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Archive for May 2012

July 2012 story from Next American City on Plans for Austin’s Lake Lady Bird

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A Plan for Austin’s Lady Bird Lake ( FROM NEXT AMERICAN CITY)

Austin | 07/20/2012 2:29pm | 0

What’s in store for the future of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake? Credit: John Maffei, Apogee Photography

On any given day after 5pm, thousands of joggers, cyclists and pedestrians descend onto the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail along Lady Bird Lake in central Austin, Texas.

For 5.4 miles on both the water’s north and south side, enchanted tree-lined paths offer big views of the lake, sunsets and twinkling lights of a constantly changing downtown skyline. It is one of those places, like Austin City Limits venue Zilker Park or the south side’s funky, food-truck-lined streets, that make the boho Texas capital what it is.

Recently, property owners in the district — including the city’s daily paper, the Austin American-Statesman — have realized there is potential for growth yet untapped in the area, and put several tracts totaling 19 acres in the area up for sale. Given Austin’s boomtown status, it’s no secret that developers smell opportunity.

Which is why the American Institute of Architects recently joined community planners and residents here for a intensive jolt of groupthink that they hope will result in a new master plan for the area.


Social Media Responsibility; The Social Time Suck; also- MOVEMBER (from UPSTART- Biz Journals) Austin Profile pieces

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BizJournals Portfolio

SXSWi and the Social Time Suck

by Cody Lyon  Mar 14 2012
Consider the 15-minute time suck of being tagged on Facebook or pulled into another social-media site: Should social entrepreneurs be more responsible to the human race, an SXSW panel asks?
web addiction

Should social-media startups be responsible for their time-sucking tendencies?

By 6 p.m. Tuesday, it was time for the final click, tweet, or text from South By Southwest Interactive in Austin.

One tiny group of participants headed to Whole Foods world headquarters, where Christophe Chateau, director of Cotes de Bordeaux wine, led arrivals over to tables of wine and cheese on an outdoor terrace. It was a world away from the information and challenges issued to throngs during a weekend of technological wonder and commerce, mostly because it was, well, the real world.

The same distinction came up at a Sunday-afternoon session called “The Attention Drug Wars,” where panelists said it’s time that developers and designers start to recognize the power the Internet has todominate people’s time and lives.

“I have an ambition of creating some kind of movement, sort of a Hippocratic oath for social designers, because these are the people with a lot of responsibility. They are shaping our world, and we want to encourage them to do better,” said Joe Edelman, founder and chief executive officer of Citizens Logistics.

Edelman—who scaled his last company, Couch Surfing, from 10,000 to over 1 million users—said that he wanted to create a consumer movement, similar to the certified-organic food movement, that would require social designers to be certified as respectful of the human condition itself.

But, noting how empty the room was compared to full-to-bursting weekend panels, including one on how to get people addicted to the Web, Edelman said it might be time to really hammer home the danger of Web addiction instead.

“If you are in social media or you have friends who are in social media or friends who are website designers, I think it’s time to…make sure they understand the long-term benefit of the people they are affecting,” said Edelman. He told those that were there to challenge the others.

“At South By, we are the minority,” he said.

Edelman wagered that everyone in the room had gotten an email saying they had just been tagged in a photo on Facebook or some other site.

But then Edelman and copanelist Fred Muench, a Columbia University clinical psychologist, asked the crowd how they’d react if that email told the truth: “You’ve just been tagged—do you want to spend the next 15 minutes on Facebook?”

That would be the polite thing for Facebook to do, but Muench, who specializes in intervention development for addictive disorders using mobile technologies, was pessimistic that social networks would change.

Instead, he advised personal responsibility and posed a bigger question: How does the online development community focus on consciously changing and, more importantly, understanding our own patterns and determining what’s working for us and not?

Muench asked the audience if they really know what they are getting from online socializing. Were they connecting with old friends? Staying in touch with people from their past after a move to a new city? Are they part of a political campaign?

He acknowledge such benefits of online socializing, but wondered where is it failing?

Muench said studies with placebos reveal that what people think they are getting isn’t always what they actually get, and that doesn’t necessarily change the outcome. He said that understanding and thinking about the conscious relationship between computers and one’s own motivations should become the SXSWi community’s new focus.

But does social media make us socially lazy?

These days, we are spoiled. No longer do we have to go out and take real-life social risks. After all, hiding out at home in pajamas with photos and text as an identity is so much easier.

“There was a recent study about Facebook from the University of Missouri that found people perceived themselves as both more connected to others and, at the same time, disconnected from others,” said Muench in a later conversation.

“It’s easy to run when you have a place to hide,” he said, explaining that when people get a little social reinforcement from an online social network, they don’t actually go out as often, but warned that such socialization isn’t as rewarding in the long term.

Back at Whole Foods, conference attendees were winding down SXSWi by practicing what Muench preached. Christophe said that, much like the hundreds of apps at the SXSWi event, there are lots of good international wines competing with his beloved French wine, but that many people still turned to his region for what he called really fine wine.

So are Bordeaux fans sacrificing sips of the French red in the company of others for a jaunt in the Internet/e-commerce/social-networking cloud?

“Not so much,” said Christophe, noting that wine is about tasting, smelling, and human experience.

Cody Lyon is a freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas. He previously was a reporter for the Austin Business Journal.

Read more: at UPSTART

SXSW’s Mustachioed Warriors

by Cody Lyon  Mar 13 2012
Movember’s founder aims to maximize the “man brand” in the name of a good cause, and he headed to SXSW to raise a couple of eyebrows—and some mustaches.
A sampling of some of the men sporting facial hair at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.
Image: Cody Lyon

Each November, thousands of men around the world sprout facial hair where it once didn’t exist.

But these men aren’t just living a ’70s flashback, instead they’re participants in a men’s health fundraising movement called Movember. In full mustachioed glory, they raise donations and awareness for many male health issues, though primarily prostate cancer.

Since 2004, Movember has garnered over 870,000 participants and raised more than $175 million globally. Funds are directed to programs run directly by Movember and its men’s health partners, the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

CEO and cofounder Adam Garone is at this year’s South By Southwest conference in Austin looking to raise some eyebrows and some mustaches. Leveraging the nonprofit’s rapid growth and newfound prominence, Garone, a mustachioed Australian, hopes his company can flex its fundraising-for-research muscle in the digital realm and ultimately impact the very way research institutions are run.

Garone said the prostrate cancer research community has a poor track record of collaboration, often resulting in redundant research and wasted money.

“The research community talks a lot about the successes, but they need to be talking more about the failures so that other people don’t get on the same unproductive path,” he said.

Read more: AT UPSTART



Journal Profile: Bridget Dunlap, Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, Bar 96

Bridget Dunlap
Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, Bar 96


Bridget Dunlap Owner Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, Bar 96

by Cody Lyon, ABJ Staff

Bridget Dunlap


Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, Bar 96

Bridget Dunlap said that for a very long time, she lived life with no rules, not really thinking about tomorrow. But one day that changed. “When I had my child, I knew I had responsibilities. I decided to focus and I learned I can do anything.”

After saying hello to, then buying drinks for, a couple visiting from Chicago who had gotten wind of her bars in Austin’s historic Rainey Street district, she said, “sometimes you have to go through the shitter to understand life and realize how hard you’ve got to work to get what you want.” With life lessons under her belt, Dunlap cautions: “I’m sweet as hell, but if you push me, you better watch out.”

On a recent cool Austin night, she was reigning supreme over her mini empire — a collection of three nightspots in formerly dilapidated houses — sitting, drinking and talking to some friends on the front porch of her first venture here, Lustre Pearl. It’s been just two years since the Houston native who’d traveled the world sowing wild oats turned into an Austin pioneer after spotting an old dilapidated house in what was then a rundown neighborhood. Almost immediately, she raised some capital and transformed the old house built at the turn of the 20th century into one of the area’s most talked about nightspots.



Journal Profile: Dan Parrot

Dan Parrot, Co-owner, Old School Grill


Dan Parrot, Co-owner, Old School Grill

Cody Lyon, ABJ Staff

Dan Parrot


Old School Grill

Late on a recent Sunday afternoon, the after-church crowd has come and gone at Old School Grill in North Austin.

Dan Parrot is settling down to a table full of food and a glass of red wine. He’s the type of guy who smiles when white bread is used “to sop up” buttermilk gravy on chicken fried steak. He commends the use of fingers to crack shells on jumbo barbecue shrimp. He smiles if patrons use a spoon to get all the sauce on the grilled pork tenderloin.

The Dallas native always had an eye, but perhaps more importantly, a nose for food. Many years ago, he was a pantry worker in a kitchen at a three-star Cincinnati restaurant.

“I got busted by an angry French chef who screamed ‘how dare you’ after I’d turned down the heat on some sauce,” he said. Parrot screamed back, explaining it was about to burn, and after an argument Parrot walked away correct


Journal Profile: James Knight

James Knight

Nick Simonite

James Knight

Cody Lyon, ABJ Staff

James Knight

Chief development officer, Bury+Partners Inc.

One side of Jim Knight’s sixth-floor office offers a panoramic view of Austin’s west end. Everywhere else — on the floors, tables and other walls — is a rare glimpse at Austin’s future; buildings that are literally still on the drawing board.

Mixed among the architectural documents are large poster-sized notes from meetings, and evidence of strategic talk is peppered via bullet points Knight has written to himself.

“I call it brainstorm central,” said Knight, chief development officer at engineering firm Bury+Partners Inc. As he discussed the importance of using time appropriately on a recent Friday morning, he paused to offer a bit of advice.

“Don‘t look back at the end of your career at the regrets,” he said. Instead, “look back and be able to say, I did everything I could to be extraordinary