So, how are you?
13 Austin coffee shops join in on action day honoring Daniel Johnston
Making friends in Austin can be as easy as following the late, great Daniel Johnston’s lead: asking “Hi, how are you?” at a local eatery. A local holiday is setting aside time for that practice on January 22 while raising funds for the nonprofit organization that honors the famous but down-to-Earth musician and promotes mental health awareness. (If you missed it, direct donations are still possible at hihowareyou.org.)
Johnston is locally famous for handing out recordings of his music at McDonald’s, and nationally famous for eventually making it in the industry with his earnest tunes. But it’s always been about the social connection.
Hi, How Are You Project is kicking off its annual festival with a concert on Sunday, January 21, at the Paramount Theatre. Fleet Foxes lead singer Ringer Pecknold joins Appalachian singer-songwriter Valerie June on the bill for that warm-up event.
January 22, is Hi, How Are You Day — the real day of action and Johnston’s birthday — where supporters will gather at the beautiful, new Cosmic Saltillo to get to know each other over coffee.
There will also be merch, like T-shirts and hats, for sale. If it’s good enough for Kurt Cobain...merch is almost not a strong enough word. Visitors can also pick up Valerie June's new book, Light Beams: A Workbook for Being Your Badass Self, and a few different limited-edition Yeti mugs — for those who'd like a Stanley equivalent with a better financial footprint than trendy consumerism.
Folks who can’t make it out to Cosmic Saltillo can stop by 12 more participating coffee shops of an equal caliber:
- Cosmic Coffee
- Cosmic Saltillo
- Radio Coffee
- Radio - Montopolis
- Buzz Mill
- Houndstooth Downtown
- Houndstooth North Lamar
- Houndstooth MLK
- Houndstooth Rock Rose
- Houndstooth Ed Bluestein
- Progress Coffee
- Cuvee Coffee Bar - Downtown
- Cuvee - East 6th
- Cafe at the Lorin
- Try Hard
Sales at these shops will support the Hi, How Are You Project. There's no catch — just coffee. But the day's mission is to encourage folks to check in on each other. Johnston's struggles with mental health were attributed to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but many Austinites are suffering in silence. The action day's website shares that one in five people experience mental illness, and two in three of them don't seek help.
All it takes is a simple question, but signing up for the official pledge helps the organization. Online pledges include a field to describe the user's motivations, which may be shared online with permission, potentially drawing others into the mission.
It'll also help financially; Once the project garners 10,000 pledges, it'll receive $10,000 from American Campus Communities, which is gathering information on the mental health of college students.
More information about Hi, How Are You Project is available at hihowareyou.org. The Cosmic Saltillo merch activation runs from 8 am to noon, but the participating coffee shops will all be participating throughout their respective operating hours.