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Team Better Block takes on Alamo Plaza

Photo: Photos by Steven Gilmore, License: N/A

Photos by Steven Gilmore

Photo: , License: N/A

Team Better Block volunteers hard at work during last Friday's pre-build event.

Storyteller Isaac Alvarez Cardenas, director of programs for American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, is of Coahuiltecan/Apache descent. Though lacking federal tribal status, American Indians in Texas have fought for the rights of the descendents of the Indians who converted to Catholicism and lived and farmed at the missions. Cardenas will present his tales this Friday on the plaza. The Alamo's Historian, Dr. Richard Bruce Winders, will talk about Davy Crockett Friday night as part of Crockett's birthday celebration. The Sons of the Republic of Texas, a group of history buffs concerned with matters of the Texas Revolution, will present walking tours both days. Friday dinner will be served by the San Antonio Chef Coalition, and yet more food will arrive in a reenactment of SA's famous chili queen scene. With help from volunteers last weekend, table trestles were constructed from scavenged wood, benches were made from planks cut from downed pecan trees, and an information booth constructed of cedar in the form of a jacal, the dwelling favored by indigenous people and early Tejano settlers to the region. Whatever your aspirations might be for the plaza's identity, this weekend is the time to voice them. It will be a veritable fair of cultural identity.

So, what happens in the short run? After the weekend demonstration, during which feedback from guests will be gathered, the data will be counted and analyzed. But you'll still have opportunity to send in your own advice for several months. "We want this place to be a place for tourists and residents," says Lori Houston, assistant director of Center City Development Office. "In order for us to do that, we need to understand what would bring the residents out to this special place in our community. We will learn a lot on the Friday night event. Do people like standing on the plaza? This is a way for us to check it out."

Whatever the changes might end up being — occasional street closures for events, or an eventual restoration of the historic plaza, one thing seems sure: this is an historic moment, a time to change the master narrative that has troubled, rather than united, San Antonio. For once, decisions will come from the bottom, rather than top down. "There are a lot of people making money off the current failed planning process. So, to break that you got to have a mass revolt against it," says Howard. "You need to get more people involved in it, in ownership, and loving the city again. And that doesn't happen in a public meeting."

The Alamo Plaza Better Block

5-11pm Fri, 9am-1pm Sat
Alamo Plaza, between Houston and Crockett


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