous, so they decided to make their own. This trend has now traveled south and is growing in popularity across the United States, including Austin.

“It’s not as big as it is say like LA, New York and Miami,” Latzko said. “But Austin is on its way up and up.”

Particularly in the past three years, Latzko has seen a big change in the wine culture overall. In Austin alone he has seen more tasting bars open across the area, as well as more wine stores and places to just drink wine like Apothecary and Flour and Vine. He has also seen how the taste buds of the area have developed over time.

“Years ago people were still asking for white zinfandel, which was the most popular wine in the United States,” Latzko said. “Now it’s more about the pinots, the cabs, the merlots and blends.”

In addition to the change in preference of wine, the way wine is being paired is also evolving.

“There used to be a real set protocol for wine pairing,” Latzko said. “But it is not as set in stone as it used to be.”

Traditionally white wines are designated for fish, fruit or different kinds of light cheeses. Red wines usually go with meats, chocolate and heavier cheeses, like Italian style cheeses. However according to Latzko, nowadays it just depends on the preference of the consumer as well as the mood of the occasion.

“Like they say, no good conversation started over a salad,” Latzko said. “It always starts over wine.”

Water 2 Wine – South Austin
4036 S Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78704

Water 2 Wine

 

An Old Movie Experience, New Again

Story and Map by Bobby Blanchard, Photos by Colleen Nelson, Video by Andie Rogers

Tucked away in one of Austin’s crevices and hidden in plain sight is the Blue Starlite Urban Drive In, which gives visitors a movie experience from a different era.

The drive in is close by and easy to find — Austinites will find the Blue Starlite Urban Drive In down an inconspicuous dirt path if they exit Interstate 35 at 51st Street. The drive in has been operating in the city for more than five years now, and the founder is planning on expanding to other states.

Josh Frank, the founder of the Blue Starlite Urban Drive In, said Austin was the perfect “chemistry lab” to start an urban drive in.

“In a place like Austin, which is so tuned in to having pop culture and entertainment, that has definitely helped,” Frank said. “Austin is the greatest example of a city that has that type of culture. I don’t think this business could have started in another city besides Austin.”

Drive in theaters reached their peak of popularity in the 70s, when the LA Times reported that 25 percent of the nation’s theaters were drive ins. That number has since fallen to less than 2 percent.

Frank said the decline was partly because people began to enjoy movies at home — home entertainment options became more and more popular and movie theaters had to compete. But he said the biggest reason drive ins couldn’t compete was because they did not adapt. Drive Ins are typically located in the country, often far away from actual civilization and populations large enough to sustain a business.

View a map of other drive ins in Texas below.

What makes the Blue Starlite Urban Drive In unique is being located in the city. It is close enough to see the downtown skyline, but far enough away from the downtown noise.

“Drive ins didn’t really disappear or peter out because people weren’t interested in them, so much as the people owning them didn’t innovate with the times,” Frank said. “People are moving into cities, people are moving away from the country side. People were living differently.”

The Blue Starlite Urban Drive In is special in several other ways as well. It only shows “indie” movies and older movies. It is also designed to capture the feeling of the drive ins from times’ past. The equipment, the concession stand and the set up and design looks like something from decades ago.

“I really feel like when I come here, I go back in time,” said Chelsea Woodhead, who frequents the drive in. “The nostalgia is just off the charts.”

Natasha Smith, a 22-year-old Austinite, said she saw her first horror movie at the Drive In.

“I am definitely not prepared,” she joked before “Friday the 13th” started. She was purchasing popcorn at the concession stand. “But I think it is about time I see a horror movie, and there is no way I am going to buy a copy and own it in my house.”

Ultimately, Frank said he wants visitors to go to the drive in and have a good time. His favorite movie to show, he said, is “Grease,” the 1978 American musical. That was the first screening he did — and it was a special screening just for his wife.

Check out a slideshow of the movies they show at the Blue Starlite Urban Drive in below.


“I basically took all the good things that were awesome about the drive in, and innovative and did what I needed to do to make it work now,” Frank said. “What makes this little engine that could keep running is the combination of the things that are so great about this old business model and modernizing it.”

If you would like to see a fun video of the Blue Starlite Urban Drive-in watch the video below as Bobby Blanchard and Colleen Nelson venture to watch Brazil.