Photo Credit and Photo Copyright

The photographs of San Antonio and Dignowity Hill used within this blog are the property of Juan A Garcia East Light Images. All rights are reserved to the owner. Copy and use of these pictures is forbidden without written permission. Contact Juan at for permission.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Communities

Our neighborhood community garden....the Eastside Sprout....hosted a garden workshop on Saturday.  It was a little wet and chilly but gardeners are a tough breed and we survived the morning. The topics of the workshop were around creating and maintaining sustainable gardens.  The notion behind this is to create a garden using plants or trees that produce year over year, such as fruit trees or perennial plants that come back every year.  In other words, with good care, good soil, proper plant selection your garden can survive, thrive and sustain itself even with the extreme weather we sometimes experience in South Texas. In practical terms, sustainable gardening requires that you learn to understand the environment you're planting your garden in, learn what plants work best, have a good understanding of soil and nutrient requirements and understand how all these things come together to create a healthy garden. There a little bit of science and art involved when gardening so gardeners need to have a good integrative approach when working a garden.

Garden Workshop
Planting a Bare Root Pear Tree
Learning in the Drizzle!
The idea of creating a sustainable garden made me think of how similar the notion of creating sustainable communities are to each other. At a very basic level, sustainability of a community is built on creating and maintaining its economic and environmental health and most importantly, encouraging citizen participation to create a collective vision for the future. Communities or neighborhoods need to learn how partner with institutions that can bring valuable resources into a community to further enhance that sense of sustainability. In other words, you need an integrative approach to building sustainable communities.

In our little corner of the world, we're at the threshold of a wonderful opportunity of reaping what we have sown (pun intended!). For the last 3 years neighborhood residents and newcomers have worked hard to bring new life back to the 'hood and we are starting to see results. The mayor and city government have made a commitment to bring much needed investment to the Eastside. With the coming implementation of the Promise Neighborhood grant and other initiatives that includes housing and safety enhancements, I can see where we are reaching a tipping point. Critical to all these trends coming together is sustainability. While we all must work carefully to change and improve our communities we  need to always keep in mind that the changes we seek are pointless if can't find a way to sustain them.

There's a lot you can learn from gardening if you're trying to change the world!

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."— Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hollywood Comes to Dignowity!

Ok, maybe it's not really Hollywood but our house became part of independent filmmaker Patsy Whitfield's project.  Patsy and her crew of actors and film technicians spent an afternoon in our house shooting indoor scenes for their short movie "Symphony of Silence".   The movie which is about teenage bullying and its consequences is being shot around different locations in San Antonio.  Our house became part of the movie by pure serendipity. A couple of months ago Patsy made contact with me through email and at one point told me that she was looking for a house to shoot scenes for Symphony of Silence. Well, before long we agreed to offer our house for the movie.
Getting Ready to Shoot a Scene

Actors Studying Their Parts
Discussing Lighting

Setting up
Going Over a Scene
Quiet on the Set!

Getting Ready!

It's a Wrap!

Making movies is hard work, lots of setting up and re-doing scenes but it was a fun watching the the actors and crew doing what they love to do. The film crew will be back next weekend to finish shooting additional scenes. Can't wait to see the finished product. Next stop: Cannes Film Festival!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Catching Up!

Good Lord!'s already mid February! I need to catch on things since it's been awhile that I've written anything of note.  The neighborhood seems pretty quite lately, although we've had some activity with the sale of some of the restored houses in the neighborhood.  The community garden is flourishing and the Kaboom playground is getting some use from the neighborhood kids.  The new year brought in some good news.  The Eastside Promise Neighborhood Grant was awarded to United Way and San Antonio. This is a huge deal for our neighborhoods and represents $24.6 million investment over 5 years to address education improvements in our public schools within the Eastside Promise Neighborhood footprint as well as addressing quality of life issues.  Henrietta Munoz is the project director and those of us that live within the Promise Neighborhood footprint need to support her work.   For more information on this exciting initiative go to

Bill Ross
Our dear friend Bill Ross passed away at the end of December. Bill was in his mid 70's when he moved into Dignowity several years ago. He and his good friend Byron Sherouse we're one of the first pioneers to buy some of the the old houses in Dignowity and restore them. Bill lived on N Pine St and was well known for his generosity and engaging personality.  Bill is one of my heroes.  At an age when most folks have retired and are done with work, Bill was changing the world, well, our neighborhood anyway! He'll be greatly missed!

The plans for the brewery near the Hays Street Bridge are coming together. Last I heard is that ground will be breaking sometime in this summer!  Can't wait!