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.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Run Through the Neighborhood

The 2nd Annual Bowden Fun Run/Walk was held today. What a turn out! Last year's inaugural event drew over 300 participants. This time around the event with 3 other schools invited to participate the event more than doubled in participant size.  Over 800 folks joined in the event staged to promote wellness and fitness. The amazing thing about this event is that is free. The brain child of Bowden Elementary School assistant principal Greg Velasquez the run is designed to bring the community together while educating community members about the benefits of being physically active. The real pay off is in creating pride in our Eastside communities and breaking down old perceptions about the Eastside.  Good health goes beyond the individuals, it applies to communities too!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moving Forward

It was recently announced that the owner of proposed micro- brewery to be built next to the Hays Street Bridge has changed the location where it will be built. The plans still call for the brewery to built next to the historic old bridge but it will be built on property owned by the brewery's owner, on the southside of the bridge.  This is good news for the neighborhood and the Eastside. The project has been stalled since August 2012 when city council approved the sale of city owned land to the developer. The project has created controversy from the start. The bridge restoration group cried foul when the city moved to sell the land that the restoration group has insisted was to be used as a park.

The neighborhood has supported the project from the start. Much of the organized opposition has come from outside the neighborhood. The opposition has demonized the neighborhood association making accusations that the association is infiltrated by newcomers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality the folks that have organized the opposition do not live in the neighborhood and therefore do not really have a good understanding of what is behind the support by the neighborhood. None of these folks have ever sat down with me or others in the neighborhood to talk about why we don't need another park and would rather see a project that can generate jobs.

The basic truth to all of this is that our neighborhood has supported the project because of the potential of being able of kick starting sorely needed economic development in and around the neighborhood.  More importantly, getting the brewery project off the ground will be a first step in tearing down some of the negative perceptions about the Eastside.

For my part I'm glad to hear that the brewery will be moving forward.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Next Phase

As I write this it's been over a month sine that I left my corporate job in healthcare.  I had been mulling about making a change since the end of 2011 but for a number of reasons I had put off taking step in into "retirement".  In November of last year I hit the big Six O. That milestone got me thinking that perhaps the time was right to start transitioning to the next phase. I have worked in some capacity in healthcare for close to 40 years. I felt ready to move on but not necessarily ready to retire. You see I'm not a retirement kind of guy. I have always resisted the notion that I would someday just stop working and live my days out in relative leisure.  So part of my inner struggle was answering the question: what will the next act to look like?
One thing is for sure whatever the next phase looks like it will not include working for a large corporation. The next act will be directed by me as much as possible, it will be community minded,
it will include pursuing and exploring the creative/artistic element that's in all of us, it will include being entrepreneurial, it will include more time with family,friends and our dogs, and most importantly it will not be "retirement"!

Our Family

 Jennifer, Barb and Me

Monica,Ronnie, Ryan and Alyssa

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cultural Exchange Rotarian Style

I'm a Rotarian.  Not too many folks know that. Rotary International is a world wide organization of service oriented individuals.  Being a Rotarian means above all sharing time, talents, and vocational experiences for the good of the community. There is no secret handshake or mysterious rituals only the 4 Way Test which asks 4 basic questions: Of the Things we Think, Say or Do: 1) Is it the Truth?, 2) Is It Fair to All Concerned?, 3) Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships? and 4) Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned?  Our club has an unofficial 5th question: Is it Fun? that gives you an idea of the mindset of own group of Rotarians.

One of the many interesting functions that we participate in as Rotarians is something called the Group Study Exchange (GSE) where visiting Rotarians from around the world can spend up to 4 weeks visiting other countries in a cultural and vocational exchange experience.

This past week our club hosted a group of folks, 3 men and 2 women, from India as part of the GSE experience. My wife and I hosted the 2 ladies. They stayed at our guest house and got to experience a little of Dignowity Hill.

It was a whirlwind event as the team did some sight seeing, visited with other Rotarians in SA and did some Fiesta time as well.  For Barb and I it was a unique experience to get to meet and know Kohlia and Nevedita and exchange ideas of our cultures, work and lifestyles. Kohila is a history teacher was very interested in our educational system. We spent time with her as she visited and toured Bowden Elementary School in Dignowity for a couple of hours. Nevi is a psychologist and was interested in learning about the delivery of mental health services.

The team left San Antonio this afternoon and moved on to San Marcos where they will continue their visit in Texas. Their time with us was way too short to really get to know them but we are richer for having them come into our lives even for a micro span of time.

Kohila and Nevi

Kohila, Barb and Nevi

Fellow Rotarian Kyle Contreras with our guests and Barb

Rotarian Byron Miller with our Indian guests, Murall, Muthu and Madhavan

Rotarians enjoying Brunch at Caroline's House

Presentation by our Indian Guests


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fiesta from Dignowity

This past week San Antonio celebrated Fiesta Week, our annual homage to party, food, drink and general indulgence. There's a carnival, parades, a party called NIOSA(Night in Old San Antonio) and all sorts of debauchery. Officially, Fiesta commemorates the defeat of Santa Anna's Mexican army at the battle of San Jacinto but that historic fact is generally lost as most San Antonians concentrate on the fun, food, and drinking part of Fiesta.

We're not big Fiesta goers. We tend to steer away from the big crowds associated with Fiesta. Having been born and raised in SA I've been to enough Fiesta events over the years to get it.  The events I make an except to my rule of avoiding crowds are the parades....not the River parade but the day and the night parades. We usually try to make it to at least one of the Fiesta parades and since we moved to Dignowity 5 years ago we've developed our own approach to watching the parades, actually we sort of become part of the parades.

Three years ago we decided that instead of sitting down to watch the parades we would get to the parade route early to walk up the route to the staging area where the parades begin. This is easy enough for us because the parade route is literally 7 blocks from our front porch so we save the headache of trying to find parking by taking a stroll down the hill from our house.

This year we got to the parade route shortly after the vanguard of the parade had started down Broadway but no matter we were able to wind our way along the sidewalks toward the staging area on Grayson Street. The staging area is near the Pearl complex and it is literally located underneath the overpasses of US 28. This creates a great collection point of sound and organized chaos as the bands warm up, the floats are lined up, people milling around and you get to see all the local politicians, Fiesta Royalty and assorted characters.  The highlight of this year's venture into Fiesta land was almost getting arrested by one of SA's finest for being being in the wrong place at the right time.  Actually, I don't think he was going to arrest us but the cop certainly got annoyed with us!

In end we covered over 3 miles of walking along the parade route, we met some really cool folks and enjoyed our little piece Fiesta!

Scenes from our stroll along the Battle of Flowers Parade route and staging area:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sad Night in Dignowity Hill

Childress Memorial Church of God in Christ

Stained Glass Windows

Church was built in 1908

Rows of Windows on Pine Street side.

Windows on Bell Tower

After the Fire

What remains of the Bell Tower
 It was a sad night in Dignowity the night that Childress Memorial Church burned to a rubble.  It left a congregation homeless and our neighborhood stunned at how quickly this beautiful structure went up in flames. The historic church building was built in 1908 by a Baptist congregation that then sold the property to Childress in 1964.  The church building was a landmark in the neighborhood and the congregation provides a strong presence of stability. This is the second time in the history of this congregation that a fire has displaced them. It was because of a fire that destroyed their previous home church in the early 60's that led the congregation to Dignowity Hill.  Now their beloved building is gone and the congregation will begin determining what to do next.

My hope is that the congregation decides to stay in Dignowity Hill. Besides the fact that I loved the old church building it was the graciousness of the congregation with neighborhood that touched me the most and it is for them that I share in their loss.  Buildings can be replaced.  Replacing a spirit filled community such as Childress is another matter.