Austin’s Small Homes, Community Gardens, Mental Health Supports in one 29 Acre Site: A Model for SF University Art & Design?

Bill McCamley house party & reception for 2 Public Regulation Commission candidates who could flip the PRC dramatically. PNM is terrified, come on the 9th to hear from Yazzie and Fischmann, find out who they are & why Retake so strongly supports them both.  And if you want more inspiration: Community First! Village in Austin, a new approach to meeting the challenge of chronic homelessness.

Donate Button with Credit CardsDonate to Retake Today!  Yay. Thanks to you we’ve reached our goal to raise $4000 this month. We are officially back in the black! At this point we can lighten up on the asks and focus on the long haul. We need a cadre of monthly sustaining donors to cover our costs: facility rentals for town halls and events, web costs, email hosting, printing, buttons, and soon, a regular advertising budget, not to promote our events but to promote progressive ideals. Chip in if you can and we will post soon a full budget and a plan for using our resources. But read on as today’s post is nothing but upbeat news and promising opportunities.

Please, click here, to visit our Actions and Opportunities page, it has information on a wide range of community actions and opportunities, including information about tonight’s City Council hearing, an, Earth Care screening of Dolores to celebrate César Chávez day and more.

Community First! Village in Austin: An inspiring model for addressing homelessness & something to consider for SFUAD

Community Art House: A Community First! Micro-enterprise

Once again, a tip of the hat to, from which I have excerpted this report. Like most urban communities, Austin and Santa Fe have a persistent challenge in moving people from homelessness to housing. What is so remarkable about Community First! Village, the model employed by Austin, TX, is that by transforming how Austin has structurally responded to homelessness, they have also transformed how the community thinks about people who are homeless. Homeless people have become more real to people who previously shunned or feared them. And while Community First! is an affordable housing community, it is much, much more with support services, volunteer mentoring, and an array of thoughtfully and compassionately interwoven supports and opportunities.

Organized by Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization, Community First! is an outgrowth of the outreach and food support offered by Loaves & Fishes. As with so many of the innovations Roxanne and I have identified, it started with just a small group, in this case five folks who just felt that their faith required them to reach out to those less fortunate.  It began when five parishioners of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin, Texas boldly answered God’s call to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Alan Graham and his friends began delivering meals out of the back of a minivan to men and women they found living on the streets. Graham readily admits that the group’s original approach for serving the homeless had some flaws, but with the help of a formerly homeless man they perfected the model that Mobile Loaves & Fishes successfully uses today.
Their first trip serving meals on the streets of Austin was in September of 1998. Within a few months Graham and his group purchased a pick­up truck with a catering bed. Since that first truck run, Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers have served more than 5 million meals with a side of hope to homeless men and women living on the streets. Delivering more than a sandwich, Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers hit the streets 7 nights a week, 365 days a year to provide food, clothing, hygiene products and other life-sustaining items to our homeless neighbors who are struggling to survive. This success caused Loaves and Fishes to take think even bigger.

Meet Community First! Village.  It is a 27-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas. A development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, this transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homelessAmenities at

Community First! Village include:

  • An innovative mix of affordable housing options
  • Memorial garden, columbarium and prayer labyrinth
  • Places for worship, study and fellowship
  • Medical facility for health screenings, and other support services including hospice and respite care
  • Walking trails
  • Community gardens
  • Outdoor movie theater
  • Community market
  • Bed & breakfast for overnight visits (Roxanne and I are staying there when on our US Road Trip and going on a tour and meeting staff and residents)
  • Capital Metro bus stop
  • WiFi

Operating at Community First!, Community Works provides micro-enterprise opportunities that enable those who have experienced homelessness to earn a dignified income. This program empowers Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers to serve alongside our friends as they develop new skills, while also building enduring relationships. Micro-enterprise opportunities available through Community Works include gardening, art, blacksmithing, woodworking and concessions. The community garden, Genesis Gardens is far more than just a garden. It allows neighbors from all over Austin to come together to roll up their sleeves and engage with Community First! residents, practice hospitality, recall what it means to put down roots, and share the abundance of the garden’s yields. The bounty from the garden is washed, bunched, canned, pickled, preserved or cooked and provided to neighbors throughout the Village — giving them direct access to the best vegetables on Earth!  The farm at Community First! Village features:

  • More than 3 acres of organic vegetable production
  • Hundreds of fruit and nut-bearing trees
  • Dairy goats, chickens, rabbits, donkeys and honeybees
  • Geodome and aquaponics system

The map below is of CommunityFirst! and Roxanne and I can’t wait to get there and experience what they have done. This site is roughly 1/3 the size of the Santa Fe University Art & Design. Kinda makes the mind swirl with the possibilities.  To be clear, we are not saying that this, or any model we will be presenting in the coming weeks, is right for SFUAD, but if we are serious about addressing poverty, homelessness and the housing needs of extremely low income neighbors, these are the kinds of models we need to consider. To read more, click here and you can take a visual tour of this remarkable community initiative.

Screenshot 2018-03-23 10.50.13Bill McCamley for State Auditor.  You may have seen that McCamley’s campaign won the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention last weekend with over 60% of the vote. Retake strongly supports McCamley for State Auditor.  Here is your chance to meet Bill and find out why Roxanne and I and all of the Retake Our Democracy Leadership Team are so supportive of his candidacy. This guy is the real deal.  Below is a video where he essentially speaks the speech he gave at the Democratic Convention, albeit there it was with a bit more passion and to a raucous response. One of the things I have long liked about Bill as while serving in the Roundhouse he would routinely use his phone to video tape a message about what was going on during the session and posting it to his Facebook page. Totally transparent and participatory engagement with this constituents.

As Auditor, he plans to fight for early childhood education, solar panels on every public building, health care for everyone, and wages for working people instead of giveaways for millionaires and out of state corporations. In order to do this though, he really needs your help to make sure his momentum is sustained.

Roxanne and I are all in for Bill McCamley. He has been one of the most transparent and authentic legislators in the Roundhouse and now he wants to follow in Tim Keller’s footsteps and protect our state from fraud and misuse of resources. Come to the the House Party at left and find out more about Rep. McCamley and why Roxanne and I so enthusiastically support him. This is a statewide race, so in addition to being asked to contribute, you will find out information on how you can canvass, phone bank and GOTV. Go Bill.

Who is Bill running against in the primary?  Glad you asked: Brian Colón, the guy who ran against Tim Keller for Mayor of ABQ and ran all those horribly distasteful ads. That guy.  Can’t make it Friday!  Perhaps you have $10, $25, or $50 you can offer? If so, Bill’s online contribution page is here. And check out his video at the end of the blog.

A Path to a Progressive Public Regulation Commission:  Really! 

Meet Two Tremendous Candidates for Public Regulation Commission and Find Out How You Can Support Their Campaigns.  April 9, 5:30-7pm. Santa Fe Modern, 1222 Flagman Way C, Santa Fe, NM 87505, map provided to make it oh-so-easy. A reception and Q&A with Janene Yazzie and Steve Fischmann, two very eco-friendly candidates for PRC Commissioner who are running against two of our least favorite Commissioners: Sandy Jones and Linda Lovejoy. Retake feels that these races are almost as important as the race for Governor. The PRC plays such a pivotal role in determining our energy policy and it has been ‘owned’ by PNM for years. Electing Yazzie and Fischmann would flip a switch in ways that are almost unimaginable. Instead of PNM getting its way on every energy decision, suddenly they would be strongly opposed and pushed to completely reverse course. We are providing food and drink and so we need a pretty good head count, so please click here to RSVP on Facebook or write to me at
I really hope you can join us for this reception. Roxanne and I mean it when we say this is an opportunity that will not come again soon. We need to seize it and make sure both Janene and Steve are elected to the PRC.
In solidarity,
Paul & Roxanne
OK, I exceeded my 1000 word limit, but 800 of my being ‘over’ is due to announcements of events coming. The piece on Austin, was well under 1000. Monday’s post was under 900 and I only did four last week, so I am entering blogger recovery.  Stay tuned.

Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Local-State Government & Legislation

Tags: ,

3 replies

  1. Yes, see also recent New Mexican story about “dorm living.” SFUAD has dorms….

  2. The Austin Community First is a great idea for our SFUAD and there would still be room for the arts campus and affordable housing for young adults who can’t afford our rents!!!

  3. I found these examples about creating self sustaining neighborhoods which depends on a different interaction between city government and the bottom 80% of city dwellers.

    This is the last of 6 pieces at written by Charles Marohn. He contends that for two generations America has built suburb after suburb that, because they were subsidized at the outset, could not become self-sufficient in the long run. He suggests that public officials begin by asking questions like…”Will this public project generate enough tax revenue to sustain its maintenance over multiple life cycles? ” And that when we plan a new neighborhood we make sure it can create value and can regenerate itself in the long run. I suppose he is not for creating more bedroom communities. In the following article he proposes 10 points/ideas to start such a neighborhood.
    And here there are several examples (given at the National League of Cities website) of platforms to engage the public in city government.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: