Where are Austin’s street festivals, outdoor events?

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I cannot wait to kick my feet up on the bleacher seats in front of me, holding a bag of peanuts, a hot dog and a cold beverage at Comiskey Park, I mean U.S. Cellular Field.

I want to stroll across Grant Park, taking in the sounds of my favorite Chicago blues artists while chasing the shade as the hours fall into evening.

I want to smell the orchestra of restaurants that are participating in the Taste of Chicago.

I want to sit at Navy Pier as the breeze of Lake Michigan ushers thoughts of the many reasons why I love summer in the Windy City.

But there is a reoccurring theme here. I’m sure as an Austin resident you know exactly where I am about to go with this commentary.

Everything that I want to do in the summer is outside of the Austin area.

There is a problem here.

I am taking hard-earned dollars outside of a community that needs it. I am going to make sure other youth in other areas are staying employed while the employment rate for our youth is disgustingly low.

And you are going to do the same at least once this summer. I guarantee it!

There are re-elected and newly elected officials in Austin and a brand new captain at the helm of the city, Mayor Emanuel.

But Austin’s issues aren’t new and some of our politicians aren’t either! In fact, to restate the obvious would be just as redundant as the reasons we have been given as to why these things don’t exist in Chicago’s largest neighborhood.

I’m asking Ald. Deborah Graham, Ald. Emma Mitts, Ald. Jason Ervin, Ald. Michael Chandler, Commissioner Earlean Collins, state Rep. La Shawn Ford, state Rep. Camille Lilly and Congressman Danny Davis to embrace this new era as an opportunity to assist in reviving the culture of Austin.

Give us the business district, street fairs and entertainment venues  that Wicker Park, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, West Town, Ukrainian Village, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Pilsen and almost every other neighborhood enjoys.

What is so special about those neighborhoods? Maybe their leaders?

It’s not too much to ask from you. You were voted in to represent the interest of your constituents.

I ask of the voters to hold you accountable for your responsibility to enhance the quality of Austin. Aldermen have unique powers that I don’t think Austin residents are fully aware of.

Maybe that’s the media’s fault.

What I have recognized is that some of the Austin’s media outlets, me included, have not vigorously questioned the allocations of your financial resources, time spent or any ordinances  you have taken to the council. We have not put you through the scrutiny that maybe other officials have been subjected to.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but when I think about how much money that I am going invest in the interest of other neighborhoods at summertime events, I just want to know moving forward how will you address these issues?

I promise I will do my part from here on out. Will you do yours?



7 thoughts on “Where are Austin’s street festivals, outdoor events?

  1. John, Thanks so much for this article! I also believe Austin needs more events and festivals for many reasons. I also think we need to create them as Austin institutions that can survive from year to year with or without support from the current crop of elected officials or any one organization. These institutions need the collaboration of many groups with the needs of Austin put first. We have been working to try to bring a 5K / 3K Walk Run and Health Faire to Austin and welcome community support with this and future events.

  2. Thank you for your insightful commentary. I hope that it reaches the ears of the residents who don’t think they can have anything better because it has been this way for so long. Raising the expectations of the residents will invariably raise the performance of our elected officials.

  3. I agree. I’d like to partner with the 29th Ward Alderman’s office, and perhaps also Representative Ford’s office, to establish an Austin 5K run and walk. The Central Austin Neighborhood Association is also interested in working on this. Are there others so inclined?

  4. The Austin area and the whole West Side has some of the most talented, unpromoted blues and soul musicians in the city. I’d like to see them featured in an outdoor festival at one of our parks, along with artists who do gospel, hiphop, spoken word, jazz and R&B. And food booths featuring local caterers and restaurants. Crafts, local vegetables could have booths at the festival. I’ll be willing to help spread the word if such a thing gets started. You might have the start of a tourist industry in Austin.

  5. Hi Brian! Westside Health Authority is interested in this as well and are in the planning phases of getting a 1 mile/5k run organized for next year. Sponsors have already been secured. We would love to have you on board and others like CANA. I can be reached at 773.786.0249. Please join us on June 11th for our Healthy Living Walking CHallenge at Orr High School from 9am-12pm.

  6. Thank you all for reading and finding potential networking opportunities and re-establishing old contacts. We are all in it for the same reason. If there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know. I really want an annual festival in Austin.

    I believe that our elected officials play an integral part because we voted for them and their primary responsibility is to address our concerns, no matter what! Through these kinds of events we can creatively and systemically address some of the problems we face. I do believe that our community is talented enough, dedicated enough and able to accomplish what we collectively desire.

    I think the goal should be to attack one problem at a time with a concerted effort until they have all been addressed.

  7. If you all are interested in the 5k Walk/Run Health fair in the community I would love to start this conversation now so we can begin planning a big event. Last week Dr. Ian Smith hosted the Makeover Mile in Chicago (no one really heard about it) because it wasn’t in the neighborhoods. But with his name he was able to bring out HUGE resources/sponsors for this event. Communities like ours need those resources and those events in our community, instead of downtown all the time. Let’s make it happen for next year. I can be reached at 773-786-0249 if any of you are interested in starting a planning committee just for this.

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