Austin Trip, Day 2: Deanna Tyler (June 1, 2012)

The second day for me to actually visit the great city of Austin was phenomenal! The morning started off early with a good breakfast at the hotel and then it was off to the French Legation Museum. The French Legation Museum tour was quite unique. The house had belonged to French Ambassador Alphonse Dubois and was built in 1841.

Having worked at The Wynne Home Arts Center in Huntsville, I was quite interested to learn about the history of the home. The tour guide first told us the history of how Alphonse Dubois had acquired the house and how he struggled to feel welcome in Texas. That never really worked out for him, and he abandoned the house.  The house was eventually bought by a Catholic bishop and then by the Robertson family

With this history under our belts, it was time to tour the home. The home was a lot smaller than I had expected; however, it was uniquely laid out to serve its purpose to the Robertson family who had 11 children in their home.

My favorite room that we toured was, of course, the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and seeing the different utensils that were used in the late 1800s to early 1900s was a treat. One of the most interesting contraptions in the kitchen was the rotating toaster. Bread was placed in metal prongs and the utensil would swivel around, which allowed the bread to toast evenly on the fire.

Kitchen of the French Legation

After leaving the French Legation, we all traveled to the Capitol building which was an eye-opening experience. We began in the office of Representative Otto, with whom we have more than a passing acquaintance.  In the past week, we met with him briefly at the HEARTS Veterans Museum and the Grand Opening of SHSU’s Woodlands Center. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see him today, but we did have a nice visit with his Legislative Assistant, Justin Coleman.

Mr. Coleman advised us to build relationships as much as possible, and he provided an overview of his duties in Representative Otto’s office.

He joined us for a Capitol Building tour, one that was quite entertaining, with original paintings of Santa Ana Surrendering, and the Battle of San Jacinto by Henry Arthur McArdle, spacious House and Senate Chambers with “Lone Star Chandeliers,” and the Rotunda Archway which seems to go miles upward; the Capitol Building is a remarkable symbol of the Legislative Branch works in the Lone Star State.

The Capitol As Viewed From The Underground Extension

After leaving the Capitol Building, it was off to lunch at Second Kitchen, where we met with Will Phillip’s father, Steve Phillips, who serves as a tax and transactional attorney at Giordani, Swanger, Ripp and Phillips.  Mr. Phillips brought a clerk in his law firm along with him, and the two of them were great informational resources on topics as broad as blogging, law-school preparation, and even the restaurant at which we were eating.

The Group at Second Kitchen

The restaurant, by the way, was great.  I ordered a Chicken Salad Club Sandwich with Avocado and it was one of the biggest and tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever had.

With our jam-packed morning, we barely had time to get to the start of the New Politics Forum Bootcamp.  We were given background information on how to organize a campaign. One particular speaker, Matt Mackowiak, who has been a campaign manager for several successful campaigns, helped put things into perspective on how to organize a campaign and shared information on how to fundraise.  When the three speakers for the day were done, it was time to get into our campaign teams and to devise a plan. I somehow got teamed with a party that I am not affiliated with, but I took this as a challenge that will help me learn and I volunteered to be the Press Secretary for our candidate. My job is to ensure that we get our candidate’s message out in the most effective way. I plan to do so by using a lot of social media and to come up with a catchy slogan. Speaking of my Press Secretary job, I must get back to working on my “homework” and get a good night’s rest for the big day tomorrow at Campaign Bootcamp. Good night all!


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