Public Notice: "We Are Orlando"
And Baton Rouge, and St. Paul, and Dallas ...
Gun violence and more gun violence. The topic has pre-empted just about everything else in the public discourse, from the Chronicle cover this week, to the Austin Police Department's press conference regarding Pokémon Go (more on that below). But you know things have gotten out of hand when you can't even hold an event to commemorate the victims of one horrific mass slaughter without being upstaged by three more horrific acts: bang, bang, bang.
I'm sure the organizers of Conversation Corps, a public discussion series facilitated by the City of Austin, AISD, Capital Metro, and Leadership Austin, felt they were getting out in front of the curve this month, partnering with Interfaith Action of Central Texas for a timely topic – "We Are Orlando" – for the July series of community conversations. But after the new round of shootings last week, Orlando seems like old news now, so fast that it's hard to keep up, and a sort of victim fatigue has begun to set in: Black Lives Matter became Blue Lives Matter, but surely Rainbow Lives Still Matter, and All Lives Matter, and yet Gun Rights Matter the most. Indeed, there have been at least six more mass shootings across the U.S. since the Dallas massacre, and odds are, there will have been at least one more between the time I write this and the time you read it.
So, in the end, I guess the Conversation Corps got it right after all: We are all Orlando. So, come talk about it, if it'll help:
• Thu., July 14, 7:30pm at Xiang Yun Temple, 6720 Capital of TX Hwy. N.
• Sun., July 17, 5pm at 400 Rabbits, 5701 W. Slaughter
• Mon., July 18, 4pm at KOOP Radio Station, 3823 Airport
• Tue., July 19, 8:30am at Bennu Coffee, 2001 E. MLK
• Wed., July 20, noon at UT Student Activity Center. 2001 Speedway
• Sat., July 23, 1pm at Southeast Community Library, 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd., and 4pm at Genuine Joe Coffeehouse, 2001 W. Anderson
• Wed., July 27, 6:30pm at Spicewood Springs Library, 8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.
Check conversationcorps.org for more info, and additional locations and times.
In the category of "Things the police didn't think they had to warn you about" is the aforementioned APD Pokémon Go presser. Such is the state of public distraction over the new Go app, whereby you can find and capture these imaginary creatures in the wild, that APD found it necessary to hold a press conference Wednesday (somewhat delayed by the concurrent press conference announcing a non-credible threat against patrol officers in the Downtown Area Command – which was itself somewhat delayed when all the reporters covering the back-to-back press conferences got stuck in an APD elevator long enough to do live remotes for their stations) to remind the dearly beloved public that they should not drive while playing Pokémon Go, nor walk into trees or parking meters while playing Pokémon Go. There have apparently been a number of Go-related 911 calls, and reports of muggings outside of Pokémon Gyms in remote locations. See more on this developing story at austinchronicle.com/daily. Elsewhere ...
City housing staff have been hard at work on an updated draft of the Austin Strategic Housing Plan, which is meant to shape city housing goals for the next decade. It's intended to be presented to City Council's Housing and Community Development Committee on Sept. 15, along with a summary of public input, with the thought that it will be brought to City Council for potential adoption this fall. To that end, the City will host two community meetings in upcoming weeks to present the draft plan to the public and collect feedback. The first of these is 6-7:30pm on Thursday, July 21, at the Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron; the other will be Aug. 10 at ACC South Austin, 1820 W. Stassney. Or you can weigh in online, through Aug. 10, at www.austintexas.gov/housingplan.
Sorry about the kind of late notice, but Postcards From the Great Divide, a film series of "political stories from a divided America," launched this week online at PBS and The Washington Post. The series was produced by the Center for New American Media, with Austin's Paul Stekler as co-executive producer, and some other Austin connections as well. The first five films – including The Giant Still Sleeps, about the minority vote in Pasadena, Texas – are available now at www.politicalpostcards.org, www.pbs.org/politicalpostcards, and www.wapo.st/2016postcards; four more will be released later in the summer.
The CodeNEXT team on Tuesday released its third of four "Code Prescriptions" – this one focused on mobility, and how the city can better address transportation issues in the Land Development Code rewrite – but that news was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement that CodeNEXT Division Manager Jim Robertson will be moving on to become chief urban designer for Boulder, Colo. Good news for him, less so for the much-anticipated, but beleaguered project, already rocked last month by the departure on less happy terms of former lead Matt Lewis.