Thursday, 26 November 2015

Time for change?

Texas is known for being a predominantly conservative southern state, the scene of wild western movies, cowboys and oil. This clever marketing strategy had skewed my perspective on Texas before I had even arrived. It was obvious that Texas was a wealthy state due to the grandeur or the buildings, the size of the cars (and people). The infrastructure was enormous and spread out making most cities particularly un-walkable outside of the ‘Downtown’ area. The system of governance was similar to other states which we had visited boasting an intermingled array of government departments and figureheads. Upon talking to several locals in Austin it was apparent that they all saw the car dependence and sprawl as the biggest problem the city was facing, however they had no ideas regarding redevelopment of the city and were generally opposed to implementing public transport options. The main arguments against public transport being that no one will use it, this was of course a generalisation as most of the busses I took around Austin were quite full. Steve highlighted that the biggest issue facing most Texan’s is their inability to embrace change. This statement seemed true for the majority of people I interacted with. However, in more progressive areas of Austin such as South Congress and Rainy District where there was a younger demographic who seemed to be more aware of the issues plaguing the city. The biggest form of innovation I experienced was in the culture of the cities themselves. For a state that is marketed as being completely backward, there are a lot of free thinking, entrepreneurial people who were intent on making their city a better place. For the most part these people thought that this would be achieved through music. Michael Weeks from the independent Sun Radio Station was of the opinion that ‘regardless of issues that separate people in Austin… people are brought together by a love of music’. In terms of infrastructure, most Texan cities have achieved a lot unfortunately it has been misguided by the absence of dedicated plans, however innovation can be seen through the cultural aspects which have made Texas the powerful and bold state that it is today.

Harriet Noall