What is the soul of Austin?

At this first Meetup, we'd like to follow the conversation thread that started at SXSW Interactive, Austin TX: A City with A Soul, and hear your thoughts on what makes Austin so awesome and what kinds of things you hope to see happen to preserve the soul of our great city.

Please feel free to grab some food from inside Whole Foods, and meet us upstairs. There are plenty tables and seating on the plaza, so bring a friend and help us spread the word!

You can access the rooftop from in front of the store, on the ground level, up the stairs.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    My Friend the Great Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter/Austin Native, Dave Scher , graduated from Brooker T. Washington Magnet High School in Dallas. Why doesn't Austin, the Music Capital of the World, have a World Class Music Magnet HS?

    1 · April 13

    • A former member
      A former member

      Thanks Dave! What is the address of McCallum?

      April 13

    • Dave S.

      McCallum High is at 5600 Sunshine, just west of Lamar and on the south side of Koenig in North Central Austin.

      April 14

  • Landon S.

    Some very intelligent and interesting people. The space was not well configured for an interactive meetup. The sound system was not tested ahead of time, and many persons were unable to hear.

    April 3

    • Landon S.

      When I filled out the evaluation, I did not realize my comment would be posted for all to see. Had I understood this, I would have been more expansive in my positive comments, and more gentle in expressing my concerns.

      1 · April 4

  • James F.

    This is a great focus for the SXSW Panel, the MeetUp and other activities under the Imagine Austin initiative. As a community, we never struggle to identify our problems, but it is so important that we understand our strengths too. If we have a good understanding of what makes Austin great and can fan the flames that make those great characteristics burn brighter. We’ll be able to preserve, nurture and strengthen the soul of Austin. We can make Austin better as it grows bigger.
    It was cool to see such a nice turn out for the MeetUp. Hopefully everyone who attended can influence others around them to get engaged too.

    2 · April 4

    • Rollie C.

      A focus on "strengths" is a great idea -- if we cure weaknesses, but lose strengths along the way, we may be worse off.

      1 · April 4

  • Ramah

    Hi all,
    Just wanted to pass along this opportunity this Saturday:
    Waterfront Walkabout 2
    Imagining Future Walking Connections
    Saturday, April 5
    10 am - noon
    One Texas Center lobby
    505 Barton Springs Road, Austin
    Dog and family friendly! Light refreshments will be provided.
    http://www.austintexas.gov/event/waterfront-walkabout-2-imagining-future-walking-connections

    Hope to see some of you there.

    1 · April 3

    • Paul D.

      Hi Ramah, I'll be one of the facilitators and hope to see you and others.

      1 · April 3

  • Jeff G.

    Good things start with humble beginnings. It was an encouraging sign to see the response for the first meet-up. The spirit and intention behind our discussion is to first explore the "being" of our city, i.e. the essence of what truly makes Austin, Austin. From this common ground we can then also focus on the "doing", initiatives that help ensure that this essence is preserved. By starting first with the "being" of Austin and then moving to the "doing" we will succeed in keeping "the main thing, the main thing". Once we have established our common essence as a city, then our motivation for "doing" important things such as working to improve affordability and transportation etc… will likely get increased individual support because these initiatives also serve our common aim as a community. Many of the responses that were written at the meet up shared some common themes. Could it be as elegantly simple as the fact that Austin is a "city with a heart"?

    2 · April 2

  • Jeff G.

    A good beginning. Attendance and participation was encouraging. Will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

    April 2

  • A former member
    A former member

    Imagine Austin is GREAT for Austin. I have never lived in a City that had an event like Imagine Austin. As a result all the other cities where I lived (Atlanta, LA & Nashville) were poorly, haphazardly "designed," and are now very unpleasant cities in which to live. So far, Austin City Planners have done a great job. Keep up the good work!

    1 · April 1

    • Jennifer D.

      Leo, it was great meeting and talking with you last night. Thanks for coming and participating, and for the feedback.

      1 · April 1

    • A former member
      A former member

      Jennifer, It is a privilege & a pleasure to be a part of Imagine Austin. I told Dan @ Tech Ranch about IA about he is interested in talking to U about future IA meetups. TR is a very inspiring place for Entrepreneurs. Thanks again for inviting me to the IA meetup and the very cool sunglasses!

      April 1

  • Trey H.

    As a life-long Austinite and architect, I've been attending community workshops for 20 plus years. It’s easy to get a bit jaded with these “visioning” efforts. There is a tendency in Austin planning efforts to spend a disproportionate amount of time and resources on a relatively small portion of the City and ignore the more challenging issues that will ultimately impact the livability of the majority of Austinites. The much bigger challenge is planning for the tremendous population growth that brings growing challenges to traffic, affordability, and livability. Visioning is really about embracing the opportunities for positive change while protecting the legacies of a community. Accept that Austin is no longer a sleepy university town. It hasn’t been for almost 50 years. It’s a Big City now. Accept that reality. Embrace it. Envision Austin as a Great City. Plan for it. Design it. Build it. Make it happen.

    2 · April 1

    • Alykh

      Future workshop locations could be strategically located to draw attention to other places and help us learn more about areas that do not get so much attention, essentially giving us a tour of the city through this series of meetups.

      3 · April 1

    • Jennifer D.

      Alykh, I absolutely agree! My hope is to move our meetups around town to expose us all to a new environment and part of town we may not be so accustomed to visiting. Thank you for the feedback, and it was great to meet you last night! Hope to see you again soon!

      2 · April 1

  • Rollie C.

    Could have used just a bit more structure, especially for those of us that got there a few minutes late

    1 · April 1

    • Jennifer D.

      Hi Rollie, thank you for the feedback. I'll make sure that next time around we have a bit more guidance for folks ahead of time, and as possible at the name tag table when folks arrive. It was great to meet you!

      April 1

  • Charles Foster J.

    Great meeting people that are passionate about Austin. It is a great city and it's our duty as residents to continue doing the right things into the future.

    2 · April 1

  • Phil D.

    We need a sound system. I would prefer more practical discussion on how we can improve the look and feel of our neighborhoods. Also, what are the practical steps in redeveloping some of our retail space? How can we influence property owners in this redevelopment? We have some large retail spaces in our area that are vacant. How can we connect with the owners of this property? How can we get the city to streamline the permit process and still protect our resources?

    1 · March 31

  • Shirley A.

    I got an opportunity to speak to a few folks. I got the impression that there is a collective understanding that Austin is changing... whether good or bad remains a conundrum. And, considering that I am part of that change, being a new Austin resident, an immigrant woman of color, and maybe with not the best command of the English language, I would hope for the better. That being said, I am co-organizing the Austin Multicultural Friends Redux Meet-up group. Our meet-ups are an opportunity for individuals from various cultures/backgrounds to come together and share our stories. We will talk about various cultural issues important to those who want to learn and grow in their perspectives about others. Through our conversations, we want to bridge the cultural divide and increase our knowledge of various cultural practices and worldviews.

    I hope you will join us, and together work toward an inclusive community.

    2 · March 31

  • A former member
    A former member

    Music

    March 31

  • Clark H.

    I will not be able to attend but there is one thing I would like folks to consider:
    I agree completely with the need for our community to have a dynamic discussion on what makes Austin Austin; however, the sobriquet "Soul of Austin" is one that has been used for many a year to describe Barton Springs. I understand that this may sound petty, but it would seem that a certain respect for what has gone before would be essential it determining our legacy. After all, "legacy" isn't created out of whole-cloth but is something passed to us by those that came before, handled by us for awhile, then provided to those that come after. It is easy to write off such concerns as semantics, but words do have power. They subtly and profoundly shape our thoughts. Diluting the term "Soul of Austin" from a traditional use about a specific resource is something to consider. Today's Austin is a result of human activity dating back generations. This we should embrace.

    1 · March 25

    • Jeff G.

      Words do indeed have meaning. Was not aware of the legacy of Barton Springs as the Soul of Austin. The imagery is beautiful. Perhaps the question of what is the "Essence of Austin" might be more appropriate as we individually and collectively explore this question going forward. Very useful point. Thanks for sharing.

      1 · March 26

  • A former member
    A former member

    Lovers of Jazz & Blues Check out the Dave Scher Trio @ Friends on 6 Street, Monday from 7 to 9! Dave does a Jazzed Rendition of the Beatles “Drive my Car” that is FABULOUS!

    Dave will be back @ Strange Brew on Wednesday Night doing an acoustic set with the Girl From Denmark sitting in on Keys.

    Also on the Schedule @ Strange Brew is the Austin Guitar Master Van Wilks. The Master of Texas Blues & R&R Hall of Fame Member Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is one of Van’s Biggest Fans. Enough Said!

    And last but not least, Slide Guitar Master Harry Bodine starts @ 6. Harry is one of my Favorite Slide Guitar players.

    March 23

  • McChris

    6th and Lamar is really pretty difficult to get to by bus if you don't live or work in that part of west Austin. Will the meetups move around town?

    March 8

    • A former member
      A former member

      The Goodwill Community Center has great meeting space for free with a small deposit. There is a bus stop located on-site but I don't think there's a biking trail. The address is 1015 Norwood Park Blvd. ATX 78753 (near I-35 & 183). [masked]-7100. Their facilities and service is great.

      March 14

    • Kendra

      Hey McChris - since you seem to be public transit savvy, maybe you can assist in helping plan future meeting locations. I don't use public transit often, but I do know factoring this in could be very beneficial for helping this group grow and have steady attendance rates.

      March 14

  • Jennifer D.

    Hi Folks! We're sending along this link to an article that appeared on Community Impact yesterday, regarding the panel discussion at SXSW. http://impactnews.com/blogs/sxsw/sxsw-panel-looks-at-what-makes-austin-unique/

    March 13

  • Carol

    For those who didn't attend the SXSW conversation, how do we find out what that conversation entailed, and what this meetup will 'follow'? The link to the SXSW interactive didn't tell me much. Thanks.

    March 12

    • Jennifer D.

      Hi Carol. We are working on summarizing what came up in discussion at last night's SXSW event and we'll discuss it at the Meetup! For those interested but unable to attend, we'll post the summary here. Thank you!

      March 12

  • Rollie C.

    Maybe we can find some technology that will help organize and analyze some of the ideas we generate. TEDx Austin experimented with a while back "brain something". The idea is to allow ideas to be presented, allow others to react, both in comments and by some sort of voting scheme, so the most-discussed and favored ideas "float" to the top. They then become the ones to push with city "powers-that-be," which in Austin (thankfully) includes the public at large. Face-to-face meetings are an important element of this process (and often the most fun!) but not the only one, as this idea/discussion/vote process can take place both online and face-to-face.

    2 · March 12

    • Jennifer D.

      Rollie, that describes what I had in mind for the ideas that are generated from our Meetups! We have discussed finding some sort of mechanism, and I'll look in the vein of the TEDx Austin to find that. Thank you for the feedback!

      March 12

  • rebecca l.

    I have significant travel for work. Daytimes and on-line are my best options for participation. Have a fun, productive time though!

    1 · March 11

    • Jennifer D.

      Hi Rebecca! We are certainly hoping to get an online element involved in this Meetup group, as well as finding other times/days that we can meet. Do you travel on the weekends as well?

      March 12

  • Rollie C.

    I hope the outer edges of the city of Austin can become as full of mixed uses as the inner city. I see a mixture of dense and sparse, and mixed uses, as keys to walkability, sustainability, and social development.

    2 · March 11

  • Ramah

    I have a pedestrian meeting with the PAC that night

    March 9

    • Paul D.

      Hi Ramah: I'm sorry you cannot attend the Meetup. We will make sure the next Meetup is not on the same night as the PAC (I assume you mean the Pedestrian Advisory Committee). Austin has so many meetings it's hard to schedule a meeting that doesn't conflict with another meeting.

      March 10

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