I am laying in bed at a the Rosemary Inn, a bed and breakfast in Pittsboro, NC. Although Pittsboro is not the tech hub that Austin or even the Triangle is, it is the home of OpenNMS, the open source network management software company I am consulting for.
Everybody raves about how cool Austin is. While I love Austin and still want it to totally kick Silicon Valley’s ass, I have to say, are we really keeping Austin weird?
I ask this question because here in the town of Pittsboro, most of the stores are locally owned. The diners are locally owned and try to serve local produce whenever possible. Tarus at OpenNMS took me to a grocery store that looked like what Whole Foods used to look like that served locally grown food and offered locally grown products. I even went to a biodiesel plant that uses waste from the town to fuel vehicles. Pittsboro is quaint for sure, but at least it truly is unique and reflects the personalities of its residents.
I truly love Austin and want nothing more than to see local companies take off. I’m tired of reading about Silicon Valley companies in Valley blogs like TechCrunch. There is a wealth of talent in Austin and I don’t think we need Silicon Valley’s shady VCs to succeed. However, we do need to Keep Austin Weird.
We need to support locally owned businesses. We should watch local acts (I’m bad at this one, so if y’all want a friend to see a good show with, ping me). We should use Austin hosts and use Austin software. A person living in Austin should feel like he or she can open a business and people will support it. If it sucks, tell that Austinite what their business can do to earn your business. If we don’t support each other, who will?
Remember, Keep Austin Weird, or watch us turn into a Strip Mall Hell or even worse–Silicon Valley’s Cheap Labor Force Whipping Boys (and Girls).