Let’s start with agreeing that we love Austin. We all want to make our city the best Austin imaginable, right? What if I told you it can be done, with the help of each and every one of us? There are major issues plaguing the city that one individual can’t fix alone. But with all of us working together, we can make a difference.
Evolve Austin is a new non-profit organization looking to support Austinites on this journey.
Mini Austin Historical Review
I can’t explain Evolve Austin as an organization without first reviewing some facts—most of which you’ve probably experienced firsthand.
- Fact: People are moving here.
70 people a day. 150 people a day. Whatever statistic you quote when talking to your friends, the fact remains that over the past 100 years, Austin has experienced average annual growth of 3%. To put that in perspective, the average American city experiences 0.7% population growth per year. Let’s assume that Austin will continue growing at an above-average rate and move on to the next fact.
- Fact: Traffic is becoming more and more unbearable.
Despite 3% annual rate, our infrastructure has always been two steps behind.
- Fact: While some local businesses and industries are thriving, some are struggling.
I could spend hours discussing the topic of affordability, but let’s fast forward to 2012.
We live with the repercussions of these facts on a daily basis, and it can often feel like there’s no end in sight. So in 2012, the Austin City Council adopted a comprehensive plan created to reflect Austin’s values and aspirations as a city. It was a collaboration between residents, local businesses and civic leaders to align our city code (land use regulations and standards) with what is important and beneficial to the community.
This sounds great, but how do you take an idea and make it a reality? Enter “Imagine Austin,” the 30-year comprehensive plan in action. Since fundamental changes don’t happen overnight, Imagine Austin took the initial plan and broke it down into eight programs: Healthy Austin, Creative Economy, Mobility, CodeNEXT, Water, Environment, Affordability and Workforce.
You may be wondering how you fit into all this. How can your individual concerns be heard, and how can you make a difference? Here’s where we finally get back to the inception of Evolve Austin in 2015.
Evolve Austin is a coalition of established organizations that are already making waves in relation to Imagine Austin’s eight priority programs. Evolve Austin’s goal is to make the 30-year plan and Imagine Austin more accessible to you. Because, after all, Austinites have the power to keep the soul of this city alive and help it evolve in a healthy way. Evolve Austin promises to contribute to the process by curating important news and events in your area, making it as easy as possible to get involved.
Best Austin Imaginable
— Evolve Austin (@Evolve_Austin) October 14, 2015
During Evolve Austin’s kickoff event in mid-October, they rallied attendees to take action. People wrote out pledges about what they would do to make a difference at the individual level.
They also introduced their partner organizations that are helping move Austin toward the goals set out by Imagine Austin. Partners include Alliance for Public Transportation, Austin Habitat for Humanity, Austin Music People, AustinUP, Bike Austin, Congress of the New Urbanism Central Texas Chapter, Downtown Austin Alliance, Ecology Austin and Friends of Austin Neighborhoods. You may only be familiar with a few of these organizations, but they constitute an impressive cross-section that bridges almost every aspect of our community.
A highlight of the event was the keynote by urban design expert, Peter Park. He spoke on how Imagine Austin can help us maintain our uniqueness as a city, while simultaneously stimulating our evolution as a community.
Why It Matters
— Evolve Austin (@Evolve_Austin) October 14, 2015
As of 2012, Greenlights reported more than 5,600 non-profits in the Austin metro area. So I understand there may be “donor fatigue” and general skepticism about another non-profit on the scene. And that’s okay. I’d be a little skeptical, too, if hadn’t experienced civics in action. Through what I’ve seen so far, I appreciate that Evolve Austin strives to make politics less “scary” and more accessible, social and—dare I say—fun.
We all chuckle at the “Don’t Dallas My Austin” slogan, but this is your chance to get involved and have a say in how not to Dallas our Austin.
One way to get involved is by attending the CodeNEXT Sound Check from Nov. 16-21. There are several brown bag lunches and events planned, where you can learn more about the different Evolve Austin initiatives and “check their work” against the Imagine Austin plan. This is your chance to have a say in what can be built, where it can be built, and how much can and cannot be built.
Learn more at EvolveAustin.org.
@jpino9 wants to know:
What actions will you take to evolve Austin into the best Austin imaginable?