March 2018
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion   
In our March issue, we take a peek into the spring writing workshop, mark our calendars for the last events of the semester, and celebrate the hard work of our Creative Action staff and kids. Plus, we look toward the finish line with a Final Word from current student Kirsy Traweek.
Spring Writing Workshop Kicks Off

Wondering what makes a poem, we turn to Emily Dickinson: "I know something is poetry when it takes the top of my head off." With this as the starting point for our inaugural session, participants in our spring workshop wrote their pens off and worked towards just that: the glimmering, intangible element of surprise we dig up in our favorite poems.

Kicking our session off with a moment of silence followed by Kendrick Lamar's "DNA," the room tackled topics of identity, self, and the heritage of names. We lamented mispronunciations and claimed the beauty, strength, and ancestry encoded in our designations. We praised literature's ability to shape-shift and cast off labels. 

Jason Myers, a local poet, will lead participants through the next eight weeks. Jason is poetry editor for The EcoTheo Review, which creates conversation between ecology and theology through the arts. He's also a lover of state and national parks, community gardens, and the basil he can almost keep alive. His first collection of poems, The Taste Beneath The Taste We Seek, is currently looking for a home, and he's working on a novel, We Remember Zion, that takes place in New Orleans during the first Lent after Katrina.

Reflecting on the solitary and communal aspects of writing, Jason said, "To put words on paper can require periods of time and quiet that elude us in our busy, hash-tagged lives. I am so grateful for the opportunity Free Minds has given me to become part of a new community of writers." He added, "How delightful and meaningful to share work in a space that feels generous and generative, safe  and welcoming. I look forward to discovering more of the stories in the room, the gifts each writer has to bring."
Spring Events 
Austin: In and Out of Place
Saturday, April 14, 10 am - noon 
Free Minds Art History professor Janis Bergman-Carton will lead this 2nd Saturday, helping us examine Austin's segregated history through the lens of a new research-based art project. Join us in our M Station classroom above the leasing office at 2906 E MLK Jr. Blvd. We'll have bagels and childcare. All are welcome!
Spring Writing Workshop Reading
Tuesday, May 1, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Come hear from our latest writing workshop cohort as they share their original works. These writers have spent eight weeks unleashing their inner voices, and we can't wait to hear the final products. Our reading location is TBD, so stay tuned for details!
Class of 2018 Graduation
Tuesday, May 22, 7 - 9 pm
We are just around the corner from cheering on this year's class as they walk the graduation stage. Join us in celebrating them! This year's graduation will be at ACC Eastview. RSVP here.
Creative Action Kids Sing with the Dreamers 
Creative Action kids with Barbara Jordan's statue at UT Austin. 
While Free Minds students analyzed the photographic
portraits of Frederick Douglass last week, the younger generation was having a similar conversation down the hall, via an award-winning picture book.

As a partner that offers art-focused education for the children of Free Minds students, Creative Action builds bridges between generations of Free Minds participants. This year, the focus has been driven by world events our cohort of young ones have watched unfold around them.

"I've been so proud of the young voices that have risen up from Parkland, Florida, and we have powerful young voices right here, too," said Freddy Carnes, the Creative Action teaching artist who leads the group each Monday and Thursday evening. Some themes were planned, says Carnes, but many of the subjects they've tackled this year came about by asking the students what they wanted to talk about. Their passion turned outward.

In their most recent project, kids collaborated to write "Amyaah, the Dreamer," a 36-line song about a Cuban woman who moved to LA. From start to finish, the children created Amyaah's story, empathizing with her struggles and dreams and picturing themselves in her shoes. "Amyaah wanted her daughters to be safe, to have clothes, food, shelter and a career. She wanted them to feel love and happiness, to feel brave and not to fear ," reads the song's second stanza.

"You don't get 36 lines if the subject doesn't mean anything to you. They're compassionate about these issues," said Freddy. "It's easy to write a song about a puppy or a shark...but you realize that third graders are capable of this kind of thought."

The students have many reasons to feel connected to the plight of the Dreamers. Vivalyn Jones, Creative Action Volunteer, is one of them. Having emigrated from Jamaica years ago, Vivalyn raised two generations in this country, and has shared her story with the group. 

Empathy emanates from this little M Station classroom. Looking forward, the group hopes to record their song, and maybe even create a music video. The kids have already proven they're capable of big ideas, critical thinking, and compassion, just like their parents down the hall.
Issue 70             
In This Issue
Spring Workshop Kicks Off
Spring Events
Kids Sing with the Dreamers
The Final Word

Special Thanks

To all who visited our classroom or led 2nd Saturday events this fall, thank you for generously sharing your time and expertise:

Hudson Baird
Peloton U

Laurie Filipelli
Mighty Writing
Dr. Pat Garc ía
Free Minds Faculty

Dr. John Gonzalez
UT Austin

Vivé Griffith
Free Minds Faculty 
Joe Hoppe
Austin Community College

Tung Huynh
Austin Community College

Daniel Lopez
Capital IDEA

Tasha McMillion
Free Minds Class of 2013

Liliana Mendoza
Free Minds Class of 2009

Aida Ramirez
Foundation Communities 

Roger Reeves
UT Austin

Dr. Lilia Rosas
Red Salmon Arts

Dr. Dustin Tahmahkera
UT Austin

Dr. Shirley Thompson 
Free Minds Faculty 
Katie Van Winkle
UT Austin

If you are interested in volunteering with or supporting Free Minds, you can find out more

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Minds in Motion

Spring semester kicks off!

  Class of 2018 Lidia Simmons shares her tips for success.

Welcome to the Class of 2018!

Looking for earlier newsletters?

Visit our
The Final Word
Kirsy Traweek, Class of '18: "My feeling of achievement gets bigger as graduation nears."

Six months ago, I didn't know what I know now: that I can. I came from the Dominican Republic in a small, poor village from a poor family, and was the second of four children. I'm the first one in my family to actually go to college--it's a great achievement. I have four children and a full-time job, which are my two biggest challenges. Before Free Minds, when I thought about going to college, I thought, when would I have the time? I didn't think it would be possible, but I always kept hope. Halfway through second semester, I feel more confident, and my feeling of achievement gets bigger as graduation nears.

The program has given me the inspiration and the push to go for my goal of earning my degree in Public Health Administration. April will mark eight years of working as a breastfeeding counselor. I love what I do, working to help others educate themselves to make good choices, but I need a title. Until I have this degree, a lot of what I do is considered out of scope for my position, so I often find myself at a stopping point. Free Minds has taught me that education is accessible and attainable, and my goals to continue my education are driving me to the finish line.

As we get closer to graduation, I want to remind my classmates to stay focused. Capitalize on this great opportunity to get closer to your goals, the reasons that drove you to apply and be part of Free Minds. See the challenges and obstacles as opportunities and use the experience to feed your strength. It's there, go get it!

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