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Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

Posts by Margy Avery

Film festival screens shorts on environmental conservation and honors locals

Jun 18, 2018 (10:49 am)


On June 13 the Wild and Scenic Film Festival partnered with the San Antonio River Authority for an evening of short films at the Santikos Palladium. This free annual event, now in its fifth year, aims to celebrate activism and raise awareness of SARA’s activities and its impressive portfolio of projects and public parklands.

The filmmakers deftly squeezed a wealth of information about water conservation and parkland preservation into the fourteen films, whose runtimes ranged from three to nineteen minutes.

Through the eyes of bat educator Corky Quirk, of NorCal Bats, The Invisible Mammal managed to cover four types of bats, bat conservation efforts, bats’ vital role in reducing agricultural pesticides, and the devastating impact of white-nose syndrome. (More than 7 million bats have succumbed to this mysterious disease since 2006.)  

The crowd favorite was the (Unofficial) History of the National Parks Part One, a collaborative effort by Ryan Maxey and Parks Project. In just over four minutes, the film takes viewers from the Big Bang through the colonization of the Americas, John Muir’s appreciation of the redwoods, the creation of the National Park Service, and the push-pull of government influence.The takeaways, aside from the ever-present threat of commodification and the importance of the arts in cultivating an awareness and passion for parklands (Ansel Adams, anyone?), is the NPS and parklands’ critical role in providing a space for everyone to enjoy.

The film festival doubles as an opportunity to honor recipients of SARA’s Watershed Wise Awards, which recognize individuals and organizations in Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad counties who have helped to raise awareness of watershed issues.

Winners included Concepión Park champion Estela Avery, former executive director of the San Antonio River Foundation; the Hon. Joe Straus, speaker of the Texas House of Representatives; Brenda Justice, a park ranger at Goliad State Park; the City of Kenedy; and the San Antonio Bay Partnership. You can find the full list of honorees on SARA’s site.

Bummed that you missed this opportunity? You can catch the Southern Basin Screening on June 28 at Kenedy City Hall.


San Antonio's Second Annual World Heritage Festival

Sep 26, 2017 (11:08 am)

This month San Antonio hosted its second annual World Heritage Festival, a six-day bonanza of cultural, historic, and informative activities celebrating the San Antonio missions.

Perhaps you didn’t know that the city’s five missions are the state’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of only ten cultural World Heritage Sites in the country. (The United States has twenty-three sites in allten cultural, twelve natural, and one mixed. You can see a list of them here and order a cool map of the 1,000-plus sites around the globe for $3 here.)

The city’s World Heritage Festival, which was all about celebrating the missions, included excellent events like a twenty-two-mile trip via bike, walk, or run from mission to mission and Restored by Light, in which colorful hues were projected onto the walls of Mission Concepción to emulate the frescoes that once cloaked the structure.

Being there was like speaking to a neighbor you’ve seen for years but never talked to beyond exchanging pleasantries. The missions have so much more to offer us, if only we’d ask.

How do communities like San Antonio balance a rich, deep heritage with the everyday bustle of modern life and a robust tourist industry to boot? This was one of the questions an international group of scholars, city planners, architects, conservationists, and urban planners considered at the Living Heritage Symposium, a two-day meeting that overlapped with the festival.

Speakers and participants from around the country, and from places as far reaching as Hong Kong and Turkey, shared widely differing experiences. Discussion provided ample opportunity to share experiences, compare challenges, and strategize.

Speakers from San Francisco, for example, discussed their efforts to establish cultural districts, designed to preserve a community’s culture (as opposed to a historic district, which is defined by specific buildings in a clearly demarcated space). By decoupling heritage from culture, a cultural district might manifest more as a network of specific nodes rather than a defined space. In other words, preservation doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to a place in a designated district. An example in our own backyard is the King William Cultural Arts District.

Trinity University Press was proud to help sponsor the symposium alongside the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Center for Cultural Sustainability, the City of San Antonio’s Office of Historic Preservation, and PlaceEconomics.

While the press’s numerous books on the city’s historic places are proof positive of our dedication to historic preservation, the dynamic nature of cultural districts is a topic we’re hot to pursue.