Eastsider: Danielle!

16 01 2009

sleepyheadWe are back with another Eastsider. This time it’s our very own -DD. You may recognize her from her awesome writing on this very own blog of ours. If you want to contribute to this little project of ours, where average East Austinites answer a few questions about living in the area, feel free to email us HERE. We would love to learn more about some of you guys.

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EA: Do you live in East Austin? If so, how long have you been here and why did you move to this neighborhood in particular?

DD: I do live in East Austin but I am not sure about this whole “eastsiders” versus “eastaustinite” thing. I kinda prefer “eastaustinite.” It sounds more glam. Like, “Oh, hi, I live in the most fabulous place in the world!” I’ve been in Austin for three years now and have lived on the east side in two different adorable houses. I think the east side became even more appealing when I realized that most realtors and landlords in Swankville (aka, Hyde Park) viewed my large (adorable and sweet) pooch with more disdain than a sex offender with a fistful of Twix. Yay for great landlords on the east side!

EA: Which are you favorite East Austin spots when just looking for a place to relax?

DD: I heart Mi Madre’s for breakfast tacos (ok, really I love any excuse to eat chips for breakfast). East Side Café for morning-after brunches with a good gaggle of giggly gal pals and their mates. Clementine for pretending to work… or a good afternoon of wine, gossip and vegan treats. The Good Knight or The Peacock for a fancy drink or a frilly new dress. And byckle-riding or walking on the east part of Lady Bird/Town Lake Trail with my two pups. I feel like you see more families on the east part and fewer of those people who run 10 miles a day and make me want to develop an eating disorder. Which reminds me: the best sandwich on earth can be found at Bossa Nova. Portabella mushroom on French bread. Another great spot for a slow Saturday afternoon. Ooh, one more. Mr. Natural’s boston crème pie vegan cone thing. Yummm.

EA: There have been a ton of new places that have chosen East Austin as their new digs. The Good Knight, Shangri La, Kemestry Salon, Birds Barbershop, Karibu and the list goes on. How do you feel about this?

DD: To be honest, I am not sure how comfortable I am with all of the growth. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding my bike to places near my home. And the east side has some very adorable and wonderful spots.

My partner volunteers with the Meals on Wheels down the street and one of the women on his east side route chatted him up one day, telling him about all of the changes to the neighborhood. One of the things that stuck with both of us was her half-jokingly saying, “You wouldn’t know it but there used to be Black people who lived in this neighborhood!” She’s an older African American woman who has lived most of her life on the east side. Her children (now adults) were raised here. The street she and her husband brought her kids up on looks completely different than when they first moved there. Some might say this is good, and I honestly feel like it has the potential to be. But I also feel that there are several very distinctive worlds on the east side.

You can see this in the way that spaces become coded as white, black, or Tejano spots. I know on more than one occasion I’ve seen Chicano men on a Friday night walk into The Good Knight, see all the new white faces and new décor before quickly doing an about-face and walking out. I don’t like the feeling that this growth means we’re taking away or invading what used to be this community’s spaces. Does that make sense? (And yes, yes, I know there are a ton of empty spaces along that row of buildings!)

I think if this growth and the shifting demographics of the east side could translate into the dispersion of creative, social, educational, or financial capital for all east side residents, I would be all for it. My hope would be that families who have been here a long time (and have had their property taxes and/or rents increase) could at the very least benefit from everything else that comes along with gentrification and “revitalization.” I would like to see the end of such serious racial segregation in Austin. An equal sharing of everything that makes Austin great. And all of those gorgeous condos to be affordable for everyone. And world peace. Ooh, and a pony. Haha, wow, sorry to be talking from my utopian bubble. Done writing a book now!

EA: So what do you do?

DD: I’m the new intern (haha, or blogger?) for East Austinite!


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6 responses

16 01 2009
Julio

You write like a sorority girl. And Hyde Park is hardly “Swankville”.

20 01 2009
Fabiola

My Holly street neighborhood used to be mostly white, now it’s hispanic, soon it will be half and half. Things change. As longs as the change is always on the up and up, so be it.

26 01 2009
Jay

The vaguely disguised question, “How do you feel about gentrification on the East Side” is uncomfortable. You’re basically asking the gentrifiers to defend their gentrification without admitting that they’re part of the problem they’re identifying. I wish all the young hipsters would just admit that they’re the reason why the neighborhoods look different – the Good Knight and Shangri-La and Birds are all there because there’s a demand for them. White people are filling in the streets because – surprise! – they’re them! I think there’s a lot of merit in discussing the good and bad of gentrification, but I’m tired of people acting like they’re just the witnesses to it, not the cause.

Also, one might gag on a “good gaggle of giggly gal pals.”

26 01 2009
JF

We ARE the people that are changing the landscape of this neighborhood and although some people may hate it… there really is no way to stop it. When we moved to east austin… we loved the neighborhood for all sorts of reasons. We have seen gentrification from the likes of Clinton Hill and Williamsburg in Brooklyn and in the downtown Houston area, too. We are generally pretty excited about all of the new places sprouting up in the hood and wish there where more.. like a 24 hour diner, or a decent grocery store where I can get everything I want in under one roof.

We weren’t really trying to “disguise” anything. The question is just a question because we want to know what people think about it because everyone that lives here has probably been exposed to that question at one point or another from someone on either camp. On the other hand, you can read our “About” page to see where we are coming from. We get so many emails on both sides of the fence…. “we hate gentrification”… “we want more of this”… and honestly… we like what we like… which means we want more Good Knights and more Birds. And maybe even a Trader Joes… but I can only dream.

I think that you can tell from most of our posts that we are excited for the businesses that are choosing the east side as there new home. If I can recall, I don’t think we have ever been opposed to anything new. Thanks for reading…and we would love it if you would consider filling out one of our short Q&A’s… we always want to know what other eastsiders think.

About – http://eastaustinite.com/about/

26 01 2009
dani

We need a Waffle House!!!

27 01 2009
Jay

I’m not an Eastsider myself, I just read the blog and sometimes hang out on the Eastside. Yes, the Eastside does have a feel to it that you won’t find in other parts of Austin. The new businesses cater to people my age, and I’ve been to some, and I usually have a good time. As far as groceries go, isn’t there an HEB and a City Market on the Eastside? And you could always join a CSA from an Eastside source.

Anyhow, despite the question being about new businesses on the Eastside, I’ve noticed that most of the responses in this column delve into gentrification issues. And typically in conversations about gentrification on the Eastside, people do not include themselves as part of the problem. It’s always the “other.” The other people who can afford the expensive new condos. The other people who are driving up property taxes for the working class families who have always lived there.

But they will identify themselves as spreading creative capital… and that’s what makes the people who can afford the condos want to move there. Because it’s now hip. But it comes across as hypocritical when you find wheatpastes (generally the tool of white people who are disaffected and/or in bands) raging against developing the Eastside. Since when was it theirs to defend?

Read The Really White Vigilante – a perfect illustration of what I mean.

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