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Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

by woody last modified Sep 24, 2005 09:03 PM
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Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

Posted by woody at August 16. 2005

Have some friends from the Austin area who moved here to California to escape the small minded, midwest attitude that they felt was not growing as rapidly as the city. Considering the modernity of the city and now the architecture, is it true that socially Austin is still standing in the past or do you think this is a limited experience?

I have considered moving to Texas with work in the past considering the cost of living compared to the San Francisco Bay Area, but the social issues definitely have put that on hold.

I am also interested in the race of the people who reply here (it does matter, but all opinions are valid)

Re: Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

Posted by Ben Phenix at August 16. 2005

I've only been here a few months, but everyone I've met has been very nice and open. Of cities I've spent a fair amount of time in, I compare Austin to Portland in many ways both size and social. I'd say it is moderate left, though I do overhear my fair share of left-wingers (which have no relation to proper liberals) in the cafes while I am working. Never once ran into their right wing counterparts.

I certainly like it better than the Bay area (both as a city and as a culture).

As for the architecture, there is quite a bit of new design cropping up. The history has some notable entries but isn't super deep as say in LA. We don't have as strict neighborhood or zoning requirements so there much more freedom and opportunity for newer development.

Coming from SF, LA, or even Seattle, Austin is a much smaller city. What Austin is not is ultra-trendy in the urban way. There isn't overly sleek resturants serving fusion of the month packed with the Prada crowd popping up on every hip street. Austin is much more laid back than that. You know it is laid back place when indie rockers can lay claim to some sort of leading edge.

Anyhow, it all depends on what you want in life. While the it is certainly cheaper here in many ways, I didn't and won't move here as that being my primary reason.

I am suppose I am your average white guy so what do I know.
(though technically I am mixed/Native American including school on a reservation and all, but no one ever picks up on that)

Re: Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

Posted by Chuck Voelter at August 17. 2005


Let's see: Travis county voted 70% for the 'democratic' ticket in the '04 election, we have a drag queen named 'Leslie' who walks the streets with his ass exposed and once ran for mayor, I took our 8 yr old to his second-day-of-school morning assembly where I saw a rainbow of colors, met the new black female assistant principal and listened to the children recite the pledge of allegiance in english AND spanish (all of them!) then said hello to the lesbian couple whose child shared a class with ours last year, everyone smokes weed (or doesn't care), rides their bikes whenever possible, just voted smoking out of bars (smokers might not find this 'progressive' but everyone else sure does)...should I continue?

I guess my point is that your friend's experience was probably 'limited'. One could say that Austin is indeed 'standing in the past' but only because it's ALWAYS been a free-thinking city (one not-so-pc bumper sticker I remember from childhood is; Steers and Queers - only in Austin!).

I've just returned to Texas after seven years in 'progressive' California and here are some opinions/observations: The public grade schools in California are horrible (my experience). People there, while mostly kind, decent folks, are generally apathetic to anything not affecting their own agenda. To use a bad cliche, they're flaky! The typical m.o. is to enthusiastically agree to something, then cancel (or just no-show). Most Texans have a low tolerance for bullshit and can detect it a mile away. I don't know if that's a 'social issue' or not but it made me nutty. Just my experience.

re: race - well, I guess if racism is a concern, and only caucasians reply then you might feel like you're not getting an accurate picture. Perhaps if you were more specific. I myself am a caucasian as were all of the folks I met at the last gathering, although I had few clues prior and it didn't even cross my mind. Perhaps some non-caucasians who read this board will comment.

Unfortunately, racism still exists almost anywhere you go. There are mostly white neighborhoods, mostly hispanic, etc. here in Austin but most are mixed. I prefer South Austin because of it's diversity. As far as our group goes I'm certain that the only sort of judgement regarding ethnicity that would ever occur is if your ethnic heritage requires that you live in a McMansion or tear down Mid-Century jewels. :), in which case you probably wouldn't even be here. Our focus is a lifestyle which is pared-down, environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing. This can be accomlished almost as easily as settling for a cheap, cookie-cutter tract home as the many posts regarding construction and cost per-sq.-ft. will attest - race is inconsequential. You don't have to be high on the socio-economic ladder to 'live modern'. I'm not. As bsp pointed out, it's a matter of priorities.

Now, how's THIS for something feelgood that we can all support and discuss? HEMP. That's right HEMP. There is currently legislation in the House (H.R.3037)the Industrial Hemp Farming Rights act. Please help farmers around the country gain the right to grow industrial hemp by writing an email or letter of support to your Representative. Hemp was once poised to be THE dominant fiber in the textile and paper industries until the heads of DUPONT (whose chemical sales were threatened - it takes NO chemicals to grow or process hemp) got their relatives in Washington (along with Hearst) to wage war against it. I could go on and on (really Chuck?:) but I won't. I will ask this question: with all of the purported miracles of the hemp plant, has there ever been interest in it as a building product? Google 'hemp' or go to the Vote Hemp website: and check it out and spread the word! (should I start a new thread?)

Regards to all (sorry for being long-winded!),


Re: Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

Posted by Stacey Dash at August 19. 2005

Ok, so my husband and I moved from SF to Austin, not too long ago. So far, I have had very positive experiences. I have been shopping for home stuff and everywhere I go (from Pottery Barn to mom and pop stores), I have had the most pleasant experiences.

In 14 years, we have lived in 6 cities and we have liked Austin the most. Needless to say, my favorite is and always will be SF, but the cost of living/quality of life issues led us out of CA to an affordable Austin.

Now, you will definately not find the ethnic diversity (we are Asians) that you get in SF. But people are very nice in Austin (our first criteria to move to any place), cost of living is affordable (my grocery bills are managable) and the 'small' city feel appeals to us. Also, at the pace at which Austin has been growing (a lot of CA and NYC transplants), there is no choice but to open up and entertain new ideas and thought.

Hope that rant helps...


Re: Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

Posted by Pat Conroy at August 22. 2005

DO NOT MOVE TO AUSTIN! It is a terrible place to live. You'll hate it. Now please step back while I pull up the drawbridge. ;)

Re: Is Austin socially as advanced as the Architecture is becoming?

Posted by charlene mcbride at September 24. 2005

Better learn to speak Spanish!

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