Austin

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Buried under the Austin City Hall building is a time capsule.

Today, that capsule is ten years old. The box is scheduled to be opened in 2105.

Since it’s very likely you and I won’t be alive 90 years from now, KUT asked the people who filled up the box to reveal some of the things that are in it.

It's hard to imagine the Austin of 2105, when the capsule is supposed to be opened.

If you just consider that we double our population every 20 years, you can picture how crowded Austin is likely to become.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT; logo design by GSD&M

The City of Austin is having a birthday today.

It's one of the hardest anniversaries to pronounce – it's not a centennial or a bicentennial — or even a sesquicentennial, for that matter. But, outgoing Mayor Lee Leffingwell made it his mission earlier this year to memorize a 28-letter word used for the city’s 175th anniversary: a septaquintaquinquecentennial. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

For well over a decade, Austinites have been calling 3-1-1 to report graffiti or a pot hole to city officials. While that’s not going away, a new way to report problems and get questions answered could offer more benefits.

For example, say you want to report that there aren’t any doggie clean-up bags at the park down the street or that there’s a pothole down the road. But, uhh, what’s the address exactly where you’re at? Austin’s 3-1-1 mobile app lets users do many of the same things that can be accomplished with a phone call.

But there are also things the app does that a phone call can’t.

flickr.com/photos/mrlaugh

Austin's downtown traffic flow will change starting next month. The City of Austin is converting Brazos Street from one way to a two way street between East Cesar Chavez and East Sixth streets. 

Austin Transportation Department Director Rob Spillar says a number of cities have gone through this process to slow traffic.

Photo courtesy of Endocrine Entertainment.

Austin has a brand-new film festival and it’s all about science fiction. The first-ever Other Worlds Austin Sci-Fi Film Festival is happening this weekend.

I know what you’re thinking – just what Austin needs – another film festival. But that’s exactly what Other Worlds Austin Director of Programming Bears Fonté thought.

“I had a science fiction film a couple years ago that wound up playing about 40 film festivals. So as I was going around the country with the film, I just saw so many great science fiction films and I was like, this isn’t playing Austin and I want to do that, I want to bring those films to Austin and give those filmmakers a chance to play in front of an audience that’s going to be really receptive," Fonté says.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

According to a poll conducted this week among 942 likely Austin voters, mayoral candidate and attorney Steve Adler maintains a commanding lead over his runoff opponent, City Council Member Mike Martinez. When asked who they would be likely to vote for in the Dec. 16 runoff election, 56 percent of respondents said Adler, compared to 39 percent for Martinez. Only 5 percent said they were undecided.

Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina, conducted the poll on Dec. 2 and 3. The poll was commissioned by the Austin Monitor and was made possible through a generous donation by Texas Disposal Systems.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Eviction notices have gone out to 77 people who live at Austin's State Supported Living Center on 35th Street and MoPac. The state’s Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended closing the facility which opened in 1917 and services 28 counties in Central Texas.

All of the people who live at the center have serious developmental disabilities, and a handful have already moved out.

As the eviction notices come in, residents and their families are searching for new housing alternatives as the state prepares for a likely sale that could turn the 94-acre property into a mixed-use development. But some say the commission doesn’t have the final word in the facility’s closure, and promise to fight.

Mondo

If you’ve heard of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse offshoot Mondo – you probably know them for their film posters. They’re artistic alternatives to the stuff pushed out by the film industry.

But Mondo has become much more than that as of late – also producing throwbacks with a focus on design including VHS tapes and vinyl records. Now, they’ve starting making toy collectibles.

They’re showing off all of this and inviting people to learn more about what they do in the first ever MondoCon. It’s this weekend in Austin.

Mondo CEO Justin Ishmael sat down with KUT's Laura Rice to talk about it.

On What's Special About Mondo's Posters:

"I think, first, the place where they're coming from is completely different from what's coming out of Hollywood. A lot of times, ours are not promoting a film that's actively trying to make money so I think there's a lot of liberties that we can take with them that studios can't... Some of our posters rely on having seen the movie to evoke an emotion."

Caleb Bryant-Miller/KUT News

The bats that roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge have a hard-flown journey after their nightly show for tourists and passersby.

They cruise over the trees bordering Lady Bird Lake's southern shore – flying up to 40 miles away from the city every night – then come back, roost and feast on insects between Congress Avenue and I-35.

Nathan Bernier/KUT

The largest school district in Central Texas has hit a record high graduation rate. But the Austin school district still lags behind the state average.

In the five years that former Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen oversaw the district before leaving for Atlanta, graduation rates rose by ten percent. In 2013, it hit a new high of just over 84 percent. And the increases in graduation rates were across all student groups in AISD, including Hispanics, African-Americans, economically disadvantaged and special education students. 

Austin Chronicle

If there’s one thing you hear consistently from Austinites, original and transplanted, it’s how much the city has changed over the years.

One interesting gauge of that might be the Austin Chronicle’s “Best Of Austin” poll, which is now in its 25th year.

Chronicle Special Issues Editor Kate X Messer has been around for almost 20 of those years. She sat down with KUT to talk about what she's seen over that time.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

These days Austin is known as much for traffic as it is for live music or five-hour-long barbecue lines. 

If you've been commuting in Austin for a while, you might have noticed the traffic isn't exactly getting better. Despite flirtations with building a six-lane highway, constructing a long overdue urban rail system and even "sequestering" I-35 under concrete, commute times are not only stagnant, they're getting worse. In 2011, the state commissioned a study on major roadways which found — despite all those improvements — it could take Austin commuters up to three hours to get to Round Rock by 2035. 

Photo by Stuart Boreham

Imagine there was a disaster. You were there. But you saw something no one else saw—something that would change everyone else's mind about what really happened. That is, if they believed you. Now, imagine there's another person who saw exactly what you saw. But no one believes him either. What would you do?

Austin author Meg Gardiner's new book, Phantom Instinct, pursues that question through 356 action-packed pages. She spoke to the Texas Standard's Emily Donahue.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

It’s time for another edition of KUT’s Summer School.

Every Friday this summer, we head out to learn new skills from folks in Austin who are experts in their field. We’ve already learned about glass blowing, wood turning and beekeeping. Today’s subject? Medieval Studies. 

KUT's Joy Diaz

It's the largest gift Huston-Tillotson has ever received.

On Thursday, the historic black university announced that Ada Anderson, a 92-year-old graduate, had donated $3 million to pay for the initial construction phase of the school's mental health clinic. It will be called the Sandra Joy Anderson Community Health and Wellness Center in honor of the donor's daughter.

Flickr user David Ingram, flickr.com/dingatx

Mount Bonnell and Barton Springs are two of Austin's eternal treasures –unblemished reminders of Austin's natural beauty.

But to a handful of reviewers on Yelp, they're totally overrated.

Mount Bonnell's scenic overlook rates a solid four stars on Yelp; Austin's crown jewel, Barton Springs Pool, clocks in at four-and-a-half.  But proving you can't please everyone, a collection of contrary reviews offer an antithetical take on these two Austin institutions.

Carrie Powell for KUT News

Colony Park, out near the Travis County Expo Center, is one of those neighborhoods in Austin that’s a mixed bag. The area is getting nicer in some ways, but it’s also facing some hard-to-fix challenges.

During the last couple of years, the community has been studying the positive aspects of Colony Park in order to take advantage of them.

Mengwen Cao for KUT News

KUT reporters are in “Summer School.” Every Friday, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks around town who are experts in that field.

In this class, KUT's Laura Rice takes Beekeeping 101 with a local hive owner.

Lily Rosenman was our teacher. She's been beekeeping in Austin for four years. Right now, Rosenman keeps her hive at her friend Anne Woods's home in East Austin.

flickr.com/seabamirum

It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.

The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.

"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.

Joe Capraro/KUT

School is finally out across Austin. But here at KUT, class is in session.

All summer long, KUT reporters will learn a new skill or craft from folks who are experts in the field. We're calling it "Summer School" and we hope you'll learn something too along the way. 

In this class, KUT's Ben Philpott gets schooled by his father, Jim, in the art of bowl turning.

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