Commission application number 198 submitted by Benjamin Altenberg on 07/09/2020

First Name Benjamin
Middle Name/Initial C
Last Name Altenberg
Voter Unique Identification number 1214440181
Ethnicity White
Gender Male
Age 25-34
Education Level Post-Graduate Degree
Major Pursued Media Studies
What is your occupation? Producer
Submitted Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78756
Verified Address
City Austin
State TX
Zip 78756
Do you have a spouse or domestic partner? Yes
Spouse/Domestic Partner First Name Molly
Spouse/Domestic Partner Middle Name/Initial M
Spouse/Domestic Partner Last Name Costigan
Are you applying to be the student member of the commission? No
Have you been continuously registered to vote in the City of Austin for the last five years? Yes
Have you voted in 3 of the last 5 City of Austin general elections (or corresponding runoff if applicable)? Yes
Been appointed to a state or city office? No
Been elected to a state or city office? No
Been a candidate for a state or city office? No
Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of a political party? No
Served as an officer, employee, or paid consultant of the campaign committee of a candidate for elective state, county, or city office? No
Been a registered state or local lobbyist? No
A paid employee of the City of Austin? No
A person performing paid services under a professional services contract with the City of Austin? No
A person performing paid services under a professional or personal services contract to the City Council of the City of Austin or to any individual member of the City Council of the City of Austin? No
A controlling person of a person performing paid services under a professional or personal services contract to any member of the City Council of the City of Austin? No
Contribute or bundle one thousand dollars ($1,000) or more in aggregate to candidates for City of Austin elective office? No
Please describe your relevant analytical skills. My background is largely in study and practice of documentary filmmaking with a social purpose. This career has led to a great deal of experience in qualitative and quantitative research methods used to shape policy, as well as advocacy at state and local levels. I am a devout believer in the value of interdisciplinary analysis rooted in traditions that draw from both the humanities and sciences.
Please describe your ability to be impartial. I believe that a just society is one that centers equity, listens to all voices, and interprets those voices into practices that serve all communities. The act of listening is an opportunity to constantly challenge one’s own convictions and perspectives. I am inclined towards being an outsider, a condition of my chosen career, where I can work to see the roots of conflict that arise from competing perspectives. Truth comes from the negotiation of more than one point of view.
Please describe your appreciation for the City of Austin's diverse demographics and geography. I have lived in Austin since 2013. In that time, I have sought to educate myself on the cultural and history of the city as comprehensively as I can. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place with a borderline-militant penchant for multiculturalism, which is a romantic notion that falters in practice to address economic and racial segregation in the city. Despite this, Albuquerque does not have the same problems with the invisibility of minority communities that Austin has thanks to its segregated past. There is a scar running down I-35 that is still fresh, leaving us with segregated schools and an ever-present phantom of gentrification. In spite of these challenges, the city has an African American community that spends a lot less time feeling sorry for itself as much as the west side of town does for them; they’re the ones responsible for forcing cornerstones like the University of Texas and Barton Springs to integrate. Austin is also a bilingual city, with a Hispanic population whose presence in the region predates Texas independence. They have endured the same history of mistreatment and denial of opportunity in the city. It is imperative that all Austin voices be heard more than they have as the city moves to redistrict.
Please provide your employment history. I have done work-for-hire media production since I finished college in 2010. Much of that work has been for public health and education entities in the form of public service announcements and promotional videos. I have also worked as a producer on nationally-televised documentaries for ESPN and the History Channel. Since 2012 I have been a digital consultant for the New Mexico Alliance for School-Based Healthcare, a nonprofit that advocates for full-service health clinics in schools. In 2016 I co-founded Readily Apparent Media, a production company specializing in nonfiction and turnkey media services. My first feature documentary, The Shake-Up, was released in 2019.
Please provide any other information you wish to be considered during the selection of the most qualified applicants for the Commission. I speak Spanish at an intermediate level and practice every day. I was lucky enough to frequently visit Austin as a kid to stay with my uncle, who was an accordion player in town. This allowed me to learn early on that beyond the Red River district and the tourist attractions of 6th Street, this city has an enviable diversity of musical experiences that extends far beyond what one hears on the radio, from norteño, vallenato and tango to jazz and classical. The musicians of this city are a large part of its soul, and they do not necessarily get an equal share of the economic benefits from the city’s global reputation as an artistic hub.
How did you hear about redistricting/Applicant Review Panel? Newspaper
Disclaimer Agreement Checked
Disclaimer Signature Benjamin Altenberg
District District 7
Does this application qualify? Yes