Q Conference – Why Austin? – Post 2

Each year Q is held at a different city that has cultural significance to our country.  The first year being Gabe and the Q team’s hometown, Atlanta, and last year was New York City.  According to the Q site “(Austin) is against that backdrop – a city seeking to maintain and re-express the heart of its identity – that Q 2009 comes to Austin.” You can read more and also listen to Gabe Lyons talk about it here.

For the first session, Gabe interviewed David Taylor who among many things serves as a pastor in Austin and Lisa Hickey who works for (and from the sound of it pretty much runs) Austin City Limits.  Each spoke of the hip uniqueness of Austin including their live music scene, its affordability, its vintage shops and its friendliness. It’s small enough where you can go grocery shopping downtown with your car but big enough that there’s a fair amount of public transportation.  For me having lived outside of Philly and now NYC, it was hard for me to appreciate the alleged abundance of public transportation (I think I saw a bus or was it a van …) but that was just my perception.  What I did appreciate was the Austinians  had gone to great lengths to insure that their downtown was not overrun byt franchise restaurants like Chill’s and Applebee’s (I pray for the day when Time Square gets rid of that Olive Garden).  Indeed, there were quite a bit of cool eateries, among them was a restaurant owned by Sandra Bullock whose food was far better than Miss Congeniality.  Anyway, they want you to know there’s more to Austin than SXSW and Stubb’s.  That was helpful for me because that’s all I think of when I think of the town.

If you want to understand Austin then you need to appreciate a couple of their unofficial mottos – “Just like God loves the whole world, we love Whole Foods” and “Help Keep Austin Weird”.  It’s a cool town with a lot of personality despite it’s size, and I still can’t believe that I parked all day for $7.  Having Q here the year after NYC added credibility to the idea of distinctive cultural centers and I hope to make it back. Next year is Chicago and I know they got a culture of mediocre pizza, mediocre baseball and now an above average NFL quarterback to complement its mediocre wide-receiving core.  Looking forward to be shown otherwise. Who wants to go with me?