Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Child-Friendly Pop-Up Art in Austin

I have been posting a series of blogs on child-friendly public art installations. Here is another one, featuring two pop-up art installations in Austin.

Driving around Austin recently, my family happened across these two delightful installations. The first one is by local artist Johnny Walker as part of the 2013 Fusebox festival--a series of plastic sheets were hung on wires in Zilker Park along Barton Springs Road. My son and I ran out of the car to explore this exhibit and ran into the artist who explored the space with us. My son and I were both mesmerized by the artwork. Unfortunately, the installation was only up for the week and so is no longer available to explore, but we look forward to seeing other installations by Johnny. Johnny was also the curator of our favorite child-friendly art installation in Austin, the "Play Me, I'm Yours" series of pianos that were installed around town a few years ago.

The second installation we came across is located at E. 22nd (near Comal intersection) and appears to be a rogue installation, but is enchanting nevertheless.

I am loving the pop-up art movement that has hit Austin and other cities around the U.S., and I am especially enjoying seeing these installations through the eyes of my children.

"Walls" art installation in Zilker Park by Johnny Walker at Fusebox festival
"Walls" by Johnny Walker in Zilker Park as part of Fusebox Festival 2013

rogue pop-up street art in Austin
Pop-up Street Art on E. 22nd Street

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Friday, May 10, 2013

New Families Moving to Austin Area Choose the Suburbs

An interesting set of stories in the Austin American-Statesman in March highlighted how the Austin-area population continues to boom, drawing more young adults than any other major metropolitan area in 2009-2011 ("For people on the move, Austin is a place to stop and live"). But the stories also pointed out how families moving here from out of state are largely choosing to live in the suburbs. ("Downtown is popular for newcomers, but families look to Austin's suburbs"). According to the Statesman's census analysis, the suburban areas of Steiner Ranch and Lake Travis attracted more out-of-staters than any other zip code in the five-county metro area.  The online version of the story includes an interactive map breaking out more detailed demographic information for individual zip codes. It would be great to see this data broken out further by households with vs without children.

As I have discussed in earlier posts, Austin faces ongoing challenges of how to attract families with children into the city, and especially the urban core. While there is no one silver bullet to address this challenge, the City of Austin's Families with Children Task Force issued a report five years ago listing a whole host of policies that would help. The Report relied in part on a survey of Austin-area residents asking them what kinds of things could be done to make Austin a better place for families with children. The top concerns listed were:
  • lack of affordable housing in central core
  • lack of affordable quality child care
  • lack of family-friendly open space
  • low quality middle schools and high schools and disparate quality of elementary schools
  • lack of sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes
  • traffic and inadequate public infrastructure

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