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May 2009

Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association Newsletter

May 2009

Vol. 3, Issue 5



Thursday, May 14, 2009
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
St. David’s Episcopal Church @ 301 E. 8th St. (map) (transit)

DANA Members, please join us at St. David’s Episcopal Church for this month’s Urban Core Happy Hour. Weather permitting, DANA members will be gathering in the Labyrinth. The St. David’s Labyrinth is a relaxing, public space created in the heart of downtown. In ancient times, a labyrinth was used as a meditative path that one walked while praying or meditating. While the St. David’s Labyrinth is a replica of the labyrinth at the Cathedral at Chartres, near Paris, the space was also created to reflect today’s need for peace, tranquility and functionality.

In 2001, St. David’s asked the city to vacate the East-West alley between San Jacinto and Trinity. In return, St. David’s created this quiet garden, which is available for public use 7 days a week. The St. David’s Labyrinth also features a soothing waterfall to enjoy while relaxing and reading a book, and an herb garden, which is used by St. David’s chefs to prepare gourmet meals.

In addition to the public space, the old alley now serves many purposes, including, the site of an underground electrical substation for Austin Energy, a bus stop for AISD students housed in St. David’s, a loading dock for the church, and an entrance to the entire St. David’s campus. The 6th Street District is currently discussing possible use of the loading dock as part of a late-night cabstand to service the busy entertainment district.

The St. David’s Labyrinth is an excellent example of how a downtown space can be redesigned for many purposes benefiting both the landowner and the public. Come see how much fun an old alley can be!

Monday, May 4, 2009
7:30 pm
El Sol y La Luna @ 6th and Red River (map) (transit)

You are invited to the Taste of Sixth Street, a very special evening of food, live music and fun. Enjoy passed appetizers and a five-course meal with paired wines from these 6th Street restaurants: Parkside, Alamo Drafthouse, Iron Cactus, BD Riley’s and El Sol y La Luna. Plus, sample the live music of Austin’s own Gina Chavez.

Current DANA Members will receive special discount pricing of $50 per ticket (1/3 off general admission). All proceeds from this event will benefit 6ixth Street Austin’s clean and safe initiatives, which benefit all who live, work and play downtown. 6ixth Street Austin, a non-profit association, is dedicated to making the E. Sixth Street National Historic District a source of pride to the entire Austin community. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.



The DANA Social Team has cooked up another fun idea for downtown. Let’s find out which downtown building can share the most with Caritas. We’ll call it The Urban Core Friendly Neighborhood Can Food Competition.

Caritas will place food collection buckets in all participating buildings, residential and commercial, on Tuesday May 26th. Buckets will remain until Friday June 5th. Collected items will be measured, and a winner announced at the June Urban Core Happy Hour. The winning building receives powerful bragging rights, and all participating buildings will be named in the next newsletter. If your building would like to play, contact Lindsay Wiebrand, the Queen of Fun.

Please remember, DANA serves our neighbors in need in the Caritas Community Kitchen the 4th Friday of every month. Volunteer regularly, or just once in a while, by contacting Lindsay.

Have you placed the 2009 Downtown Living Tour (DLT), scheduled for Sunday, October 11th, on your calendar? Lindsay Wiebrand, this year’s Chairman, is assembling her team, partnering with sponsors and selecting tour homes. The first meeting of the DLT Committee is set for Monday, May 18th @ 6:00 pm. Location for the meeting will soon be determined and announced in an upcoming e-Blast. The meeting will last no more than an hour. If you have an interest in being a sponsor or showing your home, please contact Lindsay.




The DANA Board of Directors, with input from DANA Membership, enthusiastically voted to endorse Chris Riley for Austin City Council Place 1. Riley would bring extensive knowledge and experience to City Council. Chris founded the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA), co-founded the Alliance for Public Transportation and Austin CarShare. He has served on the Planning Commission, the Downtown Commission and on the Austin Parks Foundation Board. Chris understands the economic and societal benefits of developing a green economy here in Central Texas. All of Austin will be well served by electing Chris to our City Council.

The Board also voted to endorse Council Member Sheryl Cole for Austin City Council Place 6. She currently serves on City Council and has proven repeatedly that she understands a vibrant urban core benefits all of Austin. She has also been a strong champion for the Waller Creek Project, the largest economic development project in Austin currently. She has led the way toward a downtown parks and open spaces master plan as part of the Downtown Austin Plan. Council Member Cole has proven herself a leader in the City’s budgeting process. We look forward to working with her for many years to come.

For the mayoral race, the discussion centered on two candidates. Council Member Brewster McCracken has been a long time advocate for downtown and environmentally friendly smart density. He has a clear vision for the city’s economic growth with an emphasis on high-tech related job growth for the region. Council Member Lee Leffingwell has been a strong and steady leader on the Austin City Council. He particularly emphasizes public safety, the environment, and local job creation. We encourage you to learn more about each of these candidates.

Voting Information: For complete voting information, including polling locations and sample ballot, visit the Travis County Clerk Election Website.

Polls are open now through Tuesday, May 5th. Map of Early Voting Locations courtesy of Elisa Hu.

Election Day is Saturday, May 9th. Please Vote!


Board member Marshall Jones wants to get this message across: Stop giving change to make a real change when it comes to panhandling! Numerous studies have concluded that giving money, or anything of “street value”, to a panhandler usually enables bad habits such as alcoholism, drug abuse and black marketeering.

Working with members of 6ixth Street Austin, Austin Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, Austin Police Department, Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, Downtown Austin Alliance, Trinity Center and others, DANA is preparing for a Panhandling Solution Campaign to inform residents, workers and visitors to downtown to “stop giving change to make a real change!”

To learn more about what is going on to prevent crime downtown, visit www.downtownaustincrimeprevention.org. The website is made possible by DANA and downtown residents like you. If you would like to be a contributor to the website, please contact Marshall Jones. Do you tweet? Follow us on Twitter @dtacp.

Lastly, the Austin Police Department (APD) has announced it will join Travis County in launching a new alert system known as the CitizenObserver. The crime alert system allows APD employees to send timely notifications to thousands of people via email and text message. To learn more about CitizenObserver and to sign up to receive alerts, click here.


Why Downtown?

Why do you live, work, play or love downtown? Branden Allmon answers the question this month. Branden grew up in Big Springs, Texas, and he got here as quickly as he could. He has lived downtown for 2 years. Branden works as a Network Consultant, or in layman’s terms, he describes himself as an IP Network Plumber. If you have not met Branden yet, make a point of it at the next Urban Core Event!

I have been trying to sum up my reasons for wanting to come live in this community in a word, and the word is “complacent”. I chose suburbia out of misguided beliefs. Having grown up in a smaller town I always enjoyed the benefits of a yard over an apartment pool. Finding a nice home in a small community seemed to be the right move. At first it was great, but something was missing. Eventually I put it all together. I was missing the camaraderie. I was missing the contact with new and exciting people. I had become complacent. A great friend helped me realize that moving downtown was the solution.

Downtown Austin provides everything I have been seeking in life. The reason I came to central Texas was to experience more than my small town upbringing. Moving downtown was the next exciting step in that growth process. Every moment has been worthwhile. I feed off of the energy that radiates from this vibrant city-core. My many moods are all nurtured here – from the Farmers Market to the ACL Festival. My apathy is gone. My priorities are in line with my community. I again want to be involved, to see, to explore and to participate in the life around me.

One simple night in our lovely city has become a lasting memory and a clear example of why you’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming out of downtown. The evening started as a simple meal at Zax with my fiancé and future sister-in-law. As we were enjoying the walk home, we were presented with a fantastic fireworks display celebrating the grand opening of the Long Center. For me, this is a quintessential example of what can happen when you live in the middle of such a lively city. Any night may be filled with fireworks!

Special Thanks
This month’s contributors were Josh Allen, Branden Allmon, Roger Cauvin, Ruth Framel, Marshall Jones, Jamie Lagarde and Lindsay Wiebrand.

DANA’s mission is to improve the quality of life for those who live, work, and play downtown. DANA influences decisions that affect downtown, educates and listens to residents and stakeholders about downtown and issues that affect them, and fosters a downtown community through social events.

Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 997, Austin, TX 78767


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