Austin Insider’s Guide
Austin Neighborhoods Activities
by Nicole Beckley
While the burgeoning Seaholm neighborhood continues to develop, a new piece of public art has blossomed there. With Golden Afternoon, 36 stainless steel flowers connected by fiber-optic cables adorn the wall to the parking garage just below Seaholm Plaza. Made by Urban Matter Inc., and inspired by Texas wildflowers, the piece utilizes five motion sensors to trigger different responses from the lights in and along the flowers. The result? An interactive experience from the plaza to the level below. Who knew parking could be so pretty?
The idea was simple — to get a few friends together to tell stories in someone’s backyard. “ We did it one time and afterward people were like, this is so fun, when are we going to do it again?” John Brewster said.
Three years later, Backyard Story Night, the brainchild of Brewster and Meg Mattingly, has outgrown a single backyard and now attracts hundreds to hear free storytelling every other month. Adopting East 4th Street bar the Scoot Inn as their new venue, Backyard Story Night invites anyone to tell a five-minute story. The organizers are often as surprised as the crowd. “That’s part of the fun of it,” Brewster explained, “We’re enjoying it just as much as everybody else.”
The storytelling trend is growing, with Hyde Park Storytelling and Beyond Our Backyard also regularly holding story nights. Brewster’s goal is to spread the practice of storytelling itself. “It’s such a simple thing and nobody owns storytelling. It’s just part of humanity,” said Brewster.
Fitness with A Breeze
Thanks to the Austin Parks Foundation, primo outdoor workouts are available for free around the city. The foundation helps sponsor complimentary fitness classes, including yoga for adults and kids, in neighborhood parks like Dick Nichols and Wooldridge Square. Check their website for schedules and weather updates.
For more information visit austinparks.org/our-events/fitness-in-the-park
“Some of the earliest books I read were historical fiction and I found them particularly transporting and magical,” author Stephen Harrigan said. With his latest novel, A Friend of Mr. Lincoln, the Michener Center Faculty Fellow takes a look at the life of a young Abraham Lincoln through the window of a fictional friendship. Published in February, the work caught the attention of the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation, naming it the 2016 Mayor’s Book Club selection.
Harrigan hopes that some of the book’s deeper themes of ambition and the meaning of friendship will resonate with Austinites. “ I think most people at some time in their life are desperate to make something of themselves and not quite sure how to go about it and that’s a problem that Lincoln had, just along with all the rest of us.”
For more information visit stephenharrigan.com.
Ever wonder what it’s like to climb up the ladder of a fire engine? Or perform emergency CPR? Each year the City of Austin hosts a free 12-week series, CityWorks Academy, where participants get a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the city run. Highlighting different departments each week, the program lets participants experience goings on at the Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, City Hall and Homeland Security. Applications for the program open in July.
For more information visit austintexas.gov/department/cityworks-academy
Summer is prime pool time, which means scouting the best spots to take a dip — and if you can do it with a drink in hand, even better. Dive in and belly up at the Westin Austin Downtown’s Azul, the city’s highest hotel rooftop pool and bar, open to the public. Knock back a Coconut Cooler or Strawberry Sherry while admiring the skyline doing some chaise lounge laps. Take the plunge during public hours Monday through Thursday from 3 – 9pm, and Sundays starting at 11am. Cue Blue Hawaii: Mark your calendar for their Luau and Pig Roast on June 26.
For more information visit westinaustindowntown.com/austin-rooftop-pool
Read more from the Neighborhoods Issue | June 2016