Getting to Know Beauty for Freedom

Tuesday, November 7, SEAD Gallery and Advent GX proudly partnered with Beauty for Freedom to host “Illuminate,” a curator talk, with Beauty for Freedom co-founders, Monica Watkins and Jerry Chu on the issue of human trafficking.

Beauty for Freedom is a non-profit organization based out of New York City, whose mission is to provide an innovative, sustainable platform for beauty, art, and fashion industries to raise awareness of human trafficking on a local and global scale. In doing so, Beauty for Freedom also offers these industries an opportunity to take an active role in fighting human trafficking by donating financially to charitable foundations who share this same goal.  

Beauty for Freedom exists to empower survivors and and youth at risk of trafficking to be comfortable in their own skins by celebrating their communities and educating these youth through art and photography. “Illuminate” is a product of this initiative, which took root in Kolkata, India, and allowed trafficking survivors and at-risk youth to cultivate their hopes and dreams through photography that contrasted the intimate, everyday moments of home life and the horrific realities of sex trafficking, violence, and prostitution.

For this reason, Advent GX (AGX) is thrilled to have had the honor to interview Ms. Watkins (W), and to delve deeper into Beauty for Freedom as a labor of love, a venue for change, and a partner of survivor empowerment.

AGX: What was your inspiration for getting started that we  cannot read online?

W: Our inspiration came from the fact that we saw a need in philanthropy to include creative arts as a means of raising awareness to and funds for this issue. We were involved with several organizations to combat human trafficking and wanted to use the concept of art therapy to bring the community together and inspire activism. This was a way for us to empower survivors, lift them up, help them transcend this issue, and fundraise to support their cause.

AGX: How did Beauty for Freedom come to be in Bryan, Texas, given it’s headquartered in New York? How is Texas receiving Beauty for Freedom’s message?

W: I’m actually originally from Huntsville! I went to Sam Houston, and I was always up and down the road visiting Bryan/College Station before I moved to New York. I decided to come back because Texas is one of the top four states for human trafficking, and I felt that the mission would be well received here. That is, to showcase survivors. We want to work so that these victims could be identified as something other than a victim.

People are ready to talk about slavery in this state. The University of Texas and the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner are very involved in the statistics associated with human trafficking. Houston actually has a special task force just for trafficking.

Like I said, people are ready to have this conversation and to receive the messaging that we have. We want to eradicate slavery and empower survivors. They need recovery and assistance in adapting to a normal life and living.

So far, we have worked with this initiative in New York, Boston, and Texas. I was pleasantly surprised by the positivity and support here. This subject can be overwhelming, but most people have been open to digesting the information and seeing how they can become change-makers. There is so much hope in the state of Texas, and we’re on a positive path here. There is lots of great work being done already in continuing and expanding the conversation, investigating, and even law reform. Texas may be one of the Top Four, but it takes an aggressive zero-tolerance approach to human trafficking.

AGX: Where do you see this project going? What are your long-term goals?

W: Our long-term goals are about expansion and sustainability, and our focus now is on these. We have worked with over 1,500 survivors and been able to donate to and sponsor them. We want to help more survivors through programming and making substantial donations to rescue and counseling.

Because we’re grassroots, we fundraise for all of our money, but we need to become more sustainable in order to expand. We’re self-funded, and we haven’t had any sponsorships or donations. More financial stability through corporate sponsorships and grant applications would afford us that sustainability so that we can find and serve more survivors.

AGX: How can people in Bryan/College Station help?

W: We have upcoming projects in Mumbai, New York City, Ghana, and the South Sudan, and we need sponsorships for some of our projects while we travel. Artists for teachers, volunteers, sponsorships, partnerships, and collaboration. Being able to help share our mission through our book project. We need to expand our teaching program. We need volunteers to come in and help create content for our campaigns. We need help on fundraising and marketing in the state of Texas. We need the labor to help fund things without struggling.

We’d also like to partner with more universities, so we would appreciate networking opportunities. We are constantly looking for donors, sponsors, volunteers, and people with expertise to help support survivors, because this is something unconscionable. You can’t understand the magnitude of it without experiencing it firsthand.

People always ask me, don’t you get tired? And when they ask me that, I think about these youth and the lives that they are living, and I am inspired by them. Nothing that I could do can compare to their journeys. I am inspired by the youth that we serve.


Advent GX was honored to speak with Ms. Watkins and bring awareness to this issue in our state, national, and  international community, as well as the victims of human trafficking. We hope that our community will seek more information about Beauty for Freedom online or by email at info@beautyforfreedom.com.  You can learn more about our partnership with Beauty for Freedom by watching this video.

Very special thanks to Monica Watkins and Jerry Chu for visiting Bryan to bring the BCS community together over this vital struggle. Your efforts have been invaluable!

SEAD After Dark Cigar Night

Saturday, November 4, was a new kind of After Dark event for the downtown community as cigar aficionado,  Christian Lynch,  appeared to host SEAD Gallery’s Cigar Night and speak on the art and ceremony of cigars and cigar rolling.

Set in our back-alley urban garden, the evening was an alluring one for newcomers and veterans alike as Lynch led the audience through a leisurely discussion over cigar making, differentiation, technique, and recommendations.

Sponsored by Cavalier Cigar Co., a local College Station tobacco shop, Saturday’s aromatic evening combined a rich cultural experience with good food, good company, and good spirits to create a night unlike any other for our downtown community.

Special thanks go to Christian Lynch, Cavalier Cigar Co., and SEAD Gallery staff for bringing this evening together. Bringing this event together would not have been possible without their combined efforts!

For more information about Lynch or Cavalier Cigar Co., please visit the links attached to their titles. For general interest inquiries, please visit the SEAD Gallery website or email Advent GX at inquiry@adventgx.com. We love our community, and we want to hear from you, so give us a holler!

November Downtown Bryan Night Bazaar

Friday, November 3, marks this month’s Downtown Night Bazaar for Bryan, an intimate evening in the heart of our downtown area for local artists and appreciators to gather, mingle, and deliberate over the high-quality craft of our community.

With coffee, stoneworks and jewelry, and soaps and body products on display, it truly felt like a trip to an exotic land as vendors poured into the SEAD Gallery to showcase their finest works and samples for the public eye. Between the bustle of the crowd and the glow of the lights, November’s Downtown Night Bazaar offered an old-world sort of atmosphere for our friends and family, and with it, a sense of wonder at the vibrancy of our local community.

With vendors both new and old making a welcome appearance at the Gallery just in time for the holidays, the Bazaar proved to be another unique experience in local artistry and entrepreneurship, one which AGX gladly embraces as part of its mission to promote community engagement and cultural preservation, as well as economic growth.  

For more information about November’s Downtown Night Bazaar, please visit the SEAD Gallery Facebook page or its website, linked here. For inquiries about the Bazaar or First Fridays, drop us a line at inquiry@adventgx.com. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Software Developer’s Cartel Meets for October Gathering

Tuesday, October 17, Advent GX was proud to partner with the Software Developer’s Cartel for an evening of learning, networking, and best tech practices.

This month’s speakers were Tom Peck, a software developer for Serverless, and Dean Brundage, former software developer/system administrator.

Peck, the first to present, kicked off the evening with a lecture that’s tough to beat by discussing new fronts in serverless computing, the latest trend on Amazon Web Services. Highlighting Cognito, Lambda, and API Gateway, Peck explained how these new services provide a new way to build web applications and back-ends (which provides simplified access to data storage) for mobile apps. Think better security, lower cost, simpler maintainability, and greater scalability for your web and mobile applications.

Brundage, following this, offered a lecture titled “Break Out of the Loop”, which examined how software developers can improve their arduino programming using C++ classes. Focusing on multitasking with classes that perform specific actions, this was a great lecture for anyone with an interest in interactive objects and stimulus response (i.e. robotics).

October’s Software Developer’s Cartel meeting, as always, offered a unique community experience for our technically minded friends. By creating a space where hackers can interact, the Cartel continues to grow and maintain a community for curious and passionate hackers. Consequently, hosting October’s event at Ice House on Main was an honor for Advent GX. Together, Advent GX and the Cartel worked to create a space for community and professional development in Downtown Bryan. With this, AGX looks forward to potential opportunities and new experiences with the Software Developer’s Cartel in the future.

For more information about the Software Developer’s Cartel, please visit their website online. To learn more about AGX or the Ice House as a partner (venue), drop us a line at inquiry@adventgx.com!

Brazos Spinners and Weavers Guild Brings Unique Experience to the Children’s Museum

Saturday, October 7, was an exciting spin-off for the Intersections juried fiber arts exhibit at the SEAD Gallery as the Brazos Spinners and Weavers Guild visited the Children’s Museum of Brazos Valley to bring unique experiences in yarnwork and art to the community.

In partnership with Advent GX, the Brazos Spinners and Weavers hosted a fun day of activities that included a spinning wheel demonstration, a “yarnbombing” of the You Build It house, and a make-and-take fiber arts craft station.

Since 1976, the Brazos Spinners and Weavers Guild has been bringing weavers, spinners, and fiber artists from the Brazos Valley together to share their passion for their art and craft with fellow artists and the public at large. This past week, the the Guild shared this love and knowledge with the community to create a singularly engaging experience for the Brazos Valley.

As part of Advent GX’s mission to create experience through innovation and development, this event combined interactivity with heritage preservation by making an historic art readily available for public immersion. Special thanks go to the Brazos Spinners and Weavers Guild, as well as the Children’s Museum of Brazos Valley, for putting this event together in the spirit of community development and cultural preservation.

To get the latest news on coming events, follow Advent GX on Facebook, or visit us online for more information.

An Evening of Conversation with ‘Intellectual Jack of All Trades,’ Pascal Bruckner

On Thursday, October 5, Advent GX partnered with Dr. Richard Golsan and the France/TAMU Institute (the Centre d’Excellence, part of the Scowcroft Institute at Texas A&M’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service) to bring Pascal Bruckner to the SEAD Gallery. This evening marked another in a series of events focused on transforming Bryan into a vibrant center of community engagement and economic growth through the exchange of international ideas.

A ‘New Philosopher’ and prize-winning novelist, Mr. Bruckner was warmly introduced by Dr. Golsan, Director of the Centre d’Excellence, as an “intellectual jack of all trades” before being handed the floor to tackle some of the tough issues in France and abroad.

To kick off the evening, Mr. Bruckner first touched on the controversy surrounding Islamophobia before delving into the French reaction to recent terror attacks, and then concluding with a conversation on the recent past and near future of French-American relations. Following a Q&A, there was a sparkling reception over fine food, wine, and company as guests devoted the remainder of their evenings to conversation and deliberation.

Advent GX is honored to have collaborated with the Centre d’Excellence and Dr. Golsan to bring Mr. Bruckner to the SEAD Gallery as part of its mission to promote community and economic development through the global exchange of ideas, innovation, and art.

We’d like to extend a very special thanks to Pascal Bruckner for taking the time to sit down and share his perspective with us for an evening of cultural and intellectual convergence. Thanks also goes to the SEAD Gallery for hosting and the staff who made the evening possible.

Follow us on Facebook to get the latest news on coming events, or visit the SEAD Gallery online for full coverage of the event.

Advent GX’s President Appears on “Mindless Millennials” Podcast

September 30 marked an exciting day for Advent GX (AGX) as its president and CEO, Jose Quintana, was invited to appear on Mindless Millennials, a free-flow conversational podcast hosted by Texas A&M’s Bailey Mullins, which revolves around the life experiences of its guests.

Focusing on innovative programs to propel community and economic development, Mr. Quintana  discussed the myriad of programs and projects in the Bryan/College Station area that have established the historic downtown into an area of experimental economics, as well as his take on technology and business practices in the modern market.

The projects that Advent GX has been spearheading in the Bryan/College Station area are dedicated to preserving an authentic Bryan cultural experience while also developing the economic climate. Among these projects are the Grand Stafford Theater, the SEAD Gallery, the Distributed Urban Farming Initiative, and the Ice House on Main, which is currently at the center of many upcoming AGX developments that could mean big things for the downtown scene in the near future, including a coffee shop, microbrewery, and a farm-to-table restaurant featuring the culinary talent of Ronan Cooking, LLC.

Mr. Quintana’s invitation to appear on this podcast offered a unique opportunity for Advent GX to share these messages, as well as AGX’s mission, initiatives, and experiences over a more modern medium. For this, we would like to offer special thanks to Bailey Mullins for bringing Jose on the air to speak about our community and economic development programs.

To listen to the podcast episode, please visit Mindless Millenials online and look for Episode No. 22 featuring Jose Quintana. For questions or further information on the content of the episode, feel free to email us at inquiry@adventgx.com.  

Young Entrepreneurs Showcase at Ice House on Main

Wednesday night was an exciting evening for young entrepreneurs at the Ice House on Main. On September 27, Startup Aggieland held its annual First Look event in our new downtown venue for mentors, investors, and start-up entrepreneurs to network and share their ideas within the business community.

First Look 2017

First Look is an annual event hosted by Startup Aggieland, which describes itself as “[a] globally-recognized, award-winning, job creation program disguised as a multidisciplinary business incubator and accelerator” (startupaggieland.com), as a division of the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship and Mays Business School.

With the McFerrin Center, Startup Aggieland also hosted First Look in association with Blackstone LaunchPad and together, these institutions created an opportunity for entrepreneurs in the Bryan/College Station area to pitch their ideas and their businesses in a relaxed setting that promotes the good spirit in which networking thrives.

First Look afforded its Aggies more than an opportunity to live out the American Dream as young entrepreneurs–it offered Bryan/College Station professionals a chance to do so in a new setting that reflects the culture and spirit of its community and its university.

Advent GX is honored to have been a part of this event with the university. We are excited to hear what the future brings for its young business community, and look forward to possible partnerships in the future.

For more information about First Look or Startup Aggieland, please visit their website listed above. To learn more about Ice House on Main or Advent GX, please visit our website or shoot us an email at inquiry@adventgx.com.


August Software Developer’s Cartel

Things got technical again at the Grand Stafford Theater for this months’ Software Developer’s Cartel Meet-up. First, we heard from Matt Leonard and Joe Morgan of T STAR and Texas A&M University (TAMU) respectively on their collaborations at the intersection of the space and education industries. Afterwards we heard from Patrick Smith, the founder of Job Loop.


Tackling tough questions like how particles interact with each in microgravity and how can you anchor up to an asteroid, Matt Leonard of T STAR and Joe Morgan of the Texas A&M Universities ESET program, discussed how their experiments can help us improve our understanding of loosely associated surfaces and how these experiments give undergraduate students real-world experience. T STARS’ successful STRATA-1 mission produced 75GB of imagery and accelerometer data after a year on-orbit and is pending publication with the National Academy of Science. The Hermes mission utilizes a capstone team of Aggie undergrad ESET engineering students who, guided by T STARS and their experience with NASA, were able to design a series of experiments using the CubeSat form factor. Hermes, a microgravity experimental facility, will arrive on the International Space Station in October of 2018 for it’s 5 year journey. Hermes will be able to facilitate science experiments as well as simple payloads that fit Hermes’ design and operations constraints.


Closing out the evening, we heard from Patrick Smith, the creator of Job Loop. Job Loop, a “Tinder..for jobs” app, was the culmination of a realization Mr. Smith had while comparing European job search apps with job search apps available within the US marketplace. Noticing a gap in the market, he got work. Mr. Smith, who has a background in accounting, pulled from his knowledge of development teams that he gained while working with IBM’s Watson program to construct the app. By this time the mainstream competition had caught onto the “Tinder for jobs” idea. In order to differentiate himself from the competition, Job Loop pivoted to part time jobs aimed at college students. Requiring a “.edu” email address to register, Job Loop is expanding outwards from TAMU to  other universities beginning with Texas Tech University.


Join us again next month for another round of specialty cocktails and intelligent conversation at the Grand Stafford Theater.

Software Developer’s Cartel July Meet-Up

This month’s Software Developers Cartel was a big success. Once again held at the historic Grand Stafford Theater, we heard from both Kelly Rowe of Insight and cryptocurrency expert Cody Marx Bailey.

We began by introducing our friend Kelly Rowe from Insight. Insight provides expertise in Networking, VoIP, Video, Security, Data Center, Network Storage and are looking to expand their operations. Insight would like to align Student labor with their Services Division so that full time positions can be more easily established for Students and Employer. In addition to their full repertoire of Cisco services, Insight will provide positions that line up with students’ educational profiles to provide a career pathway gaining real job experience in their related field of study.

Cody Marx Bailey, cryptocurrency hedge fund manager and expert, then took the stage and captured the full attention of the audience for over an hour with his fascinating talk on the mechanics and philosophy behind the block chain architecture applied within the digital currency Ethereum.

He began with an explanation on the inherent network resiliency due, in part, to its implementation in multiple coding languages used to distribute risk across the millions of nodes located around the world. He discussed the incentives and disincentives behind the honor system used to create new Ethereum using what Cody dubbed ‘Magic Math’, a system of cryptographic algorithms that have been in use since the 1970s. We also heard a description of the interaction between role the Public and Private ‘Keys’ that secure multiple transaction types utilizing Smart Contracts.

After his introduction, Cody explained the 14.5 second lifecycle of the block chain technology as a race from the time the last ledger was created. A “mining” blitz to factor a large prime number puzzle ensues during which time transactions and contract executions are taking place all over the world. When the puzzle is solved (approx. 14.5 seconds later) the system checks the lucky winner’s answer, who upon authorization, is awarded 5 Ether.  The ledger is updated and the next race to solve a new puzzle begins again bringing the cycle to completion.

The success of the currency relies on the open source nature of the technology which allows full transparency through the distributed network, in contrast to the more traditionally centralized design we see in major banks today. Ethereum is buoyed by the inherently open consensus which validates all transactions created. Extracting that information back out to the physical world, we are seeing a new beginning for intermediate services and private applications to be run for a fraction of the cost by cutting out the middle man.

Cody’s presentation ended with a healthy round of questions to an audience that was excited to learn over a few specialty cocktails.  We would like to thank Cody for his time as well as the Grand Stafford Theater for allowing us access to their historic venue and look forward to our August meet-up where we will once again convene to discuss technology and innovation in a way that allows growth and maintains our community of curious and passionate developers.

Join us once again at the historic Grand Stafford Theater on August 15th for another evening of drinks and tech!