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Seeking to move past its niche as a once-a-year event, Earth Day Texas is launching a monthly program to make its environmental message more frequent and more accessible.

The kick-off event is a conversation about local food that takes place September 17 at Craft & Growler in Exposition Park. From there, it'll happen every third Thursday of the month, at breweries such as Deep Ellum Brewing and Community Beer Co.

The goal of the series, says spokeswoman Jillian Mock, is to make eco-conscious thinking a part of daily life for every North Texan. Each session will feature a panel of speakers tackling a theme, such as sustainable food for the masses, smart energy, and eco-focused careers.

"Hosting events throughout the year is part of our mission," Mock says. "Rather than the way it's been, which is a blast in April, and then it's gone. Instead, how can we make this meaningful for people every day?"

That also explains their goal in choice of breweries as a venue.

"We're taking it to a place it hasn't been," Mock says. "It makes Earth Day more accessible, and maybe reaches people who haven't gone out to the annual event at Fair Park."

The program is called Earth Day Monthlies, aka EDMo — and as an aside doesn't that seem kind of mean to the "o"? —and is a collaboration with The Westwood School, an eco-focused K-12 school in North Dallas. At the inaugural event, speakers will include chef Chad Houser from Café Momentum, Katherine Clapner of Dude Sweet Chocolate, and Dustin Thibodeaux of Slow Food.

Mock says that the idea was an initiative of the Westwood School, which also wants to elevate its profile and its ecological curriculum. Earth Day Texas, which is adopting an abbreviated moniker EDTx — and as an aside doesn't that seem kind of mean to the "x"? — has been stepping up its game in the past few years, including booking higher profile speakers and allying itself with the Texas Veggie Fair. The 2016 event takes place on April 22-24.

"We're trying to connect with a part of Dallas culture we haven't been connected to, to promote the idea of sustainability," Mock says.

Photo courtesy of Town of Addison

Festivals of all kinds feed this week's best food events in Dallas

This Week In Gluttony

It's September, which means for most of America the temperatures are starting to fall and the pumpkin spice everything is creeping onto menus. In Dallas, however, the temperatures are still lingering in the 90s and that pumpkin spice is probably being served in an iced latte.

That said, the fall foodie festivals must go on. This week's food events round-up has a fall theme, along with a few fun, random options too.

Thursday, September 17

GrapeFest in Historic Downtown Grapevine
Toast the wines of Texas, Oregon, and Argentina at this 29th annual wine experience. Guests can affordably experience wines not normally available in Texas. The event has different events, like the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic and GrapeStomp, happening until Sunday, September 20. Tickets start at just $5.

Foodiepalooza at Seven for Parties
The East Dallas Boys & Girls Club Advisory Council invites guests to visit food and beverage tasting stations featuring chefs like John Tesar of Knife and Oak, and mixologist Mike Martensen of Proof & Pantry. The evening includes silent and live auctions filled with dining events, getaways, and much more. DJ Wiki is spinning the tunes. Tickets start at $65, and the event kicks off at 7 pm.

Addison Oktoberfest at Addison Circle Park
This year, more than 70,000 people are expected to come together to share a love of polka, German food, and the same Paulaner Bier that is served at Bavaria’s favorite festival. As part of its award-winning tradition, Addison has timed the festival to coincide with the famed Munich Oktoberfest and features much of the same music, folk dancing, sing-a-longs, and great German food. Tickets start at $10, and the fun lasts through Sunday, September 20.

Friday, September 18

Harvest at Dallas Farmers Market
Chef chair Sharon Hage recruits some of Dallas’ top chefs to take over The Shed, resulting in delicious food along with specialty cocktails, entertainment by DJ Lucy Wrubel, and silent and live auctions. All proceeds benefit the senior and child programs of the North Texas Food Bank. Tickets are $200, and the event starts at 7 pm.

Saturday, September 19

The Great Texas Food Truck Rally at Reunion Park
This event benefiting Executives in Action returns for the second year at a new and larger venue. This means better parking and more food trucks. Guests enjoy live music, a beer garden sponsored by Nodding Donkey, and more than 20 food trucks. Tickets are $10, and the event begins at 2 pm.

Sunday, September 20

Sunday Cinema Series at Knife
This culinary-themed film program rolls on with a patio screening of the acclaimed documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Chef John Tesar is serving up gourmet bites, while Four Corners Brewing Company provides the beverages. Tesar and Lee Papert, president and CEO of the Dallas Film Society, are speaking prior to the film about its impact on the culinary and restaurant industries. Tickets are $35, and $10 of each sale benefits the Dallas Film Society. Call Knife at 214-443-9339 to purchase.

Enjoy the best of German food, drink, and entertainment at Oktoberfest at Addison Circle Park, from September 17-20.

Photo courtesy of Town of Addison
Enjoy the best of German food, drink, and entertainment at Oktoberfest at Addison Circle Park, from September 17-20.
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Check out the popular book that Dallas readers can't put down

Hot Library Reading

Are you on-trend with your reading material? Fifteen cities across the U.S. reported their library records to Quartz, which then narrowed down the top two adult novels in circulation. Some of the results are predictable, but others are a bit surprising.

In Dallas, the most checked-out book is Paula Hawkins' mystery thriller The Girl on the Train. The book is the most popular in the country, the top pick in five other cities including New York and San Diego, and it was checked out enough to make 11 top 10 lists.

Coming in second is Harper Lee's controversially published Go Set a Watchman, the top read in Seattle, Phoenix, and Baltimore. Watchman was popular enough to be a top 10 most popular book at nine of the libraries.

Houston is devouring James Patterson's latest bestseller, Truth or Die. Some public libraries of well-known bookish cities, including Austin, Boston, Charlotte, and San Antonio, did not provide Quartz with rankings prior to publication.

Quartz notes that the time period for the checkout lists varied by library, but all were each library's most recent figures. Because Go Set a Watchman was released on July 15, its popularity could be underrepresented by some libraries' lists.

If we exclude Hawkins and Lee's books, then Dallasites can't get enough of Gray Mountain by John Grisham. Hollywood-inspired titles such as Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and John Green's The Fault In Our Stars are also popular around the country, along with Janet Evanovich's Wicked Charms and All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

Photo courtesy of Crow Collection of Asian Art

Crow Collection puts on block party unlike anything Dallas has ever seen

Korean Culture Lesson

As part of its After Dark series, the Crow Collection of Asian Art introduces Dallas to Korean culture in a way they’ve likely never seen before. The inaugural Korean Thanksgiving takes place Friday, September 18, from 6 pm to midnight, and best of all, it’s free.

Korean Thanksgiving Day, or Chuseok, traditionally is celebrated for three days and marks the beginning of the harvest season. This block party is the first and only large event to celebrate the holiday in Dallas.

The celebration brings a little bit of Seoul to the Dallas Arts District. Dallasites can immerse themselves in Korean culture by witnessing folk tales by Twice Upon a Time Storytellers, song and dance with Mimi Shin, and a crossover musical performance featuring Grace Baek. Listen to Arirang, a song dating back 600 years that is recognized as a national song among its people, and participate in hands-on art activities like origami, sotdae, or making gift boxes.

No harvest festival would be complete without food and drink. Check out a Korean tea ceremony demonstration, then sample cuisine as you learn about its origin. For example, Koreans prepare a special rice cake called songpyeon and present it to their families on this special day, and you can taste it here.

“Our hope is that this event provides diverse audiences the opportunity to experience Korean culture and learn about a tradition that they may not have been familiar with in the past,” says deputy director Stacie Adams.

Although this event is free, guests are asked to register online. For more information, check out the Crow Collection of Asian Art website.

Photo by Mike Morgan

Dallas-Fort Worth theater critics declare standouts from 2014-15 season

Theater Critics' Picks

The members of the Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Forum gathered on September 12 to nominate and debate their picks for the most outstanding performances, productions, designs, and new plays of the past season.

Eleven critics duked it out (myself and Jan Farrington of TheaterJones.com were absent due to prior commitments, but sent our lists in early) before finally deciding on the winners. There are several for each category — rather than only one — that are listed alphabetically, and this year for the first time we demolished the gender separation in best performance. Shows that opened between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015 were eligible.

This list is the consensus of the group. There are several honorees that I did not vote for, and several more I submitted that did not garner enough votes to make it to the final round. Look for my own list of this year's best as we close out 2015.

Without further ado, these are the critics’ picks for 2014-15:

Outstanding Direction:

  • Akín Babatundé, Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope and The Color Purple, Jubilee Theatre
  • Bruce R. Coleman, The Nance, Uptown Players
  • Cheryl Denson, Catch Me If You Can, Uptown Players
  • Jeremy Dumont, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Uptown Players
  • Blake Hackler, The Flick, Undermain Theatre
  • Katherine Owens, Tomorrow Come Today and The Testament of Mary, Undermain Theatre
  • Matthew Posey, The Egg Salesman, The Ochre House
  • vickie washington, Mississippi Goddamn, South Dallas Cultural Center

Outstanding New Play/Musical:

  • Mississippi Goddamn by Jonathan Norton, South Dallas Cultural Center
  • The Show About Men by Danielle Georgiou, Justin Locklear and Trey Pendergrass, DGDG, Festival of Independent Theatres
  • Standing Eight Count by Van Quattro, Rite of Passage Theatre Company, Out of the Loop Fringe Festival and Dallas Solo Fest

Outstanding Acting Performance:

  • Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso, Lydia, Cara Mía Theatre Company
  • B.J. Cleveland, The Nance, Uptown Players
  • David Coffee, King Lear, Trinity Shakespeare Festival
  • Hassan El-Amin, Radio Golf and A Soldier's Play, African American Repertory Theater
  • Anthony Fortino, Catch Me If You Can, Uptown Players
  • Kyle Igneczi, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Uptown Players
  • Shannon Kearns, The Testament of Mary, Undermain Theatre
  • Jenny Ledel for:
    • The Arsonists, Kitchen Dog Theater
    • Belleville, Second Thought Theatre
    • Othello, Second Thought Theatre
    • Wilde/Earnest, Kitchen Dog Theater
  • David Lugo, Catch Me If You Can, Uptown Players
  • Janelle Lutz, Lady in the Dark and South Pacific, Lyric Stage
  • Ebony Marshall Oliver, In Real Life and The Color Purple, Jubilee Theatre
  • Sally Nystuen Vahle, Medea, Dallas Theater Center
  • Allison Pistorius, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, Stage West
  • Paul Taylor, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Stage West; and The Hot Mikado, Theatre Three
  • Lulu Ward, The Two-Character Play, WingSpan Theatre Company
  • Sherry Jo Ward, Precious Little, Echo Theatre
  • Pat Watson, Streamers, L.I.P. Service

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble:

  • The Brothers Size, Jubilee Theatre
  • The Egg Salesman, The Ochre House
  • The Flick, Undermain Theatre
  • Hands on a Hardbody, Theatre Three
  • Mississippi Goddamn, South Dallas Cultural Center
  • Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Stage West
  • The Nance, Uptown Players

Outstanding Achievement in Design or Creative Contribution:

  • Robin Armstrong, fight choreography, Lovers and Executioners, Circle Theatre
  • Clare Floyd DeVries, set design, The Explorers Club, Stage West and WaterTower Theatre
  • Danielle Georgiou, choreography, NICE and The Show About Men, DGDG
  • Bob Lavallee, set design, The Rocky Horror Show, Dallas Theater Center
  • Joshua L. Peugh, choreography/movement, Colossal, Dallas Theater Center
  • Adam C. Wright, original composition, The Nance, Uptown Players

Outstanding touring production:

  • Buyer & Cellar, AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Endurance, Split Knuckle Theatre, The Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville, The Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts
  • Once, AT&T Performing Arts Center and Performing Arts Fort Worth
  • Pippin, Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth

Special Citations:

  • To Lyric Stage and musical director Jay Dias for their contributions to the musical restoration of The Golden Apple and Lady in the Dark, and for the first cast recording of the complete score of The Golden Apple.
  • To Audacity Theatre Lab and Brad McEntire for bringing quality local and national performances to the second annual Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theatre, and for advancing the art of solo performance in North Texas.
  • To the producers of Shakespeare in the Bar for attracting new and large audiences to non-traditional spaces and reminding us that Shakespeare can be unexpected and fun.

Participating Critics:

  • Lindsey Wilson, CultureMap Dallas
  • Alexandra Bonifield, CriticalRant.com
  • Nancy Churnin, The Dallas Morning News
  • Jan Farrington, TheaterJones.com
  • Martha Heimberg, The Dallas Weekly and TheaterJones.com
  • Arnold Wayne Jones, Dallas Voice
  • Elaine Liner, The Dallas Observer
  • Mark Lowry, TheaterJones.com and Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • David Novinski, TheaterJones.com
  • Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Lauren Smart, The Dallas Observer

Kyle Igneczi was rewarded for his star-making turn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Uptown Players, directed by winner Jeremy Dumont.

Photo by Mike Morgan
Kyle Igneczi was rewarded for his star-making turn in Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Uptown Players, directed by winner Jeremy Dumont.
Photo courtesy of Esé Azénabor

Dallas designer tempts the Big Apple with Garden of Eden collection

Dallas Does NYC

For the second time, Dallas designer Esé Azénabor is headed for New York Fashion Week. But this time she's taking what she calls her most unique collection yet, dubbed the Garden of Eden.

Fashion Gallery NY is producing Azénabor's show, thanks to a recommendation from Project Runway's Korto Momolu. Attendees can expect the unexpected, she says.

"All of the pieces include custom digital print work, beading on top of custom prints, and hand-painted fabrics. And, of course, my classic jumpsuit is present," Azénabor says. "It is very feminine, with form-flattering shapes and splashes of color throughout."

We adore Azénabor's brightly colored kaftans, which are available online for $425. A particular favorite of ours is this one, due to its bold blend of orange and pink accented with Tibetan gold beads.

This showing at New York Fashion Week is coming at an incredibly busy time in the designer's career. Be on the lookout for her new showroom and flagship store in the Dallas Design District. Also on her mind: international expansion. She credits her fashion idol, Elie Saab, for those dreams.

"He combines Western with Eastern culture using the finest materials," Azénabor says. "His detail work is fascinating, and the shapes are flawless. He literally creates garments for queens — that's how precious his work is!"

Esé Azénabor shows her collection on September 14, 5 pm, at the Manhattan Affinia Hotel.

A look from Esé Azénabor's spring/summer 2016 collection dubbed Garden of Eden.

Photo courtesy of Esé Azénabor
A look from Esé Azénabor's spring/summer 2016 collection dubbed Garden of Eden.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Top-ranked high schools make the grade in this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 2 distinguished Dallas high schools sit at head of the class as Texas' best in 2022. Two campuses in Dallas have earned extra credit as the best high schools in Texas. In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented & Gifted tops the list of the state’s best public high schools, and St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas leads the list of the state’s best private high schools.

2. NFL legend Terry Bradshaw's ranch north of Dallas listed for $22.5 million. An Oklahoma ranch around 70 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth that’s owned by NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw is back on the market for $22.5 million. The 744-acre ranch was relisted after a deal with a would-be buyer fell through.

3. Dallas grilled cheese restaurant abruptly closes location in Oak Cliff. A Bishop Arts restaurant dedicated to making grilled cheese sandwiches has closed: The aptly named Dallas Grilled Cheese Co. closed its original location at 310 W. 7th St., after nearly eight years. According to co-owner Diana Ezzell, the closure was prompted by problems with the location.

4. Best vegan grocer in Denton relocates to market-deli space. An acclaimed market in Denton specializing in all things vegan is making a move: Mashup Market, the plant-based specialty grocer that debuted at 316 Oak St. in 2020, is closing that original location and making its new headquarters at 1302 W. Hickory St., its second location that opened in 2021.

5. Dallas man allegedly scammed $26M from Chinese real estate investors. A Dallas-area man has been charged for allegedly scamming Chinese investors out of more than $26 million in a real estate scheme. Timothy Lynch Barton, the 59-year-old president of real estate development firm JMJ and CEO of real estate investment firm Carnegie Development, has been indicted on seven counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of securities fraud.

Beto to visit Dallas college campuses following debate on TV with Abbott

Campaign News

On November 8, Texas will vote for its next governor — choosing from either incumbent Republican Greg Abbott or Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

In anticipation, the two will participate in a debate on September 30, which takes place at 7 pm at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg. It's hosted by KXAN news anchor Britt Moreno and will feature questions from a panel of journalists.

The debate will air on Nexstar television stations which in Dallas is KDAF Channel 33; the Texas Tribune will also livestream.

It's their only scheduled debate and according to the Associated Press, Abbott conditioned his participation on the debate taking place without an audience.

"Sources tell me Abbott would only agree to face Beto with no audience in the room," said journalist Scott Braddock, in a tweet which is right here:

This will be first time Abbott and O'Rourke meet since the May 25 press conference where O’Rourke confronted Abbott after the shooting in Uvalde.

O'Rourke, who previously undertook a summer tour across Texas, holding 70 public events in more than 65 counties, is now launching a College Tour focused on young voters. It includes visits to two Dallas-area campuses, with only one open to the public, as follows:

  • Monday October 3, 10 am: Town Hall at University of North Texas, at the University of North Texas - Gateway Center Ballroom, 801 N. Texas Blvd., Denton. Open to UNT students only.
  • Monday October 3, 12:30 pm: College Tour Town Hall at Dallas College El Centro Campus, 801 Main St., Dallas. Open to the public.

During the College Tour, he'll hold more than a dozen public events at colleges and universities around the state, affording an opportunity not only for him to share his platform — reproductive freedom, reducing gun violence, raising minimum wage, legalizing marijuana — but also an opportunity to get students and young people registered before the October 11 deadline.

'Wide-awake' Dallas neighbor is 2nd best U.S city for families, says Fortune

No place like home

Fortune advises readers to not let Wylie’s “picturesque, historic downtown fool you.” And for good reason. The magazine hails the North Texas city as “a fast-growing, modern community that doesn’t skimp on the amenities.”

Thanks in large part to those amenities, Fortune puts Wylie at No. 2 on its list of the 25 best places in the U.S. for families to live. Ann Arbor, Michigan, takes the top spot.

In recognizing Wylie, the magazine cites the city’s well-above-average public schools, numerous facilities for older residents, and events such as the Bluegrass on Ballard festival and Wylie 500 Pedal Car Race.

"With its start as a stop on the Santa Fe Railway in the 1880s, Wylie has always been a gathering place," the magazine writes. "In fact, because shops stayed open late to accommodate the railway visitors and business, one of the town’s nicknames became 'Wide-Awake Wylie.' The historic downtown continues that tradition of community today..."

Fortune lists the median home price in Wylie as $399,838 and the median household income as $96,845. The booming suburb is home to nearly 60,000 residents. It now stretches across Dallas, Collin, and Rockwall counties.

To come up with its ranking, Fortune combed through mounds of data for almost 2,000 communities in the U.S.

The only other Texas city in the top 25 is the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, ranked 17th.

“Residents have a sweet spot for this Houston suburb that brings the community together through its lively downtown hub, local events, and even a ball game or two,” Fortune says.

Among other highlights, Fortune notes Sugar Land’s “outstanding schools,” the Sugar Land Space Cowboys minor-league baseball team, Sugar Land Town Square, and high-quality health care at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital.

In Sugar Land, the median home price is $399,250 and the median household income is $121,665, according to Fortune. The suburb is home to around 110,000 people.