(Click here for photo album.)
Traveling to Austin for SXSWEco was one of the highlights of my year. What I didn't realize until after attending the conference was that some of the biggest impressions on my life including: watching Bill Nye the Science Guy as a child, reading The Upcycle three years ago and my forever relationship with hip hop all shaped my role as an environmentalist.
One of the best things about conferences is the people that you get to meet. In the average 27k days a human lives we only have a couple to meet with people face to face, and that goes a long way in the age of social media.
Some of the amazing people I met over the past couple of days.
Seyi Fabode (Asha Labs) a strategist that focuses on new utilities. He challenges that the current power and utility companies; like Georgia Power and Pepco don’t work, because they are fragile and antiquated. Think about how susceptible your power service is to a thunderstorm. Seyi making us rethinking the way we access power and from who.
Etosha Cave (Opus12), mechanical engineer that has identified a way to extract carbon from the air and turn it into fuels that could change the way we make and drive cars. What does this have to do with you? Well CO2 is a substance seen in our atmosphere that traps heat and warms our planet, instead of it being a atmospheric toxin, it’s turned into a resource for energy.
Jeff Wilson (Kasita) AKA Professor Dumpster, is a new-age housing professional (I made that up), that started a micro-home design company focused on an affordable, minimal and smart tiny home that is easily transportable. I also wrote about him a few years back when he was a professor at Huston-Tillotson University living in a dumpster.
Others greats at the conference that I did not meet.
William McDonough, I’ve raved about his book on Instagram before. The Upcycle changed my perspective on the whole ‘green’ movement. As green washing becomes more prevalent is hard to really understand what is truly impactful for the planet and what is just marketing lip service.
Bill Nye, yes the science guy. I tried to act like I was too cool for Bill Nye, but truth be told his PBS show is one of the fundamental blocks of my environmentalism journey.
MCKINNEY FALLS YALL
The beautiful state park 12 minutes from Drifter Jack’s Hostel, where I stayed near UT’s campus.
The formations of limestone on the Onion Creek bed were created during the Cretaceous era of Earth millions of years ago when most of Texas was a shallow ocean. At the same time, a now extinct volcano, called Pilot Knob, would erupt underneath trap rock. The lava eventually eroded and the remaining limestone created a trail of cliff drop offs for the creek. (Am I losing y’all?) Any who, there are TWO falls at this state park; an upper and lower falls. I started at the lower falls, thinking that meant it was smaller, but not necessary, just barely do they two compare in size. The lower falls is full of small schools of fish, that like to follow you around the water. Pecking at your feet if you let them. It doesn’t hurt, they just want to make sure your soul’s alive.
I then took a hike through the creek bed, sometimes getting stuck by deep waters or high bed rocks until i reach the upper falls. The falls were louder here and the body of water was deeper, at least I thought so. Turtles swam on there backs, spinning in circles and sun gazing. I did the same.
It’s six dollars to get it. You can campout at McKninney Falls (near or away from water), they also have a few ruins around, which don’t interest me, but maybe you would enjoy.
NOM NOM, THE FOOD
Of course, there was an abundant amount of Tex Mex going around in Austin, so much that in one day I had Mexican food TWICE! Three times in total for my trip.
Austin fortunately is a juice city. It was easy for me to get a daily dose of liquid greens. (In my own cup too!) Special shout out the Daily Juice (on Fourth), Blenders & Bowls (also on 4th) and Juice Land (on Guadalupe and 27th).
Lastly, cheap Asian eats near University of Texas. I had a huge bowl of vegan pho (no tofu, extra veggies!) for $8.
Real quick let me give you a synopsis of the social state of Austin. Much like Atlanta, Austin’s East side is undergoing a massive gentrification, old homes are turning into trendy bars and restaurants. The CapMetro has two bus systems: 1. The ‘regular’ which is a fleet of old buses, local stops, less frequency, unlit signage and it costs $2.50 for an all day pass. 2. The RAPID are newer buses, with better lighting, they only stop at certain stops (far between) but come more frequently, the stops have electronic signage that tells you when the bus will arrive and it cost $3.50. A dollar may not seem like much, but when considering how you will travel by bus, of course low income folks will choose the former. This is a form of environmental/social/economic injustice. What does it say to people when you give them a crappier experience because they don’t have a daily expendable dollar?
Yes, it’s true I zero wasted up and down Austin. Some of my zero waste highlights was getting my SXSWEco volunteer lunch inside of my tiffin while everybody else ate from disposable containers, eating acai bowls in ceramic bowls, shopping the bulk section at Wheatsville Co-op, visiting my newfound friend’s co-op home and getting juices in my travel cup.
Austin- from hibernating bats to in depth conversations on an abundant world, to swimming with fish and turtles, owes me nothing.