Keeping It Cool with Alternatives

I once heard a former dean of this Seminary describe Austin’s local catchphrase “Keep Austin Weird” as “America’s Least Necessary Municipal Slogan.” The truth is Austin is the kind of place that prides itself on its local color and local culture. It’s easy to find, but also easy to forget in all the hustle and bustle of modern life.

For example, Austin is the kind of town where you needn’t drive a car at almost any time, not just avoiding driving in the heat of the summer day. Our bus system and newly built light rail connect the city to itself and even some of the inner-ring suburbs. If you’re not taking a cross-town trip (and sometimes even if you are) bicycling is a very viable possibility here in Austin. With upwards of 750 miles of Bike Lanes in the city itself, traveling by bike is a great way to get exercise and protect the environment at the same time. Bicycling Magazine once ranked Austin as a Top Ten city for cycling. Even if you don’t own your own bicycle, the B-cycle program will rent you one at any of its more than 40 stations throughout downtown and central Austin. Ditching your car should totally take care of your need to stay away from the frying-pan-like parking lots that drivers must endure.

Austin is also a great city to live in if you’re interested in avoiding shopping centers. We have thousands of local businesses, and shopping there keeps your money in our area and supports your fellow Austinites. The grocery store in my neighborhood, for example, is currently run by a man who grew up playing in the store’s aisles. It was originally run by his father. There are locally owned music-hall proprietors, mechanics, tailors, tattoo artists, trainers, taco truck drivers, farmers, framers, butchers, barbers, barkeeps, booksellers, restauranteurs, everything. It wouldn’t take much effort to commit to shopping local in Austin, and you’d meet some wonderful people in the process. You might need a bigger basket for your bike, though.

In short, the summer is the best time to get out and experience local life. Don’t let it fly by at 60 miles an hour out your window on I35 (ha ha ha, you wish). Slow down. See Austin for what it is. Enjoy it.

Micah Jackson (@Micah_SSW) is the Bishop John Hines Associate Professor of Preaching at Seminary of the Southwest.  Micah's interests include homiletic form, the spiritual discipline of preaching, and the postmodern relationship between the preacher and the congregation.