November 2017
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion   
With two weeks left in the fall semester, the Free Minds community is all hustle and bustle. In this edition, we celebrate current student Lidia Simmons, wrap up our fall community writing workshop, and share some exciting events. Plus, workshop participant Bretton Varn takes it away for The Final Word. Read on! 
Lidia Simmons Aims High 
Motivational speaker and master of confidence, Lidia Simmons just wants to leave something behind for her kiddos. That, and go to business school... after earning her medical license.
A student in the Free Minds Class of 2018 and the first in her family to make it past tenth grade, Lidia believes in the power of learning.
Education was what helped her make it this far, and she plans to use it to build a career she can rely on as a health practitioner and to pursue her dream of owning a small business .  
At 27, Lidia lives in fast-motion, providing hospice care to folks from Cedar Park to Lockhart, taking care of her kids, ages eight and two, and attending Free Minds twice a week Her goal for this year? To finish the program with an A or B average, and continue with Foundation Communities College Hub afterwards to earn a license through ACC .  
But even Lidia knows there are only so many hours in a day . "I just try to remember I'm only one person. There's only so much I can achieve at one time. I just have to go at my speed .
One of her biggest motivators is uplifting those around her, including her friends and family. "I believe they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it," says Lidia. "If you believe it, you can achieve it."
Through the first semester in Free Minds, Lidia has learned to tap into the resources available to her, including asking for help from professors and finding herself a study buddy at ACC's Pinnacle campus . Her main source of support, though, is herself. "I talk to myself in the car all the time . I'm like, 'girl, I am so proud of you, look at you, Lidia!' I never used to tell myself that . Now I don't have to hear other people say it, 'cause I'm giving myself my own pat on the back ."

December Events

Pathways to College Fair 
Meet with college representatives from across the state, explore college resources, and get tips for success in higher education.  
Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 am - 2 pm
Consulate General of Mexico
5202 East Ben White Blvd #150
All are welcome. Click here to RSVP or learn more.  
2nd Saturday: Reading Dis/Ability
with Dr Julie Minich, professor, writer, expert in Chicana, feminist, and disability studies.
Saturday, Dec. 9, 10 am - noon 
M Station Apartments (above the leasing office) 
Child care and breakfast are provided. Guests welcome!   

End of Semester Celebration
We'll share a potluck dinner and celebrate the accomplishments of our 2017-18 students.
 Thursday, Dec. 14, 6:15 - 8:45 pm 
M Station Learning Center

Bluebonnet Writing Guild Builds Community With Words

For the last eight weeks, Tuesday nights have been a creative ritual for Free Minds, carved out in celebration of words. Every week at Bluebonnet Studios, the cohort of 16 participants from across Austin have gathered together to write, share chocolate and Topo Chico, look out at that blinking skyline, and bring Natalie Goldberg's motto to life: go for the jugular.

The group included current and former Free Minds students, Bluebonnet residents, military veterans, parents, grandparents, and library enthusiasts. United in the goal of honing their writing,  participants explored subjects as varied as flipping tortillas hot in the pan, struggling with addiction, and tending to Kimberly ferns. They wrote about race, about their unknown opposition to physical contact, to love. They wrote through the senselessness of mass shootings, and dug up their first time making pie, dumping the cinnamon in heavy-handed.

On November 14, participants met for the last time to celebrate two months of building a community with words. At a public reading at Wheatsville co-op, they shared the writing they felt most proud of, standing at the podium to speak up, some for the first time, in nervous excitement.

When asked why they wrote, the response was unanimous: because they had to. For many, being part of a community of writers broke open new pathways for expression. As workshop participant and current Free Minds student Shilda Fresch put it, "My writing has improved so much, it's shocking. I find myself writing all the time now."

Check out our Final Word below to read a sample of one participant's work.

Issue 68        
In This Issue
Lidia Simmons Aims High
December Events
Writing Workshop Builds Community with Words
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:

Jaime Ayala
Foundation Communities' College Hub

Nicole Powell Cantu
Foundation Communities' Children's Home Initiative

Evan Carton
Free Minds Advisory Committee

Elizabeth Colvin
Insure Central Texas

Vivé Griffith
Creative Writing at ACC, Former Free Minds Director

Jennifer Herber
Austin Energy

Marc Jimenez
Austin Community College

Monique Johnson-Jones
Austin Community College

Anthony Julian
Free Minds Class of 2016

David Lauderback
Austin Community College

Aimee Luna
Free Minds Class of 2016

Elizabeth Moreno
Austin Community College

Michael Noll 
Writer's League of Texas 

Judith Rhedin
Texas Performing Arts

Clayton Stromberger
Shakespeare at Winedale

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

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Minds in Motion

September 2017
Welcome to the Class of 2018!

July 2017
Free Minds celebrates alum Tasha.

Looking for earlier newsletters?

Visit our complete 
finalwordThe Final Word
In this piece called "The Fix," workshop participant Bretton Varn explores the absurdities of battling addiction. 
Bretton reads his piece at the final sharing
He woke up the same way he has for the past five years. Painfully and full of dread. The Crane looked at him through the window with his beak pointing violently at him like a sharpened knife. The neck stretched in a very accusatory position. The man is now falling over the ledge. "This is more than just a hangover," he says. If he could just make it to the next room. The blanket feels like a two-ton cloud and won't let him go. The frills at the end, so divine to touch, are like hooks that keep him locked in this hell of a morning. He makes it to the floor. The Crane lets out a squawk, letting the man know his disapproval. "Don't do it!" the judgmental bird says. The man doesn't listen in silent protest. Now crawling in a very excruciating slump, he somehow makes it to the kitchen. The man knows what he wants. He promised he would quit but it's too much for him now. He stands up reluctantly and can't wait for the fix. The Crane starts to cry. He doesn't care. He opens the cupboard and the smell is like a punch of pleasure up his nostrils and a kick of ecstasy to his brain. He can't believe he's done it again, but he's past the point of no return. The man bellows out a loud sigh of relief, "Coffee..." he says.

Bretton Varn is a thirty-year-old army veteran, artist, amateur philosopher, resident at Bluebonnet Studios, and California native. His motto? "The key is there is no key."

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