There are places in the world where books are a rare luxury, schools where reading can't be practiced because, well, there's nothing to read. Kenya is one of those places, and Sunday you can help by donating a book, while catching some amazing food and music at the Eat Local / Act Global concert at CTC Garden.

Libraries provide an opportunity to share great reading and sharing is what 1000 Books of Hope is all about — filling five new Kenyan libraries full of books. Not just any books; the group is asking for books you love.

“Rather than stacks of old books that are no longer wanted,” says organizer Turk Pipkin, “we’re looking for donations of favorite books that have had great meaning in your life. Write your name, hometown and a short note about why you love the book in the front cover. Those notes are the bridge to a world of learning and friendship for eager readers in Kenya where few communities or schools have libraries.”

Austin icon Turk Pipkin and his wife Christy know something about schools in Kenya. Their film Building Hope chronicled efforts to build schools in rural Kenya. It's an effort that has succeeded with amazing results.

Pipkin also knows something about Austin music, and Sunday, with the help of CTC International, he's put together a celebration concert with Ruby Jane, Sara Hickman and African music band, Zoumountchi!

The Nobelity Project’s Kenya Schools Fund supports libraries at Mahiga Hope High, the Kabiruini Girls School, Irbaan Primary, the Joe Gracey Library (named in honor of the legendary Austin DJ and music producer) and the upcoming CTC International’s Knowledge and Resource Center. These libraries will serve boys, girls, men and women, from pre-school to adult literacy.

Take a book to the concert, or if you can't attend, there are 11 drop-off locations around the city:

  • CTC Garden – 1102 E. Cesar Chavez St.
  • Cenote – 1010 E. Cesar Chavez St.
  • Fiat of Austin – 11011 Domain Drive
  • Hyde Park Bar & Grill – 4206 Duval or 4521 West Gate Blvd.
  • Irie Bean Coffee – 2310 S. Lamar
  • Lola Savannah’s Coffee Lounge – 6317 Bee Caves Rd
  • Monkey Nest Coffee – 5353 Burnet Rd.
The 263 Restaurant – 1705 N. Cuernavaca Drive
Progress Coffee – 500 San Marcos St
Precision Camera – 3810 N. Lamar Austin
  • University of Texas - Liberal Arts Advising Office (Gebauer 2.306)


Tickets for Eat Local / Act Global are still available for $25. Give a book and get $5 off. The Nobelity Project has more information. Book donations can be made all over Austin or by mail to The Nobelity Project, PO Box 161925, Austin, TX 78716.

Austin's philanthropic community gives back at The Big Give

Culture of Giving

For five years, I Live Here, I Give Here has been nurturing the philanthropic culture of Austin by supporting and building a community of donors young and old.

On Sunday, Sept. 23, the organization will celebrate its fifth anniversary with The BIG Give at the Driskill Hotel, a night of fun and celebration of philanthropy, honoring those who give well in Central Texas.

The evening will also celebrate the BIG Giver, an individual who has exemplified outstanding service in the nonprofit community.

The winners of the $10,000 Whole Foods Market BIG Prize and the $5,000 Merecedes Benz of Austin Little Prize will be awarded to two I Live Here, I Give Here partner nonprofits that model great donor stewardship.

The evening will also celebrate I Live Here, I Give Here's BIG Giver, an individual who has exemplified outstanding service in the nonprofit community. The 2012 award honors Rusty Morrison of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area.

In addition to awards and fundraising, the celebration will include tunes from Austin honky-tonk original Mike and the Moonpies and a silent auction.

The BIG Give kicks off at 6 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Driskill Hotel. If you're interested in attending, tickets are still available online for $100 per person.

For more information on I Live Here, I Give Here's mission, visit the organization's website.

  • Amplify Austin kick-off at City Hall
    Photo by Kevin Benz

Amplify Austin sets out to crank up the giving and raise $1 million in 24 hours

Culture of Giving

There are many things to be proud of in Austin, but our level of philanthropy — the art of giving for the good of the community — is not one of them.

Today, Austin ranks 32nd on the list of philanthropic giving in the nation's top 50 metro areas. That may not seem like good news until you learn we are up 16 spots over the last five years; we were 48th.

I Live Here, I Give Here was formed to battle that number. Since its founding five years ago, you could say the organization has been pretty successful, but No. 32 is still not where Austin is used to being when it comes to lists of cool stuff.

So get ready for Amplify Austin, a massive 24-hour festival of giving slated for March 4 - 5, 2013 in Austin and all of our surrounding counties. The goal is outstanding: raise one million dollars in one day, online.

It's been done with great success in other cities, now it's Austin's turn. I Live Here, I Give Here kicked off the six-month awareness campaign Wednesday afternoon at City Hall with Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

"There are too many unmet needs still in our community, too many people who need your help," he explained. "There is no cause more deserving than to support the nonprofit organizations that help support our city."

"We plan to mobilize 8,000 philanthropists, donating to over 300 non-profits," said Patsy Woods Martin, Executive Director and Founder of I Live Here, I Give Here. "And we are more than one-third there. We’re exactly six months away from the big day and it’s time for the community to step up and really engage.” Consequently they are asking for ambassadors to help spread the word and get more nonprofit organizations involved.

"We are building an army of advocates and ambassadors who will reach out to their networks in support of the cause of philanthropy," said Evan Smith who is leading the Ambassador program. "We need to build new philanthropists along the way," he continued, "and we are harnessing the tools of technology to solve problems. That is what Austin is all about. This is an online giving day."

Already $118,000 has been raised, or at least promised, by corporations like University Federal Credit Union, which created an incentive pool with $100,000 to be donated pro rata to every nonprofit earning more than $100.

If you really want to get fired up for the event, or just want a heart-warming smile at the moment, check out the wonderful Amplify Austin video produced by Onion Creek Productions.


Amplify Austin will begin at 7 p.m. March 4, 2013 and continue through 7 p.m. March 5, 2013. If you would like to get involved beyond giving money next spring, you can find more information on the website.

  • Cover of GivingCity Austin 2011 Philanthropists Issue.
  • 2011 GivingCity new philanthropists in Austin.

Austin's newest role models: Honoring innovation in philanthropy and service

GivingCity nominations

There are those who give and those who make giving part and parcel of their lives.

GivingCity, a non-profit magazine here in Austin announced a call for nominations for their 2012 New Philanthropists. The idea is to recognize men and women in Austin who take giving to new heights through innovation and creativity.

"These aren't awards, really. They're more about recognizing the path people are on and encouraging that," says GivingCity Founder and Editor, Monica Williams in a statement. "By featuring them in the cover story, we are essentially pushing these folks to the front of the stage to encourage them and offer them as role models for others in the community."

Nominations will go the GivingCity Austin Board of advisors and those chosen will be featured in the July issue of GivingCity.

Past winners include entrepreneurs and innovators — like Alex Winkleman of CharityBash, a non-profit organization that helps a new generation get into the habit of giving, and Leo Ramirez, founder of MiniDonations, a non-profit that collects small donations through retail and social giving — as well as regular work-a-day Austinites who make daily sacrifices of time and money through volunteerism and service.

Last year GivingCity recognized 30 New Philanthropists.

"Each of them stood out because of the personal, financial and professional risks they take and sacrifices they make to go above and beyond for Austin's neediest people," wrote Williams. "If there's anything to learn from these folks it's that it doesn't matter if it's not perfect. All that matters is that you start."

Here are the rules for nomination:

  • Nominees must currently reside in Central Texas.
  • Nomination forms must be complete to be considered.
  • Only one nomination per person is all that’s required; nominees aren’t judged more favorably by multiple nominations.
  • You may nominate yourself.
  • Nominations close April 30.
  • 4th Annual International Women's Day Award winners (Left to Right):Animal Welfare: Abigail Smith, Chief Animal Services Officer, City of AustinHumanitarian: Diana Claitor, Cofounder and Director of Texas Jail ProjectEnvironment: Brandi Clark Burton, Founder of Austin EcoNetwork
  • International Women's Day handmade box and bracelet.
  • Ten Thousand Villages store on South Congress.

The International Women's Day Awards have spoken: These Austin women arecreating positive change in the world

finding inspiration

It’s a tough world out there. But three Austin women have dedicated their lives to making it a better place, and were recently recognized for their amazing work.

In collaboration with Ten Thousand Villages, Austin’s only 100% fair trade retail store that sells artisan products from around the world, three Texas women were honored at the fourth annual International Women’s Day Awards. The awards recognize outstanding women changemakers in three categories: Humanitarian, Environment and Animal Welfare.

The 2012 winners were Diana Claitor (Humanitarian), Cofounder and Director of the Texas Jail Project; Brandi Clark Burton (Environment), Founder of Austin EcoNetwork; and Abigail Smith (Animal Welfare), Chief Animal Services Officer at the City of Austin.

“Humanitarianism, respecting the environment and animals are all integral to our mission as a nonprofit fair trade organization,” says Kitty Bird, Ten Thousand Villages Store Manager. “Women in particular benefit from fair trade because it gives them opportunities to handcraft goods and earn sustainable living wages to support their families. So International Women’s Day is the perfect time to recognize and honor local women who are making significant social impacts in our community and around the world.”

Claitor, Burton and Smith were selected as winners by a panel of judges: Meg Goodman Erskine, Cofounder and Executive Director of Multicultural Refugee Coalition; Carol Thomas, Director of Development at Caritas of Austin; and Monica Williams, Editor of GivingCity Austinand Communications Manager at Austin Community Foundation. Bird says that the judges had a tough job selecting the finalists and winners, because there were so many nominations of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.

“Women in particular benefit from fair trade because it gives them opportunities to handcraft goods and earn sustainable living wages to support their families."

Ultimately, the judges agreed that more people need to know about Diana Claitor’s humanitarian accomplishments and what’s happening to pregnant women in Texas prisons. Claitor was the force behind getting Texas legislature to pass HB 3653, which restricts the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women during labor and delivery. She continues fighting for a complete ban on such barbaric practices, which still happens in prisons in Texas as well as other states.

Abigail Smith stood out in the Animal Welfare category because in just one year with the largest municipal animal shelter, she has led Austin to become the first major urban city in Texas to officially reach No-Kill status. Smith reorganized and led 90 staff members into a new way of thinking about how they treat more than 20,000 animals that enter Austin Animal Center each year, and achieved what no other major Texas city has done: a 91-percent live animal outcome rate for 2011.

Judges chose Brandi Clark Burton as the Environment winner because she is Austin’s most influential force in building and empowering the sustainability community. Through Austin EcoNetwork, Earth Day festivals, and events such as It’s My Park! Day and the Green Festival, Burton has been leading and raising awareness of socially and environmentally responsible practices for residents and businesses since 1996.

“The nominees were amazing,” says awards judge Monica Williams. “We cover phenomenal people all the time in GivingCity Austin, but I had never even heard of some of these women. I hate to use such a trite term, but these are truly unsung heroes. Diana Claitor just blew me away with her work to change the policy that incarcerated women must wear shackles while they give birth. Her work to bring light to this tortuous practice and get the state to change its policy is the definition of heroic.”

Bird has seen the awards ceremony grow in its four years, from a simple idea to a major event that bestows well-deserved gratitude to the honorees for their roles as changemakers in Austin.

“The link between this special day of the year and what Ten Thousand Villages does each day is powerful yet simple,” Bird says. “Fair trade empowers women. Through fair trade work, women are respected in their community and within their families and most of all can help provide an education for their children. To honor the women who do so much good through animal advocacy, environmentalism and humanitarianism closes the link between Villages global impact and our impact here in Austin.”

Williams would love to see the International Women’s Day Awards grow even bigger in future years. “I know it seems like there are a million honoree events in Austin, but this event is different. It's not just about people who give, it's about people honored for their work in humanitarian and peace issues, rather than social needs.”


To read about the three winners, as well as all the finalists, you can visit the Ten Thousand Villages blog.

  • Romana and Alex enjoying their day in South Padre Island
  • Alex and his family learned about many sea animals
  • Alex's wife Ramona helps him gear up for a family boat trip
  • Alex Vargas and his family at South Padre Island

New non-profit helps people "leave" without regret

Making a difference

It seems like every day another non-profit pops up. There are so many problems in the world and so many people wanting to solve them. They all tug at your heart strings, but I recently discovered one that tugged a bit harder than most.

Without Regrets Foundation is a new non-profit created by Tara Ballard and Che Heinroth, two moms from Dripping Springs wanting to help terminally ill parents create lasting memories with their family.

Their inspiration stems from a friend who lost her husband to cancer before realizing his dream of taking his son to Yankee Stadium.

Ballard and Heinroth decided something had to be done for families facing this situation stating on their website that "the memories a child has of a parent can last a lifetime and for some children memories are all they have." This belief lead the two on a fundraising journey and search for their first family.

Their search lead them to Alex Vargas, a 38-year-old with End Stage ALS. With a prognosis of six months or less to live, Alex wanted nothing more than to take his wife and three kids on a fishing trip to the Texas Gulf Coast. When Alex was younger he loved to fish and wanted to share that experience with his family, some of whom had never seen the beach.

Without Regrets Foundation is a new non-profit created by Tara Ballard and Che Heinroth, two moms from Dripping Springs wanting to help terminally ill parents create lasting memories with their family.

Now, a fishing trip may not sound like a big deal to some but when you are knee deep in medical bills, confined to a wheel chair and speak through a computer device, a trip to the beach seems daunting and impossible. But nothing is impossible when you have Ballard and Heinroth on your side.

Through a series of parties and other fundraising efforts Ballard and Heinroth raised enough money to send Alex, his wife, two teenage sons and 9-year old daughter to South Padre Island for five days.

Together the Vargas family made memories hanging out at their condo, going on boat rides, and watching the dolphins.

"It felt good watching them have fun," Alex says.

They took tons of photos while in South Padre Island. Seeing the smiles on everyone's faces made all the hard work Ballard and Heinroth had done worth it.

"All the ups and downs of trying to start the organization and fundraising all came together and I knew this was why we are doing it," says Ballard.

Ballard and Heinroth are in the process of raising more funds to help other families. In fact, they are looking for support in their efforts to knock out the Austin 10/20 - a race on April 15th benefitting several charities including Without Regrets.

In addition to raising more money they are also planning a trip for their second family with hopes of helping many others down the line and inspiring all of us to live life today without regret.

Alex's oldest son Manuel Vargas said it best.

"Don't let anything keep you down and always keep your head up. Cherish everything you have and if something is going to make you smile, do it."

Without Regrets Foundation is a member of I Live Here, I Give Here. You can donate to Without Regrets Foundation directly from our site using the new donation tool below.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Austinites can now rent pickleball and tennis courts around the city


Pickleball and tennis lovers are getting more access to underutilized courts in Austin. Swimply, an online provider that lets homeowners rent out their private pools by the hour, has now expanded their services to include sport courts.

"After disrupting the $15B private pool industry, other backyard spaces for rent was a logical next step," Swimply said in a press release. "Pickleball is a phenomenon and there aren't enough courts to meet demand ...Tennis, likewise, has historically been an exclusive leisure activity where people pay upwards of $100 an hour at private clubs for court time."

In addition to tennis and pickleball, basketball courts will also be listed for rent on the site, beginning at $25 an hour. There are nearly 200 total spaces listed in Austin, and over 300 courts available across their other popular markets in Houston, New York, and Los Angeles. Expansion is currently underway for their remaining markets around the nation by the end of the summer season.

Swimply founder and CEO Bunim Laskin said this new launch is a "game changer" for communities whose members want greater accessibility to recreational spaces.

"We're excited to offer this new opportunity for families and friends to have fun, exercise, and connect with each other in a safe, affordable, and convenient way," Laskin said. "Our mission has always been about democratizing access to exclusive spaces and creating positive social impact, and we believe that court rentals are a natural extension of that vision."

The service expansion also serves to improve access for those in low-income or marginalized communities, after a recent Trust for Public Land study said 100 million Americans can't access a park within a 10-minute walk from their homes.

Swimply is currently looking into expanding their recreational offerings to include backyards for events, music studios, and more.

7 things to know in Austin food right now: Pizza newcomer spreads wings for brunch, lunch, and happy hour

News You Can Eat

Editor’s note: We get it. It can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of Austin’s restaurant and bar scene. We have you covered with our regular roundup of essential food news.

Although Dovetail Pizza has been capturing Austinites' hearts since opening in November of 2022, it's still getting on its feet. Things are looking quite established now that the pizzeria is also offering lunch with sandwich specials, and even a weekend brunch with pizza sauce Bloody Marys and beignoli. (Presumably that's something between a beignet and a cannoli.) Both lunch and brunch will be served from 11 am to 3 pm on weekdays and weekends, respectively. A happy hour from Sunday to Thursday, 3-5 pm, will offer discounts and a new meatball sandwich.

Speaking of service extensions, both the Ramen Tatsu-ya on East 6th Street and Domo Alley-Gato are serving ramen later at night — when you really need it, if you ask us. The full menu at each will now be available until 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, serving ramen later than any other Tatsu-ya location. The hospitality group has been focused on new locations for a while, so it's nice to see smaller changes coming to neighborhoods that have supported the restaurant for years.

Despite the low-brow beauty of some beer culture, it's still nice to enjoy some in a real fancy venue — say, The Driskill. The hotel's Beer Dinner Series is back on, introducing Austinites to new local beers alongside a five-course menu of pairings by Chef Alondra Martinez and Pastry Chef Kristen Groth. The first dinner of the returning series will be held on June 20, and will pair Thirsty Planet Brewery beers with grilled oysters, andouille sausage, quail, and more. The timing makes for a great Father's Day gift, if you're looking. Reserve ($80) on Tock.

Italian sandwich by Dovetail Pizza in Austin

Photo by Kati Luedecke

Dovetail pizza now offers brunch, lunch, a happy hour, and new menu items to tie it all together.

There will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate Pride Month in Austin throughout June, but a couple of coffee shop deals will make sure you have the energy to keep dancing. Abby Jane Bakeshop is using a brew by Sightseer Coffee, "Season of the Witch," to make espresso whoopie pies. Proceeds go to Out Youth for the organization's Transgender Wellness program. Another effort by Jo's Coffee has repackaged the house blend in limited-edition Pride Boxes that each drive a $2 donation to Equality Texas.

L'Oca d'Oro, the seasonal Italian restaurant in the Meuller neighborhood known for its progressive ideals as well as its delicious food, is wrapping up its recurring fundraising event, Pasta Paisanos, for the season. The monthly collabs have brought in great chefs from around Austin to drive donations to Lilith Fund, which provides funds and emotional supports to Texans seeking abortions. At the wrap-up event, in collaboration with alumni chefs Fermín Nunez and Angelo Emiliana, the restuarnat will also be celebrating its seventh anniversary and hopes to reach its $50,000 donation goal. Book at locadoroaustin.com.

Locals can always count on the Peached Tortilla for a menu with a theme. The restaurant, which is known for its extensive whiskey menu and "Asian comfort food with a Southern twist," actually already celebrates "Fried Chicken and Whiskey Wednesdays," which falls right on National Bourbon Day this year — the whiskey gods decreed it. Celebrate with umami fried chicken, mixed grilled corn with kimchi miso butter, kimchi mac and cheese, and "proper biscuits." The restaurant has 10 bourbons to choose from, and plenty more if the chicken sounds great but you're...not an observer of National Bourbon Day.

Juggernaut rock band Nickelback adds Austin stop to 2023 tour

Look at this photograph

Nickelback is back: Canadian-born rock juggernaut Nickelback is going on tour in summer 2023 to support their new album, Get Rollin'.

Called the "Get Rollin’ Tour," it'll hit 38 cities, launching on Monday, June 12 in Quebec City, QC at Videotron Centre, with special guests country rocker Brantley Gilbert and rising country artist Josh Ross.

It'll make three stops in Texas, including a new Austin stop as part of the tour's recently extended fall dates.

  • Saturday, July 22: Dos Equis Pavilion in Dallas
  • Sunday, July 23: Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Woodlands
  • Saturday, September 23: Moody Center in Austin

So sorry, San Antonio! Sounds like a road trip is on the offing. Comfort yourself with the band’s announcement video here.

Tickets for the new Austin date will be available starting with an artist presale on Friday, June 9 at 10 am. Additional presales will run throughout the weekend ahead of the general on-sale beginning Tuesday, June 13 at 10 am at livenation.com. A venue presale will run Monday, June 12 from 10 am - 10 pm, with code: RIVERSIDE at MoodyCenterATX.com.

Fans can also purchase VIP Packages, which may include premium tickets, invitation to the pre-show High Times VIP Lounge, specially designed Nickelback gift item, early entry into the venue & more. For more information, visit vipnation.com.

Nickelback's accomplishments are lengthy. The four-piece, comprised of Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake, and Daniel Adair, was named the most successful rock band of the decade by Billboard in 2009, globally celebrated for mega-hits such as “How You Remind Me,” “Photograph,” “Far Away,” and “Rockstar” which all held top spots on the Billboard 100.

"How You Remind Me" was named Billboard’s ‘Top Rock Song of the Decade," and was the #1 most played song on U.S. radio (any format) in the 2000s, according to Nielsen Soundscan, with over 1.2 million spins.

Get Rollin' was released on November 18, 2022, and is their first album in five years. A press release calls it "a thrilling soundscape of adventure, nostalgia, and emotional exploration."

It debuted at #2 across the Current Rock, Alternative, Hard Music, and Digital Album charts; landed on the ARIA Album Chart at No. 3; and in the Top 10 in the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia and Austria. And in a career first for the band, it debuted at No. 1 in Switzerland. Switzerland!

Wait, there's more Nickelback accolades: They’ve received nine Grammy nominations, three American Music Awards, a World Music Award, a People’s Choice Award, 12 JUNO Awards, seven MuchMusic Video Awards, and have been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame (2007).

Extending their legacy yet further, Nickelback was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the JUNO Awards on March 13, 2023.