The Abrome Day began like so many before it, I woke up and I began to prepare for a day that would likely be completely different than the one before it. However, instead of heading to the drop-off spot that gave us access to over 200 acres of park space, as we have done each day of this cycle, I geared up and drove to Zilker Park. Because of the unfamiliar drop off point, I decided to arrive before 9:30 and prepare and set up for the arrival of learners. 

Scavenger hunt checklist

Scavenger hunt checklist

In accordance to other Flying Squad groups, our day was focused on taking up space in a society that does not see children as people. More specifically, we had three goals for the day that we collectively agreed on earlier in the week: 

  1. Go to Shake Shack (S. Lamar)

  2. Go to Fresa’s (N. Lamar)

  3. Meet up with one of my contacts from Austin Mutual Aid at the Long Center of the Performing Arts

Additionally, I had created this photo scavenger hunt that the Learners could choose to participate in, with the intention of helping them be more aware of their surroundings.

FS crew.JPG

As Learners began to arrive around 10 o’clock, I began handing out the photo scavenger cards. Unfortunately one of the Learners that committed to attending was not able to make it, so we were one person light in our adventure. We began the day like any other by holding space for the morning meeting. Our prompts were are you prepared for the day, and what is one thing you brought to be prepared. Everyone said that they were prepared, and the collection of items brought included a rain jacket, money for sustenance, an umbrella and money and water, and a breakfast taco.


Because Learners were still excited to get the Scavenger Hunt going, we decided to take the scenic route by crossing over into the main Zilker Park area. There, a Learner was able to take a “funky group photo” of a family playing volleyball, while others checked off photos of murals, pets, and wild animals.

We also had the time and space to begin using the goPro and to have a conversation about offensive language, and the context that it is often used in. After a brief discussion (only five minutes), we continued our journey to the first destination; SHAKE SHACK! While admitting to a little nervousness, the Learners began to enjoy the differences between the park and city environments. As cars and people passed by in close proximity, we continued to joke, take photos, and march on with what we thought were unlimited reserves of energy. 


By 11:40 we had made the 1.3 mile uphill hike to Shake Shack! While three of the Learners were not interested in having shakes, myself and a Learner ordered strawberry and black-and-white shakes, respectively.


We took the time to rest and then began the downhill walk back towards the city center, headed toward our next stop. At 12:30, we arrived at the Long Center of the Performing Arts to meet with community organizers from Austin Mutual Aid and Austin Needs Water. Because our upcoming (March 22nd) Flying Squad cell will be focused on social justice topics, it was important for the group to have a chance to meet with some community organizers. However, before scheduling the meeting I asked the Learners if they would be interested in doing so. Three-fifths of the Learners who committed to attending seemed very excited while the other two intimated that while they were not particularly interested, they would be okay with joining. 


The organizers (Wesley, Dan, and Iffy) were thrilled to meet the group and quickly began to discuss the importance of their work. Wesley began the conversation by talking about his background, his experience during the ice storm, and how he found himself becoming involved with Austin Needs Water. Dan and Iffy followed him in relating that they too were not trained in community organizing, but had simply chosen to answer the call to serve the community. With them they brought the only resources they felt they could offer: their time, energy, specific expertise, and love for the community. Together, they relayed to the Learners the importance of (1) creating community systems of action that were not reliant on governments, (2) walking it and talking it, and (3) setting a better precedent for future generations (e.g., the Learners). Despite having to hear one or two anti-capitalism rants that Facilitator Antonio would have been proud of, the Learners remained present and afterwards told me that they enjoyed the meeting. One of the Learners still focused on the Scavenger Hunt asked if any of the AMA organizers would be willing to take a “funky group photo” with him! 


At the conclusion of that meet-up, we began the 1.4 mile walk to Fresa’s for lunch. Taking Ann and Roy Butler Hike Trail led us to the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, where we noticed a familiar graffiti tag on the parallel train bridge (TOEFLOP) and paused to wonder how they were able to paint it so high up! We continued our trek, only pausing briefly to take a selfie at the ATX statue in front of Whole Foods, and finally made it to Fresa’s  around 2 pm. 


Due to the grueling nature of our hike, each Learner and Facilitator ordered something to eat! We forded a small creek and enjoyed our meal socially distanced at Duncan Neighborhood Park. The Learner who suggested Fresa’s swore that everything on the menu was “bussin” and the group’s post meal reviews corroborated that statement. Once everyone was done eating, we began the final leg of the day—back to the pickup spot. 


Despite several of us having full tummies and tired legs, we made it back by 3:30, our usual Afternoon Roundup time. After taking some time to rest, we began the meeting with the Rose, Bud, Thorn prompt (Favorite part, something with potential/could help you be better prepared, and Least Favorite). Roses included Shake Shack, Fresa’s (x2), Doing lots of things and making it back on time, and walking 6.2 miles. The Buds were dressing better, wearing better shoes, bringing the correct SD card, preparing oneself for long walks, and repeating the prep for the day. Thorns (not surprisingly) were mainly focused on physical exertion: feet hurting, feet & body hurts, took forever to find a suitable bathroom, walking 6.2 miles, and walking full of Fresa’s. We wrapped up with announcements and final thoughts of the day. 

Announcements included discussing what the rest of the week would look like, multiple “hi’s”, and a call to reflect upon what it means and will look like to commit to the Flying Squads cell for the duration of the next cycle. Learners then reflected upon the day and said that they had a lot of fun, but were definitely surprised about the mileage.