Posts Tagged ‘Barton Springs’

Holiday passing

This time of year there always seem to be a greater number of people passing, it’s hard to know if the numbers rise, or they just take on more significance because of the time of the year.

Three people I met only briefly, died over the holidays. I met Bernie Wilson, baritone singer from Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes a couple of times, once when I was an intern at Capital Radio in London in the mid-1970’s, and a couple of years later at the California Ballroon in Dunstable in the UK. His voice was as smooth as Barry Whites’s, but in many ways, it carried much more emotion. The Love I lost remains to this day, my all time favorite track, the hairs stand on the back of my neck everytime I hear his voice. According to the NY Times, Bernie, age 64, passed on December 28th following a heart attack and a stroke.

My neighbor and long time Austin Realtor and Commissioner of the Austin Historic Landmark Commission and Zoning and Platting Commission, Board Member for the Austin History Center, Mexican American State Employee Association, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Association of Hispanic Realtors, and Board Member for Teach Quest, Terrie Rábago passed on December 20th, aged only 59. The Statesman has a full obituary and guest book.

While Bernie was widely known around the world, Terrie was influential but relatively unknown in Austin, Susan Bright was well known by many, but by not enough. Susan was a daily swimmer at Barton Springs, a poet, writer, and a campaigner and advocate for the trees at, and for Barton Springs itself. In many ways, I’m grateful to Susan, Terrie and Bernie in many and different ways.

The following remembrance of Susan was posted on the Save Our Springs Alliance email group.

Susan Bright, poet, daily Barton Springs swimmer

Susan Bright, poet, daily Barton Springs swimmer

Susan Bright, May You Rest In Peace

Today Barton Springs lost its most eloquent, knowing, loving, and irrepressible friend and defender.

Susan Bright, poet, publisher, activist, educator, mother, grandmother, friend, feminist, and Barton Springs lap swimmer passed away this morning following a short illness.

Since the 1970s Susan has been a force of nature among Austin’s writers and activists. Susan authored 17 books of poetry; three won Austin Book Awards.  Tirades and Evidence of Grace won the Violet Crown Award.  In 1990 Susan was selected as Woman of the Year by the Austin Women’s Political caucus.  For more than 30 years she has been the editor and driving force behind the small, fiercely independent Plain View Press.

In her book Breathing Under Water and in many other works, Susan revealed herself to be the oracle of Barton Springs.  At critical turning points in the struggle to save Barton Springs, Susan would recite her work as testimony at public hearings before the Austin City Council.  She always told us the truth in ways that no one else could.  In 2009 she recruited children and families to spring to the defense of Barton Springs’ heritage trees.  Her poem from that time, “Legend,” concludes:

It is said the thirst of Earth's
great trees calls water
from depths which are invisible
causing springs to flow.

Susan named one of the trees marked for removal, the one closest to the Philosopher’s Rock statue at the front gate, the “Poet’s Tree.”  See a photo of Susan in front of the Poet’s Tree, and read about some of her work to save the trees at Barton Springs HERE.

Susan’s words, love, and caring will live on forever.  We will remember her at the Polar Bear Splash at Barton Springs on New Year’s Day.  A special memorial service at the springs will be scheduled in the weeks ahead.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Susan’s loving family.

More Unforseen

Sometime today my pre-ordered Unforseen DVD should show-up via UPS Ground. According to Laura at Two Birds Film, they had contractual AND technical issues both conspired to hold the release back until September 30th.

By coincidence, this Thursday, October 2nd, Alamo Drafthouse will be holding a showing at Barton Springs itself and presented by The City of Austin and The Austin Film Society.. The pool will be “closed” from 7pm to 10pm, and during that time normal BS charges will apply for entry to watch the film(thats $3 to you and me). I can’t wait to see it again, but have plans for Thursday and Friday, so I guess it will have to wait for the weekend!

Full moon celebration

Its full moon tonight, just a quick reminder of a couple of fun things…

First up at 7.30pm it’s Full Moon Yoga – Should wrap up around 8.30pm, leaving just enough time to drive down to Barton Springs and park for the 9pm free Barton Springs full moon swim, which was big fun last month although I only caught it on the Austinist [video, work safe!] – hint, don’t bring your wetsuit – should be a howling good time!

Unforseen, the DVD

Being a “newbie” in town I was indeed impressed with the film the Unforseen about the specific conflict between developers and locals over development in Austin and the impact it could have on Barton Springs, one of the Austin treasures that had bought me here in the first place.

It also gave me a valuable insight into the minds and outlook of the various factions, I know sweeping generalization, but seems true. An email arrived over the July 4th weekend from the Films Director, Laura Dunn, that the production company Two Birds Film, was taking pre-orders for the Unforseen DVD release on September 18th, 2008.

As a teaser to sign-up, anyone pre-ordering will also get a copy Laura’s earlier work GREEN on DVD at no additional charge. GREEN documents pollution along the Mississippi River Petrochemical Corridor. It won the 2001 Academy Award for Best Student Documentary, Hollywood, CA; Global Vision Grand Prize for World Population Film Festival; Best Documentary at the Making Waves National Student Film Festival, NYC; Gecko Award at Cinematexas, Austin; Honorable Mention at Flicker Film Festival, Chicago, IL; and played at SXSW, Doubletake Documentary, and Great Plains Film Festivals.

The GREEN DVD itself contains Dunns 1998 experimental population-oriented short film Baby, all in all a great value package. If you order direct from the Two Birds online web store, the package comes in at $39.71. You can save a few bucks by pre-ordering from behemoth,, you can get the DVD for just $26.99.

To be fair the amazon web page blurb doesn’t say it includes the GREEN DVD, doesn’t include sales tax and comes with free 5-9 shipping, where as the TWO Birds version is with UPS Ground shipping. A veritable cornucopia of choice. Sadly, Two Birds saw fit to release the DVD as Region-1 only, so that means no DVD for my parents back in Europe.

Dunn is a Master of Fine Arts, Film/Video Production, from UT, Austin.

Lauratex original Austin metroblog on the Unforseen is here, and my review, here.

Exercise for free – My top 5

I ran down the trail the other day, along the north side to the Mopac bridge, while taking a brief rest before setting off back on the south side, I saw something that reminded me what a great free resource the trail is and started me thinking about other cool free exercise related things here in Austin. These are mine, got any others ? Post a comment.

1. RunTex Water Barrels. This was got me thinking. While sat there getting my breath back, a woman in a skirt sports running skirt and yellow v-neck cotton top, ran in, stopped, took a drink from the RunTex supplied and supported water barrels. Next up she refilled the small paper cup, pulled her top forward and pured the water down. How great is RunTex for providing, stocking and filling the water butts at both end of the trail!

2. Austin Tri Cyclist Saturday rides. No mater how fast I think I’m cycling, showing up for the ride on Saturday morning shows me I’m not. Bang on 8.30am out comes owner Don, gets on his bike waits for a clearing in the traffic and the ride starts, often some 30-riders, sometimes less, sometimes more. I rarely survive with the main pack onto South West Parkway and even when I do I get dropped before Highway 71. Whats the point ? Well if you don’t try, you’ll never improve. The ride is about 32-miles, goes to the corner of 71 and Bee Caves, back along the winding hills of Bee Caves Rd, onto 360 and back through Zilker to the shop, where Don provides Tacos and Coffee. If you get dropped before Bee Caves, don’t give up, a small group often meet up at the cleaners on the corner to finish the ride together.

3. Early Morning Barton Springs Swim. Arrive by 6:45am and you can get a full hour swim for free, any day. I don’t get the wetsuits, I’m sure the triathletes will reason that they need them for race prep, or other excuse, but you really can’t beat the feel of the cool water sliding across your back as you glide through the water. The Life Guards clear the pool at 8am and you need to pay the $3 fee if you want to stay!

4. Blanton 3rd Thursday Yoga. On the 3rd Thursday of the month you can go visit the Blanton, it’s free. Take your Yoga gear and you can go do an hour of Yoga in the main gallery, stay on for the book club, or just walk around the galleries.

5. Full moon Yoga. If you are inspired and reading today Monday 19th, tonight is the next of Charles MacInerney Full Moon Yoga sessions. Show up tonight by 7.30pm with a mat or a blanket and stretch through Charles relaxed and somewhat informal Yoga instruction, when the class is over, sit and watch as the Sun goes down and the Moon comes up. I’d recommend taking a top to keep warm afterwards as well.

So, those are my current top-5, got any to add, am I missing something important?

Barton Springs Relief

When I last passed by Barton Springs Pool, I also checked out Eliza Springs, the Researchers at Eliza Springscool amphitheater-type pool next to the playscape, to see if there were any alligators in it.  I don’t know if I really ever saw an alligator living there or if it’s just one of those thing I remember because I was told as a kid and believed it… but the sign at Eliza says that no alligators live there.  Much to my surprise, there was a lot of activity in the pool.  People were acting as much like alligators as they could, except instead of trying to eat the salamanders that live there, which are protected species, they were simply “researching” them. 

As you hopefully know, the water at Barton Springs and the adjacent springs comes from the highly porous Edwards Aquifer.  Anything that gets dumped over the ground – motor oil, fertilizer for grass, diazonon to kill ants – eventually makes its way into the aquifer and then to the Springs and some people’s drinking water.

You may have read my post earlier this week about Oak Hill’s neighborhood plan.  Well, what happens in Oak Hill and Southwest Austin affects the treasure that is the aquifer and Barton Springs.  And now, dear citizens, you have an opportunity to comment on the plans for that area, without leaving the comfort of your desk.  Nope, no all-night council meeting required (yet).  Just go to the city’s survey about the Oak Hill plan and fill it out. You know the friends of developers will.

Then, to reward yourself for your participation, go on down to Barton Springs this Saturday for Free Swim Day (according to an email newsletter from the Save Our Springs Alliance, whose web site seems to be hosed at the moment)!

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