April 25, 2008
As some gathered from my hints in old blog entries, and as others noticed after reading all the way to the end of the last blog entry, yes, it appears that AEJ and I are moving to Austin this summer.
Texas has been awfully good to me — as my dad has pointed out, I wouldn’t have much of a career if not for Texas — and it makes sense to go where the work is. (Having three performances at the Texas Music Educators convention in February kind of felt like a sign.) It’s a nice bonus that I really like Austin. I think it feels like the San Francisco of Texas (work with me, here…) — good restaurants, politically liberal, and environmentally green. The biggest differences, as far as I can tell: the weather is better in San Francisco, but I can afford to buy a house in Austin.
Here’s a little blurb about Austin from Treehugger:
The politics in Austin, Texas, home base of Whole Foods Market, have earned it the title of “the blueberry in the bowl of tomato soup.” But the city’s energy portfolio could make it known as the ray of sunshine in the field of oil pumps. If you want to sign up for green power from Austin Energy, possibly the greenest power grid in the country, you can get in line—this year’s demand was unpredictably high, and they’re fresh out. Austin’s growing list of proactive energy maneuvers is, to say the least, striking. Not only does Austin lead the country in wind power and biodiesel production, but it has built advanced plug-in hybrid vehicles into its energy strategy.
As part of the recently announced Austin Climate Protection Plan, all facilities, fleets and operations will be carbon-neutral by 2020, and 100 percent of city facilities will be powered by renewable energy by 2012. There will also be CO2 caps and reduction plans for all utility emissions, something the federal government hasn’t dared do.
That sounds pretty sweet to me. I have loved living in LA, and I’ll miss a lot about it (the sushi and weather, in particular), but I won’t miss the smog…
Our plan is to look at apartments when we’re out there in two weeks for the premiere of my middle school piece (premiering on May 13 at UT, with Cheryl Floyd conducting the Hill Country Middle School Band — be there!). We’re planning to rent a place for a year while we get to know the city and the various neighborhoods, and buy something next year.
Now that I have two pieces on the Texas Prescribed Music List, I’ve gotten a handful of invitations to come work with high school bands in Texas. Unfortunately, even fancy-pants schools have trouble justifying the expense of flying me from Los Angeles and putting me up at a hotel in, say, Houston — but if I live in Austin, I can drive somewhere and work with a group for a day. There’s a higher concentration of great high school bands in Texas (particularly in the Austin, Houston, and Dallas areas) than anywhere else I’ve found in the US, and I think it’ll be good to be “in the hood.” My hope is that there will be even more opportunities for school residencies, but without nearly as many hours lost in airports and on planes. (I’d much rather spend time in the pretty new Prius.)
Plus, the National CBDNA Convention is in Austin next spring — and this way, I won’t have to pay for a hotel room! Think of the savings!
Another curious coincidence: the founder and CEO of the Whole Foods grocery store chain — based in Austin — is named John Mackey. I’m hoping that will somehow get me free stuff at Whole Foods when I flash my credit card there.
The title of this blog entry is Austin 78704, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily moving into that trendy zip code, although it looks like a fun area. (It is, after all, the location of Uchi, a most-excellent sushi spot.) For those who know Austin well, where do you think we should rent for this first year?