Time to Wake Up

RECEIVED Sat., Aug. 16, 2008

Hello Austin,
    So I hate to be the bearer of bad news, and I also hate to call out an entire city, but it is seriously time to wake up! What do I mean by wake up? I mean look at what "they" are doing to our city! From the 300-plus condos in development or being planned to the bastardizing of Lady Bird Lake by these same contractors, from the sound ordinances in the live music capital of the world to the pyramid scheme that is the toll roads, from the gentrification of the Eastside to the shutting down of the Enchanted Forest. I pray that I am not the only one who sees what is happening to a city that used to be unique. I don't know how often anyone in this city goes to San Antonio, Dallas, or Houston, but we don't want to end up like these other Texas cities! Also, we don't want to end up as one giant shopping center like Round Rock, and most frightening, we don't want to end up a ghost of our former selves. We have become a joke. Let's be honest with ourselves … everything that is happening to our once unique city is because of money. All the propaganda on Barton Springs Road is for money; all the “good things” about urbanization are for money. Do we really want Austin to become the capitalist whore that it is teetering on the threshold of becoming?
    The knife of "new Austin" that has cut me the deepest, though, is the shutting down of the Enchanted Forest. The proverbial last straw on the camel's back. This was solidified after hearing Albert DeLoach's speech at the Ruta Maya benefit last Thursday and watching him practically plead with the general public to allow a community art space to remain in the center of Austin. Can anyone imagine that? A community garden and art space! What a concept! No, it doesn't have a ridiculously overpriced condo or restaurant; no, it doesn't sell the latest clothing; no, it isn't just a useless parking lot. An organic, magnificent, original art space – that's it. And poor DeLoach is having to fight the city and all the laws and zoning codes just to have a community art space for us, not for him, but for us, the community! So Austin, if you are still alive, if you still have blood left in your decomposing body of hopes and dreams, please wake up. After all, at the rate we are going, how long will it be until they charge us to use Lady Bird Lake or to drive through our own neighborhoods? How long will it be until Austin is the condo capital of the world?
Dustin Baltis
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