2500 Humble Ave - Exterior

2500 Humble Ave, Midland, TX currently listed for $410,000 – Photo Credit, Zillow

Former first lady Laura Bush’s childhood home at 2500 Humble Drive in Midland was just listed for $410,000 by Caroline Earles of Trudy Thomason Realty, boasting original design attributes from when Bush lived there from 1961 to 1963.

Find out more about the history inside this home on MidlandDirt.com.

GWB Xmas bird cardRecall that last Monday, while hanging out aboard Air Force One en route to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, George W. Bush “whipped out an iPad and showed off his famous painting skills to Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and other members of the Obama inner circle” — this (and photo) from New York Magazine’s blog.

GWB on Air Force 1

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Most of the comments on that post were pretty negative, of course, and very funny, but I actually think the former prez is a pretty damn good artist. (Regardless of what you think of him as a Chief Executive.)

Got this card in the mail, opened it, and actually thought to myself, what a pretty painting of a cardinal. Then I found out it was from the Bushes, and even more, from a collection GWB painted and, apparently, is being collected.    

GWB xmas 2

GWB Xmas bird cardRecall that last Monday, while hanging out aboard Air Force One en route to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, George W. Bush “whipped out an iPad and showed off his famous painting skills to Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and other members of the Obama inner circle” — this (and photo) from New York Magazine’s blog.

GWB on Air Force 1

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Most of the comments on that post were pretty negative, of course, and very funny, but I actually think the former prez is a pretty damn good artist. (Regardless of what you think of him as a Chief Executive.)

Got this card in the mail, opened it, and actually thought to myself, what a pretty painting of a cardinal. Then I found out it was from the Bushes, and even more, from a collection GWB painted and, apparently, is being collected.    

GWB xmas 2

The Gingerbread Stroll features the creation of Pastry Chef Randy Gehman (left) of the Four Seasons Resort and Club, shown with longtime Community Partners supporter Mrs. Laura Bush. Also pictured is Executive Chef Christof Syre (right) of the Four Seasons.

This is a home tour you can sink your teeth into! Dave Perry-Miller agent Christine McKenny sent us this great photo of longtime Community Partners supporter Laura Bush with one amazing gingerbread house at this year’s Gingerbread Stroll.

Intrigued? Then head over to Celebrity Cafe & Bakery in Highland Park Village before Nov. 30 and vote for your favorite gingerbread house created by some of the top pastry chefs in Dallas. These aren’t your ordinary amateur creations, folks. These are amazing miniature mansions and are completely edible!

When you vote, you’re entered to win a ton of great prizes, too:

– Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek Overnight Stay & Breakfast Certificate
– Holiday Carriage Ride Departing from Highland Park Village
– $150 SER Steak + Spirits Gift Card, Hilton Anatole
– Dinner for Two at Cafe on the Green, Four Seasons Resort and Club
– $100 Highland Park Village Gift Card
– $100 Celebrity Cafe & Bakery Gift Card
– $100 Tom Thumb Gift Card
– Carolina Herrera Candle

If you’re feeling a little hungry after voting in the Gingerbread Stroll, which benefits Community Partners of Dallas, get a gingerbread cookie to snack on. A portion of the proceeds from gingerbread cookie sales will go to Community Partners, too!

 

The New York Times ran this wonderful interview with former First Lady Laura Bush on April 1, I hope the link to the slide show works — never know with the pay walls these days. In the interview, she says she didn’t know she was stressed until they moved back home,¬† Barney and Miss Beazely had a harder time adjusting and miss the large White House staff, she has found how incompetent she is around the house after 14 years of not cooking (which would be, to me, the best part about being First Lady), she and President Bush have a secret door from their bedroom to the girl’s part of their home in anticipation of grandkids, she loves Hilary Clinton & walking canes by Roosevelt Wilkerson, the Crawford ranch was green before its time, and she loves to clean. I recall Mrs. Bush saying, years ago, that she Cloroxed her kitchen counters and cleaned cabinets regularly, that she loved to keep a clean, organized home. But the best part of the interview, for me, was learning that her most cherished rug was one she bought from ARZU. I had the pleasure of interviewing the woman who started ARZU about a year ago when she was in Dallas.

I learned about ARZU through a local designer friend whose company, BKM Total Office of Texas Corp. BKM partnered to market and sell Arzu Studio Hope rugs — beautiful authentic wool creations woven by Afghan women as part of an empowering social business enterprise that markets and sells the creations they weave. A whopping 92% of the money paid for the rug is paid directly to the weaver, poor rural women in Afghanistan.

The Arzu Studio Hope Rugs story started, ironically, with a trader from Goldman Sachs in 2004. Chicago native Connie Duckworth, a retired Wall Street partner and managing director, visited Afghanistan with the U.S. Afghan Woman’s Council to try and figure out a way to give these women some hope — subservient women who (some) were beaten by their husbands, covered in burkas, women who washed clothes in icy-cold Chicago-like weather with bare bleeding hands because they had no laundromats, no hot water. It was a most unusual trip for Goldman’s first female sales and trading partner, but Duckworth had already retired and was looking for the next chapter of her life.

She flew in on a military C 130 cargo plane — no seats, no heat, special forces strapped out scouting for missiles, circular landing to avoid attack. There, in 2003, she saw first hand that Afghan women suffered a 100% illiteracy rate in rural areas. Virtual slaves to their husbands, they had no medical care, and they stayed indoors hidden in refugee camps raising children and caring for their families. One thing they did have, however, was the centuries old gift of rug weaving in a country renown for it’s delicately beautiful and high-quality rugs: rugs that were knotted and tied by hand, created of natural abrash-style vegetable dyes, rugs that took time to create. Duckworth decided to harness their talent for rug-making so they could become self-sustaining, earn enough money to become self-reliant and support their families.

But she wisely didn’t stop with salaries alone. Duckworth created an infrastructure that helped the weavers become literate. She devised contracts that husband and wife had to sign, husbands signing with a fingerprint (because they cannot write) to indicate acceptance of the contract promising that if Arzu contracted for the rug, the weaver would be paid not only for her work but for attending school to become literate and she would also send her children to school, educate them.

Duckworth set up a business model for Arzu Rugs with as much pro bono support as she could, from the architect Zaha Hadid, interior designer Thomas Schoos, graphic artists and others she recruited from top U.S. contract design firms — such as Odegard Rugs  — even an office in the John Hancock Building in Chicago. She created a framework that, in six years, created 800 jobs in rural Afghan areas, those jobs providing support for 2100 individuals. She used her own money initially, but subsequently received a U.S. Agency for International Development grant. She’ll take as many freebies as she can to minimize overhead with the ultimate goal of returning 100%  of the purchase price of the rug — ranging from $500 to $15,000 — back to the Afghan women. What I don’t want to do, she told me, is have to be dependent on donations.

“Billions of dollars have been poured into that country,” she told me. “Very little has touched the people at the lowest level.”

U.S corporations have made major image shifts in the last two years, says Duckworth, to take a more wholistic approach and make a statement about who they are through conscientious design. Many buy Arzu rugs and hang them as art, labeling them with the Arzu story. They have learned that most of their employees don’t appreciate the haute quality of the pieces anyhow and aim, instead, for a more socially-conscious, less conspicuous display. Consumers, too, are practicing responsible consumerism.

“Families all want the same basic things,” Duckworth told me. “They want their children to be healthy and grow up safely to enjoy a better world. That’s what we want, that’s want these Afghan men and women want.”

Once the Afghan women began earning money, says Duckworth, they gained a new sense of empowerment and respect within their own families. They were the breadwinners. Now, she says, the women will sign the contracts because they have learned to read and write while their illiterate husbands are still making fingerprints. Through grants, Arzu has helped bring midwives and healthcare to the rural Afghan communities and even just completed what must be the most sought-after structure in all of Afghanistan: an indoor laundromat with hot water and a tea-room.

“Our women tell me they feel like a blind woman getting their eyes back once they learn to read,” says Duckworth. “And then one told me, I weave, so my daughters won’t have to.”

Laura Miller Ambush Gates

As promised, It’s time to see what’s been going on outside of view – a gift just in time for the holiday season. There was a meeting on November 1 at City Hall with Council Member Jennifer Gates, Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy, and a bevy of opposition to the Authorized Hearing within PD-15 behind the Pink Wall.

The opposition was a combination of the usual suspects and a few oddities:

(more…)

Jenna Bush Hager is, of course, one of the darling fraternal twin daughters of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Even though she lives and works in New York City, we kind of still think of her as a Dallas gal, right? I will always remember the twins from their stint at The Hockaday School, before their dad became governor of Texas and the family moved to Austin.

Now grown and prolific women in their own right, Jenna and her twin, Barbara, have (among other amazing things) written a terrific book called Sisters First: Stories From Our Wild & Wonderful Life. The twins teased the book here in late February at a gala event for 4Word, an organization that connects, leads and supports women in the workplace. (4Word was founded by women in commercial real estate — stay tuned.)

In their book, Jenna and Barbara, each named after their grandmothers, and each thrust into the public eye just as they landed in college, discuss the valleys and peaks of carrying the Bush surname. They reflect on their “way normal” upbringing in Midland, Texas, where their maternal grandfather was a home builder, to stories from White House life; how they thought everyone’s grandfathers had presidential inaugurations; where they were and what happened on 9/11; life with the Secret Service; Jenna bemoaning the loss of anonymity as a charter school teacher during her father’s term, and Barbara telling us how her dad texts her daily, and cheered her through a recent break-up.

Jenna is a contributing correspondent on NBC’s Today show and an editor-at-large for Southern Living. She is also the author of The New York Times best seller Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, which she wrote after traveling to Latin American in 2006 as an intern with UNICEF. 

Jenna will be in Dallas April 11, as featured speaker at the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society’s Distinguished Speaker Luncheon, which is heavy on real estate this year. Lucinda Buford, Realtor extraordinaire at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, is president of PCHPS. Allie Beth Allman & Associates is presenting sponsor. Capital Distributing, Lucinda Buford and Tessa Mosteller, and Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, are home sponsors, and Highland Park Village, William Briggs Architect, Venise and Larry Stuart are Legacy Sponsors. 

So what is Jenna going to talk about? (more…)

My Beautiful City Austin Heymann

It feels like a trend: Architects are writing books all over the place. Of course, this is a trend we can get behind, especially when architects write fiction as David Heymann, FAIA, has.

Heymann, who designed George W. Bush’s Crawford sustainable compound, will read excerpts from his collection of stories entitled “My Beautiful City Austin” as part of his Fort Worth AIA Design Talk. The event, which is free and open to the public, will kickoff at 7 p.m. at the University of Texas at Arlington’s Fort Worth Center, room 121.

David Heymann, FAIA, designed George W. Bush's Crawford, TX, retreat. (Photo: Architectural Digest)

David Heymann, FAIA, designed George W. Bush’s Crawford, TX, retreat. (Photo: Architectural Digest)

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David Heymann, FAIA

With degrees from Cooper Union and Harvard, a teaching position at the University of Texas School of Architecture, and clients from the very highest walks of life, it seems like writing fiction would be the next big adventure for an award-winning architect. But this is no vanity title, as Heymann’s book has received fabulous reviews. The Texas Observer is calling it a “bracing tonic for the ongoing flood of sentimental, snarky and just plain stupid writing about Texas’ capital … This is an intensely engaging book, the record of a writer intensely engaged with his subject.”

To find out more details on the Heymann and tonight’s Design Talk, hop on over to the Fort Worth AIA calendar of events.