We’ve been seeing some very spooky and amusing Halloween decorations going up around the neighborhood. It would be great to have a photo journal of how Wooten celebrated Halloween in 2020. Here are some options for building our virtual community this fall:
The Environmental Voter Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan effort to get more environmentalists to vote in every election. EVP works to get out the environmental vote to make sure that elected officials pay attention to environmental concerns. EVP does not endorse particular candidates or tell people how to vote, but instead works in a nonpartisan fashion to make sure environmentalists vote for and hold accountable candidates that share their priorities.
If you want clean air, water, good green jobs, and action on climate change, you might be interested in volunteering. It’s easy! Volunteers make phone calls or send text messages to people who care about the environment. Volunteers make sure that environmentalists’ voter registration is updated, they have applied for and received a mail-in ballot if appropriate, and that they are aware of early voting and election dates and know their polling locations. If you are interested in mobilizing the environmental vote, click here to find out more and sign up to volunteer!
Girls have the power to change the world! That’s the guiding principle at Girlstart, an organization dedicated to empowering girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). You may recognize them from the pink entryway of their location at the corner of Anderson and Lazy Lane — but if that’s all you know about Girlstart, get ready to be inspired by the programming being created right here in our backyard.
The Girlstart mission is all about increasing girls’ interest and engagement in STEM, inspiring them to pursue new ideas and solutions to transform our world. As our country looks to healthcare professionals, immunologists and vaccine developers as national heroes, it’s a mission that may feel more meaningful now than ever.
We recently sat down for a virtual meeting with Kara Torbert, Community STEM and Summer Camp Manager, to learn more about how Wootenites can get involved with Girlstart.
Tell us about Girlstart’s mission.
About 23 years ago, Girlstart was founded with the mission of bringing accessible STEM education to the community and helping more girls have a voice in these fields. And that has been our mission ever since! We have locations in Austin, North Texas, and Houston. Girlstart also expanded programming outside of Texas four or five years ago, with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, and other locations across the country.
What kind of programming do you offer year-round?
Girlstart implements programming in three ways: we partner with Title 1 schools once a week for an hour throughout the school year, offer week-long summer camp programs, and collaborate to develop community STEM programming, like the Girls in STEM Conference and events at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Here in the neighborhood, Girlstart hosts an after school program through Wooten Elementary!
How has the pandemic impacted your approach?
Our team has been really intentional about making sure we’re providing everything a girl needs. We know that not everyone in our community may have access to Wi-Fi or a laptop, so we’ve ensured that our after school and summer camp programs aren’t dependent on technology. Students are set up for success with just the materials we’re mailing to them.
They can also access a digital video library where they can follow at their own pace, on their own time, or program leaders can be available on a Zoom call — flexibility is important! We offer some virtual programming, but are working hard to ensure everyone has what they need to participate.
What’s coming up this fall?
From September to December, we’re hosting a fall season of signature STEM events called Fall into STEM. The first Thursday of each month, Starry Nights explores the night sky from the perspective of different cultures. In October, we’ll be exploring the solar system, and in November, we’ll take on the perspective of Native American mythology! All our fall events are taking place virtually to make sure everybody is staying safe. Families can RSVP and register online to receive program materials — sign up at www.STEMathome.org or learn more at www.girlstart.org.
We’re also hosting a speaker series this fall oriented towards parents and educators, with authors and experts speaking about what it’s like to raise a brave and curious girl and sharing their own experiences in the STEM field. Another favorite is our family/team trivia events, where families can sign up to compete and put their knowledge to the test!
Check out the calendar of events at the bottom of this page.
How can our community support the Girlstart mission?
Come participate in our programming! Our next event takes place September 29, when we’ll be hearing from Phyllis Fagell, LCPC, author of Middle School Matters, as part of our series on “How to Raise a Brave, Creative, and Curious Child” — you can register here.
Tickets for our fall events start at only $40 per person, and 100% of those funds are going directly to our after school programs. Attend our events, participate, and make a donation — it’s going to make a huge impact on girls in our community.
COVID-19 has taught us much, and these lessons will help us as we adapt to the pandemic and turn our attention again to the ongoing threat of climate change. We have learned that abrupt economic contraction can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but the reduction comes at an unsustainable cost of human suffering.
To control greenhouse gas emissions in a way that produces abundance for all will take careful planning and timely action. We’ve learned that science-based decisions give us the best results, and that the technical experts advising our leaders have much to offer. Finally, the pandemic has helped us understand that we are no safer than the most vulnerable among us, and that action to address climate change must address issues of equity and justice both for those that have been most harmed by pollution and those whose livelihoods depend on jobs in the fossil fuel industry.
Wooten Neighborhood Association has been invited to draft a climate change resolution, joining other neighborhood associations to call for local action on climate change. An example can be found on the website of the Windsor Park Neighborhood Association Climate Crisis Committee. If you are interested in this topic, please click on this link to receive updates on the process.
Congratulations! We feel so lucky to have had front row seats to watching you grow to become the kind, funny, and intelligent young man you are today. It seems like just yesterday, we were walking you to Mrs. Moore’s kindergarten class. Now, we’re relishing these last days that we have together before you head off to the University of Texas.
We can only imagine how frustrating it’s been for you to have to shelter-in-place when all you want to do is spread your wings. Your time is coming. We believe that you and the Class of 2020 will change the world; born in the wake of 9/11 and ushered into adulthood during a pandemic, you’ve seen so much good in the world, but you’ve also seen the cracks.
As you go forward, remember that we love you always. Continue to feed your desire to seek out new places, new people, new perspectives. We can’t wait to see the man you will become.
As Neil Gaiman said, “The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are, so make up your own rules.”
Mom and Dad
Congratulations to all of our graduates from the Class of 2020!
Monday, August 10th – Saturday August 15th Hands-on activities released daily at 9 am. Activity materials lists will be posted on Saturday, August 1st.
Kick off the fall with hands-on STEM fun as part of our week-long STEM Extravaganza at Home! Get outside with the whole family to fly paper kites, explore astronomy, roast marshmallows in a solar oven, and discover the science behind making a slurpee! Join Girlstart for a free virtual event featuring daily hands-on activity blogs, how-to videos, and social media takeovers.