Life & Arts
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Austin PBS Series Showcases Texas, 'One Square Mile' at a Time

What does Texas look like one square mile at a time? That’s the question producers of a new series airing on PBS stations across the state are asking.

Texas is made up of more than 268,000 square miles. A new series produced by KLRU Austin PBS, “One Square Mile: Texas,” focuses on just nine of them – from the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and several places in between, including Austin.

The 26-minute documentaries follow eight to 10 people in each place: teachers, police officers, pastors and artists. And it does so with the requirement they all live or work within one square mile of each other.

Carl Crum produced the program with his wife, Betsy. He says public television viewers from across the state were involved in nominating each place they profile. They narrowed the nominees down from an initial 200.

“Some of them were places we were very familiar with,” Crum says. “Some of them we had never heard of before, but it was great to get this perspective from the local level of what should be documented in these communities.”

The results? Communities like Midland, Nacogdoches and the Segundo Barrio neighborhood of El Paso. “Each of those square miles is a different story of what it means to be Texan,” Crum says.

Still, Crum admits these are far from complete narratives.

“Austin is 300 square miles and if you picked any of those square miles, the story that would be told would be completely different,” he says. “And then you look at a square mile itself. … In the Austin square mile that we filmed in, I think there were 67,000 people that lived and worked within it. And each one of those is a completely different perspective.”

KLRU’s hometown mile covers downtown Austin: from Lady Bird Lake to the Texas State Capitol.

“That’s an area that’s really seen a lot of massive change,” says KLRU’s Maury Sullivan. “It’s really just meant to be a snapshot – a time capsule, if you will, of that particular community and this particular time.”

The “One Square Mile: Texas” series is airing on all 12 Texas PBS stations. Sullivan adds that a few stations out of state have also picked it up – and she’s hoping others will as well.

“There’s a lot of interesting things happening in Texas at this point in time and, particularly, I know just in Austin, it seems that there’s a lot of growth here,” Sullivan says. “And I think Texas has a lot to offer. I mean certainly being one of the largest states – there are a lot of unique stories here.”

“One Square Mile: Texas” airs on KLRU Austin PBS Thursday nights at 8 p.m. The Austin episode airs Feb. 13. You can also watch full episodes online on the series website. Below, a trailer for the Austin episode.