I joined NextDoor in September of 2015. At first, I was thrilled to have an additional resource to help me get more involved in my East Austin neighborhood. NextDoor was a great way for me to discover urgent matters, when the next neighborhood association meeting was, what volunteer opportunities & meet-ups were available and which neighbors needed support or assistance.
NextDoor has and continues to fulfill this role, but I quickly learned that it is also a dumping ground for people’s implicit racism. In my gentrifying neighborhood of East Austin — a historically black neighborhood — implicit racism and culture insensitivity is becoming so commonplace, that I deactivated my NextDoor account out of disgust and frustration.
This post written by a young white woman was the first red flag:
“I was walking — — – on — — – around 6pm as it was starting to get dark when a red sedan approached me, coming south. The front of the license plate read “Don’t Panic” but it was not like (more…)
I received a message on Instagram to check out an upcoming bar in East Austin. Since I live in East Austin, I was curious and went to the bar’s Instagram account.
And I saw this:
There are so many things wrong with this photo:
-Why does this person think that what he perceives as “run down places” in East Austin are just screaming for a new bar or restaurant? Last I checked, East Austin has an assload of them.
-Why does this person think that the owner of this well-liked and well-utilized neighborhood grocery store is not an entrepreneur? (This is the neighborhood grocery store at Comal & 3rd.) Definition of entrepreneur: A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
-Why does this person think that East Austin “needs” entrepreneurs who could put a little elbow grease into all these “run down places”? East Austin needs saving by people with money, I guess. Forget all the folks who have (more…)
“See that blue cat over there?” Jacques Casimir, co-owner of Blue Cat Cafe in Austin, Texas, asks me with a hint of pride in his voice. “That’s Big Sexy.”
Big Sexy is indeed big and sexy. At eight years of age and almost 20 pounds, he carries his girth with ease and confidence. We watch as he plops himself onto a coffee table and backs his wide hips between smiling customers, akin to a tractor trailer going in reverse.
His eyes chase the younger cats, all waiting to be adopted just like Big Sexy, as they prance and dart through the brightly colored cafe. Is he laughing at their youthful ignorance, or is he mesmerized by the shiny ball three feet from the table? We may never know.
Casimir confides in me that he hopes Big Sexy will be a permanent fixture at the cafe, alongside Gollum, a sandy-colored, green-eyed fluffball with folded ears, and Balthazar, a soothing tabby who enjoys nesting on customers’ (more…)
I’ve lived in Austin for seven years, and within those seven years my feelings toward the city have oscillated. I’ve fallen head over heels in love, I’ve been heartbroken over change and I’ve been inspired by a new kind of affection. I fall into one or all of these categories at any single time.
In 2012, I wrote the pro-growth article “Austin is Ch-Ch-Changing: Give up the Hate and Embrace the Non-Natives Who Make Our City Great,” but one year later I questioned Austin’s rapid growth with the article “Austin Changing: Why My Love for Austin is Being Challenged.” Sometimes I felt like a teenager girl, yo-yoing between her emotions. Do I love Austin? Do I hate Austin? How do I feel about this complex and complicated city?
I look back on these articles with both empathy and embarrassment. Look how silly that girl was, thinking she understood Austin! And I know I’ll one day look back on this article with equal sentiment.
It wasn’t until recently, when I was faced with the prospect (more…)
In this week’s CultureMap article, “More than Trader Joe’s in store: Seaholm development targets ‘urban bohemians,'” managing partner of Seaholm LLC, John Rosato, used the titular term when describing the sort of clientele they want their future tenants to cater to. A lot of you thought the phrase “urban bohemian” sounded like the verbal equivalent of dragging your nails across a chalkboard, but I have news for you, it ain’t nothing new.
Try on this word for size: Bobo. Bourgeois bohemian. Does that make you want to throw up a little in your mouth, too?
“Bobo” was coined by David Brooks in his 2000 social commentary, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. The book describes the rise of upper middle class and their penchant for spending big bucks on organic food, brand new electric cars and all-American clothing.
They are a hybrid of the “liberal idealism of the 1960s and the self-interest of the 1980s” a.k.a. hipsters with money. Bobos are essentially (more…)
A scary realization came to me the other night while I was driving around looking for parking east of Interstate 35 to catch a screening downtown. East of I-35 (East Austin) is typically where I park if I go anywhere downtown; it’s much easier than fighting for or paying for parking.
As I parked deeper than I normally would on the eastside due to the chaos that is SXSW, the realization that parking on the eastside could one day no longer be free hit me like a ton of bricks. Flashbacks of paying hundreds of dollars a year in parking meters, permits and parking tickets in Los Angeles came flooding back.
This may sound like a trivial concern, but it lead to the larger question that had been dancing in my brain while I battled thousands of people through the streets, sidewalks, events and stores as I wandered through SXSW- how much is Austin changing and is it for the better or worse?
I overheard a few rumblings from locals during the film and interactive portion of SXSW that (more…)
I’m currently reading David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries– a 30 year hodge-podge of his observations, diary entries, and blog posts about urbanization, gentrification and transportation taken from the perspective of a bicycle. Byrne often has a child-like approach to observing the world. Everything about us fascinates him. One can see this curiosity in his songs, “Once in a Lifetime“, “The Big Country“, “Neighborhood“, and “Strange Overtones“, or his 1986 cinematic love letter to Texas, True Stories. Though he’s by no means an expert on anything other than dancing like a mentally challenged person, I’ve always valued Byrne’s commentary. He looks for the deeper meaning behind the obvious and makes us think differently about how we view the mundane and the taken for granted.
In Bicycle Diaries, Byrne takes us on his adventures through major international cities such as Istanbul, Manila, Buenos Aires and American cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, and his current (more…)