- The Great Austin (Tech) Wave and a Million Little Fixes
Courtesy: Met Museum
The Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the most easily recognized images in the world. We mostly know it as The Great Wave and it’s a print of an enormous wave about to engulf three small fishing boats — with Mount Fuji looming in the background. This print loomed large in my mind when thinking about the impact tech companies, tech workers and people like me will have on the City of Austin.
It’s been widely reported that the city is straining as a wave of transplants and companies move to the region. Technology companies deciding to relocate here or even start here is nothing new for Austin, in fact companies such as IBM have long been calling Austin home. So what’s so different this time? The sentiment from residents that I’ve spoken to in my short time here is that this time it feels like it’s for real — I’d add that the fact that I am sitting here, truly the most unlikely of candidates to leave California, says something. And there are plenty of others like me. Both new and relatively new.
So what happens when a whole bunch of people and companies, especially those from Silicon Valley whose ethos is ‘make the world a better place’ descend on Austin?
When I moved into my place there were a million little tweaks that needed to happen. There’s always a bunch of fixes and changes — large and small that we make to our new surroundings. Paint this, rearrange that — we need to get things just right — or at least right for us and how we like things.
This also happens on a larger scale. Having spent the past eight years in San Francisco, I saw this first hand. Endless posts, tweets and think-pieces bemoaning the state of things in the city and offering tweaks — or wholesale changes to fix things, to make San Francisco a better place. Very few with an eye toward the culture and people who were already there, many offering solutions to benefit the homogeneous group that is technology workers. That’s not to say that San Francisco didn’t have its share of issues — again, there’s a reason I left.
There’s a tendency to want to change things for what we think is for the better. It’s helpful to recognize that everything may have been fine all along and change is moving at its own pace. During my (very) short time here in Austin I’ve read some history, including the history of inequality and segregation in the East Side of Austin (where I now call home). I have also seen a homeless situation that looks a lot like where I just came from.
And now, the wave. For real this time. Technology workers are descending on Austin. This will forever change the idea of what Austin is. Soon, the discussion will polarize between what Austin was and of what it can be — if only we make some changes. I’m hoping that what I write about in this blog as I get to know this city will serve as a reminder to myself, and anyone else who chooses to read it, especially those like myself who are arriving from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, to integrate into the city and not wall ourselves off from the people who are already here.
For my part, I intend to use this blog as a place to talk about all things technology, public relations and communications, being black in Technology PR and whatever else comes to mind. Feel free to reach out — especially if you’re in Austin. I’m looking for a new community.
Austin Chamber — Austin Migration Insights
Texas Monthly — What Nobody Says About Austin
Wall Street Journal: Startup City: Accelerated Grown Strains Austin
- Date of publication:
- Thu, 01/14/2021 - 06:35
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