As you may or may not know, the first-ever statewide TexKos meet-up was held in Austin on Saturday, March 2. We couldn't ask for a cooler city to meet in.
Our mission, of course, is to get Rick Perry the hell out of that building above.
We met at a wonderful restaurant on the always-exciting South Congress Avenue called Opal Divine's Austin Grill. I think I speak for everybody when I say that the meet-up was a huge success by any standard. We had at least 50 Kossacks and honorary Kossacks in attendance, and I could definitely feel the energy in the air from our burning desire to turn Texas blue as soon as possible. It was a grand event, and those who made the meet-up possible--papa monzano, teknohed, nomandates, and, of course, navajo, Queen of the Meet-Ups (who flew all the way from San Francisco to be with us!)--deserve all the praise in the world.
Oh, and did I mention that the food was outrageously good? Feast your eyes, no pun intended, on some food porn, courtesy of navajo:
Also, before we get to the meet-up porn, some more shout-outs:
First, to navajo, who needs to be thanked not only for flying all the way from San Francisco to attend our meet-up, but also for making meet-ups like this possible in the first place. Her work sparking regional and local organizing cannot be overstated. In fact, her New Day series is the reason I was motivated to build up a Houston Area Kossacks group to begin with. Thank you, navajo, for your hard work at getting us Kossacks together in meatspace. Big, big hugs from Texas!
Second, to angelajean, who worked a great deal at organizing Texas before having to move. We are undoubtedly building upon the foundation she laid. Thanks, angelajean!
Third, to belinda ridgewood, who flew all the way from the East Coast to visit us! I'm sure I speak for everybody when I say we enjoyed her visiting. Thanks, belinda ridgewood!
Now, follow me below the fold for the meet-up fun!
Opal Divine's gave us a lovely meeting space all to ourselves. Before we ordered our food and got on with the meet-up, papa monzano gave us a pep talk about turning our deep-red state deep-blue (and check out his shirt he designed for us!).
And if you're wondering what he had to say to us, he wrote up his talk from memory:
Thanks to everyone who came here to turn Texas blue! I went to the SDEC (State Dem Exec Committee) meetings on Saturday morning along with nomandates and some other fine Kossacks. It was both inspiring and disheartening...our state party needs helping hands. I have hands. I'm going to help. I would ask that everyone in Texas contact your local Precinct Chair. I have contacted mine and discovered that the contact info is bad and no one can figure out who is supposed to be in charge of my area. Disheartening, yes, but by asking, I revealed a flaw in my local organization and now am working on filling that void and fixing that problem. We can do this, if we just get up and do it. Texas blue, y'all. Battleground Texas and the Texas Dem Party are working to support each other's programs as we begin to take 20 counties at a time and set up strong infrastructure for future campaigns. Much work will also be needed for the state party to update all training materials. We can help. This is important. I'd urge everyone to contact their local party and ask what needs doin'. We are already the engaged and active voters. Lets not just watch the horserace, let's help our team win it. Thanks again, everyone who made the trip. I can't tell y'all how gratifying and humbling it is to meet so many other great Progressives from this great state.teknohed also had some words to say:
I just wanted to thank everyone who came today because that is what makes this a successful day. For 50 Kossacks to come from all over Texas and join us in Austin for our first gathering is very impressive. nomandates and papa monzano deserve the credit for the organization, we wouldn’t be here without them. So let’s have a good time and meet each other. If people are staying for the night, we will try to find something for all of us to do together. Thank you and let’s turn Texas Blue!!nomandates also gave a small talk right after papa monzano. Here's what she had to say:
The SDEC meetings were quite informative - I attended the Legislative Affairs, Grassroots, and Communications meetings, as well as the Legislative Update (thanks to krwheaton for the great advice!). The Texas Democratic Party is working and planning, but doesn't have enough money to do everything that needs doing. Beyond that, Gilberto Hinojosa (Chair of the Texas Democratic Party) emphasized that the state party is working with Battleground Texas, then introduced the Executive Director for Battleground Texas, Jenn Brown, who ran the 2012 field campaign for OFA in Ohio.And now what you've been waiting for: the real meet-up porn! The following pictures were taken by either navajo, belinda ridgewood, or Louis, my boyfriend and the official meet-up photographer. So, without further ado...
Jenn Brown explained that the role BGTX envisions is to be a "value-add" to Democrats already working in Texas, including the county party leadership, as they implement successful OFA strategies such as neighbors contacting neighbors. She also requested our help for the BGTX launch tour: they need help finding a space for meeting in our respective areas as well as people they need to work with.
Joe Deshotel from the Burnt Orange Report and papa monzano:
texasmom and Mr. texasmom:
glorificus and Wordsinthewind:
politik and mr pea:
Your humble diarist and Louis, posing with his camera (that's not Tupperware on top--it's a diffuser!):
krwheaton (and a glimpse of teknohed):
memphisgirl and teknohed:
krwheaton, TexMex, blue armadillo, and Louis:
icelus and Texdude50:
doraphasia, your humble diarist, and Louis:
nomandates' legendary hair, belinda ridgewood in the background, papa monzano, and teknohed:
papa monzano posing with our sign:
Wordsinthewind, blue armadillo, texasmom, and freerad:
suesue and cosette:
icelus, your humble diarist, Texdude50, and doraphasia:
mr pea, politik, and belinda ridgewood:
Wordsinthewind, glorificus, blue armadillo, TexMex, and texasmom:
Tom and Mary from Organizing for America, Alice Venturi, VinaMist, and VinaMist's friend Barb:
papa monzano and Alice Venturi in the back, and Wino and his wife Frances in the front:
papa monzano's friend Jessica and girlfriend Lisa and Cheyanne from Texas NORML:
belinda ridgewood, navajo, and TexMex:
Kath25, Joe Deshotel from the Burnt Orange Report, and Sandia Blanca:
Louis, your humble diarist, and the fabulous navajo:
your humble diarist, cosette, and krwheaton:
13Friday and Noisy Gong:
your humble diarist, teknohed, Odysseus, memphisgirl, and freerad:
I'm just gonna say it...we had a pretty hot waiter. He and the other waitstaff were wonderful taking care of us. Here's the waiter posing with Louis:
Finally, we took group photos. You already saw one--here's another:
I saved the best group photo for last. I vote cosette and suesue for best silly face (near the center of the photo)!
After the meet-up, some Kossacks (the diarist not included) were able to make it to the Zilker Kite Festival in Austin's Zilker Park. Here's what teknohed has to say about the festival:
Later Saturday night, a few of us got to hang out together on South Congress and catch some local music. Austin is about to kick off SXSW, so the music is even more plentiful this time of year.And here are some more kite festival photos...
belinda ridgewood, PM’s SO, papa monzano, navajo & memphisgirl
The day after the epic Texas Kossack Inaugural Gathering, the fun continued at the 85th Annual Kite Festival in Zilker Park, the longest running kite festival in the US. Sunday was a windy day but the temperature got to the upper 70s making it perfect for kite flying and people watching(the crowd was estimated to be > 20k). belinda ridgewood brought kites to share as did papa monzano and myself. The sky was full of kites! Here's a few shots from the day.
belinda ridgewood and navajo
papa monzano and memphisgirl
big ass kite
With all the people and all the kites, there had to be a few mishaps, so the trees got to fly a few kites too.
We had a funny moment right before belinda and navajo had to leave for the airport. I wish I had a picture or even better a video, but a lady passing by broke into an unsolicited rendition of "You Are my Sunshine" especially for us, unequivocally settling the question of whether the locals were still keeping Austin weird. As if there was a doubt. The "Keep Austin Weird" was strong in this lady.
A big thank you to all who came to join us for the events, especially our east and west coast friends, belinda ridgewood and navajo. And hats off to nomandates for organizing and papa monzano for his tshirts and poster, you guys rock! It was so good to meet all the Texan Kossacks. I really appreciate those who shared with us at the meeting, I really enjoyed 13Friday’s pep talk. We need more of you, so spread the word, we can turn Texas blue!
belinda ridgewood, navajo, teknohed, and papa monzano:
belinda ridgewood flying her kite:
teknohed flying his kite:
nomandates flying her kite:
belinda ridgewood, teknohed, memphisgirl, and nomandates' hair:
navajo enjoying a red velvet cupcake!
And some miscellaneous kite festival photos:
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. We can't wait to do it again! I hear a rumor that the next TexKos meet-up might be in San Antonio...Riverwalk, here we come!
And, of course...blue Texas, here we come!
Are you living in Texas and not a part of a group yet? Is there a group in your area? Either join a group or start a new one! Help us turn Texas deep-blue!
And blue armadillo has expressed interest in starting a San Antonio Kossacks group!
Please consider stepping up to organize if there isn't a group in your area.