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Photo courtesy of Speak As One

Mental health apps are so alluring, but once you’ve recorded your two-week streak and things are feeling a little more organized, it can be hard to keep going. It’s hard enough to keep up with journaling and a great bedtime routine, and many lovely self-help tools also lose their effectiveness when the novelty wears off.

A smart company might harness that novelty as its hook — and an easily distracted self-helper won’t fall off the wagon. Like many other companies in the mental health space, Austin-based Speak As One will work on a subscription model, but this one won’t languish, unused on a credit card statement.

The service, which plans to launch during SXSW 2023, delivers boxes of tangible mental health tools, inspiration, games, and even sensory objects that act as a monthly nudge to try something new, and curiosity takes care of the rest.

A sample box included:

  • Stress balls with short inspirational phrases by MindPanda
  • An Emotional First Aid Kit containing advice for situations as they come up, like sleeplessness and feelings of inadequacy
  • Tiny colorful putties at different resistances by Flint Rehab
  • A notebook, and two books: Athlete Mental Health Playbook and 1000 Unique Questions About Me
  • Other small items

It’s more than packing and shipping out a few toys each month. The boxes are curated with help from a licensed therapist, who leaves a personal note along with tips on how to use the items inside and additional resources. There is one type of box right now that aims to “reduce anxiety, increase mindfulness, and promote peace and balance,” but for further customization (for $10 more), the team is working on boxes tailored to first responders, veterans, athletes, and people in “recovery.”

Speak As One emphasizes community stories in its branding outside the delivery box, and uses inspiration from “influencers” (less content creators and more so people who can embody a relatable story) to build the specialty boxes. The company’s YouTube channel shares dozens of interviews with founder Julie Korioth, a former board member for Austin’s SIMS Foundation, a well-respected mental health resource for members of the local music industry.

“With hundreds of millions of people struggling with mental health, and COVID making the issue much worse, society continues to ostracize those who openly discuss mental health issues,” said Korioth in a release. “I founded this company so we can change the way the world sees, discusses, and supports mental health. Our goal is to promote empathy, connectedness, acceptance, and thoughtfulness with an innovative toolkit that caters to specific needs."

In addition to offering a nudge, these boxes could make great care packages for a loved one who is feeling introspective or going through a significant life event. It is possible to buy gift boxes, if presentation is your thing, but it’d be just as easy to repackage a box that comes before the receiver ready to appreciate the items at home.

The cost of one box is manageable at $49.99 (especially considering the retail value of products included, which the sample box far exceed), but for many subscribers this adds up fast. Luckily, there is no pressure to continue a lengthy commitment — subscriptions last between one and six months, so users have plenty of time to reconsider and sit with the items that have already been delivered.

"The goal is to meet our audience at any phase of their mental health journey,” said Korioth. “We’re creating change and a global life-long support system for children and adults dealing with mental health challenges. We simultaneously highlight businesses, the tech community, athletes, and artists doing wonderful work in this space.”

The company plans to partner with corporations to connect with employees and provide boxes to individuals the company chooses, and will turn some content into session albums with sales proceeds dedicated to mental health research.

More information and links to preorder are available at speakasone.com.

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

Swing into action and help wild animals at Houston SPCA's golf tournament

Fore!

Practice your swing and make a difference at the same time by attending Houston SPCA's Tee Off for Wildlife golf tournament on December 3.

Every year, the Houston SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas takes in more than 12,000 ill, injured, and orphaned native wildlife from 270 species.

It is the largest and most sophisticated wildlife response center in Texas, and the only trauma and wildlife rehabilitation center in southeast Texas that treats every wild animal that needs help.

The staff works tirelessly, and now it's our turn to help them by showing up to Topgolf at 1030 Memorial Brook Blvd.

The golf tournament will be hosted in temperature-controlled bays, and players of all ages and skill level are welcome and encouraged to register.

You can build a team, play as an individual, or attend as a guest — regardless, everyone will be treated to a tasty breakfast. There will be live tournament leaderboards and automated game scoring to display each team’s activity in real time.

You can also bid on silent auction items and meet the Wildlife Center' education ambassadors. They include an Eastern Screech Owl, Harris’ Hawk, and Crested Caracara.

The tournament runs from 10 am-1 pm on December 3, and you can register online here. Sponsorships are available at events@houstonspca.org or by calling 713-869-7722, extension 148.

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

The Houston SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas takes in more than 12,000 ill, injured, and orphaned native wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

Marvel at Neiman Marcus' holiday window displays — and the adoptable pets inside

Best Present Ever

Fluffy tails and wet noses will return to Neiman Marcus' magical storefront windows this holiday season. The luxury retailer has teamed up with the Houston SPCA for the 34th annual Homes For the Holidays pet adoption event.

When the official start to the holiday shopping season kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers will once again enjoy the thrill of viewing available pets, as the little felines and canines frolic inside the notable holiday windows.

Neiman Marcus will open its doors for shopping at 9 am on Black Friday to welcome all, from the young to the young-at-heart, to what has become one of Houston’s most cherished holiday traditions.

The storefront will be filled with adoptable loves at 10 am each participating date. Come and see these adorable faces every weekend from November 25-December 11, and then daily from December 16-December 23.

The premier retailer will once again generously gift $5 for every dog or cat adopted from the Houston SPCA during this event.

Many local animal lovers have made the Homes For the Holidays pet adoption event part of their annual holiday tradition for more than three decades. Each season, Neiman Marcus’ eye-catching storefront windows have helped connect hundreds of animals with loving homes, just in time for the holidays.

Each pet adoption package at the Houston SPCA is valued at around $500 and includes the pet’s microchip, spay or neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, a free wellness veterinary exam at any VCA Animal Hospital, and a free sample-sized bag of Hill’s Science Diet.

While the available pets will vary at Neiman Marcus, all available pets currently at the Houston SPCA can be found here.

Photo courtesy of Houston Texans Foundation

These sporty nonprofits are bringing athletes and inspiration to The Tailgate

Work Together

If you've been psyching yourself up for The Tailgate on October 27, you likely already know what we'll be serving and what you might want to wear.

But a key component of our newest party is shining a spotlight on sports-related nonprofits —and you'll even get to meet some of the athletes that champion these important causes.

Read up on who's going to be there and how you can get involved in their life-changing work:

Houston Texans Foundation
The mission of the Houston Texans Foundation is to be champions for youth. Since 2002, the foundation has raised more than $41.7 million dollars to support programs in education, character development, and health and wellness to empower the next generation of Texans.

The Houston Texans Foundation is proud to serve children in the Houston area through partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston and the Houston Texans Teen Club, the Houston Texans YMCA in the Third Ward, the Houston Food Bank, and more. Other key programs include disaster response efforts, youth football, support for members of the military, veterans, and their families, as well as funding social justice efforts in Houston.

Two big fans of the foundation — and Texans legends themselves — will be at The Tailgate: former safety Eric Brown and former offensive lineman Fred Weary. You can meet and pose for pics with them, Texans mascot Toro, and the Houston Texans cheerleaders.

Test your skills and win prizes at the Quarterback Toss, or buy a raffle ticket for a chance to score two VIP passes to The Taste of the Texans on December 5 under the stars at NRG Stadium.

The Astros Foundation
The official charity of the MLB team harnesses the passion of baseball fans to support youth baseball and softball programs, the recognition/honor of our nation's military, childhood cancer awareness, and efforts to reduce homelessness. Cornerstone initiatives include the Community Leaders program, the Astros MLB Youth Academy, and the Astros RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities).

The Sugar Land Space Cowboys — the Astros' Triple-A affiliate team — partner with The Astros Foundation to extend these efforts and distribute funds back into the greater Fort Bend community.

The Space Cowboys will be at The Tailgate with their mascot, Orion, sharing information on the organization, their season, the 2022 Sugar Land Holiday Lights event, and how you can get involved.

Try your luck in the raffle for four tickets to a 2023 Space Cowboys game and some cool swag, plus the opportunity to throw out the first pitch.

Houston Dynamo Charities
Dynamo Charities believes in using the sport of soccer to support communities in the greater Houston area. They are committed to leveraging the passion of their players, staff, and fans to provide resources and education that positively impact lives in the community.

Photo courtesy of Houston Texans Foundation

Houston Texans Foundation helps serve and empower the next generation.

Stop by their tent to play yard games and show off your kicking skills at the giant inflatable goal, plus say hi to mascot Diesel while you're there.

For the raffle, each donation over $25 gives you a chance to win a 2022 team-signed Houston Dynamo FC jersey.

How to buy tickets
Fired up to make a difference in your community? Show up to The Tailgate on October 27 at Silver Street Studios, where delicious food and drink, fun games, and representatives from all these nonprofits will be waiting.

Here are all the ways you can benefit our nonprofit partners: make a donation through our Eventbrite page. Then, at the event, enter to win the ultimate sports package in the raffle and bid on silent auction items, where a portion of proceeds go back to the charities.

Get your tickets now, and use promo code CM15 for $15 off your ticket price.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz

José Altuve, Lance McCullers, Jr., and Kyle Tucker team up for grand-slam charity event at Tootsies

a grand-slam event

As Houston Astros fans are aware, José Altuve was just nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s most prestigious individual honor. Lance McCullers Jr. has made his wildly anticipated return to the mound. And Kyle Tucker, one of MLB’s quietest superstars, just keeps hitting home runs.

Obviously, then, the star trio would be forgiven for going nowhere but home and Minute Maid Park, given their intense focus. But the good-hearted Astros recently spent a day off hosting fans for the fourth-annual Team Up event, which showcases each of their charities at haute hot spot, Tootsies.

An A-list crowd packed tootsies for the VIP event. Noted names included Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife Whitney; Astros superstar slugger Alex Bregman and his entrepreneur wife Reagan (who are new parents); Astros power hitter Yordan Alvarez and his wife Monica; Astros pitcher Jose Urquidy and wife Estefania; player wives such as Nina Altuve and Kara McCullers; Astros staffers such as marketing guru Anita Seghal and Astros Foundation head Paula Harris; and a host of social stars.

Fans angled to get a glimpse of the Astros World Series championship trophy and the players themselves, who happily and patiently mingled with fans, posed for pics, and even said hello to others via FaceTime requests.

Ace Astros reporter Julia Morales and always energetic auctioneer Johnny Holloway served as emcees and urged the crowd to donate to the trio’s charities: The Sunshine Kids Foundation, which Altuve actively supports; the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for stray animals; and the Kyle Tucker Foundation, a cause near to Tucker’s heart that raises funds for families in hospice care.

Sought-after auction items included a lunch at Turner’s donated by Ben Berg Hospitality with Kara and Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker; one-of-a-kind art by Skel showcasing Astros players; a chance to throw the first pitch at a game plus playoff tickets to all home games — including the World Series, and more.

In all, Houstonians raised $ 370,000 for the three nonprofits under the umbrella charity Athletes and Causes Foundation, which helps star players give back to the community.

As for those players, they — especially McCullers — greeted service dogs who work with veterans. Meanwhile, Astros Shooting Stars members presented precious puppies from Harris County Animal Shelter that were available for adoption. (One adorable pup found a forever home with one of the volunteers at the event.)

“This is our home and we truly love it here,” McCullers told the crowd. “We just want you to know that this comes from the heart.”

No question there, Lance.

Seen in the crowd: Fady Armanious, Bill Baldwin, Hallie Vanderhider, Tony Buzbee, Samantha Scott, Tony Bradfield, Jennifer and Scott Allison, Monica and Joe Casiano, Cherie and John Lindley, Jenna Lindley, Shelli and Steve Lindley, Matthew Lindley, Ginger Baldwin, Raeann and Randy Bates, Natalie and Shaun Hodge, Cheryl Boblitt, Tama Lundquist, Tena Lundquist Faust, Alvin Abraham, Travis Torrence, Christian Morales, Phyllis Williams, Meg Toups, Chelsea Collmer, Laurie Sanders , Chris LaFollette, Lauren Morris, Vicki Luna, Emily Schmeltz, Michael Vanderhider, Lauren Varnado, and many more.

Shaun and Natalie Hodge.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Shaun and Natalie Hodge.
Mico's Hot Chicken/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/micoshotchicken/photos/1562564624075499]

Yelp gifts $10,000 to Houston hot chicken restaurant as part of $100k in grants to Texas businesses

Yelp Help

It seems like every calendar year is named “challenging” for local businesses, and never without reason. Businesses need constant maintenance to stay ahead of the community’s needs, and Yelp, the consumer ratings company, wants to help beyond its usual search streamlining.

With help from celebrity designer and born-and-raised Texan Bobby Berk, Yelp is making sure Texans have a bit of a windfall. That may be families in need of home repairs or businesses working hard to keep up; either are eligible for a grant on the second annual Make It Happen Day on August 26.

The fund attributes 2022’s challenge to severe weather, which is what launched the inaugural campaign in 2021 after Winter Storm Uri caused widespread physical damage on top of the inertia of the pandemic. While each ridiculously hot day this summer brought the threat of a power grid collapse, Texas was able to stay on its feet, and was left instead with severe drought.

Houston wasn’t so lucky in September, 2021, with Category 1 hurricane Tropical Storm Nicholas.

The fund will be split between 50 Texans receiving $1,000 for home improvements using professionals on Yelp, and five local businesses receiving $10,000 each, making a $100,000 grant in total. Individuals can enter by using Yelp’s Request a Quote feature, which matches them with professionals in the area, and submitting that quote on August 26.

The businesses are already chosen, including Mico’s Hot Chicken in Houston, The Grill at Leon Springs in San Antonio, Simply Good Pies in Dallas, Texas French Bread in Austin, and Ambur Fire in Round Rock.

The inaugural round of funding went to five businesses, including beloved The Big Easy blues club in Rice Village.

In 2021, Yelp partnered with Grace and Frankie actress and part-time Austinite Brooklyn Decker, who calls herself a “home decor fanatic” and helped spread the news. Bobby Berk, the home renovator of Queer Eye (and the subject of lots of memes about carrying your team), is taking over the spokesperson role in 2022.

To enter to win a $1,000 “Make It Happen Day” grant, search on yelp.com for a home services business you may be interested in hiring. Under each listing, there may be a button that says “Request a Quote.” Submit the quote on the giveaway site on August 26, 2022.

Houston's Mico's Hot Chicken suffered some damage caused by a break-in.

Mico's Hot Chicken/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/micoshotchicken/photos/1562564624075499]
Houston's Mico's Hot Chicken suffered some damage caused by a break-in.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive down I-35 isn't, know we get it. Saving San Antonians the trip, Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.