The big city small town podcast, hosted by Bob Rivard, is dedicated to telling the stories of San Antonians working to make the city a more sustainable, better educated, equitable and prosperous city. We want San Antonio to become a destination city for talented and creative people, and a city where young people born or raised here want to build their futures here. We embrace diversity, multiculturalism, and every individual’s right to realize their full potential without fear of oppression.
Each Monday, big city small town will offer listeners a new podcast release, a timely, focused look in one of the fastest growing cities in the United States that serves as the economic, cultural and regional capital of South Texas.
25. Changing of the Guard at the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival with Monika Maeckle and Ashley Bird
On this episode of bigcitysmalltown with host Bob Rivard, guests are Monika Maeckle and Ashley Bird. Maeckle, a writer and citizen scientist, founded the annual San Antonio Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival in 2015, which Ashley Bird, founder of Blooming with Birdie, takes over this year in advance of the Saturday, Oct. 7 festival at Brackenridge Park, which is free and open to the public.
Maeckle, author of the Texas Butterfly Blog and book coming in 2024 on the monarch migration, led the effort that resulted in San Antonio being named the country’s first Monarch Champion City by the National Wildlife Federation in 2016. She also led the “300 Pollinator Gardens’ initiative in 2018 when San Antonio celebrated its Tricentennial.
The key moments in this episode are:
00:01:10 - Monica's Journey and Passing the Torch
00:04:38 - Festival Venues and Mayoral Participation
00:08:14 - Ashley's Experience in Michoacán
00:11:23 - Environmental Concerns and Danger in Michoacán
00:13:54 - Writing Curriculum and Going Virtual
00:15:36 - Record-Breaking Teacher Applications
00:16:27 - Building upon the Mission
00:18:01 - The Monarch Butterfly Costume Tradition
00:19:55 - Life as a Creative
00:27:29 - Importance of Late Season Nectar Blooming Plants for Monarch Butterflies
00:28:31 - Threats to the Monarch Butterfly Migration
00:31:02 - Initiatives to Support Pollinator Gardens
00:32:14 - Water Conservation and Native Plants
00:35:37 - Details of the Festival and Importance of Pollinator Plants
24. Andrés Andujar and Hemisfair's Civic Park
This week’s guest is Andrés Andujar, CEO of the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, commonly known as HPARC, a position he has held since 2011. Andujar, an architectural engineer, is the driving force behind the community vision for the redevelopment of the nearly 100-acre downtown space that was home 55 years ago to HemisFair ‘68, the city’s world’s fair staged over six months in 1968.
The park was underutilized for decades until the City of San Antonio under Mayor Julian Castro created HPARC. The district’s incremental development was guided by a Vision and Guiding Principles developed during Mayor Phil Hardberger’s term, and used by Mayor Julín Castro when he came into office in 2009 and declared the next 10 years the Decade of Downtown.
Development of the park has been slow and incremental, but a major milestone will be realized on Sept. 30 when Andujar, Mayor Ron Nirenberger and City Manager Erik Walsh and others cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Civic Park, which will open by hosting the 40th annual Jazz’SAlive festival.
23. Managing the Cost of Higher Education With UIW’s Cristen Alicea and UTSA’s Erika Cox
In this episode of big city small town with Bob Rivard, Cristen Alicea, and Erica Cox discuss the range of higher education options available, such as trade schools, two-year colleges, and private universities. They also discussed the Alamo Promise and UTSA Promise programs, Save Plan, and the importance of philanthropy to UTSA and Incarnate Word. Additionally, they review the importance of alumni giving back to their universities through employee campaigns, 5Ks, and other donations.
22. Virtual Dreams to Real Life Achievement: Alberto Piña's Visionary Approach to Affordable Housing
This episode of big city small town with Bob Rivard dives deep into the visionary world of Alberto Piña, the dynamic founder, and CEO of Braustin Homes. Launched right out of Geekdom in 2017, Braustin Homes stands as the nation's premier virtual mobile home buying app. It’s not just about buying homes; it’s about making affordable housing a reality for many. Alberto, affectionately known as AP to close ones, not only foresaw the looming affordable housing crisis, but he also acted on it. In addition to the launch of his new fintech venture Porch Pass, Alberto is making waves by simplifying processes for land buyers, sellers, and mobile home dealerships.
Origins: Bob takes a trip down memory lane, recounting how he first heard about Braustin Homes while at the San Antonio Report. Alberto opens up about his roots, his journey to Geekdom, and the inspirations behind his commitment to addressing San Antonio's housing affordability challenges.
Innovation at Geekdom: Alberto shares how the idea of a virtual mobile home buying app sprouted, the role Geekdom played in nurturing that idea, and the kind of support he received in his early days that set him up for success.
Consumer Needs: Diving into Braustin Homes' early success, Alberto touches on the needs and challenges that consumers faced, which his app effectively addressed, setting his company apart from other mobile home dealers.
Porch Pass: A closer look at Alberto’s new venture, PorchPass, that not only assists mobile home buyers with their home purchases but also facilitates buying the land that becomes their home’s foundation.
Housing Economics: Bob and Alberto discuss the financial intricacies of mobile homes, especially in light of rising housing costs. They probe into the realities of financing these homes, and if mobile homes present a viable alternative for first-time home buyers, considering the current housing crisis.
Entrepreneurial Insights: A peek into the financial journey behind Braustin Homes. From bootstrapping to profitability, Alberto's narrative serves as inspiration for budding entrepreneurs.
The Road Ahead: Bob seeks to know what the future holds for Alberto. Be it in San Antonio, elsewhere in Texas, or beyond, what's the next big thing on his horizon?
21. Collaborating for Cultural Preservation: Colleen Swain on Achieving World Heritage Status
My guest this week is Colleen Swain, a proud native of San Antonio who has poured her heart into preserving and amplifying the city's rich history and culture. Her current role as the director of the City of San Antonio's World Heritage Office combines her love for her hometown with her passion for architectural heritage and cultural preservation. Colleen has been instrumental in the city's journey towards becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcasing its unique contributions to global culture and history. Being raised in the shadows of San Antonio's stunning Spanish mission, Colleen has an intimate familiarity and a deep-rooted connection with this beautiful city, making her an incredible advocate for its preservation and development.
It was a community collaborative effort that came together to make this happen. - Colleen Swain
In this episode, you will be able to:
Delve into the rich history and significance of San Antonio's World Heritage Sites.
Grasp the demanding criteria and teamwork needed to secure a coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
Embark on a gastronomical journey through the acclaimed culinary heritage of San Antonio, honored as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.
Observe the significant boost in visitor numbers to San Antonio's World Heritage sites precipitated by UNESCO recognition.
Uncover effective ways San Antonio's World Heritage status and Creative City of Gastronomy designation are broadcasted globally.
In tracing the story behind San Antonio's World Heritage Sites, we discover the city's rich history reflected in its Spanish colonial missions and the Alamo. These landmarks stand as testaments to the city's multifaceted culture. Their unique architecture and historical significance underscore the narrative of San Antonio's cultural diversity and its enduring relationship with the river.
The resources mentioned in this episode are:
Visit San Antonio: Check out the official website of Visit San Antonio to learn more about the city's World Heritage Site and UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designations.
San Antonio Missions: Explore the historic Spanish missions in San Antonio, including the Alamo, Mission San Jose, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan, and Mission Espada. Experience the rich cultural heritage and attend Sunday Mass at Mission Concepcion.
World Heritage Festival: Attend the annual World Heritage Festival in San Antonio, featuring music, food, and the popular Tour de las Misiones bike ride. Join the bike ride to explore the missions and learn about their history.
San Antonio International Airport: Stay updated with the plans and developments of the San Antonio International Airport, which serves as a gateway to the city and offers convenient travel options.
San Antonio River Improvements Project: Learn about the San Antonio River Improvements Project and the Mission Reach, which played a significant role in obtaining the World Heritage Site designation for San Antonio.
Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Houses: Discover the Frank Lloyd Wright Houses in San Antonio, a recent serial designation and another urban setting recognized by UNESCO.
20. From Geology to Sustainability: Sharing the Story of the Edwards Aquifer with Gregg Eckhardt
Gregg Eckhardt, fondly titled the 'Nerd King' of South Texas water history, comes with an enviable track record. In a career spanning over three decades, he has dedicated himself to studying the unique Edwards Aquifer, contributing to his expert status in water management. Currently an environmental scientist with the renowned San Antonio Water System, his expertise extends beyond the science - he's a dedicated historian pushing to preserve the fascinating history of the city's intricate water systems. Gregg's passion lies in sharing this captivating knowledge through lectures and talks, which are highly sought after within academic circles and sustainability forums.
Protecting the Edwards Aquifer is not just about preserving our water supply, it's about safeguarding our future and ensuring that our children and grandchildren have access to this incredible resource. - Gregg Eckhardt
In this episode of big city small town with Bob Rivard, you will be able to:
Dive deep into efficient water conservation and management practices, showcased by San Antonio.
Explore the Edwards Aquifer's pivotal role as San Antonio's primary water source.
See how SAWS is redefining the game with innovative secondary water sources for the sprawling metro area.
Gain insights into the transformative impact of the Vista Ridge project on San Antonio’s water supply framework.
Uncover strategies to fortify San Antonio’s water system for averting potential water crises in the future.
SAWS' Efforts to Diversify Water Sources
To meet the burgeoning water demands, SAWS has brilliantly diversified its water sources. They have tapped into other aquifers, implemented recycle water systems, and launched projects like the Vista Ridge to bolster San Antonio's water supply. By shifting the risk of groundwater availability on contractors, SAWS ensures that if a source becomes unavailable, they are not required to pay for it. This innovative water resource management approach illustrates their commitment to securing the city's water future.
The resources mentioned in this episode are:
Visit the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) website to learn more about the history and importance of the Eckhardts Aquifer.
Attend one of Gregg Eckhardt's lectures on the water history of San Antonio to gain a deeper understanding of the city's unique water supply.
Explore the Eckhardts Aquifer recharge zone and learn about the efforts to protect it from development to maintain the quality of the water supply.
Discover the various water sources that SAWS has developed to supplement the Eckhardts Aquifer, such as the Trinity Aquifer, Guadalupe River, Carrizo Aquifer, and the desalination plant.
Learn about the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project, which stores excess water underground during rainy years to be used during drier times.
Get familiar with SAWS Two Oaks facility, which includes the ASR, Carrizo Aquifer treatment plant, and the desalination plant, and understand how these sources contribute to the water supply.
Find out more about the Vista Ridge project, a major new water source that delivers water from a well field east of Austin.
San Antonio on tap!!!!
If you live in San Antonio, this podcast is a must listen. Rivard’s cultivated perspective of our city, and network in San Antonio translates to an informative and thought provoking podcast. However most importantly Big City Small Town host conversations that should be heard and had all over San Antonio. Subscribe. Subscribe. Subscribe.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. Keep up the good work.