okay, move here.
Forget the "Don't Move Here" shirts: Austin mainstays wouldn't exist withouttransplants' genius ideas
For over two decades now, Austin has been known nationally as a hub for creativity and independent culture. And for you old-timers who want to extend that reputation back to Willie Nelson and the heyday of the Armadillo World Headquarters, no true Austinite is going to object.
With each new year bringing a flotilla of awesome festivals, the proclamation of Austin as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” and the imprecation to “Keep Austin Weird” have burrowed into hipster warrens the world over.
Along with the boosterism, of course, there’s been a building, well, not backlash, but a desire to preserve the city in lo-fi amber. When I uprooted to Austin in the summer of 2000, I was aware of the annual donning of the “Don’t Move Here” t-shirts. Frankly, I don’t feel indicted — “Hey, I’m not who they’re talking about! I came from somewhere else, but I’m doing my part!”
But with every uptick at the SXSW turnstiles, the number of shirts has increased proportionately. Which is rich, considering we’re largely a city of transplants, and locking the doors behind us is one of the least “Austin” things we could do.
I appreciate the desire to keep Austin a place where independent voices can be heard. Who wants an infusion of corporate greed-heads and hucksters looking to make a buck off a prepackaged image of hipness? But our openness to new voices and no pedigree-required cultural participation is one of the things that makes the city a great place to live in the first place.
Had they bothered to heed anyone sauntering by with a “Don’t Move Here” shirt, we would have been deprived of The Alamo Drafthouse, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Rubber Repertory, ColdTowne Theater and The Golden Hornet Project, among countless other significant movers and shakers in the local culture scene.
That list above doesn’t even touch on the myriad of folks who came to Austin for college, fell in love with the place, and have stuck around to, as a former, infamous resident once said, “make the pie higher.” But let’s draw the line somewhere, shall we?
To that end, this new column, “Okay, Move Here,” will focus on folks who’ve arrived in Austin within recent memory from outside the state of Texas for the express purpose of doing their thing, whatever said thing might be.
We’ll of course be profiling musicians and other usual suspects in the arts scene, but we’ll also be looking to game designers, restaurateurs, fashion designers, and anyone else who’s engaged in that most Austin of activities — moving here and adding some new thing that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
And hey, long-term Austinites, native Texans and Texas Exes, don’t fret. You’re the reason we’re all here in the first place. We’re certainly not going to forget all your achievements. We just wanted to remind our new, awesome, arrivals that we’re so much more than some slogans on a shirt. Which of course, they already knew.