Tag: Austin

Austin nonprofit educates community on health benefits of an insect diet

By: Faith Daniel, Cheyenne Matthews-Hoffman and Nataly Torres

Before you grab the fly swatter and aimlessly chase your insect target, think about the little critter that you’re about to swat. A bug’s life isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Bugs typically meet their fate at the sole of your wandering shoes or by being showered with insecticides. Creepy crawlies are feared by many, but are mostly considered to be gross. We eat gummy worms, so why not consider eating the real thing?

Robert Nathan Allen was a recent college graduate, managing a local bar in Austin when his mother sent him a video on the sustainability and health benefits of eating insects as a joke. Intrigued by entomophagy, the consumption of insects as food, Allen researched the practice and reached out to entomophagists worldwide. Blown away by the benefits of eating insects, Allen wanted to be the first person in Austin to have bugs on the menu. Although that particular idea didn’t pan out, he spent the next year and a half hatching the idea for Little Herds.

Just like other food products in Austin, one can purchase locally grown insect meals.

Just like other food products in Austin, one can purchase locally grown insect meals.

Allen may not have been the first person to have crickets and larvae on menus around the city, but he did see the need for an educational advocacy group. Austin lacked a nonprofit that could provide the community with education and transparency on eating insects, but while also focusing on how they are raised, processed and used in food. “Not only do we want to assure that they’re healthy, hygienic, clean and sustainable, but we also want you to see how you can take cricket flour and turn it into something in your own kitchen,” says Allen.

There was no doubt in Allen’s mind when deciding where to plant and grow his project. Known for its interest in nutrition, sustainability and love for all things weird, Austin was the perfect place to get the ball rolling. Allen saw that Texas’ capital city is very progressive and forward thinking, and thought that Austin would be more likely to accept the practice of insect eating.

He also spent a great deal of time finding the perfect name to suit his bugged out venture. “Little Herds ended up being the one that had the best fit for what we were doing in terms of focusing on the education of edible insects, but also really focusing on children’s education. It has a great dual meaning there — little herds of insects and little herds of kids eating the insects,” says Allen.

Little Herds was incorporated in June 2013 and received their 501(c)(3) that December.

Still in its infancy stage, Little Herds is focusing on educating the community through various programs. The nonprofit focuses on the younger Austinites- children. Little Herds works hand-in-hand with schools, museums and farmers markets to educate the community on entomophagy by planning various educational programs. Oftentimes, the nonprofit will have events geared towards children that allow them to experiment with insects in the kitchen. Little Herds believes that it’s important to reach out to the younger generation because if they can adopt insects into their diet, they will be more likely to pass it on to their children. The nonprofit partners with local chefs to ensure that the meals are delicious and nutritious.

Little Herds isn’t trying to sugarcoat the idea that people are eating bugs. Being upfront and letting people know and understand what they are eating is important. “The best way to get over that psychological taboo isn’t to hide it or turn it into something that it’s not. It’s to be point blank with people about what they’re eating,” says Allen.

Delicacies such as this were presented during the event, made by professional and educated chefs.

Delicacies such as this were presented during the event, made by professional and educated chefs.

When you inform people about the health benefits and its sustainability and that most of the world eats them, it reduces their fear and hesitation to try the edible critters. “When you present them in an approachable, traditional and normal way, they don’t have a problem giving it a try,” says Allen.

With almost 2,000 edible species in existence, insects provide health benefits greater than those provided by traditional meat sources. Insects tend to be higher in calcium, zinc and protein and are low in cholesterol and fat. Hormones and antibiotics aren’t used when raising insects. Unlike with other animals, there is no risk of crossover diseases with insects. An insect diet proves to be healthy for humans, but is also beneficial for Mother Earth. Raising and harvesting insects uses very little land, water and feed.

“This is something that people can grow in their backyard, anywhere in the world. Even if you’re in drought conditions, disaster conditions, this is a protein source that’s healthy and you can grow with very little input,” says Allen.

By 2050, there will be an estimated nine billion people on the planet. At this rate, there won’t be enough food to sustainably feed that many mouths. “We can take insects and create these foods that can really help relieve famine and malnourishment in areas all over the world. It’s something that could have a long shelf life. It’s something that can be processed easily and cheaply and won’t lose all that nutritional density,” says Allen. Incorporating insects into one’s regular diet is an economically approachable, low-tech solution.

Little Herds is working with businesses and government agencies to sure that the public is properly educated about where to get their insects and how to prepare them. Eventually, their hope is to start a movement and share this practice with the rest of the country.

With organizations like Little Herds in the picture, maybe people will be less bugged out to try insects.

Cheer Up: Charlie’s Reopens its Doors

Zane Xena performing during the Drag Queen Mortal Combat. Photo by Jessica Duong

Zane Xena performing during the Drag Queen Mortal Combat. Photo by Jessica Duong

Drag queens lip-syncing to Brandy and Monica, live psychedelic music reverberating against a rock wall amphitheater, and a crowd of hundreds of people with a line extending down Red River Street. The grand reopening of Cheer Up Charlie’s was such a success that it’s hard to believe the former location closed only a month prior.


By Alexis Chastain, Jessica Duong, Caroline Khoury, and Joan Vinson

Photo by Jessica Duong

Photo by Jessica Duong

Tamara Hoover and Maggie Lea, partners and co-owners of the bar and venue Cheer Up Charlie’s, sat side-by-side on a retro-style olive-green couch in the artsy and colorful space of Cheer Up’s new location on 900 Red River St. The two seemed to be in high spirits after their successful grand reopening event and spoke to us frankly about the closing of their old location on East Sixth Street.

It was near the end of November 2013 when Hoover and Lea received a call from their landlord that the land where their beloved bar stood for more than three years was sold to make way for a hotel development. They were given 30 days to vacate the premises.

Photo by Jessica Duong

Photo by Jessica Duong

“When we first went in to rent the space, we were told by the landlord that they were intending on developing a hotel,” Hoover admitted. “So we went into it knowing that something would happen to the space eventually because the property was too valuable. Something would happen.”

Cheer Up Charlie’s opened into their first brick-and-mortar location back in April 2010 — formerly a vegan raw and cooked food trailer. As the years passed, Hoover and Lea were told by their landlord that the hotel development was proving more difficult than they had originally thought.

“We were getting excited and starting to feel comfortable in our space there,” Hoover said. “We had always been told ‘don’t worry, you’re fine, you’re going to have plenty of time heads up… at least six months you’ll know in advance when we’re going to do something.’”

Of course that wasn’t the case when the La Corsha Hospitality Group, the company responsible for projects such as Bar Congress and the Driskill Hotel restoration, bought the land to make way for a new bar, which will later have a hotel addition after the trailer eatery space nearby also closes.

At the time of their closing, Cheer Up Charlie’s had already gained popularity as an LGBT-friendly spot with an all-inclusive attitude towards anyone who wanted to be a part of the space. The venue also provided a space for artists, musicians, filmmakers, and even literary connoisseurs to gather and share their work. The news of the closing triggered many sad reactions among the community, which didn’t surprise Hoover or Lea, but the overwhelmingly personal responses did.

“There were a lot of people who had identified very much with what we had created,” Lea said. “There were people who were very heartbroken. I saw a lot of people say like ‘oh I woke up this morning and I saw that Cheer Up Charlie’s was closing and now I’m going to have a bad day over it.’”

Kim Thurman and Aaron Smith, tour guides at the state Capitol, frequented the old Cheer Ups location almost on a daily basis and were at the grand reopening by 5 p.m. — well before the festivities began. When asked how they felt about the closing, the two friends burst into laughter and admitted they were extremely devastated by the news.

“We went into mourning the week we knew that they were closing. It was basically like every night lets go [to Cheer Ups],” Smith said. “And we’ve been counting down the time until they reopened.”

While Cheer Up Charlie’s is seen as a popular LGBT spot, Thurman and Smith commented on how it’s more laid back compared to the gay bars on Fourth Street, like Rain or Oilcan Harry’s, which can be “super dance-y” and make the LGBT clientele “the main thing.”

“It’s a mix. When you’re [at Cheer Ups] it never really comes up, you just know it’s around,” Smith said. “It’s comforting.”

Thurman added that in the wake today’s male-centric news coverage of gay rights, Cheer Ups was a place where she commonly saw lesbian couples hanging out and going on dates.

“Cheer Up Charlie’s was the only place that I would ever see girl couples, which I thought was really cool,” said Thurman. “It was always the guys that everybody had a problem with and nobody was paying attention to the fact that there were girls out there who liked girls. And that’s okay!”

Coincidentally, Cheer Up Charlie’s new space was formerly a lesbian bar named Chances that opened in 1982. Julie and Jeane Nielson, twin sisters and former bartenders for Chance’s, were among the bunch that came out to the grand reopening to remember Chance’s and to celebrate Austin’s queer culture.

“Of course I think Cheer Ups is a younger crowd, but I still would see people my age there,” said Julie. “Anybody’s welcome and I think that’s the similarity.”

“It’s like a reborn Chance’s feel almost. Like I can see us back then, here now,” added Jeanne.

Fortunately, the new Cheer Up Charlie’s continues to cultivate the same all-inclusive attitude Hoover and Lea had created in the original location. Similarly to the last location, the new space features murals and artwork from local artists, books local bands to perform, and hosts a number of interesting attractions such as last Friday’s Drag Queen Mortal Combat and the upcoming Girls With Gunz event, an all-female arm wrestling tournament.

“Regardless of sexual preference, or gender identity, I always wanted a place that I could hang out with people that were so diverse and I could learn so much about the world and what I wanted to do,” Hoover said. “That was the intention. Was to no matter who you were, what you were, how you identified, what your preference was sexually, you were going to be okay here and you were going to find somebody who maybe wasn’t maybe like you who you could maybe create a new friendship with.”

The closing of the old Cheer Ups was a shaky experience for Hoover and Lea, but now with a secure lease and a supportive landlord, they can breath a sigh of relief, knowing that their haven is safe for the many years to come. And though the process of finding a new place and preparing the venue for the reopening happened faster than they thought it would, Hoover says that she didn’t feel the space was complete until the eclectic mix of people that made Cheer Up Charlie’s what it is today filled the building.

“We weren’t expecting that many people. It was wonderful,” Hoover said. “This space is nothing without the people, the smiling faces, the diverse crowds, the different factions of our community. It all arrives here and that’s what makes this good, it makes it fun, it makes it important.”

Coyotes Out to Survive in the Neighborhood

Contributed by: Chris Caraveo, Cheyenne Matthews-Hoffman, Cheney Slocum

They’re out there. In the area. And hungry.

Multiple coyote sightings in the Austin and Round Rock areas this year have put residents on alert as they go about their daily routines. In the month of January Austin citizens have reported 86 coyote complaints, an increase from 74 at this same time last year.

Haley Hudnall of Austin Wildlife Rescue said that the gradual increase in coyotes, along with bobcats, in the area have become more common because of Austin expansion.

“There’s nowhere else for them to go,” Hudnall said. “So they’re learning to live in the city at least a little bit. They’re eating mice and rats and whatever is available to them.”

It all comes down to survival.

“They’re just running out of places to go so they have to learn how to live in the city like opossums and raccoons or else they don’t live,” she said.

A more serious concern deals with lingering coyotes near elementary and middle schools.

On Friday, January 24, Great Oaks Elementary School sent out a letter to parents  warning that coyotes had been seen in the Brushy Creek Greenbelt and that  students would be supervised when they were outside.

On Friday, January 24, Great Oaks Elementary School sent out a letter to parents
warning that coyotes had been seen in the Brushy Creek Greenbelt and that
students would be supervised when they were outside.

Up in Round Rock, schools like Great Oaks Elementary have seen the fox-like animal in the vicinity. School staff and parents have both worried over the safety of students who have to walk to and from school.

“Our elementary and middle schools don’t have buses because we all live in the area,” Great Oaks preschool teacher Lisa Baumann said.

Lisa Baumann talks coyotes

The school administration sent out a notice to alert parents about the coyote problem near the school and informed them about how to address the issue to their children.

In the letter it states that while coyote attacks on humans are rare children should walk in groups to provide a numbers advantage. It also urges students to never approach a wild animal, yell at an approaching coyote and to get away from the area if it doesn’t flee.

The overall aim with dealing with these coyotes is to prevent harmful incidences while also respecting their nature. Like most un-domesticated wildlife coyotes developed aggressive predator skills in order to survive.

“They have killed a small dog on a home that backed up against the Greenbelt,” Baumann said. “So they are hungry, they are out there and they’re moving around.”

As coyotes try to survive within city there comes a great risk of them getting harmed themselves.

Via social media Round Rock resident David Squires said a freshly killed coyote was spotted on a service road less than a mile from two Murchison and Highland Park Elementary Schools.

In a report last August by Austin’s KTBC Fox, Texas Wildlife Services euthanized two coyotes because they had chased someone from Blunn Creek Nature Preserve.

In the event that a coyote is not killed but sustains any injuries, there are not many places within Austin that can treat them.

Wildlife rehabilitation organizations are a good place to start if you find an injured coyote or a wild animal that has been injured by a coyote. The health department had previously kept Austin Wildlife Rescure from taking in coyotes or foxes. This year should be different.

Wildlife rehabilitation organizations are a good place to start if you find an injured coyote or a wild animal that has been injured by a coyote. The health department had previously kept Austin Wildlife Rescure from taking in coyotes or foxes. This year should be different.

Austin Wildlife Rescue, located on Martin Luther King Blvd., currently does not have state certification to care for the animal. But there are hopes that it will become authorized to do so.

“As of last year we were not allowed to,” Hudnall said. “But laws are starting to change and this year we’re supposed to do that. We don’t have the official word yet.”

As more coyote dens become uninhabitable these displaced animals have to move somewhere else and eat something other than what they’ve been accustomed to.

They just might have to do that around the city.

Bold beauties show off their tattooed bodies in burlesque performance

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 1.57.41 PM Bethany Summersizzle performs an aerial act in the Ink and Smile: Tales of Tattoos From the Inked Ladies of Burlesque at the North Door on Saturday, Jan. 25. Photo By Angela Buenrostro

By: Chelsea Bass, Angela Buenrostro, Joanie Ferguson and Rachel Hill

When the average adult thinks of women who take off their clothes for a living, it often brings forth thoughts of poles and grungy dollar bills. These women use props too, but with a theme and flair. The Burlesque production Ink and a Smile, Saturday Jan. 25 at the North Door, featured a variety of experienced burlesque performers who used their tattoos to tell a story.

“They are experienced, high-quality performers,” event coordinator and founder of The Burlesquerie, Roxie Moxie said.

The theme for Ink and a Smile was developed by Roxie Moxie, which coincided with the annual tattoo revival being held that same weekend. Each of the 11 women who performed had different props related to their tattoos and the story they wanted to convey, which, for some, included aerial rings, ropes and lots of easily removable corsets. The emcee encouraged audience members to cheer whenever the women began to do anything provocative, mainly when they showed any skin as it is a burlesque tradition.

The performers went from a full costume, in conjunction with whatever theme they represented, to a G-string and pasties placed over their nipples, making them a thin strip of cloth away from being nude.

Burlesque shows have been around as early as the 17th century in Britain and eventually were picked up by Americans and revamped as American burlesque in New York. The American version differed from the English genre by focusing more on female nudity. It went from women showing just a little skin to a full strip tease.

Women who participate in burlesque in this day and age describe it as a form of empowerment for women while also having a strong feminist overtone. The average woman has the opportunity to partake in the rich history of burlesque in Austin in the Burlesque academy for beginners, and other local troupes such as Jigglewatts and Black Widow Burlesque, of which some of the dancers in Ink and a Smile were already members.

Although the art of burlesque is still considered provocative, those who attended Ink and a Smile couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised by the eroticism mixed in with acrobatics and entertaining stories.

How many tattoos do you have?

Austin Poetry Slam: The Spoken Word Revolution

By Jasmine Alexander, Jessica Duong, Kaine Korzekwa and Joan Vinson

Sam Sax reads in the Austin Poetry Slam at Spider House Ballroom on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Sam Sax competes in the Austin Poetry Slam at Spider House Ballroom on Tuesday, Jan. 28. The venue hosts the slam every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

The rhymes made during the Austin Poetry Slam won’t be heard in any high school English class.

It’s not like a typical poetry performance, where artists recite their work to an applauding audience. Instead, an audience with randomly selected judges decides which poets leave with a $100 prize. Hearing the poets cry, scream, laugh, dance, wail or flail during their passionate performances is almost guaranteed.

The result is a poetry competition like no other.

“[Slamming is] kind of like theater or art,” said Victoria Murray, a slam poet. “Once you start going on a regular basis you can’t stop doing it even if you take a hiatus from coming. You’re still always writing, you’re still always thinking about things or performances or lines. Once you love something you can’t just let it stop flowing out of you.”

The Spider House Ballroom hosts the Austin Poetry Slam every Tuesday at 8 p.m. with a $5 admission. Murray fell in love with slamming the first time she attended one in the spring of 2011. Two years later, Murray, who works at a bank, began slamming.

“It’s the modern-day storytelling of our time,” she said. “We’ve lost a lot of that, I think, over the years, especially with social media. People come up here and tell their stories and they tell exactly how they’re feeling, and sometimes a poem can really move you to the point of tears or laughter, or to where you just want to go hug a person, even though you don’t know them.”

The act of “slamming” is relatively new in the world of poetry. Marc Smith is credited with throwing the first poetry slam in Chicago in 1987. According to his website, from then on the poetry slam movement spread across America and the globe — there are poetry slams in Greece, Latvia and Madagascar, to name a few.

Many members of the Austin Poetry Slam see writing poetry and slamming as an outlet for expression. Chris Formey, a poetry slam contestant, uses poetry to help deal with his bipolar disorder and schizophrenic episodes.

“I’ve actually been writing [poetry] since I was in fourth grade,” said Formey, 22. “I’ve always been a writer. It’s been an outlet for me. Sometimes, not having someone to talk to, I can just talk to myself on a page. I try to speak about as many uplifting things as I possibly can. Everyday, I kind of see life as like a boxing match.”

Des Grosshuesch, another slam poet, finds inspiration in everyday activities. She said she got into slams because she likes to read aloud what she writes.

“I spend a lot of time just going and getting on the train, riding it back and forth and talking to people and getting stories from them,” she said. “Mostly people just talk about their lives and they become sort of characters that I talk about.”

Austin Poetry Slam is just one of the weekly spoken word shows in Austin. Neo-Soul, at Mr. Catfish & More, and Kick Butt Poetry, at the Kick Butt Coffee on Airport Boulevard, also attract top slam poets of the area. Check out the map below to see how close you live to a poetry slam.

“In general, it’s a family,” said Murray. “We fight and we get annoyed with each other, but we all still drop everything and give you the shirt off our backs. We all come from so many different backgrounds, [yet] we can all meld together so well.”

Divine Canines provides pet therapy across Central Texas

Behind the Scenes: How The College of Communication Became Moody

By: Caroline Manning, Rachel Marino, Monica Zhang and Rachel Perlmutter

The crowd sings The Eyes of Texas to close the Nov. 7 naming ceremony.
Photo Credit: Monica Zhang

Students, faculty, alumni and other spectators crowded outside the College of Communication Nov. 7, honoring the Moody Foundation for their $50 million donation to the school. The gift will make the now Moody College of Communication the largest endowed communications school in the county.

The Moody Foundation, began by W.L. Moody Jr. in 1942, was created to benefit the success of present and future generations of Texans. Known for their philanthropic work, including funding public higher education around the state, the foundation originally granted UT’s RTF program $2.1 million dollars for curriculum in 3D film production earlier in the year. Dean of the College Communications Roderick Hart decided to build on this initial investment.

“They have historically supported programs that deal with brain injuries, such as hearing and speech communication, so we developed a relationship with them, which ultimately led to the $50 million gift,” said Hart. “We put together a 50 page single space proposal that laid out all of the details of what the money would be for and how would we use it.”

“Extraordinary work is taking place at this college, it was an easy decision to invest in the college and it’s academic programs,” Ross Moody, Moody Foundation trustee and UT graduate, told the attendees of the celebration.

According to Dean Hart, one thing that attracted The Moody Foundation was that most of the money gifted would be used as endowments. 95 percent of the $50 million will be put in the bank as principal. They will later use the interest generated from the principal, making the donation a long-term investment.

“By giving us endowed monies, The Moody’s don’t just believe in us for 2013,” Hart said, “they believe in us for the long haul.”

Video by: Rachel Marino

According to Mike Wilson, Assistant Dean for External Relations in the College of Communication, the gift by in large will be centered around an innovation fund. He believes one of the key issues surrounding the college is the rapid pace of technological change.

“We need to be ahead of the curve and be able to teach things that are relevant to a changing market place in both the industries we serve and the way in which consumers want to receive information,” Wilson said.

The innovation fund is designed to create curriculum, lectures, and programs that are able to keep students prepared for the jobs of the future.

Why Are YOU Moody?


“The Moody Foundation believes it’s commitment to this college will inspire students to achieve extraordinary heights in their own careers and to reflect well upon this university,” Ross Moody said. “It is vital for the university to prepare students for the shifting media landscape revolutionary technology and new forms of communication.”

Money from the endowment will also go to the nine centers within the college. According to Dean Wilson, each center will be given a $1 million endowment.

One of the centers receiving an endowment is the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. The Strauss Institute conducts research on civil engagement and runs outreach programs to middle and high school students.

“Most of our income comes from donations and grants because state is limited and hard to get,” said Regina Lawrence, Director of The Strauss Institute. “The money we will get from the endowment is valuable. We can count on on it year to year and it will help fund our array of educational programming along with the research we do.”

Another center receiving part of the endowment is the Knight Center, an outreach program that helps journalists in Latin America and creates online courses benefiting journalists all over the world.

“Although there is no immediate cash flow, the endowment will grow and we will be able to spend half of that revenue every year,” said Knight Center Director and UT professor Rosental Alves. “It will help our center to become permanent and allow us to receive more donations.”


Though most of the money is going towards student and faculty, $10 million dollars of the Moody donation will be allocated to build a sky bridge that will stretch over Dean Keeton Street and connect the Belo Media Center to the CMA building. According to Dean Hart, there is a big safety concern with students crossing Dean Keeton Street. Hart also felt that the two buildings being split across the street made the college as a whole seem split.

“Along with being aesthetically pleasing, the bridge will connect the buildings not only physically, but psychologically as well,” Dean Hart said.

According to many faculty and staff, the best part of the $50 million endowment is the name that comes along with it.

“Being the Moody College of Communications is branding our college with a great name,” Dean Wilson said. “It will join other great Texas names on this campus like McCombs, Jackson, and LBJ.”

Wilson explained that having a well-known name linked with the college gives the school enormous benefits, making it recognized nationally and internationally and attracting new talent and more people to the school.

“We are delighted to give this gift and we are in awe to have the Moody name on this campus,” said Ross Moody. “May the Moody College of Communications teaching and programs continue to inspire a desire for excellence and be a positive influence in all that enter our doors.


Austin in a Day

Tapped Out: The Explosion of Craft Beer in Austin

By: Jeffrey Kahn, Austin Powell, Joshua Fechter

Craft Pride is an example of the growing craft beer industry in not only, Austin, but the state.  The bar has 54 beers on tap that are produced in microbreweries throughout Texas. (Photo by: Austin Powell)

Craft Pride is an example of the growing craft beer industry in not only, Austin, but the state. The bar has 54 beers on tap that are produced in microbreweries throughout Texas. (Photo by: Austin Powell)


         Everything is not bigger in Texas, this according to a study by the New Yorker showing the number of craft breweries in the country.  However, the Lone Star State does crack the top ten by coming in eight.  Thanks to legislation passed by the state legislature in June 2013, craft brewers, or microbreweries, now have easier access to distributing their product to a larger audience.  Craft breweries currently contribute $608 million to the states economy, however, that number is expected to $5.6 billion, according to a study by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.  Austin and its surrounding areas currently have 15 microbreweries.  Austin is also celebrating its fourth annual Austin Beer Week this week with many bars across the city holding events to recognize craft beers in Austin.




       Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que is one of Austin’s finest hybrid brewery-restaurants in town. Located off of Barton Springs in South Austin, Uncle Billy’s brings locals home-brewed craft beer. Michael Waters, head brewer, has been brewing professionally since 2009 and takes huge pride in brewing consistent, great craft beer. Waters believes Austin has a great craft beer community with a lot of growing left to do. Check out more on Waters, Uncle Billy’s, and craft beer in the videos embedded below.



Craft Beer Infographic

Austin's 20th Annual Unplugged at the Grove