January 2018
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion   
As we turn the page on another year, we take a look at the semester ahead, say goodbye to a beloved friend, and highlight some of fall 2017's proudest moments. All that, plus our full 2nd Saturday lineup for the spring! 
Class of '18 Hits the Ground Running 
After a month's break, the Class of 2018 recently gathered back together in the classroom to kick off the spring semester. Over pizza, Free Minds students, staff, and faculty played "Two Truths and a Lie" to ease back into things. Among the claims of things done over the break were climbing the Empire State Building, cooking a meatless meal for 70 people, swimming with sharks, and eating too many tamales (the last one being the only lie-- "too many tamales" isn't possible).
With the fall semester under their belts, students take on the next half of the course as seasoned writers and thinkers. After finishing Plato's  Republic , the class will dive into creative writing, immersing themselves in the work of contemporary poets like Ross Gay, Rita Dove, Mary Oliver, Gwendolyn Brooks, and more. By the end of the unit, they'll have written poems in response to artworks at the Blanton Museum and compiled their own poetry portfolios

The semester will also be drenched in U.S. history, as students dig through primary sources to explore the complex founding of the United States, slavery, native histories, the Civil Rights Movement, and early feminism. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
will serve as a focal point for much of the history unit, as well as students' final formal paper.  

Welcome back, students, and buckle in! Here's to your second semester.
Join us in the classroom!
2nd Saturdays are an excellent chance to connect with Free Minds over breakfast. Events are held in our M Station community space above the leasing office at 2906 East MLK Jr. Blvd, with bagels, coffee, and childcare provided. All are welcome!  

Writing for Social Change
Saturday, February 10, 10 am - noon 
In this event, we'll learn to claim our expertise and to write compelling opinion pieces that draw attention to issues that matter. Creative Writing professor and former Free Minds director Vivé Griffith will show us the ropes on writing strong op-eds.

Reading and Writing: Acts of Citizenship

Saturday, March 10, 10 am - noon
How can reading and writing serve as tools for healthy communities? This is a question we'll ask as we dive into Claudia Rankine's breathtaking book of poetry, Citizen, which has taken the country by storm, adding to and provoking timely conversations about race in America.  
Austin: In and Out of Place
Saturday, April 14, 10 am - noon 
In this session, Free Minds Art History professor Janis Bergman-Carton will help us examine Austin's segregated history through the lens of a new research-based art project.
Want more details? Click here to view our full spring 2018 calendar. 
Free Minds Mourns Beloved Matriarch
Rachel Martinez, a 2011 graduate of Free Minds class and an active member of the community, passed away on November 15, 2017, a few months shy of her 65th birthday. This month, fellow Free Minds graduates, staff, and participants gathered to mourn her death and celebrate a life lived generously.

Circled around photos of Rachel, attendees tried to articulate what made her unique. Many remarked on her canny ability to make newcomers feel like part of the family. "She was just one of those people that put you at ease," said Todd Readoaux, class of '15. "The first time we met, I was already Mija," remembered another. Others spoke of the gifts Rachel had given them: a handmade pop-up card, a bunch of colored pencils, a framed copy of Max Ehrmann's poem "Desiderata," one of Rachel's favorites. Some read pieces of her writing--portions of essays, letters, a poem from her time in the 2013 Free Minds Writing Workshop titled, " My Maria, My Abuela."
In addition to her abiding presence around the Free Minds table, Rachel fostered community among her neighbors at the Georgian Manor Apartments where she lived for nearly 20 years. As Resident Council President of the Housing Authority of Austin, Rachel advocated for the needs of HACA residents, with a focus on access to technology. In 2015, she was named Resident of the Year by the Texas National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.
Rachel adored her family and is survived by two sons, her daughter-in-law, her granddaughters, and siblings. Those of us who knew her will keep her memory close each time we gather. As friend and fellow graduate Liliana Pierce, '09, put it, "I try not to look at the place at the table where she sat. I just expect to turn and see her there."
Issue 69        
In This Issue
Class of '18 Hits the Ground Running
Spring 2nd Saturday Events
Free Minds Mourns Matriarch
The Final Word

Special Thanks

This month we express our gratitude to the academic partners who support Free Minds; the rigorous instruction and institutional access that they make possible has a profound impact on students' lives.

Austin Community College
Division of Arts and Humanities

The University of Texas at Austin
Center for Mexican American Studies
Center for Women's and Gender Studies
Department of English
Humanities Institute
John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies


If you are interested in volunteering with or supporting Free Minds, you can find more information on our website.

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Minds in Motion

  November 2017
Class of 2018 Lidia Simmons shares her tips for success.

 September 2017
Welcome to the Class of 2018!

July 2017
Free Minds celebrates alum Tasha as she achieves her bachelor's degree.

Looking for earlier newsletters?


Visit our

online archive.

The Final Word
Students from the Class of 2018 share some of their proudest accomplishments from fall semester.

"I'm most proud of my 'you can do it' spirit."

"My first formal paper was a big deal because I never did anything like it before." 

"Honestly? My attendance and doing every assignment."
"The feeling of a community of like-minded people with goals that are like my own. It's almost like I share in their success because we are all coming from similar backgrounds."
"Pushing myself to learn more and opening up my mind to read and try to understand things I never would have read before."

"I stuck it out, I'm still here. My grades are good. I'm better because of Free Minds."
"Learning to read out loud and be more of a social person. I usually stand away from crowds or avoid speaking in front of people, and this class has really helped me."

A program of Foundation Communities, in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College, Free Minds offers a two-semester college course in the humanities for Central Texas adults who want to fulfill their intellectual potential and begin a new chapter in their lives.

Free Minds Project
Foundation Communities
5900 Airport Blvd.
Austin TX, 78752

Academic Director: Amelia Pace-Borah
Program Specialist: Zoë Fay-Stindt
Classroom Assistant: Irene Salas

Ph: 512-610-7961