Listicle: Seven ideas I brought back from Austin

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by Eric Ginsburg

1. Creative mini-golf

A weekend in a city as big and full of culture as Austin, Texas is not enough time to cram everything in, but last weekend I did my best. My interest in checking out the BYOB putt-putt joint was nudged out by a brewery trip, but the idea of a BYOB mini-golf place is lodged in my mind, as is the memory of a bar where I played a few short holes on a miniature green with friends.

2. House bars

Greensboro has Local House Bar, but house parties mean something different on Austin’s Rainey Street. Almost every house on the block has been bought out and turned into a beautiful bar while retaining the exterior and the yards as extended patios. It’s an idea that would require significant capital and rezoning, but I bet with some effort we could find an appropriate street in the Triad with a high number of foreclosures and condemned homes.

3. Districts

It’s true of most major cities, but Austin has pronounced districts, each with a distinct feel. My weekend-long visit continually reminded me of the importance of having a variety of cohesive neighborhoods. It is a basic concept with some initial success in downtown Winston-Salem, and could take hold in High Point with a concentrated effort in Uptowne or Washington Street. The Railyard and the areas by the planned performing arts center and near the Grasshoppers stadium downtown show great potential for Greensboro.

Austin4. Chicken-s*** bingo

Brian wasn’t impressed when I brought this one up — apparently it’s a longstanding thing in that part of the world. But the concept of playing bingo based on where a fowl drops a load amuses me to no end. Unfortunately we had to decide between it and a day in the wilderness, and while it lost, we chose correctly.

5. Get outdoors

I came back from Austin missing my friends, old and new, more than anything. It felt like withdrawal really. But after that I yearned for the secret swimming holes, a hidden cove behind a waterfall and the cold river where we watched the sun set as we floated in tubes. I realized after returning that these are all things within reach of the Triad; I just need to be better about blocking out time for the excursions. Austin is a very active city, and the Triad could learn from it.

A hip campaign sign
A hip campaign sign

6. Hipsterism gets political

I could not stop laughing about the hip election signs lining front yards and medians. We’re talking about ads created by graphic designers rather than the boring red, white and blue garbage most candidates subject us to. Even mayoral candidates were with it. It’s time to up our game.

7. Urban adventurism

Be honest with yourself — when was the last time you went out and explored the culture or nightlife of a neighboring Triad city? Or tried a new restaurant?. My host took us to a bar hidden behind a door inside another bar, on a hunt for a venue with a photo booth, taught me how to two-step and put me in my first Uber car. Austin may be a lot bigger than the Triad cities, and livelier, but there is a remarkable amount of culture under the surface here. Go dig it up.