Anyone who knows me knows that I love Austin Texas. You may also know I moved to Dallas this summer. I think Austin can learn a few things from Dallas (gasp).
Dear Mayor Lee Leffingwell,
The last two years I spent getting my graduate degree from UT were the most fun, enlightening, and free-wheeling years of my life. As is often the case, I got a job in Dallas and have been trying to come to grips with my departure. 6 months in and I’m starting to realize it ain’t so bad. Actually Dallas has a few things going for it.
There is a saying frequently espoused in Austin that I’m sure you know well: “Don’t Dallas my Austin.” Having grown up in Dallas it always zinged me a little bit, but I’ve even said it myself a few times. Like many Austinites (a very relative term I may add), I think cookie cutter condos and McMansions crush culture and breed douche-bags too. Hopefully Austin retains its distinct identity throughout the massive growth it is experiencing. I’ve heard all the grippes about how it’s not the same as it was 5 and 10 and 20 years ago. But what did Austinites expect? The secret had to get out eventually and change is the only thing we can really count on in this world. So to that end, I think there are a few areas where it might be a good idea to “Dallas” up Austin.
Light Rail: You already knew this was the first place I was going. How has Austin avoided this issue for so long? North/South traffic is abhorrent and projected to get much worse. The Metro Rail is a baby-step in the right direction but can hardly be considered a stop-gap measure. Cities that Austin is continually compared to (Portland, Denver) planned for this decades ago. Little know fact: Dallas has the most miles of light rail in the country. Yes I was surprised too.
Bury I-35: I’m sure you’ve heard the proposal. Boston did it, Dallas did it, Austin can do it. Highways divide people socially and economically. Just bury the sucker and charge a toll (sorry, another contentious issue I know).
Hip-Hop: This one may be a little bit out of your scope but needs to be said. Austin is an epic city for music, second to none in my opinion (though on equal plains with New Orleans and Nashville). The area that the Austin music scene is seriously lacking is Hip-Hop. Zeale and Phranchyze do their best but that can’t be the beginning and end of the local hip-hop culture in Austin. Dallas has figured out how to support a local hip-hop scene somewhat recently and I know Austin can too.
We’ll start with these three projects (or maybe just I can’t think of anything else Dallas does better than Austin…). Maybe someday I will make a triumphant return to ATX. If not, my time there will always hold a special place in my heart.
PS: Two weekends of ACL is excessive but 10 days of SXSW isn’t hardly enough.