We 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.
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!