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.

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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. 

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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!

AMPLIFY THE FRONT PORCH

If you participate in Amplify Austin, please consider us! Here’s the LINK.

Thank you!

PUB CHURCH IS BACK!

Pub Church resumes on Sunday, February 10th at Scholz Garten! How lucky we are to have beloved trickster and bodhisattva SAM BAKER as our February guide for our signature series. Don’t miss it!

We will talk about Sam’s journey from death to life. We’ll explore the magic and mystery of music and why we sing. We’ll open up ideas of faith, courage, and creativity, and so much more.

This interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air will introduce you to Sam, if you’ve never met him: https://www.npr.org/2018/01/26/580781202/sam-baker-finding-grace-in-the-wake-of-destruction

Just as before their spiffy new renovation, we’ll meet in Scholz’ north dining room, located at the corner of 17th and San Jacinto. Come early to get a seat and order food and drink. 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!

Hands on the Plow

Dear Friends of the Front Porch,

This awkward selfie of our former program director, Riley Webb and me, was taken in front of Abe Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois during a road trip we made to Columbus, Ohio, back in June. We had a blast on this trip, enjoying the chance to work on a book for the Front Porch, to find Riley a new home, and to debrief our last four years on the porch. We miss Riley terribly, but I’m happy to report that he is thriving and misses us too.

As I return from my sabbatical and now try to wrap my head around our next steps for The Front Porch, I find myself strangely energized and ready to put my hands back on the plow that so many of you have helped me to push.

During my rest time over the past four months, I’ve been lucky enough to take my son Tyler to Belfast to meet with peacemakers from all over, to work on that book just mentioned, to read much from French mystic Simone Weil and others, and to play and pray and rest as hard as I can.

There are some very interesting vocational possibilities with respect to the Front Porch that are winking at me right now, and some new things are fast emerging. While we didn’t achieve immediate success in last year’s effort to partner with the Episcopal church to upgrade and repurpose the mid-century modern building off Burnet Road, we’re not giving up on the vision!

In all my years of doing the Front Porch, I have learned that courage and confidence comes from hitting barriers that turn out to be new opportunities in disguise! I will have more to report on this in the near future, but for now, please know we’re exploring new ways for finding our home and for doing pub church and other singular events we hope to schedule this spring.

Gratefully yours,

Stephen

The Front Porch: At a Fork in the Road

Dear Friends,

What a fantastic journey we’ve been on! I’m excited about both where we are and the future of The Front Porch. We’ve built relationships all over Austin and have a platform for connecting that begs to continue in one form or another. I’m utterly grateful for each one of you who have been such an essential part of this adventure.

Still, we are at a fork in the road. Since 2011, we’ve been able to fund our salaries and programs, thanks to many of you reading this newsletter and many others. We’ve achieved all that brings us to this point, all that has impacted so many. Yet, without a central space for doing what we do–a café/tavern/venue that provides earned revenue on a regular basis–it has become difficult to sustain the work at the level we’ve all come to expect. The time to blow on the dandelion, so to speak, and let the Spirit carry the seeds to new places where they can germinate and grow, has come. That being said, over the next few months, I will be taking time to reflect and explore where and how the Front Porch goes from here.

Already, an array of possibilities are winking at me. And the good news is, some seeds have already sprouted. As you’ll see below, thanks to Mike Adams, Billy Tweedie, Riley Webb and so many others volunteering their time, we’ll host a new series of Pub Church this Sunday (4/15) and a pop-up Yoga Mass on April 21st. The series theme for pub church will be “Money Talks,” and we’ll feature the usual caliber of brilliant guests and artists, including Dr. Steven Tomlinson (SSW prof and Wall Street advisor) and Austin legend, Eliza Gilkyson.

Watching friends pick up the baton at this crucial juncture has already sparked a vision in my mind’s eye of The Front Porch growing beyond me: an image that will continue to evolve in its own joyful way, I am certain. Indeed, as people step up to lead programs and support financially, we’ll continue producing these pop-up events, Pub Churches, Unplugged concerts, and, of course, the annual Easter Vigil. All the while, we’ll be keen-eyed and open-hearted as we wait for other seeds to find the churned and fertile soil so necessary for germination and new life.

Gratefully and Joyfully yours,
Stephen Kinney, Executive Director