Mental safety, as is dealing with trauma, is vital to creating a healthy workplace. Katharine Manning guides these topics for employees in the workforce.
by Foster Milburn
As students, we often question what to expect once we enter the workforce, particularly internships. The classes we take in undergrad help us contextualize topics in which we major, but extracurriculars can only prepare us so much for the workforce once we enter it. How can we know what we value in a workplace when we don’t know what it means to be part of a corporate environment?
You have probably seen some of her books regarding empathy in the workplace. She is an advocate for unheard voices, including those affected by the Pulse nightclub and SouthCarolina AME church shootings, and an attorney who guides the Justice Department through responding to trauma victims. She is Katharine Manning, and she is an author, professor, and attorney.
Through what she refers to as “The LASER Technique,” Manning offers a five-step process for a compassionate response to employees with trauma for managers and anyone overseeing a group of people in the workplace.
The first step is Listening, Manning advises, “don’t interrupt and don’t problem solve; just let [the employee] speak. Make room for that.”
The second step is Acknowledge – “it is straightforward: ‘I’m sorry,’ or, ‘that sounds difficult.’ It lets [the employee] know you heard them, and they are likely to listen to what you share next,” Manning said.
The third is Sharing information, “John F. Kennedy said in times of turbulence it is more accurate than ever that knowledge is power,” Manning said. “When we share, we get a little of that power back.”
Step four is Empower. This step is about recognizing that the person in trauma has their own journey to walk. She advises, “you must set boundaries for yourself, but within that, you can give [the employee] tools to take with them on that journey.”
For example, if the company offers mental health resources, share those with the cohort. Affirming boundaries while offering resources – such as 988– the U.S. new national hotline for suicide and mental health crises –creates a comfortable space for the individual while you guide them in the proper direction.
Step five – Return. By setting boundaries, you’re caring for your mental health while helping the individual facing trauma. It would help if you watched for yourself, and Manning’s advice for that is investing in self-care. “I do a little bit of yoga and meditation every morning. Just do something every day that gives back to yourself,” she said.
Affirming boundaries while offering resources – such as 988– the U.S. new national hotline for suicide and mental health crises –creates a comfortable space for the individual while you guide them in the proper direction.
This is how we respond, but next is making sure that the people that come to us in the first place are encouraged to do so. “People underestimate how valuable it is to check in on the people in our lives,” Manning said.
From highlighting common incidents such as workplace violence and employee safety, to recognizing needs and developing resources such as miscarriage leave, gender-affirming medical care, or domestic violence, sharing resources is vital. “Do you have these policies within your organization? If not, think about that,” Manning said.
This is the second pillar of trauma-informed workplaces. Manning advises, “make sure you’re getting input from those affected – don’t create a phenomenal gender-affirming care policy without first talking to transgender individuals.” The dormant items will not do anyone any good if they’re sitting on a shelf with no one discussing them.Her book, “The Empathetic Workplace,” describes other pillars in responding to trauma and distress amongst our coworkers and supervisors. Next month, she is launching a course diving deeper into making workplaces more empathetic, thus creating a healthier work environment for all employees. You can check out the website for more details.
ACCENT’s Web Content Editor, Angelica Ruzanova, gives us an in-depth look into Daniel Johnston’s “I Live My Broken Dreams” exhibition at The Contemporary Austin’s Jones Center.
Story by Angelica Ruzanova
Edited by Pete Ramirez
Truth, deep-seated within each one of us, finds its own way of expressing itself. For the late Austin artist and musician Daniel Johnston, it manifested through personified ideas in his imaginary – and perhaps very real – scattered world.
Upon my first visit to the installation located within The Contemporary Austin’s Jones Center museum on Congress Avenue active from September 11 to March 20, my friend and I overheard a gentleman admiring the hung pieces on the walls in awe. He was led by a guide and was in a rush, but it was clear how much every display meant to him.
We later determined the visitor to be Johnston’s best friend, David Thornberry. Thornberry is also an artist and painted the Jones Center exhibition’s front entrance portrait in Johnston’s memory. The acrylic painting on 24″ x 30″ canvas portrayed Johnston in his McDonald’s uniform from his days working there in the 1980s.
The guide leading Thornberry, Tori Sal, gave us insight into the museum’s collaboration with individuals and organizations who helped make the exhibit.
“The Contemporary worked with the Daniel Johnston Foundation and collaborated with No Comply – the skating company downtown, as well as Vans and a lot of local businesses,” Sal said. “We worked with Austin Books and Comics to recreate this comic book in his style to celebrate him, and the mural on the side of our building was premiered on Daniel Johnston’s day.”
The collection of handwritten letters, poems, and symbolic artwork showcase the progression of Johnston’s rugged fate, and the newspaper features with authentic cassette tapes are an exploration beyond merely make-believe worlds.
The displayed work of the late songwriter and cartoonist is a deep dive inside the heart, mind, and soul of an intuitively-driven prodigy of outsider culture and underground music.
“Well it just goes to show that we are all on our own
Scrounging for our own share of good luck.”
Lyrics from “Grievances” in Daniel Johnston’s album “Songs of Pain.”
The innate drive to create began early in Johnston’s childhood. His predominantly Christian household and the popular culture of the time sparked an interest to draw random sketches and recreate the likeness of various comic book characters in his notebooks.
Elements paralleling Van Gogh’s art style, Cubism, and recurring appraisals of Lennon of the Beatles shaped Johnston’s style into what would become a proliferation of unfiltered thoughts inspired by his early idols. As a young student, Johnston began writing songs to amuse his classmate for whom he’d formed an unrequited love.
When Johnston moved to Austin in the early 1980s, the young artist would hand out homemade tapes, recorded individually on a portable device, to strangers and friends while working at a McDonald’s near the University of Texas at Austin. It was through Johnston’s method of making direct connections with people in Austin that he began recruiting a local audience.
As word of his music spread, so did his cult-like following. Johnston’s childish-like voice accompanied by often sorrowful and sincere lyrics yielded a wave of national recognition for its alternative feel, especially after it was featured on a 1985 MTV episode of “The Cutting Edge”. The title of his first song on television, “Broken Dreams” premiered in front of a live audience. Among his fans and supporters, Johnston was acknowledged as an inspiration to other artists and bands such as Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth, and Yo La Tengo.
Johnston’s mental health began deteriorating around the time of his rise to fame. His unresolved love for his lifelong muse and trips in and out of psych wards undoubtedly made Johnston live his “broken dreams.”
“The sun shines brightly on my soul
But, there’s something missing.”
Lyrics from “Mind Contorted” in Daniel Johnston’s album “Fun.”
Johnston’s work is a deep dive inside a scattered mind.
One of my favorite pieces, “Daniel Johnston’s Symbolical Visions,” reveals so much about the inner workings of his often religiously interpreted delusions.
Demon figures, bodies with cut-off limbs, void heads, and imaginative frog-like creatures with many (and I mean many) eyeballs are common themes in the work displayed at the installation.
Every time I laid eyes on one of Johnston’s sketched pieces, the amount of detail enveloped me in its metaphorical universe of events that were either real, made-up, or a mixture of both.
Whether the framework of these anarchic universes is what led to Johnston’s displaced reality or if the digression in his mental state was what the drawings depicted, the line between art and mental illness is blurred.
In the self-titled excerpt “The Origin of the Dead Dog’s Eyeball,” Johnston recalls various memoirs on the distinguishable side of a double-sided paper handwritten in blue ink. The recollection of first learned word “eye,” inspiration from a Beatles song lyric, and a vivid memory of a road trip during his childhood make it possible for him to jump through timelines of his life.
In his Captain America extensive collection of comic-like drawings with colorful markers, he implies hyper self-awareness through satirical comics and phrases like “fear yourself,” “it’s cold to be alive,” and “there is still hope.”
A lot of Johnston’s artwork is a product of isolation, and so he often speaks of existentialism and makes naive jokes about serious issues or situations. It is simultaneously strange, captivating, and raw. And yet at times, it’s relatable, refreshing, and original.
“When I was a little kid
And all the people they looked big
I never exactly understood
How to tell the trees from the wood.”
Lyrics from “Joy Without Pleasure” in Daniel Johnston’s album “Songs of Pain.”
With a huge, messy collection of EPs and albums in his discography, lofi self-taped recordings and serious struggles with mental health, Daniel Johnston checks all the boxes for artists categorized into the “outsider” music genre.
Artists in this unofficial category, often driven to create music out of self-prophetic callings and not out of contractual obligations, have an unconventional sound and look to their art. Getting past the first impression of the strangeness and eccentricity of their work allows the observer to experience a new perspective on the world.
If you want to dive deeper into the world of outsider music and the fine line between creativity and trauma, I recommend this documentary on origins of this genre and this short film about Johnston’s embodied manic schizophrenia.
From his famous mural promoting an album titled “Hi, How Are You?” on a now out-of-business indie record store on Guadalupe Street, to the misery and hope depicted in his homemade recordings and sketches, Daniel Johnston openly shared his vulnerability with the world for all to see.
The Texas Tribune, a digital, nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization, is hosting its eleventh annual Texas Tribune Festival beginning on Monday, September 20, 2021, and ending Friday evening, September 25, 2021.
This festival brings together leading politicians and policymakers within local, state and national government to participate in a mix of one-on-one interviews, panels and networking sessions hosted by some of the premier journalists in the nation.
Students are eligible to purchase discounted student tickets to the virtual festival for $49 by following this link: https://festival.texastribune.org/. General admission tickets are $199.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the festival will be held entirely online in a virtual setting. “It’s the second and hopefully the last festival that will be virtual,” said Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune.
Smith said that although his organization originally wanted to host a portion of the event in-person, completely pivoting to virtual allows the event to be more accessible to not only the politicians and policymakers, but to casual fans of the Tribune who can now participate from the comfort of their homes.
“We provide all kinds of opportunities for people to spend time with some of the biggest thought leaders and influencers around Texas and around the county,” Smith said.
A few of the biggest names that will be attending the event are U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Senator, John Cornyn, staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones and former U.S. Representative, Beto O’Rourke.
For a list of all the speakers who will be attending the festival, follow this link.
“If you care about politics, if you care about policy, if you care about Texas, if you care about the world, there are going to be incredible opportunities that you would not otherwise have, to be part of conversations about those things,” Smith said.
Students who attend can benefit from the festival’s networking opportunities and grow their knowledge on nearly any subject they may be interested in.
“As a student, especially, this is a great moment to expand your thinking,” Smith said. The Tribune’s event provides a safe place for attendees to listen to views that challenge their preconceived notions on certain issues.
“The goal is that there is something for everybody. And if you allow yourself to stray from the things that you are coming to see, there are going to be other things over here that you are not aware of but are going to be interesting also,” said Smith.
The Texas Tribune and their festival want attendees to walk away from their event better informed and more engaged citizens.
Smith also shared that there will be a session that is exclusively for students attending the festival.
Before our interview came to a close, Smith provided some words of wisdom for journalism students looking to enter the industry.
“The best advice I can give anybody wanting to break into the journalism business is you want to be a swiss army knife and not a meat cleaver,” Smith said. “We need people like that. We need multi-tool players more than we’ve ever needed them.”
Jasmin Rostamnezhad, Austin Community College’s Sustainability Coordinator, is interviewed by ACCENT’s Editor-In-Chief, Pete Ramirez.
By Pete Ramirez
Take a look around you. How many items in your vicinity are made from plastic?
With a quick scan around my room, I can count at least twenty things that have some sort of plastic used in the product. I’m sure your number is nearly the same, if not, more.
Plastics have infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives. They are so ubiquitous that it’s hard for me to imagine a world without them.
Our global obsession with the low-cost and convenience of plastics has come with a hefty price to our environment.
You’ve seen these images of huge, floating garbage patches in the ocean. Next time you go to a beach or to the Greenbelt, take a good look around and you’ll find plastic waste throughout the most popular locations.
For those of you who are tired of the abuse we are inflicting on the Earth, Plastic Free July is a perfect opportunity for you to commit yourself to be more conscious about your plastic consumption and adopt new habits that decrease your use of plastic altogether.
Jasmin Rostamnezhad, Austin Community College’s Sustainability Coordinator, said that Plastic Free July is an “educational opportunity to bring this issue of plastic pollution to the forefront of people’s minds.”
The month-long event gives people the opportunity to take on the challenge of decreasing their plastic consumption or eliminating plastic from their lives entirely.
“It’s not about telling people, ‘Don’t consume plastic for the whole month’ and then don’t think about it,” Anne Cuzeau, a computer science major and sustainability steward at ACC’s Energy & Sustainability department, said. “It’s more about having a really big global conversation about plastic and how we can address this crisis.”
“[ACC] is always trying to come up with ways to do Plastic Free July all year long,” Rostamnezhad said.
In 2020, ACC officially became a styrofoam-free campus, Rostamnezhad said. This means ACC does not purchase products with styrofoam packaging. If a product arrives with styrofoam, the energy & sustainability department will reach out and notify the vendor that the school needs their products packaged differently.
The folks at ACC’s Energy & Sustainability Department have long recognized this and have taken concrete steps to embrace composting throughout its campuses. It’s not hard to locate a compost bin when at an ACC location.
Not only is plastic harming the environment and its biodiversity, it’s also harming the health of human beings.
“Plastic is made through the oil industry and the chemicals that are within the plastic can leach into the foods that you are eating from packaging or can leach into the foods that you heat up in the microwave,” Rostamnezhad said. “Those include a lot of cancer-causing chemicals so you’re basically ingesting the plastic which is really bad for your health.”
In addition to the chemicals plastics can leach, microplastics, which are microscopic particles of plastic less than 5 millimeters, are another way plastics end up in our bodies, Rostamnezhad said.
“The average human eats a credit card of plastic a week,” Rostamnezhad said. The study by the University of Newcastle in Australia, which first made this assertion, says that most microplastics are ingested by humans via tap and bottled water.
In an effort to reduce her plastic consumption, Holli Sampson, a sophomore geology major at ACC, said that she implements creative ways to repurpose her plastic containers to organize and store her school supplies, spices, and makeup.
“It becomes a fun game to see how you can reuse an item instead of sending it on its way to somewhere you’re not sure of,” Sampson said. “Also, it saves you money!”
Rostamnezhad is currently working on an educational flyer that explains exactly what steps people should take in order to reduce plastic waste in their personal lives.
A few simple tips shared by Rostamnezhad, Cuzeau and Sampson are:
Consider carrying a pouch full of compostable utensils and straws in your car so you won’t need to accept single-use plastics when you pick up food from a restaurant.
Contrary to common belief, the city of Austin does not recycle plastic bags. Instead, take your plastic bags to your local grocery store and they will recycle the bags for you. Go to this website to find the nearest participating grocery store.
Buy reusable water bottles and containers that bring you joy so you are more likely to continue to use them.
“At the end of the day, just do your best,” Cuzeau said.
If you have any questions or ideas you would like to send to ACC’s Energy & Sustainability department, email them at [email protected].
The Energy & Sustainability Department is also working with the purchasing department at ACC to develop training and rules to limit and eventually eliminate the purchasing of single-use plastic.
All three of the women interviewed for this piece brought up a common issue of pushing back against large companies that are the main culprits of plastic creation and waste.
“How can we get the big corporations who are putting these plastics out for us to consume to scale back?” Cuzeau said. “Clearly, this is not going to come from them. It’s going to come from the bottom up.”
“I don’t think we’ll be able to make a difference until we start holding companies accountable,” Rostemnezhad said. “They need to start innovating and coming up with ideas on how to change packaging and change their products.”
We all have the power to change these corporations and that starts in our wallets and where we choose to spend our money. Look to spend your money with businesses that are taking steps to reduce and eliminate their plastic consumption.
“Plastic Free July is great,” Sampson said. “It’s a start, but we should all work together to become a plastic-free society as much as we can.”
Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Although it has long been celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event which is also known as “Black Independence Day” and “Texas Emancipation Day,” is beginning to see mainstream celebrations. While the holiday was informally commemorated for years, Texas became the first state to honor the day as a state holiday in 1980.
By Kimberly Dalbert
Many cities have parks where Emancipation Day celebrations took place, which also includes Austin. Austin’s Eastwoods Park prior to 1930, was referred to as Wheeler’s Grove. The site is historically significant for hosting one of the earliest Juneteenth celebrations in Austin in the latter part of the 19th century. The restrooms at the park now used to be the Eastwoods Shelter House.
On “Freedom’s Eve,” also known as the eve of January 1, 1863, at the stroke of midnight, all enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared legally free, but not Texans. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, most slaves in Texas were still unaware of their freedom and that the war had ended in April of 1865. When Union troops arrived in Galveston Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, commanding officer, District of Texas, from his headquarters in the Osterman building (Strand and 22nd St.), read ‘General Order No. 3’ on June 19, 1865. This order stated that the people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the United States, all slaves are free.
Juneteenth Historical Marker, 2201 Strand Street, Galveston, TX, on June 6, 2021.
Photo Kim Dalbert
The mural was created by Houston artist Reginald C. Adams.
Photo Kim Dalbert
Eastwoods Shelter House, Eastwoods Park
Photo Austin History Center
Eastwoods Shelter House, Eastwoods Park, is now the restrooms.
Photo Kim Dalbert
Austin’s 2018 Juneteenth Parade
Photo By David Brendon Hall
Photo By Jana Birchum
June 18, 2013
Juneteenth day celebration in Texas, 1900.
Photo Austin History Center
King “fuh-fuh” X, an Austin activist who organized StarPower Black Collectives, and has led many protests over the past year. Emancipation Proclamation that leads to the Bell of Freedom.
Carver Museum, Austin, Tx, September 29, 2020.
Photo Kim Dalbert
There are five statues, the lawmaker, the minister, the former slaves, both male and female, and the child, a daughter.
If you’re looking for a way to take your mind off the current events, Student Life has a variety of activities for ACC students. The catch, be signed into the Student Life Portal to see all events at austincc.edu/mysl.
Netflix Party Movie Nights
Every Friday night Student Life will host Netflix Party Movie Nights where students can watch movies such as Nacho Libre, Tall Girl, and Cloverfield with fellow Riverbats through Netflix Party. Netflix Party is a free chrome extension that allows people to bond over some of their film favorites remotely. If you enjoy Netflix Originals with high school nostalgia and embracing one’s differences you can’t miss Tall Girl on April 17. If you love Superheros or are a Marvel Fanatic mark your calendars for May 1 for Antman & The Wasp. Lastly, who wouldn’t want to wrap up the semester with a movie that will leave you on the very edge of your seat? If that’s you, be sure to catch Cloverfield on May 8. To attend these events, simply RSVP to the event on the ACC Student Life Portal.
Kahoot Trivia Wednesday If you would rather enjoy putting your trivia skills to the ultimate test, make sure to partake in Student Life’s Kahoot Trivia Wednesdays. Every Wednesday at 3 p.m. Student Life will host a virtual Kahoot where students can compete with others on a variety of topics. For all of the sports fans, make sure to go big or go home on April 22 during Sports Trivia with Riverside. If you can paint with all the colors of the wind or own 101 Dalmations be sure to check out Disney Classics trivia with Northridge on April 29. If you always dreamed of having superpowers like Spiderman or Black Panther don’t forget about the Marvel Cinematic Universe trivia with Eastview on May 6. If you are always keeping up with the Kardashians and the latest trends you can’t miss Pop Culture trivia with Cypress Creek on May 13. There is only one entry per student per trivia. Not to mention, if you fill out the survey at the end of the trivia your name will be in the running to win a gift card. To be known as the ultimate trivia master, RSVP to the event on the ACC Student Life Portal.
Life Skills 101
Want to get a head start on building your future? If so, you’ll not want to miss the Life Skills 101 presentations hosted by Student Life through WebEx. These presentations will include life lessons that aren’t learned in the classroom such as a retirement planning workshop on April 28. Both events will begin at 1 p.m. and will last for about an hour. Find the details on how to participate in the Student Life Portal.
Craft-ernoon Create fun projects using common household items by joining Student Life on Instagram @accstudentlife. If you are unable to see a loved one, or are currently able to enjoy their presence make a visual essay about them April 17. See the Instagram stories and create your own collage on May 1. Details on the Instagram Stories and Student Life Portal.
Feeling stressed? Learn how to build mindfulness and incorporate yoga into your weekly routine with Meditation Mondays hosted by Student Life. These 30-minute yoga workshops will take place through Google Hangouts at 11 a.m. on April 13, April 27, and May 11. Discover your inner yogi while also entering yourself in the drawing for a gift card by completing a survey after the event. One entry per ACC student. Don’t forget to RSVP to the event on the ACC Student Life Portal.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The gift-giving, family time and quirky traditions. With a month to ourselves over the Holiday season, here are some festive activities you and your loved ones can do in Austin over winter break.
See ZACK Theater present the “Christmas Carol” Nov. 20 – Dec. 29 The ZACK Theater took this holiday classic from Charles Dickens and put a twist on it. Told with Victorian-era story structure and a musical score that includes elements of a variety of genres, this family-friendly spectacular is something you can’t miss this year.
View the Ballet of Austin’s “The Nutcracker” Dec. 7 – 23 This performance spans almost six decades, making it a staple holiday tradition in Austin. This artistic performance is a fresh take on the iconic tale. Click on the link to get your tickets now.
SantaCon Dec. 14 at 12 P.M. – Dec. 15 at 2 A.M. This charity event hosted by SantaCon Austin aims to raise money for people in need in the most absurd way possible. This event is participatory: so bring a game or two, cash, toys, stickers, and buttons. You must be 21 or older to attend, photo ID will be checked.
Celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival Dec. 21 Hosted by restaurant and farm Eden East, visitors can come and enjoy a high-quality farm to market family-style buffet, live music, and gifts made by local artisans. Come and enjoy the longest night of the year. Must purchase a ticket to enter.
Get in on Free Week From Jan 1 through 13, downtown Austin is filled with free events you can participate in, especially with that college budget. From free live performances by indie groups, you can see all the options for live performances and get in on some VIP deals in and around Austin just by clicking the link.
The Annual Martin Luther King March Jan. 20, 2020 Located at the MLK statue on the University of Texas in Austin’s Campus, the march will start at 9 A.M. The festival that celebrates diversity in Austin will be from 11:15 to 3:30 P.M. Austin Community College does not have school on MLK Day and the majority of the Austin area school districts also observe the holiday, so this is a perfect opportunity to take the family to downtown Austin and celebrate.
The 26th Annual Austin Film Festival came to an end on Thursday, Oct. 31. As a hidden gem among the various film festivals from around the world, a variety of independent film screenings were showcased across the city. One of the screenings was “A Patient Man”, a film about a man who survives a car accident and is trying to piece his life back together. I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Kevin Ward (Director), Harrison Reynolds (Producer), Rob Houle (Composer) and Jonathan Mangum (Lead Actor) about the drama thriller.
NALANI NUYLAN: What inspired you to write the film?
KEVIN WARD: I live in LA and I had a long commute. For a while, I rode the train. It’s a weird experience: you do meet people and there are people you sit next to. I just like the idea if I were to befriend one of these people.
From the initial conception of the film to when you finished shooting, who long was that process?
KW: Four to four and a half years. The longest part of the process was looking for money.
What inspired you guys to join the project?
ROB HOULE: I have known Kevin since college. We were in punk bands together. When I was out in LA, I knew he was making this film. I thought to myself, ‘He’s going to ask me to compose music for him, right?’ And he did.
JONATHAN MANGUM: Kevin asked my wife, who does casting, if she could help him out with the film. She gave me the script, and it’s rare to read something this good. I never get to do this kind of part, it’s always comedy. I said, ‘hey I want to do this’ and he gave me a chance to do it.
HARRISON REYNOLDS: We started raising money for this film through crowdfunding. He had an original guy leave the day before. He called me the next day and I jumped on the project. We shot a trailer over two weeks and that’s what started this whole process.
I want to talk a little bit more about this role, Mr. Mangum. As you said, you are known for your comedy, so how was this role for you as an actor?
JM: It was different, yet I felt like I could relate to Tom (Mangum’s character) in a way. Comedy has some dark elements to it, but the goal is to make people laugh. Here I am making people believe that I am [justified], and that’s not easy either.
KW: I just want to say that any good actor can play a darker character, but not all actors can be comedians and make people laugh. We were truly lucky to have Jonathan.
So, how much where you rewriting on set? How different does it feel from the original script?
KW: I didn’t do much rewriting. I don’t know too much has changed between script to story. The cut I think is very different. The ending I think I monkeyed around with for a long time. This is an indie movie, this is what we got to shoot and there is no going back. The only real differences are what happened in the cut.
What were the permits you needed for the film?
KW: The only permit we bought was [for the City of Sacramento]. The interior of the train and the exterior of the train, those were the only permits we had. It was a lot of running and gunning. Every location was either borrowed or gotten off for cheap.
A lot of the audience members here today are writers and filmmakers, people who want to do what you did here today. Can you give some of the biggest lessons learned over the course of the project?
KW: There is a lot of things not to do, like don’t shoot on a moving train. I think the most important thing is to know that it is achievable. There is nothing mystical about making a movie. The hardest part about making this movie was finding the movie to do it, finding someone who believed in us and believed in the project. Shoot a trailer, show your friends, fail a few times, and do it again.
JM: Don’t hold on to whatever idea you think ‘this is my big idea and it has to be perfect before I shoot it.’ Nope. Just shoot it, just get it done, and there will be more ideas. Don’t hold on to any one idea.
HR: Get a lot of feedback from your friends, family or whoever else you trust. [Have them] read your script, have them watch your cuts. Watch it with an audience: they’ll know what’s working, what’s not working, what are some of the plot holes. I think that is an important part of the process.
And of course, I have to ask. We Austinites are very proud of our city. Is there a particular reason you choose to screen “A Patient Man”in Austin rather than the Toronto Film Festival or the Palm Springs Film Fest?
HR: I went to UT for my degree, so I am a little bit prideful in that sense. The main reason is that we wanted to have the experience, while the other film festivals are more glamorous.
RH: I lived in Austin a while ago. It’s been amazing to see how much the city has changed and taken off since I left. I am glad we were able to be a part of the festival.
JM: Austin also has this feeling about it that just makes this kind of work better. In LA, it’s more stressful while here it’s about the art of filmmaking.
Lastly, is there anything that I missed which you gentlemen want to say?
HR: We just want to say a huge thanks to our volunteers in LA for making this film possible. Our whole staff and crew were volunteers. Their countless hours and work helped us make this film. We wouldn’t have done it without them.
Have you ever seen a poster around an Austin Community College campus that catches your eye, but you walk right past it? No matter which campus you attend, each of the communication boards provide helpful resources, information about student organizations, and other ways to engage yourself within the community. For many, Hispanics and Mexican-American students at ACC, a single poster provided them a life-changing experience.
Right now, there are 130 thriving students that are participating in the ASCENDER program. According to Megan Diaz, the outreach specialist for the program, Ascender is, “A program for all 1st year ACC students, and it’s a transfer-mentor program which means that all students are paired with a mentor to give them guidance and support during their first year of college.”
The mentors involved in the program are community members from all walks of life. With a wide range of degree fields, these mentors are able to guide their students on the career path of their choice. Ascender comes from a student-made acronym of “Ascend”, meaning; Achieving, Student, Confidence, Encouraging New Dreams.
Alejandra Polcik, the supervisor of Hispanic outreach projects, said Ascender, “Encapsulates the concept of the program, where the focus is on the success of the students, especially disadvantaged students. The goal is to transfer them to a 4 year [University], and eventually return to Ascender as a mentor.”
Ascender not only provides assistance to Hispanic or first generation college student but anyone who finds themselves struggling academically. The program combines accelerated instruction in english, math, academic counseling, and writing assistance.
“All people are welcome to join Ascender as it is a very inclusive program, based on the principle of family, teamwork, and helping to care for each other. Ascender is very active at ACC, and also the Austin city community by taking part in events or creating their own special events.” says Diaz
In October 2019, Ascender participated in walking in the Viva La Vida parade in Downtown Austin. The Mexic-Arte Museum sponsored and created the 36th Annual Viva La Vida Parade & Festival this year. Otherwise known as the Día de los Muertos Parade, the event highlights the current Hispanic cultures in Austin, while using the day of the dead as a medium to celebrate Austin Hispanic heritage.
The event started first with a parade showing different aspects of Hispanic culture, like pre-Columbian to Austin-weird, then followed with a festival full of dancing, music, traditional food, and crafting marigold flower crowns.
If you or someone you know would like to get involved in Ascender, visit their website to see upcoming events and how you can get enrolled into the program.