3 most valuable lessons learned
Meeting with John Riedie and Vanessa were definitely highlights of September for me. As an artist, it was really great to hear more on the state of the creative environment from someone very well connected in the scene. It was also gratifying to meet a musician that is sharing her skills with a unique population in Austin. Here are the main things that stand out for me.
1. There are people and organizations in this city who are specifically here to help artists succeed.
Austin Creative Alliance is a breath of fresh air to people like me, a creative black female. There are resources and options available for creatives that I didn’t even realize existed. John’s passion to make sure that the creative community feels supported and heard, especially through legislation and bonds, makes me hopeful for the future. I am very excited to see the projects that he and his team are taking on and will be implementing.
2. Gentrification is negatively affecting the creative community.
Not only is gentrification disproportionally displacing African Americans and Latinos in Austin, but artists are also finding it hard to affordably live and work in the city as well. It is disheartening to know that landlords and skyrocketing property taxes are wiping out the culture that made this city so amazing and uniquely ‘weird’. There’s nothing wrong with revitalizing and upgrading neighborhoods to make it more welcoming to the new generation. But there should also be some focus on preserving, not just destroying and replacing what was there. As a result, East Austin in particular is now more expensive and less accessible to the people that have built, lived, and worked in these neighborhoods for decades. They are the ones who made Austin’s unique culture attractive to the newcomers in the first place. So it feels like an undeniable betrayal to know that they are being pushed out of the communities they initially and very proudly created.
3. Traveling to different parts of the world can clarify who you are and want to be.
Vanessa reaffirmed my love of travel and how it can open the mind and soul. Her experiences in South America and Europe clearly changed her life. It made her even more empathetic and creative than she was before, which is so beautiful and inspiring to be in the presence of. My desire to travel, grow, and learn from people with different experiences has been a perpetual aspiration of mine since I was young. I hope to have many experiences in different cities, states, and countries that change who I am for the better and also help inspire the greater good.