"There are 268,000 square miles in Texas. Each one tells a different story." So begins One Square Mile: Texas, a documentary series billed as "a microcosm of Texan life and culture," that recently began airing on Texas Public Television stations.
Each episode tells the stories of a single square mile somewhere in Texas, focusing on themes such as community, family, work, art, culture, food and faith. Nine different one-square mile blocks from across Texas will each get their turn in the spotlight this season, from large cities like Dallas, Houston, Austin and El Paso, to smaller locales like Midland, Nacogdoches, Silverton, and Port Isabel.
"San Antonio will surprise you if you just walk up the stairs from the River Walk and walk in any direction away from it." ~ Brian Rountree
The San Antonio episode is up this week, featuring one square mile of Southtown: King William and Lavaca. The episode airs on KLRN on Sunday at 5 p.m. Featured Southtown establishment The Friendly Spot Ice House, with help from Slab Cinema, will host an outdoor screening that evening as well.
If you can't wait till Sunday to catch the episode, series sponsors are making it available online (until Wednesday, Jan. 28) at www. osmtx.com/pickle.
Beginning over a year ago, series producers at Brazos Film & Video solicited nominations for places and stories to feature from PBS viewers, Facebook followers and visitors to their websites. "We got a lot of nominations for favorite restaurants and destinations in San Antonio," said producer Carl Crum. Southtown quickly piqued the producers' interest as an area with a diverse patchwork of stories to tell about life in Texas.
"This square mile within its boundaries encapsulates the diversity of San Antonio in ways that some of the other neighborhoods just don't have and probably couldn't have." ~ Rose Kanusky
On the final weekend of Fiesta last spring, Crum and Michael "Ski" Golembiewski arrived at our home in Lavaca to film an installment of our Southtown Supper Club for the episode. They set up an impressive array of photography and lighting equipment as Chefs Quealy Watson and Chris Cheatwood of The Monterey began prepping a meal for the dinner guests who would arrive later in the evening. They spent some time interviewing my husband, Brian Rountree, about our life and experiences in Southtown and more specifically about the Southtown Supper Club series we have been hosting since May of 2012.
Over the course of their four-day stint in Southtown, Crum and Ski also interviewed Rose Kanusky, of the King William Association, during the King William Fair and Parade; Lavaca mom Johanna Sawalha; Victoria Garcia of the Shambhala Meditation Center; Bonham Academy middle school teacher Nathan Busse; Brackenridge high school student and artist Miranda Fermin; The Friendly Spot manager Mel Ramos; and Lily Lopez, owner of Brackenridge House Bed and Breakfast in King William.
While it would be impossible to create a comprehensive portrait of Southtown for a half-hour television program, the episode that emerges from this effort nicely highlights many of the elements that make Southtown such a vibrant community and a popular destination for locals and visitors. The vignettes feature a diverse cross-section of the community, including men and women of different ages and backgrounds, both native San Antonians and transplants, long-time residents and relative newcomers, all telling their stories about what it means for them to live, work and play in Southtown.
"You can be more human here and you're not shut off. Learning how to be a full community member is what this neighborhood has taught me, rather than just a guy who lives in the neighborhood who works somewhere else." ~ Nathan Busse
Hugh Donagher is an online presence coach in San Antonio. He works with individuals, small business and nonprofit organizations to establish, maintain or improve their online presence, including websites, social media and continuous contact campaigns. Find out more at www.donagher.org. He and his husband Brian reside in Southtown.