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Austin Common Ground Relief (@ATXFlood) forms to support Halloween Flood victims

KitO : November 14, 2013 7:48 pm : Local Outreach, News, Press Releases

Austin Common Ground Relief 512-537-1080
Twitter: @ATXFlood


City Delays Onion Creek Flood Home Buyouts For Months

Hurricane Katrina Survivor Forms Austin Common Ground Relief

Austin Common Ground Relief logo

Click to visit ACGR’s Facebook page.

Austin Common Ground Relief, a newly formed network of Austin organizers & residents, recently held a meeting of 20 volunteers in the Onion Creek neighborhood devastated by flooding. They began serving meals and supporting residents with volunteer labor in the days immediately after the Halloween floods.

The group met in the heart of the Onion Creek flood zone to coordinate their efforts, at the flood-damaged home of Hurricane Katrina survivor Ruth Kaplan. Common Ground organizer, Lisa Fithian, who spent a year doing relief work after Hurricane Katrina said, “Many organizations responded to the immediate needs of those most affected by the floods; but many of those groups are pulling back relief efforts. With the winter months ahead, residents are literally being left in the cold. Austin Common Ground Relief is seeking to fill that void by providing daily meals and collecting warm clothes, blankets and heaters for residents who are continuing to live and work in the flood ravaged neighborhoods.”

The group was told by a city official that buyouts of 115 homes in the Onion Creek area would be fully funded. However, neither the city official nor anyone from the contractor handling the buyouts could name exactly where the money is coming from, potentially risking a repeat of what happened years ago during the last round of buyouts when money ran out and residents were left at risk.

In 2007, the City of Austin passed a bond for 50 million dollars to help fund the buyouts recommended in an 2006 Army Corp of Engineers report, however the money ran out and the city left residents at risk. Adding to this failure, the city neglected to put adequate drainage systems in the area and failing to make sure a flood plan was in place when flooding inevitably occurred.

“We can’t wait for the city to come to the aid of our communities. People’s homes have been destroyed; many of them don’t have gas and it’s getting cold. Now the city is telling people that they have to wait between four and five months for anything to happen, when they should have bought these homes out years ago? That’s unacceptable.” says Austin Common Ground Relief’s Francisco Cortez.

According to HDR Engineering, the contractor that is handling the city buyouts, homeowners will not get any money for their homes until next spring at the earliest.

Vernon Ellison, neighborhood resident of 28 years, will meet with the City of Austin this Thursday and is unsure of where he will go if the buy out of his home takes months. “I can stay with my family for a week or so,” Vernon says, “but four to five months is too long of a time to be without a home.” Vernon says he may even consider moving back into his home, which is already gutted of sheet rock and carpet to prevent mold infestation, if the buyouts take that long.

Across the street from Vernon lived Gus Castro and his family. A car thrown around by the flood sits diagonally across his lawn and his trailer is still mired in the floodplain across from his home, tilted on its side, damaged, and abandoned. “We have found places to stay since the flood happened, but I have a family, I have children in school, we need to get this behind us. I have no idea what we will do if the buyouts take that long” Gus says. As with most residents of the area, neither Gus nor Vernon has insurance, making the situation that much more dire.

Austin Common Ground Relief is a grass-roots network of Austin residents providing aid to the victims of the Halloween 2013 floods. ACGR shares food, labor, donations and support of all kinds to residents in need.

Get updates from Austin Common Ground Relief by following @ATXFlood on Twitter or liking us on Facebook. You can donate to us here:


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Occupy Austin Housing Justice Workgroup Meeting

Lainie : July 23, 2012 12:48 am : End Homelessness, Events, Food Issues, Local Outreach, News

Occupy Austin Housing JusticeDear Friends:

The Occupy Austin Housing Justice Workgroup invite you to the first of our community planning meetings Thursday, July 26 at 6 PM near the pedestrian bridge on Riverside and Lamar, across the street from Taco Cabana. 

Those of you who are able are encouraged to bring food and water to share with those who are homeless and/or hungry, as we will be dining together outdoors to begin the meeting, and would like to also feed those who do not have access to affordable, healthy food.

These potluck style meetings will occur weekly in this same location. All are welcome – occupiers and non-occupiers alike. ***Please join us in support of those who are currently living in substandard, non-code compliant housing.***

Please feel free to suggest agenda items. Full agenda will be posted by Thursday morning.

♥ Lainie


From our Mission Statement (which is a work in progress, so please feel free to offer constructive feedback):

Our objectives: to assist both current and displaced residents of substandard and non-code compliant multi-family housing projects with food, clothing, childcare, and temporary shelter; to collaborate with and provide support to existing housing justice and tenant support organizations; and to train and empower tenants to speak out against unfair and discriminatory property management firms, to demand accountability from sub-standard property owners and petition city leaders to put ordinances in place to compel legal compliance by offending property mgmt. and owners.

Where you come in: By no means do we consider this statement representative of the “99%” nor of the thousands of Austinites living in substandard or unaffordable housing. In order to fully engage and empower those residents, we need your help. We need you to make every effort to step out of the digital world and into the reality of poverty and gentrification.

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Meet Rubiks…

Lainie : May 18, 2012 9:13 pm : End Homelessness, Local Outreach, Uncategorized

Yesterday, Members of Occupy Austin, in solidarity with the Peaceful Streets Project interviewed people about their experiences with Austin Police Department.

Meet Rubiks, who told us her story of being arrested and jailed for 7 hours for smoking a cigarette in public.

…and then promptly solved a Rubik’s Cube for us in under 2 minutes:

Thank you for sharing your story, Rubiks! <3

(more stories to come)

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PB&J Action!

Lainie : May 16, 2012 7:27 pm : End Homelessness, Events, Food Issues, Local Outreach, Spread the Word, Uncategorized, Welcome Wagon


Join members of Occupy Austin and other activist groups in sharing food, cigarettes, and mobile phone minutes with people who are currently homeless and/or hungry. We will also encourage them to share their stories, particularly their experiences with the Austin Police Department, in solidarity with the Peaceful Streets Project (

Thursday, May 17, 6:30 PM, meet up at Wooldridge Park

Please Bring:
Peanut butter
Knives for spreading pb&j
Recording equipment
Mobile phones that can be loaned

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Upcoming Occupy Austin Welcome Wagon Events

Lainie : May 12, 2012 11:13 am : Events, Local Outreach, News, Welcome Wagon

Hey everyone,

The Occupy Austin Welcome Wagon has planned a series of anti-oppression teach-ins and community potlucks. The following is a schedule of dates, times, and locations for planned events:


Sunday, May 13, 2012 (Mother’s Day) 5 PM at Austin Java – City Hall

Celebrate Mother’s Day with Occupy Austin’s Lainie Duro. Let’s drink mimosas and discuss anti-oppressive parenting tactics.

Summary of Discussion Points:

-What can we do to teach children about oppression and how it plays out in their relationships with others?

-How does oppression play into the parent-child relationship?

-Should we place limits on the freedom of children? If so, when and how? If not, how do we ensure our children do not exercise their freedom at the expense of others?

-How can non-parents help?


Sunday, May 20, 2012 1 PM at Pease Park – Near the volleyball courts

Occupy Austin Community Potluck

Join us for food, fun, and discussion about the NATO protests, among other things.

Bring something to eat and share, games to play, art supplies, great ideas, laughter, and friends.

Stick around afterwards for a teach-in on Environmental racism at 5 PM.

We should be posted up somewhere near the volleyball courts, so bring a volleyball, too! ♥ ♥ ♥


Sunday, May 20, 2012 5 PM at Pease Park – Near the volleyball courts

Occupy Austin Sunday Anti-Oppression Teach-in Series – Environmental Racism

***This Teach-in will be facilitated by Adrian Boutureira and Dave Cortez***

The definition of environmental racism is inequality — in the form of racism linked with environmental factors and practices — that causes disproportionate distress on minority communities. It is a heavily debated phenomenon incorporating a hybrid of environmental concerns and human welfare. Environmental racism is often used to describe specific policies, events, and outcomes in which minority communities are targeted for the placement of polluting industries and factories. Environmental racism can also be connected to the exclusion of minority groups from the decision-making process in their communities.

The environmental justice movement aims in part to combat environmental racism; environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, sex, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”


Please join us for lively discussion and fun! Invite your friends! <3

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