We Will Miss You, Riley Jackson Webb

Dearest friends of the Front Porch,
I’m so sorry to have to post this for those of you who have not yet heard, but our beloved Riley Webb died yesterday in Columbus, Ohio of some kind of congenital heart failure. It’s unreal, but true. My heart is broken for Riley, for his heartbroken Mom and Dad, Donna and Kevan, and for the love of his life, Jess Hughes. Right now, I’m focusing my attention on the gift of Riley, whom we will celebrate at a memorial service at a time to be announced. His time with us on the porch was beautiful and transforming. Please pray for Donna and Kevan and Jess. May the indomitable, exuberant, life-affirming, people-loving spirit of Riley bring us more hope, faith, and love. 
Stephen

Riley Jackson Webb, after graduation from Fredericksburg High School

Last Pub Church of the Spring Season: with Pittman McGehee, Sr.

We’re closing out our stellar series of public house gatherings with our dear friend and one of the Front Porch’s perennial favorites, Rev. J. Pittman McGehee, DD. We’re going to have a conversation with Pittman about simple stuff–stuff that leads to woe, weal, or whee. (think god concepts projected onto the universe that get believed or not)
Pittman is an Episcopal priest and Jungian analyst in private practice in Austin, Texas. He is a Diplomate in Analytical Psychology from the Jung Institute and is widely known as a lecturer and educator in the field of psychology and religion, as well as a published poet and essayist. He is the author of The Invisible Church: Finding Spirituality Where You Are (Praeger Press, 2008), Raising Lazarus: The Science of Healing the Soul (2009), Words Made Flesh, and The Paradox of Love.
We’re genuinely enthused to welcome artist and barrister Randy L. Langford, who plays music and practices relationally focused law in Austin, Texas. When he’s not doing those things he facilitates learning in the areas of ethics and criminal law at Concordia University Texas, and business law at St. Edward’s University. Randy’s transformational experience with restorative justice influences every area of his life.

Pub Church on Mother’s Day: the Mystery, the Wonder, and the Adventure of Aging with John Lee & Stan Coppinger & Marty Mitchell

This Sunday, 5:30-7pm, at Scholz Garten, the legendary John Lee is going to bring his hard-won insights into our human condition to Scholz Garten on Mother’s Day! We’re going to explore…wait for it…the fact of getting old. It may be a stretch, but there is a connection between mothering, aging, the men’s movement, and growing younger.

John Lee

Then again, there is this from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets:

Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

John Lee is the author of the national best-selling book The Flying Boy: Healing the Wounded Man and 23 other titles. Lee is one  of the early pioneers in the men’s movement, along with friend and colleague Robert Bly who called him, “One of the best teachers in the United States.” He is also a leader in the fields of recovery and addictions, anger management, and has written in the fields of Creativity, Relationships and Spirituality. He founded The Austin Men’s Center in 1986 and was former director. He has key-noted hundreds of conferences and workshops. He has appeared on Oprah, Dr. Oz, The View , NPR and featured in The New York Times, L.A. Times, and dozens of other national and international television, magazines, newspapers and videos. He has trained therapists at The Cleveland Clinic, South Pacific Private Hospital in Sydney,  Guy’s Hospital in London, The Hanley Center, Betty Ford and many others.

Our artists/musicians for the evening are Stan Coppinger and Marty Mitchell. Stan and Marty have been playing together for many years in the Austin area in various musical configurations. In the early ‘80s, they played in the UT party band, the “Rockmaker” which later morphed into the Condominiums” and “Pine Cones.” Marty played bass on both of Stan’s most recent CDs “Stan the Man as Usual” and “Fortune Morning” (Vox Pop Records).

Stan Coppinger came to the University of Texas in 1970 and found himself in the middle of the burgeoning Austin music scene, playing with such bands as the Conqueroo, the Bizarros, and Texoid, among others, at such legendary venues as the Armadillo, Soap Creek Saloon, Bevo’s, the One Knite, and the Continental Club. Stan lived in Copenhagen, Denmark for 3 years and toured northern Europe with his band the “Rattlers.” Stan is a retired attorney at law, having served 20 years for the State of Texas.

Marty was born in Oklahoma City and has played since age 15 in garage bands covering the hits of the day. He moved to Austin in 1979 and hooked up with “Rockmaker”, the band Stan played in which was the beginning of their long friendship and music collaboration. He earned a Computer Science at UT and has been working ever since as a Linux System Analyst/Programmer but continues to play with local bands. Picking up upright bass after college he quickly turned to playing Jazz Standards along with playing in the seminal Austin Motown band, Hot Wax. … And now, years later, he has moved back to guitar – his first love – and has reunited with Stan to depart on a new adventure in their long musical journey.

Stan and Marty both provide vocals, guitar and bass, with Marty adding upright bass. They perform a selection of country rock, classic country and rock, as well as Stan’s original compositions.

Pub Church on Cinco de Mayo: Life along the Borderlands with Aimee Bobruk

“If you don’t know, go find out.” A motorcycle ride along the Texas/Mexico border by one white, middle class, American woman who wanted to “know,” about those living at the edge.

Join us for this quest and amazing story. This Sunday, May 5th–Cinco de Mayo–we’re diving deeper into the migration from Mexico through the eyes of artist, musician, and now filmmaker, Aimee Bobruk. Scholz Garten, 5:30-7pm in the north dining room.

Borderlands is an independent documentary film following a nine day motorcycle ride along the Texas/Mexico border taken by Austin musician, Aimee Bobruk. Each day chronicles interviews with borderlanders sharing their views of what life is like along the border. The film features Bobruk’s original music inspired by the trip.

Aimee Bobruk is somewhat of a chameleon, she can change colors. Her shapeshifting creative spirit is evident as an independent filmmaker and songwriter. In the spring of this year she embarked on a motorcycle ride along the Texas/Mexico border to capture a snapshot of life and culture for her self-produced documentary, Borderlanders.

As an independent songwriter her music straddles the genres of American folk and ambient alternative rock. Most notably, her self-titled /ba.’brook/ was selected by Texas Music Magazine as one of top six indie albums released in the state in 2013 and her work as been called “nothing short of a work of art” by Performing Songwriter. In addition to writing and performing her own songs, Bobruk collaborates with songwriters and producers worldwide in the publishing industry. To date, her co-writes have earned her seven European title tracks, two of which were nominated for Grammy Awards in Germany and Norway. In 2015, her pop co-write “Black Swan,” competed in Melodifestivalen to represent Sweden at the International Eurovision Song Contest.

Recently in the fall of 2018, Bobruk received the Marguerite and Lamar Smith Writing Fellowship and lived in the childhood home of author,Carson McCullers’, in Columbus, GA writing and completing a collection of songs based on the writings of the author. In 2019 Bobruk was named the Woody Guthrie Fellow and will be creating a short film about Woody Guthrie in 2020.

We’ll meet in Scholz’ north dining room. Come early to get a seat and order food and drink. There is always plenty of free parking in the adjacent state parking garages, or on the street. As always, we close the evening with the chance to share communion through our unique invitation: “Before Jesus got turned into a religion, he wandered around, an itinerant rabbi, eating and drinking with sinners and outcasts.”

Pub Church: Migration from Mexico–Gavin Rogers and Tish Hinojosa

We’ll be on Scholz Garten’s outdoor stage to talk and sing about what we need to learn about the mass migrations happening along our southern border with Mexico. There is much to talk about and lots to feel–our guides for this conversation will be Gavin Rogers, Tish Hinojosa, and Bekah McNeel.

Gavin Rogers is the founder of the interfaith community group, Pub Theology San Antonio, and he helps pastor folks at Travis Park United Methodist Church. His work with the underserved in our community led to his joining one of the “migrant caravans” that journeyed from Honduras to the U.S. border.

Tish Hinojosa

One of 13 children born to Mexican immigrant parents in San Antonio, Tish Hinojosa has dedicated her career to playing music from the southwest, starting out in Tejano before moving on to singer/songwriter folk, border music and country. Tish is a legendary singer-songwriter, whose blend of folk, country, Latino, and pop has an undeniable far reaching appeal, garnering her accolades such as a White House concert at the invitation of President and Mrs. Clinton and teaming up with artists such as Joan Baez, Booker T. Jones, Flaco Jimenez, Pete Seeger, and Dwight Yoakam. With seventeen CDs to her name, Tish’s distinct sound has gained her much critical acclaim. She is winding up the tour for her latest release, “West.” She will soon be inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters–formed in 1936 to recognize Texans’ literary achievements. Previous recipients include Larry McMurtry, Sarah Bird, Naomi Shihab-Nye, and Americo Paredes. Last year they opened up nominations to include singer-songwriters and Willie Nelson was the 2018 recipient. Congratulations Tish!

Bekah McNeel is a freelance journalist living in San Antonio, Texas and also the Immigration Editor for Christianity Today. She reports on education, immigration, and inequity. In addition to local beat reporting, her work has been published with The Christian Science Monitor, The Texas Tribune, The Rivard Report, The Hechinger Report, and the 74 Million. She can be found on Twitter at @BekahMcneel and on her blog at www.bekahmcneel.com.

Bekah McNeel

The 4th Annual Easter Vigil

The Front Porch is elated to announce this year’s Easter Vigil, featuring Kevin Russell of Shinyribs and the Shiny Soul Sisters (Shinyribs was voted Austin Band of the Year at this year’s Austin Music Awards), Erin Ivey, John Burnett, Chucky Black, Gregory Eaton, Ronda Rutledge, and many more. Join us on Saturday, April 20th at sunset (8:02 PM) for this annual celebration. We’re at a new location, but we’re bringing along a lot of familiar faces!

This years vigil will be held at Sam’s Town Point, which is located just off the corner of Slaughter and Manchaca, pictured below.

Learn more about this South Austin dancehall in this Austinot article titled, Sam’s Town Point Honky Tonk Bar Makes Friends out of Strangers. This classic dive was Kevin Russell’s suggestion for this year’s vigil-venue and we listened. The address is 2115 Allred Dr, Austin, TX 78748.

If you’ve never experienced The Front Porch Easter Vigil before, it’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Join us as representatives of faith communities all over Austin come together with a number of our city’s finest artists to celebrate one of Christianity’s greatest gifts and insights: the emergence of life from the dead, of light from the dark.

This year’s Vigil will feature live music from some of our city’s finest musicians, spoken word from some of our city’s strongest voices, religious traditions from some of our finest faith leaders, food, drink, a call to open table Communion to those of all beliefs, dancing, socializing, and so much more. Don’t miss out on the biggest night of the year on the Front Porch.

The 2019 Front Porch Easter Vigil is sponsored by All Saints’ Episcopal Church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, St. George’s Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, The “Soul of a Musician” Series, Kevin Russell, and The Front Porch.

Pub Church — Black Elk’s Story with Glenn Smith


OnApril 14th, we’ll host legendary Texas journalist and political consultant, Glenn W. Smith at Scholz Garten, 5:30-7pm. The luminous and multi-talented Dave Madden brings the music. We’ll have the chance to explore and converse with Glenn about his quest and latest project. Here’s how he describes it:

I began this quest because of a mystery in my own life, but it became a labor of love, an attempt to save a life.

        Vandana Singh, “Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra”

The project’s working title is Exiles in Paradise: An American Story A blend of fiction and non-fiction, we’ll follow the life of John Francis McKearney, born in Ireland, educated in a Paris where he encountered the young Black Elk and other Lakota traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Black Elk and McKearney shared more than an encounter in Paris. Their families were exiled by the same cause:  McKearney’s family lost their tenant farm in Ireland in an agriculture depression fueled my an enormous increase in food imports from America. That was made possible by the taking of Native American land and western expansion.

While Black Elk became a respected holy man, McKearney’s life was filled with turmoil. He died young — ministering to the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, people he hadn’t seen since his schoolboy days. The book is a look at the lives of exiles at a time when the globe is filled again with tens of millions of refugees. Seen through the eyes of two spiritual men, Black Elk and Father McKearney, it is revealed as much as a spiritual journey as a physical one.

What are the spiritual consequences of being exiled in paradise, which is one way of terming life in America? And, did Father McKearney find spiritual peace along his American journey?

Read Glenn’s full bio below!

Music will be performed by pub church regular Dave Madden. Madden is usually on the Chronicle’s “best of” lists for his skills behind the keys, but this award-winning multi-instrumentalist will blow you away with his versatility as a songwriter, guitarist and vocalist as well. Check him out here!

Full Bio: Glenn W. Smith

Glenn W. Smith has spent the past 40 years in journalism and politics, where he’s made a name for himself as a writer, campaign manager, activist, think tank analyst and, as Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas says, a “legendary political consultant and all-around good guy.” CNN commentator Paul Begala says, “He has unmatched experience, a graceful pen (or pixel nowadays) and deep insight into the best and worst of us.” Novelist Sarah Bird speaks of his “lucid and lyrical” prose. And, she says, “He’s fun.” Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington says Glenn writes with “grace and abundant humor” and “uses his colorful experiences in Texas to enlighten us all.”

Smith helped lead Ann Richards’ successful 1990 campaign for Governor of Texas. He worked for former Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Earlier, Smith was a political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post. A former managing director of the prestigious public affairs firm, Public Strategies, he coordinated national campaigns for groups such as MoveOn.org. In 2004, he authored the highly acclaimed book, The Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction. He also wrote Unfit Commander, a book that detailed George W. Bush’s mysterious disappearance from military service.

As a senior fellow at George Lakoff’s prestigious Rockridge Institute in Berkeley he studied, wrote and taught on the power of metaphor and narrative in political communications. He also lectured on religion and politics at the Starr King School for Ministry in Berkeley. As a sponsor and organizer, he has pulled together numerous national events with progressive religious leaders. He also organized a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Riverside Church in New York City as well as “Freedom and Faith” bus tours, which was a nationwide campaign for social justice and progressive values.

Smith is currently senior strategist for Progress Texas. He writes a bi-weekly column for the Austin American-Statesman and a weekly column for the Quorum Report, Texas’ leading political newsletter.

NEW STORY FESTIVAL

JOIN US FOR A NEW ANNUAL GATHERING FOR COMMUNITY, CREATIVITY, AND THE COMMON GOOD, LAUNCHING IN AUSTIN,TEXAS, ON MARCH 29-31, 2019

The Front Porch is proud to help sponsor this innovative gathering at Huston-Tillotson.

WGF Main Stage crowd.jpg

Believing that “the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better,” the New Story Festival seeks to lead us into a better story – one that encourages growth and liberation, healing and harmony; a story where the downtrodden are uplifted and everyone is included. We will gather artists, activists, teachers, practitioners for spiritual/emotional health & wholeness, along with numerous other social innovators to share their creativity, practices, and stories at a three-day (Friday afternoon to Sunday evening), outdoor festival on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University, right in the heart of historic east Austin and just blocks from downtown. There will be music, art and stories, speakers and workshops, conversations both formal and spontaneous, helping us step into a better story – one with the potential to transform both Austin and the world.

The festival is nurtured into being by artists, activists, and leaders with experience in international peace-building, local activism and community organizing, health, wholeness, spirituality and personal growth – friends and guides who want to share their wisdom and enthusiasm with you. Many of us are energized by the progressive Christian tradition, which means that the festival is spiritually inclusive, inviting all who share these values to join in shaping a better world. Those from historically marginalized groups – women, persons of color, indigenous peoples, immigrants, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those with disabilities – are an especially integral part of both the leadership and programming. 

Micky.jpg

There will be words and ideas, sound and vision, laughter and dancing, intimate conversations and moments of silence – a temporary embodiment of a story whose energy will last the whole year round. Join us!

Our program will include nationally-known headline speakers as well as influential local leaders. Likewise, each evening will feature high-profile music acts while the day times will be filled with inspiring sounds from local up-and-comers. We will post details to our Lineup page as they become available, so be sure to check back! 

We are also taking program submissions from you! If you have an idea you’d like to contribute to the program, or a speaker or performer you’d like to help us bring to the festival, go to our Program Proposal page for more details for how to submit your ideas. NOTE: Our submission process is now closed, but get on our email list to find out as soon as submissions open again for New Story 2020!

We also need help organizing, running, and promoting the festival. Click here to find out about other ways to help bring the New Story Festival to life.GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Pub Church: a Professional Muslim woman, a Filmmaker, and an NPR Reporter walk into the Pub to talk

Join us at Scholz Garten on April 7, 2019, 5:30-7pm for a special edition of the Front Porch’s Pub Church. We will focus on how we can be better neighbors. [NOTE: There will be NO pub churches until this April 7th event, i.e., no pub church on March 17, 24, and 31 (due to Scholz’ schedule during SxSW and spring break and New Story Festival).

NPR’s John Burnett will moderate our conversation with local activist Muna Hussaini and filmmaker Paul Raila (following the 6 minute documentary, Muna).   

Muna Hussaini is a Muslim woman, mother, techie, and community activist.  Wearing hijab post 9-11 made Muna a target of hate crimes. She suffered through many hate incidents and now uses these experiences to speak out against bigotry while redefining the Muslim American narrative. Currently, Muna serves on the City of Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task force, is President of the Board for Muslim Space, and has been featured on KLRU’s Civic Summit on Creating a Community of Respect. She also serves on the Board of Interfaith Action of Central Texas. Currently, Muna is a Sr Manager at PayPal with over 17 years of tech experience having worked at IBM, eBay, X.com, and Magento.  Muna is married, has a 10 year old daughter, 3 year old son, and a very large Hyderabadi family. In her personal time she enjoys hiking, playing volleyball, and eating an entire bowl of Kerby Queso by herself. Muna was born in Pittsburgh and has lived all over the US, in Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Muna is also a proud Longhorn, hook ‘em!  

Muna Hussaini

Paul Raila has been a freelance Director/Cinematographer for over ten years. A former Chief Photographer for an ABC News affiliate, his background in journalism has helped craft his style as an efficient storyteller through his work in documentaries, commercials and TV shows. Pauls latest documentary, (Un)Divided, screened at the Vox showcase at this years SXSW Film Festival.

As NPR’s Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018, he won an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat, and he was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.

Pub Church: a Rabbi and a Priest walk into the Pub to Talk

Join us for Pub Church this Sunday with Rabbi Neil Blumofe. We will meet at Scholz Garten from 5:30-7pm. Rabbi Neil is the Senior Rabbi at Agudas Achim, but you also probably know him for his work with Liner Notes and Views and Brews, his expertise on jazz music, his incredible renditions of Psalms, as a professor/author/academic, or as the former President of the Interfaith Action of Central Texas (IACT). A man who has seen and felt compassion across difference in personal experiences that span the globe, Blumofe, a Chicago native, claims “formative years in New Orleans, New York, Jerusalem, and Poznan, Poland;” and, of course, Austin.

We’ll meet in Scholz’ north dining room. Come early to get a seat and order food and drink. There is always plenty of free parking in the adjacent state parking garages, or on the street. As always, we close the evening with the chance to share communion through our unique invitation: “Before Jesus got turned into a religion, he wandered around, an itinerant rabbi, eating and drinking with sinners and outcasts.” All sinners and outcasts are welcome at the table…it’s great fun to be one!