Austin has been home for 23 years. I’ve had a front row seat to the transformation of this city. Like so many other longtime Austinites I’ve pondered the questions, What makes Austin Austin? and Is Austin still Austin? My answers are, It depends and Yes.
Austin has always been many things to many different groups. When I moved here the city was dominated by state government, UT, music and the semi-conductor industry. The software scene was in its infancy. These vastly different constituencies shared a common affection for Austin’s siren call of “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. Come as you are.” Local was the norm; national chains were scarce.
Things are different now. Vastly different. And while you could make an argument that the feel of the city has changed and you could start a cultural war arguing whether that change is good or bad, the common affection for our city remains the same. I’m reminded of the Lyle Lovett lyrics: That’s right you’re not from Texas. But Texas wants you anyway.
My love for this place runs deep. Like all who are enchanted by her, I too desire to preserve Austin’s charm. It’s tempting to want to close the gates, but that would be very un-Austin of us. Instead, I believe the key to preserving Austin is to perpetuate the best of what makes Austin special. That responsibility falls to each of us, individually.
What makes Austin special to you? I challenge you to DO / BE / SUPPORT those things, regularly. Like it matters. Because it does. Be the megaphone for your special slice of Austin.
And tell the stories. Be that person who talks about the old days, not with sorrow or bitterness for times gone by. With joy and aspiration. To inspire, teach and raise up the next generation of Austinites who will take the best of this city and leave their own unique mark, as so many before us have done.
With love from Austin.