Reporting Texas
News and features from UT-Austin's School of Journalism


From the Military to the Kitchen, These Veterans Are Choosing a Career That Brings Out Their Passion for Food

The smell of spices and chicken had people lining up at an Austin food festival to get Shirley Newell’s Dominican food. The U.S. Army veteran was rapidly taking orders, flipping her marinated chicken and packing food to-go. “Food is my comfort, my passion and how I express myself,” Newell said. “When I was in the military is when I actually started cooking.”
Now, cooking is her livelihood. She started Phatty Boy food truck nine years after she left the Army as an automated logistics specialist. For some Texas veterans, opening food-service businesses feels like a natural step after their military career.

‘I Can’t Let You Down’: How Mexican Truckers Are Easing U.S. Driver Shortage While Helping Their Families Back Home

For Juan Martinez and his truck, a trip usually lasts from Monday to Saturday, starting in Mexico and going north into the United States before returning home. He is one of thousands of truck drivers from Mexico, taking jobs to haul freight across the border under a 1991 commercial trucking agreement between the United States and Mexico.
The opportunity of a higher salary is driving more Mexicans with a B1 visitor visa to a profession that is constantly struggling with a worker shortage.
But the industry still needs 78,000 drivers, “The price of everything we buy is going to go up,” said a manager for trucking company, “because it’s going to cost more to move it, because we have less drivers that want to move it.”

Diversity in Tattooing Opens Up Art Form to People with Different Identities

In the years she’s been a tattoo shop owner and artist, Tina Poe has witnessed more body art studios opening, increased diversity in artists and more creative work being put out. It’s exciting to see more demographics being represented in the industry, she said. One demographic Poe noted was women. The majority of Moon Tattoo’s clients are female now, she said.

Diversify or Die: Texas Olive Oil Industry on its Knees after 2021 Freeze

Since the first olive orchards were planted in Texas in the 1990s, they have been damaged by hurricanes, drought and cold weather. Confused by mad temperature swings, trees have not set fruit. These events have compelled some olive growers to leave the business.

Most growers, however, are reevaluating their business models with an eye toward reducing the negative impact of Texas weather. They are embracing diversification — selling oil imported from other states or countries or finding new ways to use and market their orchards.

Jan 22, 2022

Protesters Rally Against Oil Company’s Gulf Coast Expansion on Karankawa Site

 Chanting “respect our existence or expect our resistance,” nearly 400 people protested outside an Austin bank Saturday to try to stop construction of an oil terminal on ancient Indigenous land near Corpus Christi.

“We are still here, and we are still fighting,” said protest organizer Chiara Sunshine Beaumont, a descendant of the Karankawa people who once lived on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Saturday’s protest followed months of efforts by Indigenous groups in support of the Karankawa’s objections to expansion of oil export terminals owned by Enbridge, a Canadian petrochemical pipeline company. Beaumont said her group chose to protest Saturday outside a Bank of America on South Congress Avenue because the bank is a large underwriter of Enbridge’s projects.

Dec 22, 2021

Santa and the Supply Chain: How Austin Toy Stores Are Coping with Christmas

With global supply chain disruptions affecting industry, independently owned toy stores have had an increasingly hard time stocking their shelves. 

Dec 08, 2021

Climate Change Impacting Austin Real Estate Not So Hard to Fathom

After graduating from the University of Texas in May 2021, Sami Sparber ran into the same issue many Austin residents are facing – too few places available for rent or sale. “If you found a place to live, you had to apply right away because within hours or days that unit could be gone,” Sparber […]

Dec 08, 2021

Despite Higher Prices and Short Supply, Texas Heritage Turkey Farms Are Thriving 

Across the country, the demand for heritage turkeys — a variety of domestic turkeys retaining historic characteristics from the mid-20th Century — has been on the rise since 2005 with the popularity of the slow food movement.

May 27, 2021

Natural Wine Staking Claim in Texas

Natural wine is made with organically farmed grapes and fermented with yeast that grows naturally on the grapes. The fruit is also picked by hand, without the aid of machinery. Winemakers call the process “non-intervention” or “zero-zero,” meaning nothing is added and nothing is taken away during production.

May 17, 2021

TreeFolks’s Carbon Credit Program Taking Root

When Tamara Stutz heard about a free tree planting program at her neighbor’s house, she was sold. Coordinators from TreeFolks, an Austin-based non-profit, had reached out to property owners in her neighborhood outside Manor offering to plant trees in an effort to prevent floods.

“This is a 100-year floodplain we are standing on,” Stutz said when Reporting Texas visited in April.

By February 2020, Stutz had more than 1,800 saplings planted on 3⅓ acres of her 30-acre farm. Her part of the bargain: Leave them alone. The trees would fend for themselves. Stutz was so delighted with how the saplings progressed that she asked TreeFolks to come again in 2021.

Stutz gets trees and protection against erosion and everyone benefits from the carbon dioxide-sequestering potential of her saplings. TreeFolks earns carbon credits for planting the trees, which the organization then sells to the City of Austin. 

A carbon credit is “a tradable credit granted to a country, company, etc., for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases by one metric ton,” […]

May 28, 2020

Sex Workers Struggle as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

Bars, strip clubs and brothels have been shut down as non-essential businesses across the country closed for the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many sex workers out of a job. “It has completely stopped business,” said Mistress Natalie King, a dominatrix in New York City. “There are no in-person sessions to be had.” And unlike millions of […]

May 18, 2020

What Collapse of Oil Prices Means for Texas’ Future

Slack demand caused by the coronavirus crisis on top of excess production translates into a perfect storm for the global oil industry.

Apr 21, 2019

Texas’ Membership-only Card Clubs Circumvent Gambling Laws

Some gamblers have started using a loophole in state law to play cards for money at so-called card clubs.

Feb 28, 2019

Texas Plays Its Role in America’s Board-Game Comeback

A renewed interest in board games has spawned an increase in amateur board game developers, particularly in Lone Star hotspots Dallas and Austin.

Feb 28, 2019

Short-Term Austin Rentals Point to Longer-Term Problems

Critics say short-term rentals are putting upward pressure on housing prices in Austin.

Aug 30, 2017

Austin’s VW Bus Guru Brings the People’s Vehicle Back to Life

Volkswagen vans are getting harder to find because of nostalgic demand for “a whole stack of metaphors on wheels.”

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