Archive for the 'Austin' Category

What if Austin were a bicycle-first city?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

This question comes to mind after reading this item from Worldchanging:

The Future of Carbon-Free Transport: Groningen, Netherlands

A key quote:

Groningen’s bicycle planning has not occurred in a vacuum, but rather complements an integrated scheme that includes low-priced parking facilities for cars, strong public transport and careful public transit linkages between car parking areas and centers for employment and education. With these amenities, cars use, especially in the city center, was successfully restricted without impacting local business.

Sounds nice, huh? I mean . . . forethought. What a concept.

Austin has been putting its money where its mouth is on the green front, albeit not as quickly, and not as much, as it should. The author of the Worldchanging piece, Warren Karlenzig, is also involved with SustainLane, which ranks Austin as the 14th-greenest city in the United States. The fact that Austin hasn’t earned its way into the top five cities in the world — I mean by universal consensus — is a testament to how much is left to be done. Making the city pro-bike in a BIG way would mean great progress toward that goal.

Our green city.

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Just a few links before I lose them in the ether:

–The Austin Chronicle has started publishing a Green Guide for Austin. Get into it.

–Austin Worldchanging summarizes mayor Will Wynn’s climate plan here.

–Again with the Austin Worldchanging, we find more details here about what’s going right with Austin on the environmental front:

Greener In Texas?

Y’all keep it green, all right?

Memo to Austin friends: Austin Kleon needs a job.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Who is Austin Kleon, you ask? Only a master of that rare art, the newspaper blackout poem. Only a skilled sketchbook artist. Only an appreciator of fine, fine comics. Only one of the newest Austinites-to-be once his darling Meg joins a graduate program at Our Mighty Hometown University.

In other words, a cool guy worth helping. Let’s find this feller a job, folks.

Andrew Donoho on Austin’s Resource Management Commission.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

One of the many nifty people I met during SXSW Interactive was Andrew Donoho; we had a nice chat on the upstairs porch of Opal Divine’s during the Worldchanging happy hour.

Last week Andrew posted an interesting piece on Worldchanging’s local Austin blog:

Last Night at the Resource Management Commission…

Andrew’s particularly well suited to discuss this, since he is one of the citizen-commissioners on the Resource Management Commission. I share both his hope that Austin will do the right thing when it comes to neutralizing its carbon impacts, and the worry that, when push comes to shove, we the citizens, our public officials, or the folks at Austin Energy will shy away from footing the bill for it.

Two days and counting at SXSW Interactive.

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Fun weekend at South by Southwest Interactive here in Austin, where I’ve caught up with old friends and made new ones.  As I have time, I’ll be posting recaps of some of the sessions and ideas I’ve found most interesting.

Austin recommendation: Burger House.

Friday, March 9th, 2007

I’ve been meaning to recommend Burger House, which recently opened for business in my neighborhood. Wes Marshall of the Austin Chronicle took care of it for me.

Better than ever: Habana on South Congress.

Monday, February 26th, 2007

A couple of years ago, the Habana restaurant on South Congress Avenue in Austin had a bad fire that shut it down for a while. My family used to go there regularly when we lived in The ’04, but we live far enough away now that we don’t usually make it back.

This weekend we enjoyed Austin’s fabulous weather on Habana’s front veranda. I had “vieja ropa” and cafe con leche; my wife had Habana’s textbook Cubano sandwich; my kids enjoyed empanadas con tres quesos, with Goya mango nectar to drink. A good time was had by all, and I was pleased to see that the restaurant is bigger and better than ever post-reconstruction.

Give it a try: Habana on South Congress.

Interesting reading.

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

A Saturday-morning farrago . . .

–There are plenty of creative endeavors that are worth getting right before you release them to the world. For instance, if you want to publish an elegant book, you had better get the words and the design right the first time, because you can’t recall a print run to make changes. But in the online world, you often do better to gin something up, run it through a few iterations in private with no more than a small group to massage it, and then . . . you release it. You know it’s an imperfect, provisional effort, but you go ahead anyway, because perfectionism is a great way to diminish your impact (and your profitability etc.) online.

Here’s an article that reinforces this viewpoint, using the specific example of Netflix:

The Freedom of Fast Iterations: How Netflix Designs a Winning Web Site

–International tourism often throws issues of wealth and poverty into high relief. People from the wealthy world want to travel to exotic locales, but often these places are beset by poverty — poverty that often is walled off from any influx of tourist money. This item from Fast Company offers some intelligent points in this vein:

Go Ahead Stick Your Head in the Sand, Just Don’t Do it in Haiti

If poverty in Haiti concerns you, lay hands on Mountains beyond Mountains posthaste.

–A basic law of the Internet: There are a lot of cool bands out there that you’ve never heard of. My example du jour: The High Dials. (Thanks to Belle.)

–Writing coach Lisa Gates asks a pertinent question in this post:

Friday Coaching Question: What are you committed to?

Her basic premise: You say you’re committed to doing X, but you spend your time doing W, Y, and Z. That means that you’re actually committed to . . . W, Y, and Z. That’s okay. No need to beat yourself up about it. But you do need to get honest with yourself about where your commitments do lie versus where you think they should lie.

–Worldchanging Austin has more analysis of Austin’s Climate Protection Plan, which I talked about last week.

–Like RG4N in my own neighborhood, Austin, Draw the Line! is using the Internet as a key tool in its grassroots effort to steer the future of Austin’s downtown.

–It never ceases to amaze me how the Internet enables specialists with a very specific passion to share their zeal and expertise with the world. Exhibit 1,453,763: John Wood’s Functional Hand Strength. (Thanks to Seth.)

–Thank you, Doc Searls, for pointing me to Joel Johnson’s column on not buying crap.

Happy Birthday to AustinEcoNetwork.

Friday, February 16th, 2007

My pal Brandi Clark kicked off AEN four years ago today. If you’re in Austin and you care about the environment, you definitely should subscribe to the AEN listserv. Go to this page to find out more, read archived messages, and sign up to receive new messages direct to your inbox.

Two interesting items on Austin’s real estate.

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

First, from the Worldchanging Austin blog, a Joel Greenberg piece on the controversy over a planned 400-foot-tall building downtown: “400 Feet or We Kill The Ranch”.

Second, from the New York Times, an overview piece on how Austin is trying to attract development nationally while also retaining its flavor: “It’s Also the Texas Capital of Construction”.