Since 2003, we have researched local history and gathered stories about neighbors creating community. We share it all through our project Voices of the Violet Crown. While we created and have sustained VVC independently, we have worked with many good friends of the project along the way. We have lived in the Crestview neighborhood of Central Austin since 1985.
Austin’s “violet crown” describes the color of the hills to the west at sunset. These hills were still visible from our neighborhoods when the first residents moved here and began to plant trees on the open land more than 60 years ago. Read more about the origins of the phrase “violet crown” here.
Elements of the Voices of the Violet Crown project include history and genealogy research; community and history exhibits; three films, First Night W/Domino & Friends, A Community Mosaic, and We Planted 115 Trees; oral history interviews; feature articles; presentations; a neighborhood history booklet, From Abercrombie to the Violet Crown; and this website, launched July 5, 2011.
We began creating the community and history exhibits in 2003. Since then, they have been expanded and featured at eight spring and two fall Violet Crown Festivals (2003-2010 and 2012), Wall of Welcome dedication (March 2008), Crestview Neighborhood Association Ice Cream Social (2010, 2012, 2015, and 2016), and 60th anniversary of Crestview United Methodist Church (November and December 2013). See photos of the 2015 display—two, six-foot-long, laminated panels spanning events from 500 B.C. to today—at right and below. Most of the information from our exhibits is part of this website, and we are happy to loan them for community events. For more information, please contact us.
In 2009, the Texas Oral History Association presented us with the Mary Faye Barnes Award for Excellence in Community History Projects. Links to our website appear on the Austin History Center Everything Austin: History page and the Texas Oral History Association Member Sites page. The finding aid for the Susan and Rob Burneson Recordings and Papers, which we donated to the Austin History Center, is included in Texas Archival Resources Online.
Voices of the Violet Crown was funded in part by the Richard and Sharon Hanson Charitable Fund (website development); Friends of Brentwood Park (oral history interviews and the film We Planted 115 Trees); Violet Crown Community Works (oral history interviews, the film A Community Mosaic, history booklet duplication, and website development); generous neighbors and friends who purchased copies of A Community Mosaic, We Planted 115 Trees, and our history booklet From Abercrombie to the Violet Crown, and who made direct donations to the project; and local business owners, who sold copies of the film and booklet and provided us space to show our film A Community Mosaic and display our neighborhood history. We have sustained the Voices of the Violet Crown project as volunteers from 2003-2007 and since 2011.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH: MOVING BEYOND THE INTERVIEW
We knew it was worthwhile to gather and preserve people’s stories. We learned it’s also important to continue sharing the stories in new ways. Here’s how we’ve done it:
Incorporated excerpts from oral history interviews into three films, feature articles, community/history exhibits, and the neighborhood history booklet. The Voices of the Violet Crown website features video clips, still images, and excerpts from interviews as blog entries, features, and Wall of Welcome stories.
Displayed our neighborhood community/history exhibits and shared information about our project at the Violet Crown Festival (left) and other community events, in addition to incorporating much of it into this website.
Screened our films First Night W/ Domino & Friends (2006), A Community Mosaic (ACM) (2008), and We Planted 115 Trees (2011) at community, church, and school gatherings beginning in 2006. In addition, ACM was selected for screening at the Baylor University Institute for Oral History Future Perfect seminar in 2009, City of Austin Faces of Austin multimedia program and the Austin Public Library Lights.Camera.Austin film program in 2010, and First Night Austin celebration in December 2010 and 2011.
Published articles in newsletters and magazines for the Brentwood and Crestview neighborhood associations, more than 20 articles since 2008; Texas Oral History Association, 2009; and the Association of Professional Genealogists, Oral History Association, Society of American Archivists Oral History Section, and Texas State Genealogical Society, Inc., 2012. News of our project also has appeared in publications of the Association of Professional Genealogists and Texas Oral History Association, in the Austin American-Statesman, and on the website of the Austin Film Society.
Donated copies of ACM, history booklet, oral histories, and transcriptions to the Austin History Center, where they are available to researchers. The oral history interviews include those conducted between 2007 and 2011 for ACM and the Voices of the Violet Crown project, as well as interviews of Friends of Brentwood Park Leadership Team members and honorees and donors of dedicated trees for the film We Planted 115 Trees in 2010 and 2011. Interviewees also received a DVD copy of their oral history.
Donated copies of ACM to the Austin Public Library, where it can be checked out; Baylor University Institute for Oral History; Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute Library; and local elementary, middle, and high school libraries. Brentwood Elementary School has incorporated ACM and the history booklet into its third grade social studies curriculum on community.
Donated copies of the film We Planted 115 Trees to the Austin Public Library, Austin Parks and Recreation Department, and Austin Parks Foundation (courtesy of Friends of Brentwood Park).
Donated copies of the history booklet to the Retirement and Nursing Center (along with a copy of ACM) and North Central Caregivers in Austin, both of which provide services to older neighbors, and to local elementary, middle, and high school libraries.
Researched, wrote, and contributed a history of Hancock Creek, the area’s main waterway, to help Crestview become a City of Austin Certified Green Neighborhood in 2010.
Contributed Brentwood and Crestview history that was incorporated into articles by writer Michael Barnes in the Austin American-Statesman, 2012-2014, and into the booklet for the Preservation Austin 24th Annual Historic Homes Tour, 2016.
Made a presentation on our project at the Southwest Research Institute Thomas Baker Slick Memorial Library, San Antonio, Texas, in February 2013.
Contributed neighborhood history and photographs of the Crestview neighborhood to the City of Austin Community Character in a Box project, 2014.
Continue to post regular website updates, neighborhood milestones, and other project news on local email lists.
Read more about “moving beyond the interview,” theme of the 2009 Oral History Association Annual Meeting, here.