Archive for: March 2016

Where is the Millennial Support for Trump?

 

By Ashley Lopez, Alejandra Martinez, Rachael Pikulski and Faith Ann Ruszkowski

Donald Trump is not winning the millennial vote.

Among young Republicans, his support only reaches 24 percent, according to a USA Today poll. His total support from millennials as a whole is even lower. A study published in December from Monmouth College in Illinois said only 17.5 percent of millennials view Trump favorably.

Yet Donald Trump has won primaries in 18 states based on pluralities. So far he has racked up 752 of the 1,237 total delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination, surpassing his closest Republican competitor, Ted Cruz, by over 250 delegates. The numbers show voters are supporting Trump and inevitably some of those voters are millennials.

Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a University of Texas at Austin government professor, said that small numbers of younger generations are voting for Trump not because they “necessarily keep up with the issues, but because they like the persona and the charisma behind [him].”

But these millennials, attracted to Trump’s persona and often vocal in their support for “the Donald” on social media, are surprisingly unwilling to talk about their political positions in person.

Moderators for Millennials for Trump, a Facebook group with over 18,000 likes, declined to speak because they believed doing so would “accomplish nothing.” Despite their resistance to talking, they publicly post content to their page on an hourly basis.

A Twitter page titled Millennials 4 Trump (@All4Trump) also would not respond to requests for interviews.

Attempts to contact Trump’s Texas campaign to discuss millennial involvement in this election cycle were unfruitful as well. Calling the Austin-based phone number provided on Trump’s website for the Texas campaign results in a constant busy signal, while the address for Trump’s Texas headquarters is merely a private mailbox at the UPS Store on Brazos Street. Trump Communications Director Hope Hicks and Houston Director for the Trump Campaign Kayla Hensley did not respond to information requests.

At the University of Texas at Austin, widely considered a liberal institution, students who support Trump are not highly visible or very outspoken. But that does not mean they do not exist, said Eric Saldanha, a business honors sophomore and faculty relations chair for the Undergraduate Business Council.

“About two-thirds of McCombs [the business school], in my estimation, is conservative and the rest is liberal or undecided,” said Saldana, who hosted an event on campus called “Debunking Trump” on March 29.

“Among the two-thirds that are conservative, I don’t think many would publicly say they are supporting Trump’s nomination. The friends I have are a little bit more outspoken, so I would say that about half of my friends that are conservative are beginning to use language that accepts Donald Trump as the nominee.”

However out of the several millennial Trump supporters from UT that were contacted for this story only one was willing to speak on the record.

Why won’t millennials openly speak about their support for Trump?

 

“People see [Trump] on TV and paint him as being a racist, which he is not,” said Christian Moran, a junior history and government major and Trump supporter.

“A lot of people have a huge misconception of him. And so when you say you’re voting for Trump, everyone assumes you’re like a Nazi or something like that, when it’s really not. If you just get all of the commotion away and all the hype … and you just look at what he is trying to do – it just makes sense.”

Government junior Corbin Haverlah, who considers himself a Republican but not a Trump supporter, has several friends who have voted for Trump in the Texas primary.  Haverlah said his friends do not necessarily agree with everything that Trump has said but they still agree with his policies.

“As soon as someone says they support Trump, others are quick [to] lump that person’s beliefs with everything ridiculous thing Trump has ever mentioned,” said Haverlah. “But that is not necessarily the case. Almost no one agrees completely with the candidate they support. No one expects that Bernie or Hillary supporters defend everything they’ve ever said, but they do with Trump supporters.”

Eric Saldanha believes that others are quick to judge Trump supporters because of the emotional reaction they have to Trump’s words. This judgement makes Trump supports wary of airing their views.

“There’s a stigma that the Donald Trump supporter takes on, at least on our campus I think, because so many people on our campus are against Trump’s candidacy and the reasons they are against him are pretty powerful,” said Saldana. “The reasons have to do with racism, the reasons have to do with social and economic justice… Because so many people are so vociferously against Trump on campus, it is much harder to publicly come out in support of him, whereas Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, any of these moderate [former] candidates would be palatable to their friends.”

Why some UT students are supporting Trump

 

Despite widespread opposition to Trump on campus, Christian Moran says he is does not feel pressure to change his political views.

“There are obviously people that disagree with me strongly and I combat them as best as I can but I’ve never second guessed [myself] or anything like that,” said Moran. “I like what he is doing.”

For Moran and other millennial Trump supporters, a large part of their support is derived from the attitude Trump brings to the campaign trail. The often echoed statements among Trump supporters are that they like “like his frankness,” and his ability to put aside “political correctness.”

“The main reason I am voting for Donald Trump is because basically I like how he is an offshoot from the norm,” said Moran. “He’s not your normal establishment politician…Donald Trump, he already has everything a man could ask for. He’s got nothing to gain from this besides actually wanting to do it. Besides that I like all of his policies and things like that. I like how he isn’t really taking any lip from anyone. He’s got guts.”

The notion that Donald Trump is funding his own campaign also draws a great deal of support from millennials.

Eric Saldanha believes that among his friends in the business school “the idea that Donald Trump is self-funding, the idea that he isn’t bought by special interests is pretty appealing to people and I would say that is the foremost reason [they are supporting Trump].” Even though Saldanha notes Donald Trump has put less than a million dollars into his campaign and most of it has been loaned.

For  Moran, Donald Trump’s increasing success in accumulating delegates is seen as sign that the Republican party will inevitably have to change.

“He’s rewriting the political playbook and he’s going to win the nomination,” said Moran. “ And if he doesn’t, I’m pretty sure he is going to split off and there might possibly be a third American party that comes out of this whole election if he is not chosen as the Republican nominee.”

 

 

Students Get MOODY Over New Bridge

 

 

 

Video and Editing by Jayelyn Jackson

Project by: Will Cobb, Jayelyn Jackson, Kristen Hubby and Jackie Sanchez

The Moody College of Communications construction of the hyped project that bridges the gap between Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center was completed in early Spring of 2016.

The bridge was designed by Rosales & Partners of Boston and structural engineered by Freese and Nichols of Ft. Worth. The project hovers over Dean Keeton measuring 300 feet wide with slender steel towers that are 65 feet tall.

The Moody College of Communication is located on the north-western corner of campus. The three buildings that make up the college– Belo Center for New Media, Jesse H. Jones Communication Center, and the William Randolph Hearst Student Media Building–are greatly divided by Dean Keeton.

“Comm students often feel disconnected from the rest of the 40 acres because our buildings are so secluded on a far corner of campus,” Maya Garcia of Communication Council said.

After waiting seven years, students and faculty are now able to walk across the bridge to get from one communication building to the next. This was an idea that former dean, Roderick Hart, has always favored.

“The bridge has always been important to me,” Hart said. “My main concern was to kind of pull the College of Communication back together physically and visually.”

Some students however are not as supportive of the bridge as much as some faculty members are.

According the an anonymous survey conducted by four Journalism seniors, 58% out of a total of 57 respondents did not support the construction of the bridge, while just 21% said they did support the construction, with the remaining 22% undecided.

“That money could have been scholarships or something else that led me to the path of employment instead of the path to the other side of the street,” said an anonymous student.

On October 21, 2013 the Moody Foundation of Galveston donated $50 million for future projects to further establish the Moody College of Communications. $3 million from the grant was used to fund the construction of the pedestrian bridge.

“I think the bridge is ridiculous and a waste of money,” said an anonymous student. “The money used to construct the bridge could have been given to talented students who deserve scholarships or given to programs to improve the college.”

With over 52,000 students and 20,000 faculty members at the University of Texas, foot traffic around campus can get crowded. To alleviate the foot traffic between the Dean Keeton and Whitis cross-walk is one of the purposes the bridge serves.

“We identified the need to have a safe, fast way for faculty members, students and staff members to go back and forth between buildings on a regular basis,” Nick Hundley, Communications Director for the Moody College of Communications said in regards to the meaning behind its construction.

According to the survey, 41 students out of 57 said they rarely or never travel on the bridge, and 29% say it is useless.

Along with the criticism, support is slowly gaining way, and some students express their gratitude for the bridge’s construction. After use of the crosswalk since 2012, it could take some getting used to before the bridge gains total popularity.

“I know that students were skeptical of the Moody Bridge when it was announced, myself included, but now that it’s open I love it,” Garcia said. “It is a symbol of our college and the work our professors and students do every day.”

Story by Kristen Hubby

Quotes gathered by Jackie Sanchez

MoodyBridge

ParkX Comes to ATX

By Marysabel Cardozo, Ellen Gonzalez, Sarah Talaat and Ashlyn Warblow

AUSTIN, Texas—On March 22, the city of Austin implemented its expanded payment options for parking meters in the West Campus area to include remote payment through an online application.

The application, called ParkX, is a pay-by-phone service that can be used on any parking meter in the area between Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, 29th Street, North Lamar Boulevard and Guadalupe Street. This area contains about 800 meters said Steve Grassfield, parking enterprise manager for Austin.

The application, which is in use in Washington D.C., among other cities, allows users who are in a rush to park their cars, make a note of the parking meter’s unique zone code and pay on their phones as they walk to their destinations. People who can’t get back to their cars before the time on the meter expires can also use the app, Grassfield said.

Brandon Garvey, a resident of Austin who is a bartender in the West Campus area, uses parking meters frequently.

“I think the app idea is a pretty good idea, and everything is kind of starting to take on the technological aspect of things,” Garvey said. “ I think it could be cool if I realized while I’m inside that if I’m about to run out of time I could add more [money] from my credit card instead of having to physically run out.”

Grassfield said that West Campus was an ideal place to implement the new feature.

“We do a lot of testing up in the West Campus area with students because we want to work out any bugs, and they are very good at helping us do that,” Grassfield said.

Holden Miller, a resident of Dallas, said that he doesn’t visit Austin enough to warrant downloading the app, but he could see how it will be helpful to college students.

“I think it would help people, paying-wise, just because in today’s society we’re on the go, and especially college students are going from place to place as fast as possible, or you’re late for class,” Miller said. “So [instead of paying] wherever your car is, you can just get on your phone and pay as quickly as possible instead of having to come back here and swipe your card—it’s already in the system.”

 

Monica Coronado, Austin’s parking enforcer lead, said that the application is just as easy to use for people who are parking as it is for parking enforcement officers. Officers can access the application information through the devices they already use to check meters and ticketing.

“[Officers] are now required to push the ParkX button located on their handheld ticket devices. Other than that nothing has changed as far as meter citation,” Coronado said. “They are able to scan the license plates and push the ParkX button to see if a citation is needed if no parking sticker is present.”

Tom Pickett, a resident of Austin, thinks he is likely to use the application once the city expands it to other areas of the city.

“Instead of having to carry your wallet about, everyone has their phone, so it would be nice and easy and straightforward to integrate this, and it would be really useful. I would definitely use it,” Pickett said. “I know how forgetful I am with certain things, but the one thing I know I will never lose is my phone. I am confident in app security nowadays so it wouldn’t be an issue to store my bank details in there, and I’d feel comfortable using [the app].”

Grassfield cites other cities that use the application as proof of the safety of individuals’ credit card information that can be stored in ParkX on the user’s phone.

“This app has already been in effect in Corpus Christi and in El Paso and has been running for about a year now, and they have had no problems with anyone hacking into the app,” Grassfield said.

Coronado said that although Austinites and visitors have been slow to use the application since its introduction, she thinks that the numbers will improve with time.

“One of my officers this morning said that a lot more vehicles have registered for the ParkX app. I think that word is getting around. It is starting to pick up a little, and in a few more weeks there will be a lot more to talk about concerning this app,” Coronado said.

Grassfield is confident that citizens will soon realize the benefits of using the application.

“We are hoping that, like we have seen in other cities, that 10% of the people will use this app, which is a fairly high percentage. We do 4 million [meter] transactions a year, and again, hopefully it will make it easier for the consumer,” Grassfield said.

The application will be expanded citywide on April 22 for use with all Austin parking meters, or about 7,500 paid parking spaces.

 

To learn more about the city’s partnership with ParkX, click here.

 

AppGuideScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.08.53 AM

Austin Community Revamps “Free Art Friday”

Story package by Taylor Villarreal, Trisha Zyrowski, and Samantha Grasso


Shot by Taylor Villarreal
Edited by Samantha Grasso

Austin Art Community Saves “Free Art Friday” From Extinction

Story by Trisha Zyrowski

When you walk into Nicole Clark’s living room, you’ll see a dozen pieces of art that she didn’t pay for. No, Clark isn’t a high-class art thief. However, she is an artist and active participant in Austin’s weekly event Free Art Friday.

During Free Art Friday, local artists make small pieces of art, like paintings and cross-stitching, and hide them in various spots around Austin on Fridays.

After taking a photo of their art and its hiding space, the artist uploads the photo to their Instagram account with the hashtag #ATXFreeArtFriday. Following the hashtag, Austinites can see what art is being hidden, and can follow clues as to where they can find it by looking at the Instagram photos. While many people may show up to the “drop” site to claim these art pieces, only one is the victor.

Free Art Friday hiding spots where artists commonly “drop” off art

Infographic by Trisha Zyrowski

While Free Art Friday allows Austinites to get in on some free artwork, the weekly event also gives artists the chance to share their original work with their Instagram followers and connect with other artists. Christine Muñoz, a Los Angeles expat, is an artist who moved to Austin in January.

Though only having lived in Austin for three months, Muñoz says people in the art community are much nicer than in Los Angeles, and that Free Art Friday has already allowed her to get connected within the local art scene.

“I feel like in LA people are super focused, very greedy, like, ‘It’s my success, I don’t want to share it,’” but Muñoz recalls with appreciation that Austin artists took her “under their wings,” immediately.

“I’m going to call Austin home for awhile,” Muñoz says.

Free Art Friday in Austin was started around two years ago by SprATX, a collective group of local street artists who “fill empty spaces with positive messages and beautiful art,” according to their website.

The concept of Free Art Friday is not unique to Austin—Atlanta, Georgia’s thriving scene began their Free Art Fridays in March 2013, according to their Facebook page.

While Austin’s branch of the weekly event quickly expanded under SprATX’s leadership, participation in Free Art Friday began to see a swift decline from both artists and art finders about a year ago.

Nicole Clark, who is also a manager for Austin’s Free Art Friday Instagram account, said the decline was most evident when SprATX became more busy and was no longer able to promote Free Art Friday on their own Instagram account.

Clark also says that before the weekly event’s decline, artists used to create larger pieces of art, eventually putting in large amounts of time, energy, and money (from art supplies) into a piece to just be given to someone for free. When that no longer became sustainable to full-time artists, they began hiding smaller art pieces and trinkets.

Unfortunately, the art finding community wasn’t interested in spending their time to find such small pieces, Clark says.

Together, these two variables created an unsustainable climate for Free Art Friday, further creating disconnect in the local art community.

Clark says she felt discouraged seeing so little participation in Free Art Friday, but she wouldn’t let this be the end of the new Austin tradition. Six weeks ago, Clark and two other local artists took it upon themselves to reboot the weekly event, the trio becoming the main organizers while still housing the project under SprATX.

Already, their new Instagram account to promote and encourage Free Art Friday between artists and art fans alike has amassed over 1,100 followers.

“People want to do it and they’re really into it, it’s just a matter of retraining expectations and retraining the culture,” Clark says.

“That kind of stuff makes us feel like this is why we’re doing it, this is why it’s so important to us, because those kids see that street art isn’t a bad thing.” – Nicole Clark

Instagram user and artist @THIS_BIRD_ has nearly 1,200 followers, his design of his trade being simple designs of birds. Clark refers to this artist as the “MVP” of their reboot: “So many people recognize his work.”

Many of his followers are families with kids who like to try and recreate his colorful, playful birds. His followers are always on the lookout for his canvases throughout the city, and take pictures with them once they’re found.

“That kind of stuff makes us feel like this is why we’re doing it, this is why it’s so important to us, because those kids see that street art isn’t a bad thing,” Clark says. “Their parents show them that it doesn’t mean you’re a thug or a gangster or whatever, just because you paint on an abandoned building.”

Many local artists believe Free Art Friday has given them a chance to share positivity, contribute to their community and connect with their supporters.

“All the time and dedication I’m putting into this, all the emotion, all the feeling, it’s gonna be in someone else’s hands. But being able to let it go, that’s awesome. That’s dedication,” Muñoz says. “Those are things I aspire to do, like being able to get to that point in life [where art is] just all growth. It’s not easy to come by that stuff.”

When local artists appear negative to the idea of giving away their art for free, Clark says she tries to persuade them by discussing the potential impact an artist could have in connecting with other local artists and art fans through Free Art Friday.

When an artist drops a popular piece of work, many people will rush to that location “in a matter of minutes,” Clark says. “The cool thing is bringing everyone together, not just the artists… Why would you wanna cut yourself off from those experiences?”

Looking toward the future, Austin’s Free Art Friday’s reboot team is inspired by Atlanta’s Thankful Thursday event. As a way to show appreciation for local artists, the Atlanta community hides art supplies for local artists on Thursdays—paints, brushes, pastels, and other tools that aren’t easy to come by as a full-time artist. Clark hopes to get the Austin program started soon.

“Only Austin can do it the way Austin does it,” Muñoz says.

The Austin Economic Impact of Artists

*Source: “The Economic Impact of the Creative Sector in Austin, Texas.” Austin Texas Government. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

The History of Street Art

*Source: Brown, Jordan. “Street Art.” Street Art. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
Infographics by Trisha Zyrowski

 

#ATXFreeArtFriday in Stills

Photos by Taylor Villarreal

What Starts Here… Really Changes the World

A Humanity First member working as a disaster relief volunteer.  Photo courtesy of Humanity First

A Humanity First member working as a disaster relief volunteer.
Photo courtesy of Humanity First

 

 

Anahita Pardiwalla, Fatima Puri, Shannon Smith

With hundreds of student-run humanitarian groups at the University of Texas to choose from, Irenla Bajrovic did not think she’d have trouble finding one that would be willing to help a cause close to her heart. Bajrovic, a natural-born Bosnian, wanted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Bosnian genocide by organizing a fundraiser. She did not anticipate finding her answer in the merely days old organization, Humanity First.

Coordinating a fundraising dinner is a feat for any organization, never mind a newborn one with just six members. Yet, founder and executive director, Usama Malik, was eager for Humanity First to make its grand debut. About $10,000 later, Malik and his peers were excited about the future of their new Texas Chapter.

A year later, 102 members stronger and with numerous successful events under its belt, Humanity First is more confident than ever. Under its motto “serving mankind” the international organization promotes peace and provides aid to victims of natural disasters and human conflicts.

Malik, however, has tailored the Texas Chapter to stand for more than just the humanitarian relief drafted in their motto.

“One that provides a platform for other organizations and other students to accomplish similar goals,” said Malik.

Through this idea of diversifying the Texas Chapter, the organization has been able to work for a number of different causes—all outside the traditional realm of Humanity First’s mission statement.

These causes have ranged from fundraising for victims of domestic violence to raising awareness of childhood cancer, from feeding the homeless to volunteering at elderly rehabilitation centers. Most recently, the organization assembled hygienic kits for homeless veterans.

 

A few of Humanity First's milestones. Photos courtesy of Google Images and Bosana Foundation

A few of Humanity First’s milestones.
Photos courtesy of Google Images and Bosana Foundation

The group’s scope is wide and limitless; and members are proud to be a part of an international organization that still maintains a local focus.

“You’re touching someone’s life, and it doesn’t matter how big the scale is, as long as you’re helping someone,” said member Marina Khaled.

Upcoming events include a charity fashion show and a culture appreciation night. Learn more at http://www.humanityfirsttx.org/.

 

Humanity First has worked for numerous causes since its birth last spring. Check out a timeline of some of their past events here:

 

Learn more about the Humanity First – Texas Chapter in the video below. The members of Humanity First made hygiene kits for homeless veterans and are currently in production for a fashion show in partnership with Voices Against Violence.

Texas Bike Tours

 

Photo: Texas Bike Tours Website

Photo: Texas Bike Tours Website

Whether you consider yourself an ‘Austinite,’ or you spent some time visiting Austin, you can always find something new and fun to do in the Capitol of Texas. The city boasts of a plethora of sites to see. Maybe you want to grab a bite at popular food trucks or take memorable pictures at some of Austin’s major landmarks. Seek adventure with not only family and friends, but with an experienced pathfinder to guide you along your new adventure.

Ride with Texas Bike Tours, a company that can match you up with a tour guide to follow along with on your own bike! Listen to the pathfinders explain Austin history as you bike along the new boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake and continue strolling through downtown, gaining knowledge about Austin’s “weird” culture.

Tourists enjoy the engaged and interactive nature of the bike tours.

“I’ve been on bus tours in Europe, but to be out, and to see people and smell things was just super cool,” said Tracey Maloney, Texas Bike Tours customer.  

The company also personalizes each tour to the interests of the group, so every tour is unique and just how you want it. Enjoy a fun and personalized adventure in Austin’s city limits and continue to explore more of Austin’s historic or newly created sites with unforgettable bike tours.

Texas Bike Tours from Selena Depaz on Vimeo.

Still looking for more creative ways to see the city? Here are some other ways to tour Austin:

PubCrawler of Austin

  • Keep Austin Weird by pedaling on the newest mobile unit — a pub on wheels! This bar on wheels explores a variety of popular drinking establishments based on tour routes around the Capitol, the market district, the warehouse district and Barton Springs.

Austin Detours – Ultimate Austin Scavenger Hunt

  • If you like to have fun exploring and also enjoy a good team challenge, then this part-city tour part-energetic competition is for you. This tour stops at major landmarks while playing games and gathering items, and ends with tallying up of scores for the scavenger hunt awards ceremony.

Austin Segway Tours by Gliding Revolution

  • Want to rest your feet, but still take a tour? Glide your way around the Capitol and major downtown areas on Austin’s Segway Tours, which provide the history of the city and fun sites to stop and take photos. Just be sure to keep your balance and avoid the potholes.

Live Love Paddle

  • If you want to still rest your feet but get a killer arm workout, you can paddle your way through downtown via Lady Bird Lake with this kayaking tour. Learn some local history and interesting facts with this tour while floating on downtown Austin’s beautiful body of water.

In true Austin fashion, the city keeps its tours weird, so get out and explore!

 

 

Photos courtesy of Texas Bike Tours

Making the most of food and Instagram

By: Kate Bartick, Carolina Hall and Jacob Martella

Waffle fries smothered in melted cheese, chocolate sauce oozing between layers of fluffy pancakes stacked feet into the air, thick burgers topped with anything from a fried egg to a side of mac and cheese. A quick scroll through Instagram shows that food is fueling, quite literally, the latest social media craze: The Food Instagram.

Food Instagram accounts are becoming increasingly popular, with followers ranging from thousands to millions. Buzzfeed’s food account, @buzzfeedfood, which regularly posts close up pictures of food as common as pizza and as outlandish as philly cheesesteak eggrolls, has over two million followers. Many nationwide food accounts, like @foodporndaily1, have over 100,000 followers, and even local city accounts such as @austinfoodstagram and @austinmymouth have followings nearing the 50,000 mark. One thing is clear; people love looking at pictures of food.

But what lies behind this mouth-watering phenomenon is a little murkier.

“I follow food Instagrams because I think it’s entertaining to see the creative, different foods out there,” Dani Glazer, a senior at the University of Texas said. “Instagram has even given me a couple ideas of things to cook in my own life.”

Abby Hall, a freshman at the University of Texas, agrees with Glazer.

“I follow tons of different food accounts, mostly for fun,” Hall said. “Some of them are Austin accounts that give me restaurant ideas to try, but the bigger Instagrams I follow just for the purpose of looking at delicious food.”

While the entertainment aspect of food certainly plays an integral role in the instagram food craze, a broader impact of the trend can also be acknowledged.

“I think that food Instagrams are becoming a trend in our daily culture and something to break up the every day social media scene,” Rebecca Hanai, a University of Texas senior, said. “I think food as an art is becoming a trend, and making food creative, blending things that normal wouldn’t be blended, is something people are starting to pick up on and become intrigued with.”

If just for fun or for a deeper artistic value, the popularity of food Instagrams is undeniable. But the trend doesn’t have to be for viewing only. A recent study published by the Journal of Consumer Marketing found that photographing food before it is eaten could actually increase the tastiness of the food consumed.

Researchers found that “pausing momentarily to produce an image of your perfectly plated pasta, gorgeously cheesy pizza, towering burger or decadently delicious-looking donuts, rather than diving right in, helps one savor indulgent foods, increasing attitudes and taste evaluations when consumption actually takes place.”

So whether you are searching for a tasty new restaurant, seeking artistic value, or simply looking for a lighthearted social media break, one thing is for sure: if you’re hungry, stick to Twitter—or try it yourself.

Mighty Texas Dog Walk

By: Isabella Bejar, Jessica Jones, and Jack Vertis

Imagine a place with small dogs, big dogs, dogs in costume, loud dogs, quiet dogs, and every dog breed you could think of. This is the scene every year for The Mighty Texas Dog Walk, a service event that benefits Service Dogs, Inc.

A sea of dogs flooded the parking lot of the Austin American Statesman on Saturday March 5 for the event. Dogs and owners alike enjoyed a scenic walk near Lady Bird Lake that was coupled with vendors handing out tons of free samples of dog food and treats along the way.

The theme of the walk this year was Texas pride. Everywhere the eye could see, there was a dog in a cowboy hat or wearing Willie Nelson braids. A few other dogs were more unique in their appearance, including a poodle that had temporary tattoos on her skin and a funky punk rock hair-do.

Although costumed dogs adds to the fun, the true purpose of the walk is the large amount of proceeds the event raises for Service Dogs, Inc. This organization trains dogs, many of which come from shelters, to become service dogs for free and they gain the majority of their funds to do this task through the walk.

Sheri Soltes, the founder of Service Dogs, Inc., has watched the Mighty Texas Dog Walk grow for the past 17 years it’s been held. Soltes was trial lawyer for eight years after graduating from UT’s Law School and Plan II Program before she realized she wanted to do something “more fulfilling.”

“I read a magazine article one day about dogs who help people with disabilities and it mentioned that some of the groups got dogs from shelters,” Soltes said. “That really appealed to me and here we are, 28 years later after the founding of Service Dogs, Inc.”

Most event participants were Austin residents bringing their family dogs out for a good cause, but there were a handful of service dogs and their owners present as well. At the information tent for Service Dogs, Inc., Morgan Pewitt sits with her dog “Snowflake.” At first, it was confusing as to why she would not provide the dog’s real name.

“When people ask you what your dog’s name is, you can’t not give an answer. That’s weird, so I usually tell people Snowflake or even Winter sometimes,” Pewitt said. “Her actual name is Denali, but she is supposed to react to her name when she’s working so if people ask, I give them her fake name.”

Pewitt is not blind, deaf, or any of the typical disabilities that come to mind for most people when they think of service dogs. She has an issue with her balance when she walks and Denali is there to provide stability. Sheila English and her service dog, Noelle, were also sitting at the Service Dogs, Inc. table. English, like Pewitt, has balance issues and becomes more mobile by having Noelle around.

“I’m a high school special education teacher in Georgetown so my students get to see Noelle every day and she provides a bit of therapy for them too,” English said. “It also helps her to not be distracted wherever we go, because she walks through passing periods at the high school with me.”

The Mighty Texas Dog Walk allows for a large sum of funds to be raised for individuals like Pewitt and English each year. Many dogs would still be in shelters without this cause. This cause allows these dogs to be trained in service and truly make an impact on a disabled person’s life.

“We have had a couple dogs who ended up saving their owner’s life because they knew what to do without their owner telling them to,” Soltes said. “We have creative, problem-solving dogs and we take pride in that.”

Learn more about Service Dogs, Inc on their website!

Texas Tai Chi touts health benefits, balance

By: J.D. Harris, Anthony Green, Julia Bernstein

With every slow, rhythmic punch and sweeping kick, the students and faculty of the University of Texas at Austin seem to feel the stress caused by life on campus melt away. While some students and faculty choose to participate in campus exercise programs such as yoga and Pilates to destress, others are turning to the Chinese martial art of tai chi to reduce their stress levels.

Jen Shipman, a UT faculty member and leader of Texas Tai Chi, an on-campus tai chi program at UT, said the Chinese martial art of tai chi helps to relax the mind and body at the end of hard work days.

“We’ve got stressful jobs and so it’s nice to have that hour break where we’re not having to think about what work we need to do and instead just focus on healing ourselves from the inside,” Shipman said.

According to Natalie Durkin, a tai chi instructor with Master Gohring’s Tai Chi & Kung Fu in Austin, tai chi is classified into five styles and each style is named after the family who taught it. The five families include the Chen, Yang, Sun, Wu, and Wu-Xiang.

The birthplace of the Chen family, who represent the historical origins of all five traditional schools of Tai Chi. Their fusion of Chinese philosophical elements with martial arts training made Tai Chi a novel art form in the 1800s.

The birthplace of the Chen family, who represent the historical origins of all five traditional schools of Tai Chi. Their fusion of Chinese philosophical elements with martial arts training made Tai Chi a novel art form in the 1800s.

Texas Tai Chi mainly focuses on the Yang style.

“It is the more upright style of tai chi where you’re staying shoulders above hips. It’s probably the most common one,” Shipman said.

Although Texas Tai Chi began only seven years ago, tai chi has been practiced for centuries.

Durkin explained that tai chi has its origin in one of the oldest Chinese legends predating the 12th century. Durkin said that according to the legend, while a monk was walking through a forest he stumbled upon a fight between a snake and a crane. As he watched the snake and the crane, he observed how each animal’s defensive behaviors benefited them and realized how complimentary and effective these defenses were against each other. Inspired by the movements of the snake and crane, the monk created tai chi, which translates to “Supreme Ultimate Fist.”

According to Durkin, tai chi differs from other martial art forms because its movements are softer than those of karate or taekwondo and its participants are not meant to expend tons of energy; instead, energy is meant to be “channeled inward for personal health.”

The philosophy of Tai Chi is one that discourages the use of outright brute force to stop an opponent’s advances. Such fighting methods are seen in Tai Chi as swaying away from the paramount natural balance of Yin and Yang. Instead, students are taught to meet brute force with softness—adapting to their opponent’s motions until their energy is exhausted or redirected.

The philosophy of Tai Chi is one that discourages the use of outright brute force to stop an opponent’s advances. Such fighting methods are seen in Tai Chi as swaying away from the paramount natural balance of Yin and Yang.

Shipman also noted that tai chi differs from other martial arts because tai chi is open to people of all ages and with varying levels of experience.

No matter age or experience, tai chi is proven to have multiple health benefits both physically and mentally.

“From my own personal experience, I can say that although I earned a black belt in taekwondo many years ago, and already had good reflexes and balance, they have been enhanced 10 fold since becoming a tai chi practitioner,” said Durkin. “I am lighter on my feet; my arthritic knees are better than they have been in years. Mentally, I have better clarity, I have the ability to see a problem from a variety of perspectives and to hang out before trying to control an outcome.”

In tai chi, it is critical to coordinate body movements with breathing.

“It’s beneficial for helping for balance. It’s beneficial for all kinds of health benefits, with your breathing, more body awareness because it’s not one of those fast paced martial art forms,” Shipman said.

UT students, Stephanie Lish and Alejandra Duarte, agree that offering tai chi classes is a benefit for UT students and faculty. They also said that they feel like Texas Tai Chi is valuable because it adds to the variety of exercise programs that UT offers.

“I know there’s people that would enjoy that,” Lish said.

“There’s a lot of people on campus so I think it’s a good idea,” Duarte said. “You have to have a lot of different things.”

Students and faculty can find Texas Tai Chi in the Student Activity Center (SAC), Dance Room (2.310) every Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

No registration required.

Flying High

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By Megan Mikaelian, Stacy Rickard, and Zara Mirza