November 2015
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion   
Our Thanksgiving edition of Minds in Motion has a bounty of things to savor. Meet a Free Minds student who is having an epic year, and hear from a workshop facilitator on the beauty of becoming superfluous. Before pie, read on!   
KLRU Features Free Minds

Members of the Class of 2016 took the spotlight recently on Austin's local PBS station as part of the American Graduate series, which focuses on higher education issues in Central Texas. We are excited about this opportunity to spread the word about our mission.
Check out the story here:
December Events
Join us around the table before the holiday hubbub begins!

Dec. 12 - Quinceañeras and Latino Identity
M Station Apartments, 10 am - noon

For the last 2nd Saturday of 2015, we will explore how the traditional quinceañera allows Latino communities to express identity through food, dress, art, and industry. Rachel Gonzalez-Martin, professor in UT Austin's Department of Mexican American/Latino Studies, will facilitate the discussion. (Details available here.)

Dec. 14 - Free Minds End of Semester Celebration
M Station Apartments, 7 pm

Celebrate the fantastic Class of 2016 as they wrap up a jam-packed semester. We'll share a potluck dinner, enjoy a performance from our youngest Free Minders, and hear excerpts from students' original works.  
Meet Brenda Perez 

Last January, Brenda Perez made a new year's resolution: 2015 would be the year of saying yes. What made her decision unique was not that she made it, but that she kept it.

"I finally got out of my head," said the 28-year-old Free Minds student. "In March my cousin asked me to do an obstacle course race with her. I had never heard of that before, and I was like, okay I'll try it. On the day of the race, I was terrified that I would break my neck. But now I'm addicted to it, and I have a lot of friends who want to do it too."

This adventurous spirit has taken hold in other parts of Brenda's life as well. Last summer she decided to make a trip to Honduras, which she had been contemplating for years, and then she took another bold step and applied for Free Minds.

Though still in her twenties, Brenda once believed that it was too late for her to go back to college. She started classes at ACC in 2006, but left because of transportation and financial struggles. When she saw the Free Minds flyer posted where she works as a bus driver for AISD, it caught her attention.

On the first night of class, old feelings of trepidation took hold as Brenda sat in her car for nearly an hour trying to convince herself to go inside. Three months into the program, those nerves have given way to enthusiasm. "Once I got in the class, I realized this was exactly what I wanted," she recalled. "Being part of this is really exciting because I'm able to get the point of view of people from all walks of life."

What other adventures does the future hold for Brenda? Beyond completing Free Minds and signing up for more classes at ACC, she dreams about a trip to Trolltunga, the famous 2,300 foot cliff in Norway. Reflecting on what has made such a difference this year, Brenda replied, "It's not about just thinking or second-guessing myself. It's about having the experience." 
MacArthur Fellow Shares Research on Race in America

Jacqueline Jones signs book for
Liliana Pierce, '11.
"The word 'race' is ubiquitous in our culture," said historian Jacqueline Jones at our November 2nd Saturday event, "and I object to it. It is used as a way of making hierarchies of groups."
Jones is a professor at The University of Texas and author of A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America, which was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. She joined the Free Minds community to talk about the book, which profiles six Americans of African descent from 17th century Maryland to 1970s Detroit. The biographical sketches show how race, as a powerful and often contradictory concept, has shaped American history.
Jones and the session participants--Free Minds alums, students, and community members--discussed how the recession of 2008 disproportionately affected communities of color and how we might move from ideas of race to focus on economic injustices and labor issues. Jones wrapped up saying that following her curiosity led her to the study of history. Even after winning a MacArthur Fellowship and publishing several acclaimed books, that hasn't changed. "I'm still curious," she said.
Issue 58       
In This Issue
KLRU Features Free Minds
December Events
Meet Brenda Perez
MacArthur Fellow Shares Research on Race
The Final Word

Special Thanks
Deepest gratitude to all who have visited the Free Minds class this semester to share your time and know-how. You inspire us!

Susan Alvarado,
ACC Philosophy
Melissa Biggs,
UT Austin Humanities
Kellee Coleman,
Free Minds '07
Tiffany Eagan,
Free Minds '12
Corina Esparza,
Free Minds '15
Nicole Powell,
Foundation Communities Children's Home Initiative
Todd Readoaux,
Free Minds '15
Irene Salas,
Free Minds '14
Clayton Stromberger,
UT Austin Shakespeare at Winedale
Katie Van Winkle,
UT Austin Department of Theatre and Dance

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

Join Our Mailing List

Minds in Motion

September 2015
Clemente Course receives National Humanities Medal.

July 2015
Hear how next year's class is shaping up.

May 2015
We honor the largest group of graduates in Free Minds history!  

Looking for earlier newsletters?

Visit our complete 

online archive.


The Final Word
Fall Workshop Facilitator Abbey Chung: "We have done the messy and brave work of looking within." 
Writing is a paradox: at once solitary and communal. It is technical, requiring close examination of the mechanics of language, and also emotional, requiring close and profound exploration of the self.
Miraculously, over the past eight Wednesdays at Capitol Studios, we've managed to do all of those things. We have had complex discussions of craft, and we have done the messy and brave work of making ourselves vulnerable and looking within. We found, within the class, companions to accompany us on the solitary journey.
I entered the session worried that no one would even show up; I exit it genuinely in awe of this group of people who not only showed up every week, but improbably seemed interested in what I had to say. They dedicated themselves fiercely both to understanding the writing craft and to uplifting each other.
My most striking memory of the workshop comes from our second-to-last evening. After six weeks of writing prompts, everyone was eager to discuss each other's work. They split into groups and settled into separate corners. I followed one group out to the balcony; I was no longer the focal point; they focused perfectly on each other. The evening was warm and a slight breeze rustled their papers. One person began to read. The others leaned in toward her, their eyes warm and intent, their pens poised.
I know that one class will not, in itself, transform the world. I would not wish to make it anything more than it was. I can say that those Wednesday evenings represent the moments I try to open up space for, as often as possible, wherever I go; that within them lies the kind of world in which I most hope to live.
Abbey is a writer and teaching artist originating from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She holds a writing fellowship at UT Austin's Michener Center for Writers, and her writing has appeared recently in StoryQuarterly,, Barrelhouse , and Gargoyle Magazine .  

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
3036 South 1st Street
Austin TX, 78704

Project Director: Vivé Griffith

Program Coordinator: Amelia Pace-Borah


Ph: 512-610-7961   F: 512-447-0288