The Clawback LIVE! Episode 42

logo-tr.pngEpisode 41!

D6er Courtney Santana with Survive2Thrive Foundation and Denise Eismann with the Austin Hotel/Lodging Assoc join the show to talk about the amazing work they've done to help address domestic violence and Austin Symphony Orchestra Principal Harpist Elaine Barber and Alex Coke bless us with their musical talents

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Episode Transcript

At some point, the math is the math. I think we can do a better job using that information. It reinforces my belief that I have the best constituents. Hello Austin! Hello District Six! Hello all my wonderful Clawback viewers watching live and watching later in the same stream. Today is a special day. Today is 9-11. It has been 19 years. For those of us like myself who were adults back during that day, they're definitely times that it feels it was just yesterday. This is an interesting day to reflect on all of the changes our nation has gone through in the last 19 years and also an opportunity to show our appreciation and remember the first responders and our public safety heroes that charged into burning buildings and saved as many lives while losing many of their own. It is a solemn day for reflection but also a day to to think about safety, not just from foreign aggressors but safety right here at home. We are definitely having a safety conversation here in Austin and I don't have to go into the long version of it, right? But there's a lot of overlay to this. There's safety during the pandemic, where Austinites are still doing a good job wearing your masks, avoiding too many close-in, tight situations. We're back in the Stage 3 so you can do your outdoor gatherings of 10 people or less. We're getting to a good place, but there are risks ahead. UT football games are gonna start up somehow with 25,000 people in the stadium. You know, I was a Longhorn Band member, and so I've spent many hours in many games in that stadium, both as a band member and a student and in the Alumni Band. It is going to be a challenge, and I hope that UT is doing everything that it can possibly do - short of maybe not having 25,000 people in the same building. And then we have all of our other conversations about public safety in general. Austin is still- and remains the safest central city in America. At the same time, the police department budget has almost doubled in the last 10 years, while population has grown by just 30%. I hear as many people complaining about their tax bills as I do about anything else. And ultimately, a department that doubles in size and outpaces population growth, 2 to 3 times, is just not a sustainable model. We're doing really important and critical work that I'm leading on, chairing the Public Safety Committee and doing the types of pragmatic reforms that are going to keep this city the safest city in America, but also help curtail the rising cost of government in the largest bureaucracy funded with your tax dollars. So many things going on today, but we've got a couple of great guests on the show. We've got our first third- time returning guest in Courtney Santana and with her, joining is Denise Eisman. We're gonna talk about domestic violence in the era of a pandemic and the really amazing and valuable work those folks are doing. And then our musical guest today is Elaine Barber & Alex Coke. Elaine is the principal harpist at the Austin Symphony Orchestra. I don't know about you all, I could use a little bit of calming harp music this morning. I think it would make me feel better. I hope it will make you feel better. I've actually known Elaine for a long time, but we'll get into that we get to our guests - when we get to our musical guests at the end.

Courtney Santana with Survive2Thrive Foundation and Denise Eismann with the Austin Hotel/Lodging Assoc

But let's bring on our first guests: Courtney Santana and Denise Eisman. Hello! How are you? You know, I don't know how to answer that question anymore. It is such a bizarre time for everybody but before we dig in to all of the amazing work both of you are doing, Courtney, Denise, is everybody safe, healthy, and doing well in this crazy time? Yes, I'm doing well, family as well. Everybody's safe, no one's been sick and cross our fingers everything is going well. Thank you for asking. Denise? Can you hear us? Denise? Denise, can you hear us? So we might be having an audio issue. I don't think - We had this happen in the last show, and we had to do a little bit of ah magic. So I'm gonna put to Denise back into the green room; we're gonna have the the team check out what challenges she might be having with her audio, but Courtney, thanks for coming back on the show. Of course! The first three-time guest. You were on the very episode of the Clawback, you've been back once before, and now today to talk amongst all of the amazing things and creative things and musical things that you do, cuz you weren't just the first guest, you were the first musical guest. Yes! I just love you so much, and you're a District 6 resident. I'm so glad to have you back on the show. But what I really want to talk about with you today is your work with Survive2Thrive, and I've got a little banner up there for you. We've talked about this a little bit before, but why don't you give folks a quick review of Survive2Thrive and what your foundation does? Sure. Survive2Thrive foundation started to deal with the issue of victim displacement and homelessness. We found out that there are a lot of victims that will go to the shelter that won't be able to get in due to capacity issues. There are simply not enough beds for heads. So finding innovative and strategic ways to house this displaced community and to keep them from going into permanent displacement is really important during this critical time. They may go back to an abuser, then you might find them on the streets, and we try to catch those victims during that time. So it's really important work to me as a 20-year survivor of domestic violence here in Austin. Well, it's really critical work, and we've had this conversation a little bit before about the increase in this problem as a result of the pandemic and people being quarantined with the folks that are that are doing that harm. Talk about - people, I think, when they think about this problem, have a very singular image in their mind about who the folks are that are experiencing this problem and the challenges that they face. But it's much more diverse than that. There's a lot of different folks. Who you all serve that are trying to escape this very difficult situation. Talk about the different types of folks that Absolutely, so - [audio issue] Absolutely, it crosses every social economic line you could imagine and we actually talked about this at the beginning of quarantine, so it's been about 6 months where we've worked with the lady that lives in the affluent area all the way down to a member of the homeless community. We have folks who are living in their cars they go to work and to school every day, but they turn to their cars because they don't have a safe place to call home right now. The pandemic has created this environment at home where it's pressurized, where the violence they were experienced before, there were lapses of time, they would go to school, they would go to work, they would go to the grocery store - that would allow them some sort of respite from the actual intensity of their domestic abuse. But now, with this shelter-in-place order, we're seeing more and more calls. We've had over 2,700 calls to our hotline since we started, and that was just in March, of folks who are dealing with this pressurized situation, and they're not able to go anywhere because the shelters are currently full or operating on limited capacity due to COVID-19. So we started this work specifically to deal with this particular issue. It's such a big challenge for the community, and there are there are multiple resources in the community for folks who are experiencing this and trying to escape from this type of violence. But the ability to scale and respond- I think as we- We're gonna see more of that actually with domestic violence. Yeah, I think Courtney you and I are having a little bit of an audio lag today, but that's okay. Let me see if Denise is available. Denise. Can hear us now? Hello, Denise? I can hear Denise. I don't think she can hear us. Yes. Well that's a shame. Denise, I'll put a banner up. Yes, here's Denise. Can you hear us? Yes. I can't. Oh yes. Okay, we got her! So we were just talking with Courtney about what Survive2Thrive does and the challenges of domestic violence. I wanna take a pivot and talk about the impact of this on the hotel industry, and then we'll bring it back together, and talk about this partnership that you guys have put together. So Denise, talk about, I mean it seems obvious on its face, but as the as the CEO of the Austin Hotel Lodging Association, you've been working directly with hoteliers and small business owners right in the city. Talk about what the impact has been on the industry, both from the cancellation of South By and just generally the pandemic. Are you hearing us, Denise? I don't think Denise is hearing us again. We'll bring back. that's great. Okay. Welcome back Courtney right so I'll just talk cuz I've been able to work with Denise on a number of different things in the hotel industry and there's been a lot of work. It's a pretty significant portion of our economy here in Austin and a lot of work. There's even an election held about expanding the Convention Center, which the community supported. So we're working hard on those resources as well, but the challenge that the hoteliers faced and the challenge that you faced really intersected and kind of a magical and beautiful way towards the beginning of the pandemic. Why don't Courtney, you explain how that was facilitated and the work that you've been able to do with the industry? Absolutely, you can hear me. Yeah? Good. So the there is a great intersection here. We needed capacity and the hotels needed us, and now there's an opportunity for us to house victims in a more collaborative partnership. Because in the past, we've had a couple of hotels but with the capacity opening up in these hotels, it allowed us to get victims safely into those hotel rooms and provide them case management and supplies and resources during this really tough time. It's a very specific moment in time, and it's a great opportunity for us to continue this relationship into the future. We thank the City of Austin for supporting this new and innovative concept, because it's - You know, we've been doing it for 13 years, but now with COVID, it definitely exposed this connection that allows us to safely house so many people. We've been able to over 400, close to 500 people since we started in March. I mean 500 people, that's pretty amazing, and it shows the power of this partnership that you are able to scale up so quickly, in as close to a rapid response as you can find. 500 folks - So there are other things that Survive2Thrive is doing, right? You guys participated in the RISE program? Yes, we did. We provided - So those 500 - 500 people equates to about 218 families. We were able to provide food resources, deposit support to help to get people stabilized, so these families are not just going to hotels. Afterward, our goal is to get them into permanent housing, and we've been able to do that with about 47 families so far. So it's just a transition into a new stage of life for many of our clients. It's really fantastic work that you're doing, Courtney, and I'm so proud to have you as a friend and a constituent in District 6. So much great work comes out of District 6, and I'm glad to have helped make the connection between you and your organization and the hotel industry, and to see it blossom into such a powerful and valuable service for folks who are experiencing a very challenging and under- reported problem, that at the beginning of the pandemic, I don't know that anyone but you was predicting that this would happen. I wasn't even doing it then either, cuz I remember having a conversation going: Is this? This is really happening! Like, who even anticipates- you can't anticipate a pandemic. But it allowed us to start thinking innovatively about how we can actually use what's established instead of building - you know, building buildings. It doesn't make sense right now and especially since that synergy what was there between hotels and them actually needing us, cuz I went back to them about five years ago, and I said, listen, the victims of this program are gonna come to you anyway. We have domestic violence victims, they go to hotels. That's just kind of what they do, and we started a conversation about that. And they were like, there's always issues with evacuees and people who are dealing with escape. So they worry about damages. They worry about liabilities, but they were open. They were saying you know, listen if you can come up with a liability plan, you can come up with the insurance cover damages, then we would be willing to talk. 5 years ago when we started hashing this out, we had no idea that was a thing, and it just came at the right time. So we are so thankful to you. Council Member Flannigan for making the connection with us and the hotel industry, and it's only growing from here. It's pretty exciting to watch. Thanks Courtney for being so creative and innovative and helping solve this very challenging issue. It's not every organization with a long history that can pivot and take on modern challenges with modern solutions. It's very impressive the work that Survive2Thrive is doing, and I'm proud to have supported it, and included Survive2Thrive in all of the amazing work that's going on at the city. I might try Denise one more time. Okay! Cuz I do wanna talk about the hotel- I can see, I think she's putting in headphones. I'm vamping for time a little bit. It's okay! Here we go here. We go here. We go. we go. Hey Denise. Are you there? Can you hear us? Denise? I mean, any chance that Denise is gonna pop into the audio here in a second? She was, yeah. No? Maybe? Oh what a challenge! What a challenge! It's okay. I'm talking. Can you hear me? Yeah. Yes we We can hear you, Denise. Mmmmm. Oh, you can hear me? Okay great! I just can't hear you! Oh, fabulous, fabulous okay. Well great. I'm gonna be your telepromter. Go ahead and ask your questions. Technology! See you know I wouldn't have this problem if I lived in District 6! I'm over here in Pflugerville! Council Member. Well, I mean- The only problem is, I can't hear you. It's okay. We'll just do one question, and if you want to text her Courtney, I just wanna know how the hotel industry is doing, and what she sees for the future. You know the challenges are pretty dramatic. Sounds great, Let us know. Answer that. Go. Did she not get the question? I think so. So the hotel industry right now that we're- Okay, so our hotel industry. How's the hotel industry doing I'm assuming that's what I'm going to answer. I apologize for the technical difficulties here, but I'm glad to be part of your Clawback show! Council Member, as you know, the hotel industry is always in the spirit of hospitality. And unfortunately, the spirit has not been 100%. We are appreciative of the staycations during the weekends, and luckily, here, most recently, we're able to help with our community outreach with Hurricane Laura and obviously with programs like the sanctuary, the Survive2Thrive programs, and being able to help as much as we can. Then when hotels obviously as you know, with the cancellation of South by Southwest was a huge impact. No one could have ever predicted that, and but we're looking forward to the future of convention center expansion and hopefully coming out of this together, unified and building our city back and bringing in great visitors to our city and it's just a wonderful opportunity to have Austin thrive again and see our businesses opening back up and such. With the convention center expansion and our Project Connect, we see some really great opportunities for the future in helping us get a kick start on that come back in our industry. Hopefully, you're seeing the next question, I would love to know more about this: The safety protocols the hotels are using to keep us safe. I'm guessing that I'm being asked in regards to our safety structures that we built in the hotel industry. I apologize if I'm reading this wrong. Austin implemented, many of the hotel brands implemented a stay-safe plan for their brands- the social distance and honoring all rules that are coming from the from the county level, the city level, the state level, and all of the CDC orders and following those rules in regards to social distance, in regards to the check in process, in regards to having rooms that in the meetings and gatherings and following that protocol Really applaud all of the hotels and how they have been able to maintain the the safety and being able to have each guest feel comfortable as they come in to the hotel and as they are there to stay and enjoy, perhaps like I said, a staycation or just a mini vacation with their family as they not flying the friendly skies right now. And so we're just appreciative of those opportunities so people taking advantage of the time that they can actually get out and stay at a hotel and feel safe and enjoy. And still enjoy Austin. Enjoy the the lakes. And enjoy an opportunity to be here in our beautiful city. Well, thank you, Denise. I know that you can't hear what I'm saying right now, but I really appreciate the work that you've done and the work that Courtney, that you've done with Survive2 Thrive and providing value to this community, not just for domestic violence survivors, not just for staycations, but hotels have stepped up as quarantine facilities and helping with some of our homeless issues. Thank you. And I mean it's just- Thank you for all you're doing Council Member. We really couldn't do - I'm sorry if I'm interrupting anybody's conversation, but I just want to give a special thanks to you Council Member Flannigan, because truly, you're one of our strongest supporters in the industry, and we appreciate you for that, recognizing the needs that we have as a hotel group, and being there to support us in the industry, all in the spirit of hospitality. We're just so so so so pleased to be a part and a partnership with Survive2Thrive, because we are, as an industry, focused on nonprofit organizations. We focus on community outreach, we focus on giving back to the city, and together we will overcome this pandemic, this dark cloud, if you will. I don't even want to call it a pandemic - this dark cloud that is that is over us. Because once we get past this, we're gonna be back to rock and rolling because we are still the live music capital city of the world. Well, thanks, Denise. Thank you, Courtney, for coming on the show. I appreciate all the hard work you're doing. Thank you so much. And Courtney, we'll have you on for A fourth time soon? What? We're gonna do a duet soon! Hopefully! I love that, I love that. Thank you. Thank you, Well, you know we worked through it, a little bit. We work through this. This is a live show, everybody! We're making it happen, live and in real time. Let's go on to our last guest our live musical guests. Denise kind of said it at the end: The industry that she represents - tourism and hotel lodging, it flows so much into how our restaurants and live music venues stay open and survive. The economic ecosystem that those industries represent are so valuable to not just tourists, but to the very cultural centers that benefit Austinites.

Austin Symphony Orchestra Principal Harpist Elaine Barber and Alex Coke

And Elaine Barber who we're bringing on the show, is a part of one of those cultural institutions that you don't often think of when you're walking down 6th Street, but are part of the. So of live music in our city, so I wanna welcome to the show: Elaine Barber! Hey, Elaine! Hey Jimmy! Good morning, Hi Elaine and Alex! Welcome to the show. Thanks. We're glad to be here Thanks for coming on the show. You've been with the symphony for a long time. I don't think that's unfair to say? It's not unfair to say. I joined symphony in 1991, so it's been a long haul. I've been making music with these people for all those years, and it's just- it's my family. It's the people I work with and make music with, and I'm thrilled that they're finding ways to survive through this time when we can't play for our audiences. It takes a lot of creativity to kind of make that leap to cornonavirus time. Well, I wanna hear about the impact to your music in the symphony, but first, are you and your family safe? Everybody healthy in this time? We are all safe, thank God, my children, my grandchildren, Alex and I. We're all just hunkering down and weathering. I'm so glad to hear that. A lot of folks don't know that you and I used to be neighbors. We actually were next door neighbors for a while, and and by complete random chance. And I had the joy as I've told you before of certain mornings waking up to the sound of harp music. It was a real joy. I should've had to pay extra on my rent for that. Well, I'm happy you didn't bang on the walls. It was beautiful, and it's so great to see you, and thanks again for coming on the show. So talk about the impact of the pandemic and the shutdown and South By's closure on your music and the symphony. Well actually, I was playing the week of the shutdown, I was doing a show with the San Antonio Symphony. We rehearsed all week long. By Thursday, people were starting to think, maybe this isn't gonna happen? And Friday morning, just as we were going into dress rehearsal, the mayor of San Antonio said there are no gatherings of people more than 50 people, so we just rehearsed all weekend and didn't play the concert. And ever after that, live shows have just not been happening. And people who run arts organizations have been working to try to figure out how we can still get music out in the world without having live audiences and live shows. And it's been a real challenge to everyone's creativity and everyone's sense of innovation. Well, one of the things that the two of you have done to innovate is you do a show of your own? Is that right? That's right, in our driveway! Every Monday night in the driveway. So we play for you know, half a dozen, a dozen neighbors and everybody who walks by and bikes by on Monday nights in the neighborhood. that's so amazing. And for you and your partner Alex to both be incredibly talented musicians, how did the two of you meet? You wanna field that one? We met at in the Musician's Union Wage Scale committee. Wow. Elaine Was on the orchestra committee because I had just moved into a new venue back then. When we were moving in to the Long Center. And there was an issue about cartage for the harp and the timpani, and I was representing club musicians. Totally romantic stuff! Wage scale! That's amazing. Well, truly, though it shines a light on that music is- there's so much that goes into producing music beyond just being a talented musician. They're all the logistics that that surround how these groups come together and the facilities that exist, and the union, the important and critical union work that backs that up. You know, I've worked with unions like IATSE to talk about the crews and the technology and the other folks that surround- It's hard to have crew come on and be the live music for a show like this, but it's always important to acknowledge that most of the music wouldn't even happen if it wasn't for all the crew that back everybody up. Right. Absolutely, crew is super essential and shout out to the union for representing people who play in clubs and people who play in the symphony and everybody in between. They have a pretty wide range there of musicians in Austin to take care of, and we're all in it together. Well, I'm excited to hear what you've got to perform for us today. Why don't you tell the folks what you're gonna do and then take it away. Okay. This is a piece of Alex's called "Compassion." So why don't- You wanna talk about it? I wrote it just a few weeks ago for the First Presbyterian Church, where I've been working. I've worked with Richie there for 40, I don't know 20 years? 15 years? And we're also playing this piece. We've made a video of it, and we're playing it for the Austin Peace Organization this weekend or so or next weekend. And Willie Nelson's involved in that. Wow. It's a really great show there. It's Nonviolent Austin, and they do 9 days of concerts, and we'll play one of the days. It's just a short 10-minute thing. We do a couple of pieces. Other people Willie Nelson is involved in it. Eliza Gilkyson and Dave Madden. I mean it's a huge list of people Dave Pulkingham - so you can check them out at at Nonviolent Austin. So I think that's important thing I've been lucky to play for International Peace Day for the last few years in Amsterdam. That sounds that sounds absolutely amazing and really important and valuable work, and I'm thankful that you all are willing to share some of your music with us today. Right! So take it away. I'm excited to hear it. ["Compassion" by Alex Coke] ["Compassion" played by Alex Coke & Elaine Barber] Yay! That was beautiful. Thank you! Absolutely beautiful and just the type of calming energy that I think we all need at this time and in this moment. Thank you both, Elaine and Alex for sharing your music with me and with all the viewers of the show today. Elaine and Alex both of you, why don't you tell folks what's coming up for the symphony, and where folks can hear your music? Yes. Well Austin Symphony is premiering our 110th season tonight on a video. So you need to go to the Austin Symphony website, and we have a concert. It took all summer to plan this thing and figure out how to gather musicians and keep them safe, and how to make a beautiful production out of it. So that premieres tonight, and it'll be available over the next week and you go to: Also I want to talk about Texas Early Music Project, which has a concert of medieval French. Music that I'm playing on. Music from the time of the black death, the great plague the worse plague than this one. but it's I think it's- A little on the nose! It's a lot of love songs from the time of the Black Death. So I'd go to Texas Early Music Project website. Buy a ticket for that, and it starts airing tomorrow night. So Austin Symphony tonight, Texas Early Music project tomorrow night. And you can see the concerts on the driveway on YouTube or Facebook. Easy to Google. Yeah. Easy to Google. I'll give a shout out to Project Safety Net, which is an initiative of the Austin Jazz Society. They've raised I think over $60,000 for Austin jazz musicians. We play a series at Monks, which is live streamed. I did one a couple of weeks ago. I think Andre Hayward is playing this week. They do it every Tuesday. You can look them up on Facebook, Austin Jazz Society and Monks, and donate and keep the musicians fed and housed even. Well, thank thank you all so much for coming on- beautiful music to share with the community and I hope everyone checks out both the symphony and the Texas Early Music Project and all the live stream work that you're doing. Thank you. Thank you again for spending some time with us on Friday. Thank you, good to see you again, Jimmy! Yes. Bye. bye. That was really beautiful. We've had a lot of different types of musicians come on the show and that was, that was really something special. So thanks again to Elaine and Alex for sharing their music with us today. That's the end of the show. I wanna put up the link to the to the campaign website. we are bizarrely in the home stretch. We are just 4 weeks, roughly 4 weeks away from the start of early vote to the November election, and you will find if you're in District 6, you will find my name on the ballot. And we need your help. We need your help, not just with your vote, although I definitely need your vote, but also helping talk to friends and neighbors. There's so many things on the ballot. Obviously there's a lot of talk about the presidential election and the really important change that we need happening, that we need to make at the federal level, but all of the down ballot races, and in District 6, you're gonna see candidates for Round Rock ISD, AISD, Leander ISD, these are nonpartisan races just like City Council. And so you've got to make sure you talk to your friends and neighbors about who the right candidates are in those races and tell them about me your City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan. Stay tuned to the show In the coming weeks. We're gonna keep talking about all of the amazing work that we've done for the district in the last 4 years, rolling out transportation infrastructure solving problems, reducing the cost of government, creating more efficiencies, and all of the programs that we've set up in response to the pandemic: helping small businesses, supporting childcare, supporting nonprofits and individuals, all across the city, but especially in District 6. So thanks again for watching. Go visit the website /Next Sign up to volunteer. Sign up for a yard sign, if you live in the district, and you know, maybe get a couple of bucks my way and help the campaign win this thing in November. Everybody stay safe out there, keep wearing your masks, keep doing the right thing, and we will see you next week.


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