Austin Ridge Riders will present a day of riding, trail maintenance, and socializing at their annual Cranksgiving event. Riding begins at 9:30 am, with the last laps starting no later than 2 pm. Participants can earn a raffle ticket for each lap thet complete.

There will also be trail work stations along the route. Participants can stop and complete a station and earn an additional ticket for each station completed.

Photo courtesy of JuiceLand

Austin-born JuiceLand beefs up protein selection with new animal-free whey

Whey Better

JuiceLand, the popular Austin-based blended health drinks chain, is known for a mission in sustainability, veering away from non-vegan proteins four years ago. It turns out, there is another whey. Now in all 32 Texas locations, JuiceLand is offering vegan whey protein, made in partnership with food and biotech company Perfect Day.

This ingredient is a “nature-identical milk protein,” derived through precision fermentation. In short, Perfect Day downloaded a protein-making DNA sequence from an online database. It was obtained from a cow in 2009, just by drawing blood. The biotech company added it to some microflora (a wide range of microorganisms), which naturally processed whey like yeast makes beer or kombucha. The microflora do the work, and presumably, the cow hasn’t lifted a hoof since then.

Along with offering a cushier life to cows, Perfect Day is reducing the ecological footprint of making whey, because microflora are a lot cheaper, environmentally, to board and care for. A press release asserts that this protein-making process “reduces greenhouse gas emissions up to 97 percent, water use up to 99 percent, and energy use up to 60 percent.”

“When we first met the JuiceLand team, we immediately recognized the values alignment between our two companies and our opportunity to help them answer their ongoing customer requests, without compromising their mission,” said Perfect Day chief marketing officer Allison Fowler in the release.

Why did customers create such a clamor for this protein? Because whey tastes great. It’s wonderful to have a vegan smoothie that tastes of sweet macadamia, but whey gives it that milkshake luxury. It also delivers tons of amino acids and is considered a super-effective way to build muscle.

The Chocolate Whey, containing 26-44 grams of protein depending on the size of the smoothie, is the first recipe using the new protein and JuiceLand’s most successful new product debut. With almond milk, banana, cacao, vanilla, and whey, it’s as close to a chocolate milkshake as you’ll get without a cow. It is introduced as a seasonal special, meaning half of net proceeds benefit the SIMS Foundation in Austin, The Katy Trail in Dallas, and The Bellaire Nature Discovery Center in Bellaire.

“JuiceLand has always encouraged our community to embrace a delicious diet that positively impacts humankind and the sustainability of our planet,” said JuiceLand CEO Matt Shook in the release. “Perfect Day’s incredible animal-free whey protein perfectly fits into that mission.”

The Chocolate Whey is available at any JuiceLand location, and can also be ordered online at juiceland.com.

Courtesy of Circuit of the Americas

Cruise Austin's iconic Circuit of the Americas track during bike nights this fall

Back On Track

It’s the Circuit of the Americas, not the Circuit of gas-powered vehicles. Starting on Tuesday, September 13, bicycles are taking over. Tuesdays at 6 pm, anyone who owns a bike can take the activity to the max on the 3.41-mile track. After pedaling their hearts out or enjoying a leisurely coast, riders are invited for drinks and food truck snacks.

Bike Night is already a tradition at COTA, where bikers have had years of fun on two wheels without worrying about any traffic. The series paused this summer and is back for cooler nights, bike gods willing.

Bikers can take a break at any time and can spend it peering off of the Observation Deck, if they consider hanging out on a 25-story platform relaxing ($10 online, 12 on-site, $5 for kids).

Not that anyone needs a theme to get on a bike, but each ride is a new experience with something new to celebrate. The themes are a little opaque, but no one is going to kick you off your bike if they don’t like your Lorax costume. Curated playlists will fit each night’s theme. (Although another theme day is listed on September 6, a COTA representative confirms the series restarts on September 13.)

  • September 13 is Oh the Places You’ll Go Night
  • September 20 is Rock of Ages Night
  • September 27 is Disco Night

Two shirts will be on sale on the last night: the 2022 season shirt and a Disco Night theme shirt, both $20 with proceeds benefiting Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Although it’s famous for Formula One racing, the Circuit of the Americas hosts all kinds of events, including karting and camping. This is not the only opportunity to get on the COTA track, but the most regular and accessible. RideSmart, an outside organization, lets riders bring their motorcycles on the track, and a special fundraising event in 2020 allowed drivers in their personal vehicles.

More information about Bike Night and links to purchase tickets ($10 for adults, $5 for kids) at thecircuit.com. Helmets are not required, but strongly recommended.

Rendering courtesy of Dwg

Glorious Austin sculpture park becomes accessible to all abilities for first time

Ramping Up

A new zig-zagging ramp at The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria won’t just tie together the landscape — although it does do that, using angles to create a striking geometric feature in a cluster of greenery leading to Lake Austin. It also complies with standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), connecting the upper and lower grounds to all visitors for the very first time.

The Contemporary, Strata Landscape, and Dwg architects broke ground on the project on July 5, using funds from “a Heritage Tourism Grant from the City of Austin, a generous gift from Laura and Rex Bohls, and support from Stratus Properties,” according to a press release. The 340-foot switchback ramp doubles back twice over a staircase straight down the slope, creating two sharp triangles on either side and blending the stairs and ramp — both made of concrete — into one harmonious design.

This plan replaces an existing staircase, which is narrower and notably steep, creating potential difficulty for any visitor who missteps, or simply prefers to pay more attention to the beautiful surroundings than what’s happening underfoot. Although the existing stairs were unobtrusive compared to the thicket around them, they were a mostly uninteresting addition to the landscape.

Laguna Gloria is known for its permanent outdoor sculptures, most notably a tall, cartoonish human figure gazing up at the sky, made of crinkly-looking stainless steel by artist Tom Friedman. The upper grounds contain this statue and Driscoll Villa, the 1916 Italianate home of philanthropist Clara Driscoll; the lower grounds form a sculpture park trail in the trees along the water.

“This project creates a legacy of unbelievable significance,” says Sharon Maidenberg, the Ernest and Sarah Butler executive director and CEO of the Contemporary Austin in the release. “The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria is a place for quiet contemplation of art and nature, where our visitors can roam and explore. … The new ADA-compliant ramp represents a huge step toward removing a major access barrier to this civic treasure.”

In addition to regular museum visitors and art school students, Laguna Gloria welcomes more than 7,000 K-12 students each year, experiencing and creating contemporary art during cross-curricular field trips with their schools. Tickets ($10 for adults) and information about private events are available at thecontemporaryaustin.org.

The ramp at the Contemporary Austin's Laguna Gloria campus brings form and function to the landscape.

Rendering courtesy of Dwg
The ramp at the Contemporary Austin's Laguna Gloria campus brings form and function to the landscape.
Rendering courtesy of Karisha

New female-founded wellness facility in East Austin tackles health inequity

Whole Austinite Care

Wellness as a 21st century concept comes loaded with stereotypes, many of those about how wealthy a person must be to access increasingly basic care. East Austin’s Karisha Community Center for Wellness is addressing this disparity head-on, announcing a $1 million community crowdfunding campaign to redistribute opportunity and build a new community wellness facility.

The 14,800-square-foot space is planned at the corner of 51st Street and Springdale, a notable juxtaposition with the Dollar General across the street. Renderings show a sleek wood paneled complex that mirrors the style of many of the newer homes in the area. A video by Karisha shares a statistic that “residents on the east side of Austin live 10 to 22 years less than their west side counterparts” (citing 2017 data from the Texas Department of State Health Services).

Karisha emphasizes health care over “sick care,” a reactive process that treats illness as it arises instead of preventing it. The public benefit corporation (a for-profit owned by shareholders and tied to a stated goal) doesn’t depart entirely from traditional Western medicine, but it does include whole person care, which acknowledges mental and other areas of health as well as body health.

“Our purpose is to foster the innate human capacity to love, heal, and thrive, and that requires a village,” said Karisha CEO and founder Amina Haji. “That’s why we are inviting everyday people to invest and raise $1 million to bring us to the next stage in completing our mission of bringing holistic health care to Austin.”

Once complete, the center hopes to service 4,000 East Austinites, with or without insurance, with the option to join a membership program. Along with the visiting spaces most patients expect at a doctor’s office, it encompasses a “healing kitchen,” a physical training space, meditative gardens, and more community spaces. It will employ four primary care physicians, an acupuncturist, a nutritionist, a mindfulness instructor, and other practitioners.

Development is moving quickly, as Karisha already owns an acre and a half of land, has secured building permits, and has raised $3 million. Later this summer, it will offer hybrid care at a satellite location, and break ground for the main project sometime during the third quarter of 2022.

Photo courtesy of Georgetown CVB

2 Austin-area counties weigh in among the healthiest in the country, says U.S. News

Taking the temperature

For babies and baby boomers alike, Williamson County and Travis County stand out among the healthiest counties in the U.S. According to a new study by U.S. News & World Report, Williamson and Travis County came in at No. 121 and No. 295, respectively, on its recent list the 500 healthiest counties in the country.

U.S. News assessed 2,735 of the 3,143 counties across the U.S. but ranked only 500 of them. The healthiest county in Texas was Dallas neighbor Collin County, which landed at No. 50 nationally.

For the study, U.S. News examined 89 metrics across 10 categories tied to health:

  1. Community health
  2. Health, income, education, and social equity
  3. Education
  4. Economy
  5. Housing
  6. Food and nutrition
  7. Environment
  8. Public safety
  9. Community vitality
  10. Infrastructure

Williamson County earned its highest score in the economy category (93); its lowest score was in the housing category (52). Data published by U.S. News highlights Williamson County’s health status. For instance:

  • The typical life expectancy is 82.1 years, compared with 77.5 years nationwide and 79.2 years statewide.
  • The smoking rate is 11.8 percent, compared with 20 percent nationwide and 15.5 percent statewide.
  • The diabetes prevalence was 9.3 percent, compared with 10.4 percent nationwide; obesity prevalence 31.8 percent, compared with 36.2 percent nationwide.

Travis County earned its highest score in the infrastructure category (92) and its lowest score in the equity category (41). Other highlights for Travis County include:

  • The typical life expectancy is 81.9 years, compared with 77.5 years nationwide and 79.2 years statewide.
  • The smoking rate is 12.0 percent, compared with 20 percent nationwide and 15.5 percent statewide.
  • The obesity prevalence was 25.2 percent, compared with 36.2 percent nationwide; diabetes prevalence 10.0 percent, compared with 10.4 percent nationwide.

Home to more than 75,000 people, Williamson County was recently named the second fastest growing city in the country by the U.S. Census Bureau — just behind its neighbor, Leander (No. 1).

Other Texas counties that fared well in the U.S. News study are:

  • No. 70 Rockwall County (Dallas). Its highest score was in the economy category (87), and its lowest score was in the housing category (54).
  • No. 91 Kendall County (San Antonio). Its highest score was in the economy category (79); its lowest score was in the housing category (53).
  • No. 180 Denton County. Its highest score was in the economy category (88), and its lowest score was in the housing category (43).
  • No. 291 Fort Bend County (Houston). No. 291. Its highest score was in the economy category (90); its lowest score was in the environment category (25).
  • No. 453 Comal County (San Antonio). Its highest score was in the economy category (75); its lowest score was in the environment category (43).
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2 trailblazing Texans to be honored with history-making award at Austin museum

local history ripples

There are many conceptions of Texas around the world, but most can agree that Texans do have a knack for making history. An annual acknowledgement by the Texas State History Museum Foundation (TSHMF) will celebrate the contributions of two very different Texans who used their leadership skills to coordinate huge wins for their respective teams.

Retired Navy Admiral and former University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven and former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach will be honored with the History-Making Texan Award at the 19th Annual Texas Independence Day Dinner, taking place March 2, 2023, at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Photo courtesy of Bullock Museum

The History-Making Texan Award winners will be celebrated at the Bullock on March 2.

McRaven’s contributions and Staubach’s are similar by nature of leading teams — one commanded troops and the other played an integral part in the Dallas Cowboys into a wave of undeniable success — but the similarities mostly stop there.

McRaven led troops to rescue the ransomed Captain Richard Phillips, search for Osama Bin Laden, and ultimately capture Iraqi politician Saddam Hussein. The Four-Star admiral has advised U.S. presidents in his retirement and written several books, mostly imparting wisdom around changing one’s own life, and hopefully the world around them.

Staubach took a more entertainment-based path to greatness, rising to fame as a star player while lifting the rest of the Cowboys with him. The team had nine consecutive winning seasons with Staubach, of 20 total. Aside from giving Texans yet another point of state pride, Staubach spent his retirement and influence on real estate and philanthropy.

“Our recipients reached the pinnacle of accomplishments and eminence in their fields. Importantly, they were selected as honorees based on their personal character and commitment to improving the lives of others,” said dinner chair and TSHMF trustee Lisa Cooley in a press release. “They stand as role models to emulate, and we look forward to sharing their dramatic and inspiring stories with our guests.”

The dinner supports the Bullock Texas State History Museum with ticket sales and underwriting from nearly 500 attendees annually. Austin’s Jan Felts Bullock, wife of Bob Bullock and museum trustee, joins Dallas’ Cooley as honorary chair. In 2022, the award went to pianist James Dick and philanthropist Lyda Hill.

More information about the foundation and the History-Making Texan Award is available at tshmf.org.

SXSW rolls out next round of music showcases for 2023, including 29 Austin artists

300 more

Obviously, 190 music showcases is not enough for South by Southwest. That’s 19 a day? Make it another 301. On December 7, SXSW announced the second round of 2023 showcasing artists, bringing the current total to almost 500 acts performing March 13-18, 2023, in Austin.

Of those newly announced artists, 29 are from Austin, and eight more are from Texas, keeping the local numbers relatively high compared to the whole world. This round contains almost 10 percent Austin bands, while the first round contained nearly 7 percent.

Some of the more widely recognizable Austin acts announced in the second round include:

  • Good Looks: Vocalist and guitarist Tyler Jordan cites an increasingly venerated Austin band, Spoon, as an influence. Good Looks is guitar riff-driven, wistful, and a little Southern in sound.
  • Graham Reynolds (solo), Graham Reynolds & The Golden Arm Trio: A prolific composer and bandleader, Reynolds’ name pops up all over Austin films and awards ceremonies. He appears solo and with an eclectic jazz trio.
  • Kalu & The Electric Joint: Frontman Kalu James arrived in Austin from Nigeria at 18 and has made a strong name for himself (and guitarist Jonathan “JT” Holt) through psychedelic, vaguely jazzy, and decidedly funky jams.
  • Pleasure Venom: One of the rawest acts in town, Pleasure Venom is well-known for punk hits (and honest takes) that don’t hold back. The band is consistently making news between lots of live shows and festival appearances.
  • Primo the Alien: Solo artist and producer Primo the Alien is bringing the 80s back with synthy electro-pop. She attaches it all to a double persona that’s both candid on social media and a delivery system for sensory overload onstage.
  • The Tiarras: A triple-threat band of sisters, The Tiarras are always thinking about family and stepping into their power. They’ve tackled topics like lesbian and Latina representation, and although they’re young, they’re seasoned pros.

The remaining Austin bands in the second round are: Andrea Magee, Big Wy's Brass Band, Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad, Caleb De Casper, Daiistar, Del Castillo, El Combo Oscuro, Font, JM Stevens, Johnny Chops, Marshall Hood, Otis Wilkins, Pink Nasty Meets El Cento, Rett Smith, Rod Gatort, Schatzi, Shooks, S.L. Houser, The Tender Things, Thor & Friends, Trouble in The Streets, and West Texas Exiles.

Showcases are the base unit of the SXSW music experience, so to speak. They may be solo or part of a multi-day affair, especially when sponsored by large entities like Rolling Stone. Attendees with music wristbands get priority, but all wristbands get access if space remains.

Even as the lineup seems to bulge at the seams, a press release states that there are more to come. A full schedule of showcasing artists, where users can select events for their customized schedule, is available at schedule.sxsw.com.

Austin's Central Library announces open call for artists for future gallery exhibits

Beyond Books

People can learn a lot at the library. Besides all the books, magazines, online resources, and in-person programming, Austinites enjoy a buffet of rotating art exhibits that populate the gallery at the Central Library downtown, publicizing local artists and teaching visitors about the culture around them.

Now the ever-changing Austin Public Library is looking for another new exhibit sometime in 2024 between January and September, and inviting artists to apply through February 28.

Good news for artists who crave freedom, and frustrating news for artists who love something to bounce off of: This engagement offers few to no parameters. There is no explicit theme, but the library does claim a mission in a press release about the call for artists.

“The mission of the Central Library Gallery is to support local artists and art communities, raise awareness of contemporary and diverse forms of art, and to provide exhibitions in which a wide variety of identities and interests are represented,” said the release.

The Central Library website lists four current exhibitions: Hannah Hannah lends some expressionist portraits, Release the Puppets tells stories in a classic and playful medium, the Austin American-Statesman explores Austin communities of color through photographs, and a traveling exhibition documents Pride parades of the past.

The call is addressed to “artists, collectives, curators and beyond,” further widening the possibilities, but still restricting them to applicants residing in Texas. Applicants should consider the size of the gallery (2,700 square feet) and a few logistical stipulations, including that pieces may not be hung from the ceiling, and that walls may be painted.

When the jury — made up of local artists and others in the industry — announces a winning proposal in March 2023, the artist will be offered a stipend to complete the work. All project costs are the exhibitor’s responsibility, so this stipend is not unlike an advance, except that the project will not continue to generate revenue at the library.

Applications are open now through 11:59 pm on February 28, 2023. Applicants may make their proposals via submittable.com.