If Austin would like to be a community of rooted citizens enjoying the fruits of diversity, a soulful city, then she must first recognize and celebrate diversity in all of its manifestations and across the entire span of its admittedly brief history.
The investigation, recognition, and celebration of heritage are among the most effective tools to be used in framing and contextualizing urban planning. Through this process (narrative-based planning) everyone is given a voice, those alive today as well as those who contributed in the past.
How did life come to be left out of Austin’s future?
Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados are considered forces of nature. With these, we expect the worst. A force of nature, beyond our control, is to be feared.
Life itself is a force of nature. Life, as a force, is inexorable, relentless. Life, too, is beyond our control. We can destroy life. We cannot create new life where none existed before.
Life expands and evolves to fit every niche and opportunity, given enough time and progeny. The more diverse the niches available (like a tropical rainforest), the richer and more varied the life that occupies them.
The man for whom history is bunk is almost invariably as obtuse to the future as he is blind to the past…J. Frank Dobie
Austin began with Shoal Creek sitting on the sidelines. Edwin Waller adopted Shoal Creek as the western edge of the new city, and his to-be namesake as the eastern boundary. Congress Avenue became the centerline.
No longer. Austin is upside down, inside out. The city sprawls past these edges into the white-rocked and cedar-treed hinterlands. Shoal Creek neighborhoods like Old Enfield and Pemberton Heights, renewed and revitalized, eject thousands of motorists each morning to wend their ways to downtown employment.