On My Block: Voices from 12th and Chicon

Oct 6, 2016

Northwest corner of 12th & Chicon, and location of KUT News pop-up bureau.
Credit E. Geisler

This month our reporting project “On My Block: Voices from 12th and Chicon” hits the airwaves.

The project started several months ago when we embedded our reporters in this East Austin neighborhood in an effort to build relationships with citizens and uncover stories that may not have been told otherwise.

We set up a “pop-up bureau” in the Urban Co-Lab co-working space (1818 E 12th St.) to serve as a home base, but our reporters spend most of their time walking the neighborhood and trying to get to know people personally before bringing in a microphone and recorder.

Decades ago, the corner of 12th Street was a center of black life in East Austin; a tight-knit community and a thriving business hub. But by the 1990s, it had declined. Until recently, the corner of 12th and Chicon was an intersection notorious for prostitution, drugs and other illegal activities. Over the past few years, Austin police staged an intervention and crime went down. But if you dig deeper there are stories of unintended consequences, as well as success.

Reporter Syeda Hasan has been asking people about the changes in their neighborhood – people like Galloway Sandwich Shop owner Stephen Galloway. “Stephen told me he’s lost business in recent years due to increased police presence in the neighborhood,” she says.

Reporter Syeda Hasan works in KUT's bureau at 12th and Chicon
Credit E. Geisler

“I think embedding ourselves here in the neighborhood is a unique approach to reporting on these changes. Sometimes, we hear the word ‘gentrification’ so much that it stops holding meaning, but we’re trying to go beyond that narrative to uncover more personal stories. The 12th and Chicon bureau is an opportunity to report from the neighborhood as changes are happening,” she continues.

While not everyone in the neighborhood listens to KUT, many people have been welcoming. 

All of our reporters are getting to know people and working from the bureau and you can expect to hear these stories starting next week. We have enough funding to keep the bureau open through December, but we hope the relationships begun will continue to grow.

More stories about 12th and Chicon:

‘The Spirit Is Still Strong’ as the City, Neighbors Begin a New Chapter at 12th & Chicon