HISTORY + STYLE: Preservation Austin’s Merit Awards Luncheon is has evolved into a powerhouse event. And it has happily spilled into the wings of the Driskill Hotel‘s upper lobby. Crisp, timely and persuasive, the event included an instructive talk from Stacey L. Mickelson, who explained how Minnesota-based Artspace Projects has invested more than $582 million to created more than 1 million square feet of arts facilities and some 1,300 affordable live/work spaces for artists. And now for the 2015 local honors: For Restoration, Austin Parks and Recreation for the Covert Monument; Rehabilitation: 1135 LLC – Dennis McDaniel and Richard Kooris for Fair Market, as well as Seaholm LLC c/o Southwest Strategies Group for the Seaholm Power Plant and Elizabeth and Nathaniel Chapin for the Yarrington-Chapin House. Winning the new Sustainability Award was Edward Tasch and Anne Crawford for Splitrock. Stewardship honors went to the Austin Theatre Alliance; Special Recognition to Blue Bonnet Hills Local Historic District Organizers and Lifetime Achievement to Lin Team, whom I must profile soon!

Katie and David Simon at the Seton Development Board Gala.

CHARITY + HEALTH: Even people who work for Seton have a hard time explaining all its far-flung facets. The Austin healthcare group is all over the place, especially in the fundraising arena. The Seton Development Board is just one group that has been backing the charity for almost 40 years. At its fall gala, I sat with radiologists and their spouses. They were a supremely social group. We talked history. We talked writing and editing. We talked medicine. We shared in common a good friend in Dr. John Hogg, who along with partner David Garza, was recently named one of the country’s 100 best party hosts by Salonniere online magazine. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for the Seton Fund.

Jenny and Jason Ballard at TreeHouse

NATURE + STYLE: TreeHouse spreads gospel of sustainable, affordable building products. Taken from my story in the American-Statesman: Jason Ballard was not born in the bosom of green thinking. The co-founder of TreeHouse, Austin’s enviromentally friendly home improvement store, was born in the marshy Texas town of Nederland. He grew up in Orange and Bridge City. “I was a tree-hugger in an area where the oil industry dominates,” Ballard, 33, says with a forbearing smile about the bend in the Gulf Coast, home to bristling refineries and petrochemical plants. “Yes, I was a tree-hugging, short-shorts-wearing, long-distance runner who was no good at football. Too small. That very much shaped who I am.”

ARTS + CITY: It was altogether fitting. After the funeral in a small Episcopal church and the graveyard service at the Texas State Cemetery, family, friends and followers of Jo Anne Christian gathered at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. One could argue that the city would not enjoy this civic gem of a center without Christian’s long, shared campaign to build it. We heard music of Mozart, Bizet and Chopin. We listened to testimonials. She would have liked the fact that the reception was brief, so that guests could attend later events, such as the Austin Symphony and Conspirare‘s concert right there on that stage. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.