Have you ever explored your city through the eyes of a tourist?

By Autumn Outlaw

My family of five tries to visit the many museums, shop the local boutiques and explore Cameron Park as often as we can. It’s hard to find the time, even living right here in Waco. A few weeks ago, two of my friends and I decided we wanted to have a girls’ day with our daughters. Our goal was to experience Waco as tourists. We set out with our walking shoes on to see why two million people have flocked to our city each year and why they keep coming back!

We started the beautiful Saturday with brunch. I have heard many of my friends and co-workers mention how tough it is to find a bunch location that isn’t overly busy on a Saturday morning, so I explored our options. We decided on the restaurant inside Hotel Indigo. We arrived at about 9:45 a.m. and we were only one of two tables seated – it wasn’t busy at all! The food and service were incredible! Even our girls liked the food – but who doesn’t love chocolate drizzled waffles?!

From Hotel Indigo, we drove to the corner of Franklin and University Parks to park our car. We were happy to have no problem finding parking. We visited Giddy Up Boutique and walked to Bolt Boutique. Bolt has those hard-to-find-gifts and super fun t-shirts that the owner screen prints herself. She also had champagne and rosé for customers.

From Bolt we walked to the Dr Pepper Museum. Now, I must be honest, I am the biggest (self-proclaimed) Dr Pepper fan and love to visit the Museum, so I may have been the one who led us there. We decided to stop by the soda fountain for a Dr Pepper float and we perused the gift shop. Although it was busy, we were able to get through the line quickly.

From the Museum, we walked to a place you might have heard of – Magnolia Market. It was about 1 p.m. and it was pretty busy but very manageable. We took a ton of photos, explored the garden area, bought gourmet popcorn, and the girls lounged on the cushions on the lawn. I will tell you that the line to buy tea in the glass mason jars at Alabama Sweet Tea was quite long – it must be delicious! I can’t wait to go back soon to try it!

Next, we walked the short block over to the Findery. The two-story building holds beautiful home goods and trendy clothes and jewelry. If you venture outside to the back of the building, you’ll find the “City with a Soul” mural. In full tourist fashion, we had a group photo taken in front of the mural to document our day as tourists.

We then walked just next door to The Backyard, where they were setting up for a concert that evening, but that added to the atmosphere. The girls played cornhole and we enjoyed food and drinks.

I think the best part of the day for our girls was riding the trolley. The City of Waco Transportation Department offers free trolley rides. We hopped on in front of the Findery and rode to Austin Avenue. The trolley driver had a fun personality and added interesting facts along the drive. Our first stop was Caliente, and although I have driven by dozens of times, I had not visited it before. We also visited Simply Irresistible, another gem of a shop!

We were going to wait for the trolley to take us to our car but decided to start walking back, and I am so glad we did! We walked two blocks to Hey Sugar! This was one of the highlights of the day for the girls. They each bought a sweet treat – it was the afternoon pick-me-up they needed to walk the next few blocks.

We stopped in to Adorn, and unfortunately, we just missed the hours of Linen and Cake. We did look through the window and this is another place that is on my list to visit soon!

As we walked down Austin Avenue, we were all in awe of how alive downtown was. It’s the first time I appreciated the busyness – we were actually a part of it, not working to maneuver through it as a Wacoan, but enjoying it as a “visitor.” I saw the quaint, adorable things that tourists fall in love with while visiting. It made my Waco-loving heart full and happy.

We continued walking and headed into Interior Glow. They offered us a Dr Pepper (a Waco staple), and we stayed a bit longer to look at the pretty home decor and men’s products at Brazos River Dry Goods.

I can confidently say that we absolutely enjoyed the very full day. Our girls are still talking about how much fun we had. I am so glad we finally took the time to look at Waco through a different lens and experience what tourists love about our community – from friendly shop owners to a knowledgeable trolley driver to the beautiful murals, fabulous food and the excitement we felt in the air, I cannot wait to plan the next Waco day and find new ways to experience our wonderful town.

Wacoans, I hope you take the time to explore Waco through the eyes of tourist and discover a new love for our changing city.


Autumn Outlaw works in marketing and communications. She grew up just outside of Waco, in Clifton. She resides in the China Spring area with her husband, Mark, and three children, Knox, Ellis and Jetta. The Outlaws are very involved in youth sports and volunteering at the Dr Pepper Museum.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Waco Downtown Merchants to Locals: We love ya! We need ya!

By Ashley Futris

First things first, I am NOT a writer. Ashley Bean Thornton reached out after seeing a recent post of mine and asked if I would expand upon it a bit. So here I am. My name is Ashley Futris, owner of Bolt Boutique downtown. Prior to that I worked for the Waco Chamber as VP of Sports and Special Events. Many of you may have seen my post recently on my Bolt Facebook/Instagram page.

I chose to sit down and write said post after having so many of the same conversations with customers & other merchants downtown. Without knowing the impact, I wrote it on a Saturday while at the store and scheduled it to post the following week. I was at the gym when it posted and came out to an outpouring of messages and similar sentiments by so many local businesses. Being the new kid on the block, even I had assumed, surely not all these other well-established businesses are met with the same struggles I am currently battling. Well friends, I’m here to tell you, even I was blinded. Like I said below, and as Hanna Braud mentioned in her post on her Hanna Braud Design account, that business you think is killing it, still very much needs you. If you missed my post on Bolt’s social channels here is what it said:

“This post is something that’s been heavily on my mind lately, especially with Spring at the Silos approaching [the all inspiring Hanna Braud recently touched on the subject]. I haven’t had quite the right words and I’m not sure I ever will, but here we go…recently I’ve spoken to so many downtown merchants and the truth is, contrary to popular belief, it’s tough out here. Yes, we have lots of tourists coming to Waco, most would assume that if you’re a downtown merchant that must mean you’re killing it. Nope. We do see a small percentage of the visitors, but I assure you it isn’t the majority.


What I’m trying to say is Waco, we need ya. We love ya. We are essentially here for the locals! Waco is transforming, and it has grown quite a lot. BUT, we still need your support. I promise it isn’t as crazy downtown as it seems. There is MORE parking than you think. We can only do what we do, make this city “cool,” change the “there’s nothing to do in Waco” if you’re supporting it. I assure you we are doing everything we can to love our locals and provide for you! Marking that “you’re interested” in an event on Facebook so that it shows up on your feed to all of your followers (even if you don’t plan on attending), attending said event, liking or sharing a photo/post, telling friends, choosing us instead of online…means the WORLD to us. We are competing against some giants these days, but we are committed to making what we offer unique!

Please don’t get me wrong, the outpouring of support has been outrageously great for me and I am blown away by it. But, just when you think that small business you see on social media is killing it, just know at any level of success or business size, we are grinding. We are struggling. We chose this life and we wouldn’t trade it for anything, but that is the reality. YOU inspire us to do what we do and we do what we do for YOU.”

This simple honest post, without a boost or paid ad, reached 25,567 people, 427 likes, 33 comments and what shocks me most, is that it was shared 124 times. The shares tell me A LOT. This post was felt by so many local business owners. I wrote the post mentioned above, right before Spring at the Silos. I was super prepped for Spring at the Silos and excited for the influx of people (January/February were rough retail months). I ordered extra inventory for the store, reserved a golf cart to help shuttle people around downtown to my store, prepped branded water bottles, had a pop-up tent at the Live Oak LuLuBelle Market…I.was.ready!

The truth is, the days leading up to the event were busy days, Spring Break was in full effect and my locals were out and about downtown. The week was looking to be a busy one! Spring at the Silos rolled around, and I have to say, it was lackluster in terms of business for me. In talking with other businesses downtown the sentiment was the same. While it makes sense, the people visiting the Silos are spending a lot of money with the vendors at Spring at the Silos and not in many other stores downtown. I’m so excited and proud for all the local small businesses that participated in that, and how successful it was for them! (I hope to be able to one year myself!) The frustrating part of it all is that the locals, understandably, do not come downtown during a busy event like that. The media outlets are sharing information that “crowds pack downtown businesses”, and while that’s true for the few, it was not the many. Leading to a huge misconception that we are all battling.

Some of my closest friends are shocked when I tell them, yeah, I’m struggling. The response is usually but there are so many people visiting and downtown? The truth is, locals, you are our bread and butter.

I think there’s another misconception that as downtown merchants we don’t try to attract the locals and only care about the tourists. I can only speak for myself, but that is not the case. Naturally, like everyone else, we see the tourist numbers being reported and we are going to at least try to attract them if we can. But, what allows us to stay and make it, is you. Again, the support has been outstanding, all I am asking is that you think twice and try to shop local when you can.

In addition to that, I hope it opens your eyes to the many merchants that are struggling that you may not have otherwise had any clue about, because, how would you? As businessowners we aren’t going to shout it from the rooftops or social media that we are struggling. We are going to post the best of the best and put our best face on. So occasionally skip that Target trip and try to find that gift locally, pass on Starbucks and grab a local coffee, try on some clothes in a local store and let us help you find the perfect fit, and check out that event that we put together to try to bring you into our space! Locals, we love ya!


Ashley Futris, owner of Bolt Boutique downtown.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Better Living for Texans: Let’s Get Crackin’

By Kelli Niemeier

Spring, egg hunts, candy, bunnies, and delicious family meals. These festive events are the hallmark of the month of April. With Easter coming up soon, it is important to remember some important food safety techniques to have a safe and happy holiday! A report by CNN News stated that Americans are “egg-spected” to purchase about 180 million eggs for consumption or decoration during the Easter season. That’s a whole lot of eggs! So, let’s get crackin’ on important things to remember when buying, storing, and cooking all those eggs!

Buying Eggs

When you’re buying eggs at the grocery store, always check the carton before you put it in your cart. Why? Bacteria from dirt or chicken droppings on the outside of the shell can enter the egg through cracks that are sometimes too fine to see. Before you purchase eggs, there are several steps to consider:

  • Open the carton and check the eggs look clean and are not cracked before purchasing.
  • Buy only eggs that are sold from a refrigerator or refrigerator case.
  • Do not switch eggs from one carton to the other. Eggs are labeled according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the location the eggs were processed. If you switch the eggs, you won’t know where the eggs are from or how they have been stored and handled.
  • Check the expiration date and/or sell by date of your eggs before purchasing. The three-digit code after the plant number is the Julian Date of Pack. This number indicates the consecutive date of the year on which the eggs were packed. Example: Jan 1 = 001, July 1 = 182, and Dec 31 =365.

Following these tips before purchasing will ensure that you are buying eggs that will remain fresh!

How Long Should I Keep Eggs?

After you purchase your eggs, refrigerate the eggs in their original carton. Place the carton in the refrigerator, rather than in the door. For best quality, use your eggs within 3-5 weeks of the date you purchased them. Just because the ‘sell-by’ date has already passed does not mean your eggs are not safe to use. You may have heard of the tip to put your egg in a bowl of water to see if it is still fresh. You can simply add water to a bowl (enough to submerge an egg completely) and place it in the water. A fresh egg sinks, whereas an older egg will float. As time passes, eggs develop tiny pockets of air beneath the shell, so after time, the egg will float! An egg may float in water because it is older, but it still may be perfectly safe to use. Crack the egg into a bowl and look for an off-odor or unusual appearance.

Easter Egg Safety Tips

  • If you’re having an Easter egg hunt, consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, other animals, or lawn chemicals.
  • Make sure you find all the eggs you’ve hidden and refrigerate them. Discard any cracked eggs.
  • If the eggs have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours, they are NOT safe to eat. If the eggs have been out of refrigeration for less than two hours, they ARE safe to eat.
  • Make sure your eggs are cooked thoroughly. Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Casseroles and other dishes with eggs should be cooked to 160˚F. Always use a food thermometer to make sure they are thoroughly cooked. For more information about avoiding food borne illness and other egg safety facts click here.

An Egg-cellent Source of Protein

Eggs are a terrific source of protein and healthy fats. Eggs contain vitamins D, A, B2 and B12, and are also a source of minerals such as folate and iodine. The white of an egg is where more than half of its protein is found. This part of the egg is a good source of selenium, zinc, iron, and copper. The yolk is where the fat from the egg is stored. The egg yolk is a great source of vitamins D, E, K, and A. For more information about the health benefits from eggs, click here. Eggs are often used around the Easter season, but they’re also a versatile food that can be enjoyed year-round for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here’s a deviled egg recipe that is easy and cheap. Short on time? Look no further than this quick and simple recipe for microwavable scrambled eggs. I hope these tips helped you learn a thing or two about some food safety and health tips to start off the month of April!


Kelli Niemeier is a Nebraska native who is pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at Baylor University. She is currently an intern with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in McLennan County and is working with the Better Living for Texans program. She is passionate about empowering communities to improve health and well-being. Kelli has learned to call Waco her home away from home. She especially enjoys the small-town atmosphere and charm of Waco and trying local food. Kelli is also an adventurer at heart who loves to visit U.S. National Parks!

McLennan Community College Welcomes New Emergency and Risk Management Coordinator, Frank Patterson

By Cheyenne Atchison

Frank Patterson sat in a slightly broken chair in his nearly empty office.

 “It’s my first day, and I already broke my chair!” he said.

In March, McLennan Community College welcomed a new staff member to its campus. Frank Patterson, who served as the Waco-McLennan County Emergency Management Coordinator, is now the emergency and risk management coordinator at MCC. Patterson started his career in fire service in 1983, leading him to a job in the petrochemical industry and eventually coming to MCC in 1997 to start MCC’s Fire Academy. Two years later, the city had an opening for an emergency services coordinator, and Patterson began his 20-year tenure there.

With his retirement at Waco-McLennan County and the new position at MCC, Patterson looks forward to a new program and direction. When he worked for the city, he built relationships with the local fire and EMS departments at both the state and federal level. Since some of the same disasters that befall a city can happen on a college campus, the same planning efforts he used at the County will be applicable at MCC.

“Weather does not discriminate. MCC is not separate from the city or county,” Patterson said. The training implemented in local and state emergencies can be applied to MCC on a smaller scale.

The West Fertilizer Plant explosion in 2013 shows how training is integral to responding effectively in a crisis. Patterson led and worked with the city to respond and recover from the explosion. Because of previous training exercises, everyone was able to respond according to what they had learned and practiced. Since they knew one another and their roles, they were successful, collectively.

With the Twin Peaks shooting a couple years later and other manmade and natural disasters, Patterson and his teams have learned from successes and failures. Although not every situation is the same, there are basic operational procedures to follow. Through training exercises, emergency teams become familiar with these procedures and gain the confidence to apply them to real situations. According to Patterson, the key in just about every circumstance is to find out how big the problem is, to have good situational awareness, and to stabilize the crisis.

“When it comes to public safety in this country, we train together, we exercise together and we respond together,” Patterson said.

Throughout the years, Patterson has seen Waco grow exponentially. This growth requires new ways to protect and care for the community. Patterson believes that the development near the Brazos River will be an interesting process to watch. As downtown grows and revitalizes, Patterson believes there is an increasing trend of living in more urban areas. The increasing popularity of Waco means more visitors and challenges, including events like Magnolia’s Silobration or a visit from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Each event has many moving parts regarding the safety of the city and spectators. With additional pressure and safety requirements, Patterson must collaborate with event organizers to assess risks and how they must respond.

“The city of Waco has always been primed to expand due to its location between Dallas and Austin,” Patterson said.

Although some of the same methods for ensuring safety can be used at both the city and campus level, Patterson made it clear there are some distinct differences; one of them being MCC’s size. With a smaller campus comes a higher concentration of people in one place, making some situations high profile and giving the campus a heightened sense of awareness. Patterson would like to train students and faculty on how to react to different situations. Ideally, he will create an Emergency Response Team of students, offering courses every semester to the various divisions on campus. By targeting groups with a stable membership, the program will be ongoing and sustainable.

“I think by engaging students and educating them, these safety measures will bleed into other areas,” Patterson said.

Patterson and MCC Chief of Police Clayton Williams previously worked together through the Waco Police Department and will now collaborate to implement and improve safety measures at MCC. For Chief Williams, his goal is the safety of everyone on campus, which means ensuring policies are in place and equipping everyone with the right tools to be safe on campus. Patterson’s new position includes coordinating those policies to drive response to a positive outcome through preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. With Chief Williams and Patterson both on campus, they look forward to providing for the campus community.

“This is it for me; this is coming home,” Patterson said.  “I will tell you I enjoyed it when I was here for the first time. The culture, the camaraderie, it was a great administration then, and it is now. That shows the amount of stability here on campus. This is it for me.”


Cheyenne Atchison is a junior at Baylor University studying Marketing and Public Relations, and currently serves as an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at McLennan Community College.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Texas programming for pre-school kids is fragmented. Want to help? Take 15 minutes to participate in state-wide needs assessment. (By April 5!)

By Julie Talbert

By now, most of us know something about the remarkable rate of brain development that occurs from birth to age five. Development during this period has a lasting impact on a child’s success in school and life.  Not only are there lifelong benefits for young children who participate in high quality early learning programs, but all of us benefit from a more capable and productive workforce. 

Even though we know that there are significant benefits to high quality early childhood programs, our current system is fragmented and is failing children, parents and businesses.  It is also limiting our potential as a state. 

Parts of the Texas early learning and care system can be found in seven different state agencies and include programs like Child Care Services, child care licensing, Head Start, Prekindergarten, home visiting programs, services for children with disabilities and others.  It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that these programs frequently have different goals, eligibility criteria, and standards, which makes coordination difficult and creates a maze for parents to navigate.

The good news is that Texas recently received a federal Preschool Development Grant Birth – Five (PDG B-5) that provides Texas with a historic opportunity to design and implement an early care and education system that gives equitable access to high-quality programs for all children and families.   The award amount is $1,789,455 and when added to the required state matching funds, the project totals $2,236,292. 

Below are the seven state agencies involved with PDG B-5 and are tasked with coordinating their services, streamlining their infrastructure, and improving the quality and availability of early care and education services.

To demonstrate the need to coordinate services, consider the current child care crisis that is impacting parents, children, child care providers, and businesses.  Parents are struggling to find and pay for child care and many have concerns about the quality and safety of available programs.  

Child care teachers are struggling to provide for their own families while their wages remain near the bottom of all occupations.  Not surprisingly, more than half of child care workers qualify for some kind of public assistance.   If you want to know more about that, I recommend The Early Childhood Workforce Index of 2018 http://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2018/06/Early-Childhood-Workforce-Index-2018.pdf .   Keep in mind that child care teachers are doing a job that we all agree is important and that working parents and businesses consider essential.  Businesses lose billions a year in productivity due to the child care problems of their workforce.

Even though Pre-K, Head Start, and child care share similar goals around early care, education and family support, their delivery system doesn’t always meet the needs of today’s families.  The child of a busy single parent may be unable to attend a Head Start or PreK program down the street because the family doesn’t qualify.  This can be true even when space is available.  Similarly, after attending a Pre-K program, a 3 or 4-year-old may have to ride a bus to a child care center because the parents work until 5.  I understand that this arrangement works for the program, but what’s best for children and families?  

If you agree that we could improve our early care and education system, YOU can help by completing a survey.  The PDG B-5 is intended to rally stakeholders around a common vision and goals for young children.

Governor Abbot has appointed a 20-member Texas Early Learning Council (TELC) to oversee the work and it is just beginning.  The first step is to conduct a state-wide needs assessment.  This is required and must be completed and analyzed before any planning can begin.  If you use early childhood services, work in early childhood programs, or have some stake in the system, please complete the survey.  It will take less than 20 minutes.  I finished it in 10 minutes.


The survey is open from Monday, March 25, 2019 to Friday, April 5, 2019

Click here to participate in the survey.


For more information:


En Espanol

El Consejo de Aprendizaje Temprano de Tejas (Texas Early Learning Council) está llevando a cabo una encuesta en todo el estado para entender mejor las necesidades y los desafíos de quienes acceden, proveen y apoyan programas y servicios de la infancia temprana en Tejas.

La encuesta está abierta desde EL LUNES 25 DE MARZO HASTA EL VIERNES 5 DE ABRIL DE 2019 y no debe tardar más de 20 minutos en completarse. Las preguntas dirigidas a las familias y a los proveedores de servicios y programas de la infancia temprana están disponibles en inglés y español. Si recibe el enlace a la encuesta más de una vez, por favor completa la encuesta solo una vez.

¿Quién debe completar la encuesta?

Familias

Personal de programas y servicios de la infancia temprana (guardería, Head Start, programa preescolar público, ECI, etc.)

Personal de organizaciones de la infancia temprana (Afiliación de organizaciones de la infancia temprana, organizaciones de apoyo, socios de avanzar negocios, centros regionales de recursos y servicios de educación, etc.)

Organizaciones de la comunidad (negocios, proveedores de servicios de salud, gobierno local, organizaciones religiosas, etc.)

Por favor, ayúdanos a asegurar que la encuesta llegue a tantos tejanos como sea posible. PUEDE REENVIAR LA ENCUESTA A SU FAMILIA, AMIGOS, Y COLEGAS. Organizaciones están invitados a distribuir la encuesta a las listas de distribución.

https://tea.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cUeyDqwqLh2u8V7


Julie Talbert is the Manager of Child Care for the Heart of Texas Workforce Development Board.  If you are working or in school and have a child under the age of 12 who needs child care, visit our website to see if you are eligible to receive a child care subsidy.  https://www.hotworkforce.com/ChildCare/parent_info.php

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Gobsmacked: Waco Dance Company Explores the Risk and Beauty of Self-Discovery

Interview by Ty Hall

Have you ever been Gobsmacked? Utterly astonished and astounded?  On April 6 you have an opportunity to explore what it means to be “Gobsmacked” through an evening of modern dance, music, food and wine presented by Brooke Schlecte and Waco’s Out on a Limb Dance Company.   

Out on a Limb

L. Brooke Schlecte, founder and artistic director of Out on a Limb Dance Company, was born and raised in Waco, Texas. After graduating from Reicher Catholic High School in 1999, she attended Kilgore Junior College, where she performed with the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes.  After graduating from Kilgore in 2001, she continued her dance education at the University of Texas in Austin where she graduated with honors in 2003 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance.  “I have always danced. It has always been a part of me.” Says Brooke, “It has continued to guide me, teach me, excite me, challenge me, and keep me curious. I just keep searching and digging for the areas I love most and the ideas I want to explore with choreography.”

Schlecte graduated with a Master’s of Fine Arts in Dance from TWU in 2007.  That same year she moved back home to Waco and founded Out On A Limb Dance Company.  Since its formation, Out On a Limb Dance Company (OOLD) has choreographed and performed across the nation, including Texas, Oklahoma, California, and New York.

Schlecte and Out on a Limb bring the dynamic element of modern dance to Waco’s coalescing arts scene. According to their website, “OOLD is passionate about investigating new ways of thinking about movement and dance-making, without abandoning the rich traditions of formal dance. We believe that the creative mind and body at every age is intuitive and worth sharing with others, therefore, we aspire to redefine the body in motion and propose a new model for dance in the community of Waco and beyond.”  

But how does all that lead to being gobsmacked?

In the winter of 2018 Schlecte discovered and quickly immersed herself in an ancient tool for self-exploration that is enjoying a renaissance in recent years — the Enneagram.  The Enneagram — from the Greek words “ennéa,” meaning “nine” and “grámma,” meaning something “written” – helps us understand the human psyche by mapping and explaining nine interconnected personality types.

Through the healing and journey brought about by studying the Enneagram, Schlecte realized she uses the art of dance to develop understanding, clarity, healing, and as an agent for change. She found she feels strength in this space because it is the thing in her life that is risky and “out on a limb” and somehow that risk balances her other, more safe, way of living. 

In the process of developing Gobsmacked, she began collaborating with dancers, musicians, costume designers, photographers and videographers and very quickly a small dream percolated into the giant vision that you will have the chance to experience on April 6.  

Gobsmacked is about the beauty that lies in the deep, unearthed cervices of our being. It is about finding the people around you who are willing to show you who you are and see who you really are. Finding the unmasked self is scary and sometimes ugly. When we pull off the veil it is easy to feel gobsmacked. 

Brooke and her company have been developing Gobsmacked for the last two years.

What’s the creative process that leads to a “Gobsmacked?”

“My creative process as a choreographer changes with each new project,” says Schlecte. “So many variables influence me: life situation, time, money, how many dancers I have, how the dancers engage in the process, music, or music collaboration, concept, vision, venue, and audience (probably more things). 

“So, I gather what I know about what I have and what my vision is and start there. Improvisation and collaboration with dancers and musicians really help create the pallet of the movement language and from there usually a story unfolds (abstract or not). I try hard to follow the piece without imposing insecurities or judgements and really let the dance live for a while.  We take lots of videos and have many discussions about the piece that is unfolding.”

“From there, it really is all about editing, feedback, refining, and clarifying dynamics that really bring the piece to life.  During the process a lot of context questions get answered: where are we, who are we, what do we see, what are we wearing, what world do we live in, what is our relationship to each other, what are the sounds, and finally how would we name this world (i.e. dance title).”

“In my opinion, modern dance is the dance form that keeps asking questions, keeps evolving, and allows the choreographer and performers to grow and flourish with each new dance process. It is a dance form that has the human experience in mind. We are not just dancers pretending to be dancers. We are people, moving, exploring and understanding a movement language and creating new ideas with it.”

“Modern Dance is a form that has infinite ways of developing when each person interacts in the process. I love how modern dance is never the same, there is never a code to follow, there is less good vs. bad in measuring dance, and more of a life-long process. I believe that no dance is every really finished. There are times that products are presented to the audience, but there are always more places to explore and dig in each piece.”

How to see Gobsmacked…

You can get tickets to Gobsmacked here: Tickets.  You can learn more about Out On A Limb Dance from their website: www.outonalimbdance.com or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/outonalimbdancecompany/.  “The show has something for everyone,” says Schlecte, “with food, drinks, dance, theatrical elements and music.  I really try to create an experience that is new and engaging with one that is comfortable in familiar.”

What’s next for Schlecte and Out On a Limb?

“I am completely consumed in Gobsmacked and cannot think about anything else at the moment,” says Schlecte. “And after this show, it will be a process of recovery and reflection. My plans are to not force my next idea or what that concept will be. But, I do know that I want to do something like Gobsmacked again in the future.  Gobsmacked has probably been the most fun creative experience so far and I very much intend doing it again.


This post based on an interview conducted by Ty Hall. Ty Hall lives in Texas, makes up stories, and tries to be good.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Dreaming of world travel but a little nervous about going alone? Waco Group Travel can help!

By Amy Cook

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?  The pyramids of Egypt? To Italy to see the Leaning Tower and taste authentic pizza?  Or perhaps the beautiful beaches of Greece?   People ask each other this question all the time, but why not take it seriously!

Some people don’t have anyone to travel with, some are intimidated by international travel, and some are worried about finances.  That used to be me, then I took a community trip through MCC to Australia and New Zealand.  I would never have attended a Maori dinner, hiked through beautiful scenery punctuated by steaming geysers, or visited the Sydney Opera House if it hadn’t been for that trip.  Being able to share that experience with a great group of people made me feel comfortable and happy.

That brilliant experience inspired me to organize “Waco group Travel.”  Waco Group Travel aims to alleviate the fear and intimidation factor so more Wacoans can enjoy traveling the world together.  

Each year we will plan an international adventure booked through a tour agency. Our first destination will be Barcelona, Spain with dates set for Sept 12-17, 2020.  This advanced date will give you plenty of time to plan and keep monthly payments low, making the trip more accessible. The price of this adventure includes flights, transportation to and from your destination airport, hotels, a few fantastic excursions, and a few meals. 

Did you know Barcelona is the first city to win a RIBA Royal Gold Medal for its architecture?  It is also considered the “best beach city” in the world by National Geographic.  Activities for the Barcelona destination include Flamenco show and Tapas, a trip to Park Guell and Hospital de Sant Pau, and an authentic cooking class to fully immerse yourself in another culture. There is also free time to explore on your own or together- no person left behind!  

Interested?  Come to the information session for the trip on April 4th, 2019, at 6:45pm.  Please RSVP at the FB page or phone number below for location of meeting and other details..  Carpe Diem!


For more information visit our Facebook page  at http://www.facebook.com/wacogrouptravel or the website at  http://www.grouptoursite.com/tours/amycook1.  or call 254-292-3275.


Amy Cook has lived in the Waco area doing massage therapy for the last 10 years and loves it!!  In college she spent a month studying Shakespeare in England and this August will be visiting Russia.  Amy loves group travel, but wasn’t able to find any local opportunities and so wanted to create a way to bring fellow locals with wanderlust together.  She loves museums, outdoors, and random acts of kindness.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.