When ACL festgoers enter Zilker Park through the Barton Springs East entrance, the ACL Cares section — a collection of organizations and nonprofits — is just to their right. Friday, I stopped by a few of the booths to check out what folks can discover in the shady, tree-filled area of the park.
Several Austin music nonprofits — including mental health provider SIMS Foundation, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians and the Austin Music Foundation — are festival mainstays, and this year is no exception. You can pick up free, cool and, most importantly, useful swag items, such as sunscreen packets from SIMS and earplugs from HAAM, while learning about how the groups help local musicians thrive.
A few booths down, the Stop Abuse For Everyone Alliance was posted up with several inspiring activities. While filling out a postcard that asks you to complete the sentence, “To me, love means ...” I chatted with volunteer and Austinite Yasmin Turk, who talked about how SAFE — which helps survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence — has call, text and chat versions of the group’s confidential hotline that operate 24-7.
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Turk was wearing what she called a “cheesy” shirt with a smiling nacho chip and queso combo, which read, “Nacho body? Get consent.” She handed out pens with SAFE’s number on it, and the booth also featured a game in which you spin a colorful wheel and then answer a question about how you can show certain important traits — trust, responsibility, respect — in interpersonal relationships. For parents, it’s a great opportunity to bring the kids by for some fun and lighthearted learning — and ACL Cares is located not far from the Austin Kiddie Limits area.
The caring corner of the fest is also offering something new this year: ACL Cares Academy, a selection of panels and activities hosted by various organizations, perfect for folks who want to take a break during the fest and chill out. On Friday of Weekend Two, Carly Johnson Brawner Functional Nutrition Services kicked off the day at noon with healthy ACL tips, and later in the day the Central Texas Food Bank, Keep Austin Fed and Austin Resource Recovery came together to talk about how Austin plans to get to zero waste by 2040.
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One highlight for Saturday is SIMS Foundation’s meditation session in partnership with Yoga Yoga, which was a huge hit last week, bringing chill vibes and mindfulness to the busy fest. Sunday, Austin Music Foundation consultant Johnny Goudie is interviewing local Austin hip-hop artist Kydd Jones. Goudie is a sharp and engaging interviewer, and Jones, who is performing at the Miller Lite stage on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., is a talented up-and-comer who tells a great story.