Austin Vida publisher Nancy Flores fosters community within Hispanic communities, highlights events through Cultura Guides

Sofia Treviño, Life and Arts Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 17 flipbook.

In step with accented notes of salsa music, Angie Town danced freely with her teenage daughter and older sister. Surrounded by other Hispanic people at an event she found in Austin Vida’s Cultura Guide, Town’s heart filled with an overwhelming sense of community.

“I love seeing anything that has to do with our culture: dancing, listening to music, art,” said Town, an Austin Vida newsletter subscriber. “Austin caters to white people, I feel. We’re hidden away so I like to see (Hispanic) events, and I (always) want to go out and support them.”

The digital publication Austin Vida aims to highlight Hispanic culture in Austin through increasing representation and sharing resources such as their monthly Cultura Guides — outlining Hispanic events in Austin ranging from salsa lessons to live music. Though people across Austin plan to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Austin Vida emphasizes the importance of embracing Hispanic culture year-round.

A follower of Austin Vida since January 2021, Town said she looks forward to receiving the Cultura Guide and planning which events she’ll attend. Having moved from the heavy Hispanic community of Salinas, California to Austin in 2005, Town said finding authentic Hispanic events helps her and her daughter reconnect with their roots.

“We have to know who we are and (where) we come from to be able to understand ourselves,” Town said. “Being Latinx is something special and something to be proud of.”

Feeling unsatisfied with Hispanic representation in Austin, previous Austin American-Statesman journalist Nancy Flores launched Austin Vida in November 2020 and created the first Cultura Guide. A daughter of Mexican immigrants, Flores said she created the guides to help others overcome a feeling she knows all too well: not belonging in her own community.

“When you see all these things that speak to you, ultimately it helps you feel like you belong in Austin,” Flores said. “(You feel like) you are part of the community.”

Through her 17 years of journalism experience, Flores said she noticed the disproportionate misrepresentation of Hispanic people in news. Flores said better representation helps Hispanic people feel less isolated.

“Being able to celebrate our stories and each other is a big part of what the goal is,” Flores said. “I’m very much a believer that if you can see it, you can be it. So, the more we see each other, the more we don’t feel like the other,” Flores said.

Olivia Tamzarian, culture and arts program supervisor at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, helped Flores find Hispanic events for the Cultura Guides. She stresses the importance of supporting Hispanic events and businesses year-round.

“What are you doing all the other 11 months?” Tamzarian said. “Are you saying that (for) 11 months of the year we don’t matter but then that one month we do?”

Living in Austin for over 15 years, Tamzarian said she enjoys working with Flores to strengthen the Hispanic community in Austin.

“We are hoping to create a sense of familiarity,” Tamzarian said. “A sense that you have a community that knows your name. (People) that will party with you, cry with you when you’re sad, and laugh with you when you’re happy, (so) that it feels like you’re not alone.”