The city of Austin is a stuff of legends. For a young man, its annual festivals, its club scene, and its diverse cuisine, build it a reputation, as the Texas-sized playground. A city of mirth, a city of mystery, & a place of music.
Of course people who live in its overcrowded neighborhoods, who rake leaves and pick up bottles and send kids to school don’t have the same perception of their city as in-state tourists. But since when has fantasy needed to have correlation with reality?
My first week as a resident of ATX, I know it is a city of tolls, traffic congestion, and road construction. With people of many hues, shades, and values. I found a place to buy bread, a place to fuel my car, and a place to work out. The regular things seem to have taken on the trouble of legend; just living is harder, more because I’ve moved than because of Austin.
There is the sense that this city is buckling beyond maximum occupancy, coping to contain its citizens. Each of the 70 people who relocate here per day add to the payload of penance that the people pay. Moving trucks are on every road; it’s common to see 2-3 per day, and with each sighting, locals sigh outwardly. But deep within, there is a rising groan. The city’s unofficial slogan, rising to replace “Keep Austin Weird,” is a bit more obvious: “Austin: don’t move here.”
But the hypocrisy is palpable; there are corporate brands on every street corner. It’s clear that the city’s elite did not share the value of keeping Austin weird.
It’s still possible to foster local loyalty and love one another by giving our business to families who will keep the profits in the city instead of sucking them offshore. This is what it means to keep Austin weird. Preferring mom & pop – and insisting on knowing the owners we deal with – is how we can preserve a cultural legacy. I don’t buy into the “don’t move here” t-shirt; that angst is just misguided.
Let’s welcome the newcomers with open arms, giving the “keep Austin weird” vision to them as the key to our city.