Taking this show on the Road! Rising Sons 2016 Gulf Coast Tour

By George Eichenberg, bass player, Rising Sons

rs drpepperWhen my friends and I started a band three years ago, I never thought that one day I’d be packing my bags and my bass guitar and going on the road. But five days from now, Spencer Davis, Jackson Anderson and I — otherwise known as the Rising Sons trio — will be heading southeast to play gigs in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida in what we’ve dubbed our 2016 Gulf Coast Tour.

Going on tour sounds pretty cool, but we’re not exactly living the rock-n-roll lifestyle just yet. Our tour bus is a caravan of family cars. We’re not expecting crowds of screaming girls to rush the stage. And our venues don’t seat thousands of people. But that doesn’t make any of this less real or less important to us. We take seriously our job of performing the classic rock, jazz and country tunes that will entertain audiences near, and now, far.

What started out as just messing around on Friday nights has turned into a real paying job with pretty consistent income that has given me the ability to save money, upgrade my equipment and go out with my friends. That wouldn’t be possible without owners of restaurants like the Hippodrome, Manny’s and Jake’s Texas Tea House taking a chance on some teenage boys and their electric instruments — and hiring us again and again once they realize we’re serious about what we do.

George close upBut more importantly, being part of the band — and spending many weekend nights playing music — has given me the opportunity to be part of something. You see, Spencer and Jackson have been playing music all their lives, but I didn’t pick up the bass until 7th grade music class. Outside of school, Jackson practiced with me and I started to understand how the bass adds another layer and gives every song a fuller sound — and how my contributions to the music make us better as a group.

We’ve all worked hard to get here. And though we’ve had lots of help from our parents, we’ve put in a lot of our own sweat. From hours of perfecting every note of our favorite Eagles tune to hauling heavy gear to and from our gigs (now in our own cars — two of us are finally driving!), it’s not easy. We’ve felt everything from love and support to skepticism and doubt. But at the end of the day, when our Algebra teacher and his wife show up to hear us (OK, maybe it was also for the chicken fried steak) at a roadhouse 20 miles outside of town, we know we’re doing something right. When strangers start tapping their feet to the music and singing along, we might be onto something. We’re definitely having fun.

Now we’re taking it on the road. The t-shirts have been printed, the UHaul has been rented and our kick-off party plans have been made. The three of us are looking forward to playing for new audiences and picking up the musical influences of the southern coast. Are we under the illusion that this tour is going to make us famous or that we are going to be discovered? Nah. But as we head out this weekend, we’ll be keeping Waco in the rear view mirror and remembering it’s the good people of our hometown who helped us pave the way.

June 3 – Rising Sons 2016 Gulf Coast Tour Send-Off Party – Join Waco’s favorite teen trio and celebrate their June 4-12 2016 Gulf Coast Tour at this pre-tour performance and party. Cost: Free admission (not including food and drinks at Jake’s). Time: 6 PM – 9 PM. Location: Jake’s Texas Tea House, 613 Austin Ave. For more information please visit the website: www.ehandersonpr.com/rising-sons

George Eichenberg - cropGeorge Eichenberg is the bass player for the Rising Sons, a Texas teen trio that plays everything from the Eagles to John Mayer and lots in between. George is a junior at Vanguard College Preparatory School and when he’s not playing bass, you can probably find him on the court with the varsity basketball team at school. His parents are Alex and Gretchen Eichenberg; and he has a sister, Brigitte, 13, and a big chocolate Lab named Luke.

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.

The Truth about Buying Organic

by Kiera Boone

It’s no secret that people are starting to become more health conscious. With all the documentaries on fast food (i.e. SuperSize Me and Forks over Knives) and the BuzzFeed Facebook videos on fried delicacies and bacon covered treats, it’s hard to choose between what TASTES good and what IS good. So, to try to bridge the gap between taste and nutrition, it has become a trend for people to lean toward more organic products. These are products that are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Choosing organic products also means animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. Basically, going “organic” means that people must be more aware of the nutrition labels on products they buy when they go grocery shopping and try to get more fresh products. Although fertilizers, pesticides, and bioengineering can be productive for agricultural yields, the chemicals from those items may not be the best for our bodies in the long-run.

Why should I buy organic products?

Although we may want to eat healthier and choose organic items when grocery shopping sometimes it is not as easy as it seems. For example, organic foods are more expensive in general. Paying an extra dollar or two, may not seem like a big deal to some, but to others, that difference is often avoided. Another reason many people stray from organics is because they don’t know the benefits organic products can have. Why buy organic, when the same fresh product it cheaper and a lot bigger? Well, here are a few reasons why organic products can be worth the extra buck:

Benefit From More Nutrients! – It has been studied and proven that organically grown foods are substantially more nutritious. They contain more nutrients that we need such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and micronutrients. Furthermore, studies have also shown that five servings of organically grown vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and carrots have more Vitamin C than the same amount of conventionally grown veggies!

Avoid Harmful Chemicals! – Many conventional fruits and vegetables are grown with the use of lots of fertilizers and pesticides. More than 600 active chemicals are registered for agricultural use in America! The crazy thing about the many chemicals being sprayed on crops is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows it. Many of the chemicals in the fertilizers and pesticides are approved by the EPA. Organic foods are free of those chemicals.

Avoid GMOs! – Genetically engineered foods and genetically modified organisms are saturating grocery stores all around us. GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms” are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. The main problem with GMOs is that genetic engineering can sometimes add carcinogens in some foods. Carcinogens increase the risk for cancers. Buying organic products helps reduce the risk of GMOs.

A Guide to Shopping Organic

dirty dozen

Image Source: http://www.ecohomeideas.com/clean-food-produce-free-of-pesticides/

The Dirty Dozen

Whenever possible, buy these foods organic to avoid potential high levels of pesticide residue.

  •  Apples
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Peaches
  • Imported Snap Peas
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  •  Imported Nectarines

The Clean Fifteen

These are the foods that are okay to buy conventional when necessary because they have low levels of pesticide residue.

  •  Pineapple
  • Onions
  • Eggplant
  • Avocado
  • Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapefruit
  • Cauliflower
  •  Sweet Potatoes
  • Mango
  • Papaya

Kiara BooneKiara Boone is an Atlanta, Georgia, native who is graduating from Baylor University with a Community Health degree. She is currently interning at the Waco McLennan County Public Health District. She enjoys cooking PINTEREST recipes, tough workouts, and writing poetry in her spare time.  Contact Info: Kiara Boone, Kiara_Boone@baylor.edu.  

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.




Data: A Necessary Force To Measure Impact

By Brittany Fitz-Chapman

Data doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.  If you think about it, you have been using data your entire life to assess your well-being.  For example, for every assignment you completed in school you were awarded a grade.  At the end of high school, you were given your class rank based on your grade point average.  When you feel sick, you take your temperature.  Data has been informing your decision making process for a long time.  You can use data at a community-level, as well. Data enables us to assess the well-being of our community and allows us to measure the impact programs and organizations are having.

Prosper Waco has been tasked with monitoring the health and well-being of our community through a series of data points, or what data people call “indicators.”  Just like changes in body temperature may signal that you are getting sick, changes in community-level indicators suggest how healthy we are as a community.

When you are sick, your first reaction is to treat the symptoms, right? Let’s say you have a stuffy nose from allergies. You will go to H-E-B, use some Vicks rub and hope you get better. But, to cure the stuffy nose from allergies, you’ll need to go to your doctor and get allergy medicine.  Prosper Waco community partners, organizations, community members and all others involved in the community-wide initiative ultimately want to treat the causes, not just the symptoms of our community’s health.  The indicators we monitor allow our steering communities, working groups and community partners to treat the causes.

vroom logoFor example, community members, organizations and leaders in Waco decided to make school readiness a priority, and the Prosper Waco Education Steering Committee developed a measurable goal for our community—to increase the percentage of Kindergarten-ready students by 50 percent by 2020.  The working group has collaboratively discussed different projects, programs and initiatives they can all rally behind to help address this goal. One initiative community partners are rallying behind is Vroom. Vroom is an app that you can download on your smartphone, tablet (be sure to select “iPhone-only” apps!), or computer that provides daily, age-appropriate brain building activities adults can do with children ages 0-5 to help prepare them for Kindergarten. Each activity is paired with an explanation of the science behind the activity, allowing the adult to understand how that specific activity is developing the brain of the child.

Within the Prosper Waco working group that is focused on Kindergarten readiness, affiliate organizations have been collaborating and talking about other ways they can all work together to help create a culture of family engagement that prepares children to thrive when they enter the classroom. One example is a partnership between Waco ISD and the Mayborn Museum. They are developing a free Science Night for the children and families in our community.  This Science Night will allow families to interact with their children at the museum, discuss the different exhibits and experience everything the museum has to offer! Using data from the school readiness monitoring tool, WISD and the Mayborn Museum can tailor the educational content of these nights, and they can use the data to help target their efforts on school campuses that may be struggling in the science content area.

The Prosper Waco initiative tracks indicators around our three impact areas – education, health and financial security.  To find out more about how our community is doing, read our 2015 Greater Waco Community Indicators Scorecard and attend our 2016 Summit Event in September where you will get a copy of our Community Baseline Report.  I look forward to seeing all of you and would love to talk data with you!

CCRD Ð Graduate students Ð Jeffrey Tamburello and Brittany Fitz Ð portrait Ð 03/04/2016Brittany Fitz-Chapman works at Prosper Waco as the Director of Data and Research. She is a graduate of Baylor University.  She holds two master’s degrees and is pursuing her PhD in Sociology at Baylor. She has engaged in community research in Waco and has published professional articles about what makes communities strong. She enjoys exploring Waco with her husband and their two puppies!

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.