I love to share stories of people in our community who make things happen. They see a need and the next thing you know a festival is born. I wanted to find out about the East Austin Community Festival and how Shametra McGregor is making it come together.
Ujima Magazine was able to catch up with East Austin native, advocate, and event planner and now recipient of the United States Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs volunteer of Victims award for outstanding volunteer service to victims of crime.
What prompted you to organize the first East Austin Community Festival?
Shametra: With the increase of people moving into Austin, our community is constantly growing. Our daily lives and work schedules, prevent us from connecting with our neighbors. The East Austin Community Fall Festival will give us an opportunity to meet our new and old neighbors. I wanted to create a platform to promote that idea. The idea to create this festival stemmed from a very candid conversation between a neighbor and I.
What does community mean to you?
Shametra: Community represents history, East Austin has so much of it. We have people that have resided in East Austin for over 40 years. The origin of our community began with these individuals and then East Austin blossomed and expanded. Community represents history, culture and growth. Each one of us has the potential to make our communities greater by getting involved. Knowing and understanding your community promotes positive change. Thus we make up our communities by what we bring to it. A togetherness, a love, as a culture co-existing.
What can people expect that attend the festival?
Shametra: You can expect to get to know your neighbors, listen to live music from dynamic artist, enjoy good food, satisfy your retail therapy, expect a community, face painting, and learning about East Austin. There will be community vendors to provide more information about their organizations including volunteer opportunities and we will be accepting non perishable food donations for Bethany Faith Food Pantry, a Partner Agency of the Central Texas Food Bank located in East Austin. One of our goals is to get enough donations to feed families that are less fortunate. You never know the struggle in the lives of others until they present their need. This festival will be about giving back to the East Austin community.
You have seen a lot of change in neighborhoods that use to be predominately Black residence. What do you hope this festival will do for the community?
Shametra: I was born and raised in East Austin. I did see a substantial amount of changes develop over a course of 10 years. I would like our community to come together and get to know one another. Share stories, it’s very interesting that you pass by individuals in the street and never know there names and they live directly across the street or a few doors down. There are people that still live on my block from my childhood. These are the same people that passed out cookies to the children returning home from school or playing outside and giving out sherbet on a hot Summer’s Day. I even recall a pear tree that I was given permission to pick from that recently died 4 years ago. It’s so important to me for our neighbors to understand the history that they are living in. It’s a beautiful thing. Embrace your community.
Any last words about this experience? Thoughts?
Shametra: It’s phenomenal and surreal at the same time. This festival stemmed from a single conversation with a neighbor. I choose to be the change, that I wanted to see in the world. We all have gifts, ideas and dreams. Dream, wake up and make it happen. Share your gifts with the world. It’s becoming pretty evident that I love East Austin and I am glad to contribute my gifts in such a way that it brings the community together and brings awareness to social causes in our community. I am excited I have an opportunity to organize this event and receive support from the East Austin Community and surrounding areas. Please provide the date and location of festival and ticket information.
Ticket link is :
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