The Austin community is the strangest, most diverse, and most identifiably unique community I’ve ever seen by far. It contains contradictions – the monolithic institutions of the University of Texas and of the Texas government, which date back centuries contrasted with the constant influx of youth and innovation in the city. It contains a sense of tight-knit togetherness – shopping local, eating local,and being local are so important in Austin. It contains so many different types of communities that form synergy and work together from coffee shops to concert halls, from football fields to food trucks. Austin’s iconic figures are similarly idiosyncratic – how many cities can boast residents as unique and different as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Willie Nelson, Chantal Jones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Karl Rove, Dan Rather, and Drew Brees?
But by far, Austin’s identifying feature is the music. It is the Live Music Capital of the World, after all, home to one of the largest music festivals in the country. Austin City Limits (both the television show and the festival it spawned) have been integral parts of Austin for decades, bringing Texas musicians and artists to the world, and bringing worldwide artists to Texas. Each has their own prestige – the TV show is the only television show to have ever won the National Medal of Arts, and the festival is home to more than 70,000 fans nightly over the course of two weekends in autumn, making it for a brief moment its own community.
Austin is also home to one of the largest film festivals in the country, called SXSW or South by Southwest (which, of course, also doubles as a music festival), and a new emerging festival called Fun Fun Fun Fest. Austin’s 6th Street is legendary throughout Texas (especially the college-agers!) as an amazing place for fun, drinking, and dancing, and has treated many an Austinite to the triumphs of trials of a twenty-first birthday. The street is lined with shops, bars, concert halls, clubs, and enough entertainment to make your head spin. I can attest personally to the variety I’ve seen there – in the last few years alone I’ve seen bluegrass, heavy metal, classical, hip-hop, folk, jazz, and indie rock shows all up and down the street.
It’s not just music, art, and dancing, though – just this month, Austin’s brand new F1 track opened for its inaugural race, bringing over a hundred thousand racing fans worldwide to experience the city. This is also nothing to say of the 100,000-plus-size capacity of Darrel K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the iconic football field which fills with the roaring chants of fans every fall Saturday. Each of these major events has left its own indelible stamp on Austin, and exposed our community to newcomers from near and far, showing just how unique our growing community is.
With all the attention Austin has attracted over the last several years, it’s no wonder that it has become a hot destination for young and old people alike, from nations all over the world and cities all over Texas. It’s no wonder that Austin has become OurPangea’s home, for us to explore the possibilities of community, and it’s no wonder that we have learned so much from our experience in this wonderful city.