Austin’s black population living outside of the city’s limits

(Community Matters) An important observation which I’ve noticed before in early data. Don’t mean to say it isn’t important to note suburbanization of Austin’s African American population. And, I can’t help but think about how moving outside of one’s traditional neighborhoods is sometimes an aspiration of people as options become available. 538 story


An Hereditary Meritocracy

ECONOMIST HEREDITARY(Community Matters) ECONOMIST: “The children of the rich and powerful are increasingly well suited to earning wealth and power themselves. . . Between 1960 and 2005 the share of men with university degrees who married women with university degrees nearly doubled, from 25% to 48%, and the change shows no sign of going into reverse. . . the best predictor of an American child’s success in school has long been the parents’ educational level—a factor which graduates are already ahead on, by definition—money is an increasingly important factor. . . America is one of only three advanced countries that spends more on richer pupils than poor ones . . . More than 50 years ago Michael Young warned that the incipient meritocracy . . . could be as narrow and pernicious, in its way, as aristocracies of old.”

An hereditary meritocracy


America’s new aristocracyAmerica’s new aristocracy

Marfa – finally

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from once or more a month to only twice last year. Feels so good to finally be back among dear friends and west texas desert.


Happy MLK Day weekend


Turquoise Table

(Community Matters) Had coffee with an old friend yesterday, Kristin Kessler Schell. It’s been years since we’ve connected, though we’ve followed each other on facebook. Loved hearing about her latest initiative – Torquoise Table. Kristin just one day ordered a table from Lowe’s, decided to paint it her favorite color (Sherwin-Williams Nifty Turquoise) and set it up in her front yard. It was an invitation for neighbors to stop by and visit. Now, there are hundreds of torquoise tables all around the country and several around the world – it’s about building community and getting to know one another. Steven . . .



Most Public School Students Live in Poverty

(CommunityMatters) Mind Boggling and Shameful:

“Most [U.S.] public school students now living in poverty,” by Lyndsey Layton, national education reporter: “For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation. The Southern Education Foundation [the nation’s oldest education philanthropy] reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade … were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. …

public school

“‘When they first come in my door in the morning, the first thing I do is an inventory of immediate needs: Did you eat? Are you clean? A big part of my job is making them feel safe,’ said Sonya Romero-Smith, a veteran teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary School in Albuquerque. … She helps them clean up with bathroom wipes and toothbrushes, and … stocks a drawer with clean socks, underwear, pants and shoes. … The job of teacher has expanded to ‘counselor, therapist, doctor, parent, attorney,’ she said. …

“Schools, already under intense pressure to deliver better test results and meet more rigorous standards, face the doubly difficult task of trying to raise the achievement of poor children … The new report raises questions … about whether states and the federal government are devoting enough money – and using it effectively – to meet the complex needs of poor children.”


Thinking Aloud on Paper

(Community Matters) An exhibit of Steven’s notebooks . . . how cool!


Join us for the opening reception of Just Because 15.1: Steven Tomlinson NOTEBOOKS, an installation of Tomlinson’s schematic drawings and notes. Moderated discussion at 4:30 p.m.

This text-based installation features drawings and notes from Tomlinson’s work as a management consultant and communications strategist, the first public presentation of these compelling artifacts from his work in academics, theatre and business. Whether collaborating with clients or organizing his thoughts for the classroom or stage, Tomlinson creates intellectually and visually engaging maps of ideas, objectives and process. The testsite presentation explores the meditative, personal and professional qualities of his practice. testsite will host a complementary workshop on visual note-taking , “Thinking Aloud on Paper,” on Monday, January 26th, from 6-8 p.m. The workshop is led by Tomlinson and is free and open to the public. more here

From 3 to 388 Billionaires in 10 years

bling dynasty(Community Matters) Still trying to wrap my head around this . . . and anticipate the implications of how our money center & investment banks might be persuaded to influence government policy.

In 2004, there were three billionaires on the Hurun list of Chinese billionaires. (The Hurun and Forbes lists are the gold standards when it comes to counting rich Chinese people.) Today there are 354 Chinese billionaires on that list—388 if you include the billionaires in Hong Kong. There are also 60,000 Chinese people worth at least $200 million—another line of demarcation between being wealthy and being a photon cannon of currency.

Now, America is still number one in billionaires with 492. Fuck yeah, America, etc. But Rupert Hoogewerf, the Luxembourg-born man behind the Hurun list, estimated for GQ that even given their relative economic slowdown, the Chinese would overtake us in billionaires in two years. He also said that for every billionaire Hurun knows about in China, they suspect there’s another one they don’t. “Some of them we don’t know about because their wealth is new or they live somewhere remote, and some of them are secretive because they’re government officials or what have you,” Rupert said. But in a world of profound income stagnation (the median income in America is essentially the same as it was fifteen years ago), in a world where more and more money is being concentrated in the hands of the hyper-rich and where most of the hyper-rich have already established their spending patterns and taste preferences—not to mention parked their capital in the banks and companies of their choice—you could argue that the new and soon-to-be billionaires of China are the most important market in the world. If you want to sell things like, say, mega-yachts, China represents close to 100 percent of your potential growth market.


(Community Matters) I’m inclined to repost a piece Steven wrote for our friend Robert Matney. It’s created a crosscountry bond between them and Sonya Cohen Cramer who published the piece in a special woodcut edition.


Viola (for Matney)

©2013 Steven Tomlinson

Viola's Sees Her First River

People ask, “How are you?” and I wonder:
What do you want to know? What can you handle?
What’s honest? What’s safe? What’s kind?

Ask Viola, and she says: YOU, HERE, NOW, LOVE, LICK, LICK, LOVE.
Of course, she oversimplifies. [She’s a dog.]
When I came home from the hospital, I thought I’d feel less helplessly dependent if I found something that depended on me. Isn’t that why people get dogs?

She knows no boundaries, no decorum, only joy effervescent, slathering sloppy kisses on my face, my sutures.

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Sonya Cohen Cramer

(Community Matters) our dear friend Sonya can use lots of good energy and prayers.

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and her beautiful daughter (our goddaughter) Dio is 17 today!

Mayor Adler’s Inauguration Speech

adler swearing in(Community Matters) Steve’s speech at yesterday’s swearing-in

January 6, 2015               Austin City Hall, Council Chambers           

The excitement in this Chamber and in this city is palpable. The expectations are great. And on this dais, the sense of responsibility is real and felt.

Diane and I love this city. We feel so lucky to be here. Everywhere you go in the world, when you say you’re from Austin, it means something. It means creativity and openness. It means a vibrant culture and a beautiful environment — and more and more it means opportunity.

And even though and perhaps because we love this city, we know we must address our challenges. We are experiencing the stresses of growth every day, whether we’re sitting in traffic, struggling to pay rent and property taxes, or watching our neighborhoods change before our very eyes.

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Mayor Steve Adler

(Community Matters) Proud of our dear friend, now Mayor Steve Adler. His gift for vision and consensus building was on display at last night’s swearing in of all 10 council members and the mayor. They are already envisioning a new council structure that ensures more citizen participation during the time of real exploration and debate, they near unanimously elected Kathy Tovo their mayor pro tem (the one conscientious objector did so graciously) and the dais now represents most of the faces of Austin, with Steve promising seats at the table for all.

adler lhs_city_council_SLOT1

Mayor Adler presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Mayor Leffingwell and the outgoing council members, noting their substantial contributions and public service.