Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Grand Opening of Northern Walnut Creek Trail Extension, Saturday, March 4, 2023, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Join Austin Public Works Urban Trails Program and Austin Parks and Recreation for an afternoon of public festivities to celebrate the grand opening of the new section of the Northern Walnut Creek Trail.

The new section of the urban trail connects Oakbrook Drive to Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park. The path goes beneath North Lamar Boulevard, making it easier for residents who are walking or biking to access destinations and amenities across this busy corridor.

Grand Opening Celebration of Northern Walnut Creek Trail

  • Date: Saturday, March 4, 2023
  • Time: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Location: Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, 12138 N. Lamar Blvd.
The celebration includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Live music by Ashton "Infinity Jones" Deary, a youth bicycle ride and a nature walk. More details about the event are here.

This trail was made possible with funding from the 2016 Mobility Bond and funds from the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department. The Urban Trails Program plans to eventually connect the Northern and Southern Walnut Creek Trails, learn about Walnut Creek Trail projects here.

City of Austin Awarded $1.5 million Grant for Terrorism Prevention

The City of Austin will receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help the city and the surrounding urban area guard against acts of terrorism.

Mayor Kirk Watson received a call from U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday to share the news of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Grant Program award. The program, created in 2003, targets security funding to high-threat urban areas to prevent, respond to and recover from threats or acts of terrorism. This is the first time Austin has been awarded a UASI grant since 2010.The money will support efforts in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties and the cities of Austin and Round Rock.

“We greatly appreciate this grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assist our community in preparing for and responding to terrorism in all forms,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “Our approach to readiness must evolve to reflect the threats as they are today, and this federal grant will help us be smart and nimble in our efforts to protect Austin from terrorism. Thank you to Secretary Mayorkas and our Congressional delegation for this assistance.”

The UASI program is intended to provide financial assistance to address the unique multi-discipline planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas. The grant funding assists these communities in building and sustaining capabilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism using a “whole community” approach.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) primary focus is on collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders to build a national culture of preparedness and protecting against terrorism and other threats to national security. Due to evolving threats by sophisticated actors that now include cyber threats, threats to crowded events, and domestic extremists, DHS has identified six priority areas related to the most serious threats to the nation:

  • Enhancing the protection of soft targets/crowded places.
  • Enhancing information and intelligence sharing and analysis.
  • Combating domestic violent extremism.
  • Enhancing cybersecurity.
  • Enhancing community preparedness and resilience.
  • Enhancing election security.

“Keeping Austin residents safe is our primary focus, and that includes being alert, aware and prepared for potential terroristic threats,” Interim City Manager Jesús Garza said. “The growth in the Austin urban area, including the addition of major infrastructure, increased population and large-scale events that draw tens of thousands of visitors, all influenced the decision by the federal government to award this grant. This funding, along with Austin’s longstanding commitment to public safety, will help ensure we are anticipating, preparing for, and circumventing threats, as well as collaborating with cities across the nation to share information and support one another in this critical effort.”

Monday, February 27, 2023

Zilker Park Plan Exposed: Back at Parks Board Monday February 27th at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall

If you are interested in the future of Zilker Park, you are invited to attend this evening's meeting of the Park Board at City Hall. Proponents of "Rewild Zilker" https://www.rewildzilker.org/ will be making presentations.

Rewild Zilker Park is a joint project funded by Zilker Neighborhood Association (ZNA), Barton Hills Neighborhood Association,  Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association and Save our Springs Alliance. Our group has members from Sierra Club, Austin Master Naturalists, Safe Bike Austin and has been endorsed by the Austin Neighborhood Council.

Entrepreneurs and Innovators invited to compete in City of Austin’s [Re]Verse Pitch Competition


Austin innovators are encouraged to attend the virtual opening pitch event on March 1
AUSTIN, TX – Austin’s eighth annual [RE]verse Pitch Competition, a program aimed at reducing waste in Austin through innovation and design, kicks off Wednesday, March 1, with a virtual opening pitch event. During this event, six local businesses will “pitch” their businesses’ surplus and byproduct materials in the hopes of finding solutions and alternative uses to keep them out of local landfills.
Competitors will select a material and, over the course of several weeks, create a new product or service based on that material. Competition organizers will host online workshops and provide mentors throughout the competition. In May, up to four competitors (or teams of competitors) will be selected to become [Re]verse Pitch Innovation Fellows. The Innovation Fellows will each receive a $4,000 cash stipend, additional in-kind prizes, participate in a three-part accelerator program and more.
By connecting local businesses with entrepreneurs and innovators, [Re]verse Pitch helps Austin’s business community reduce waste and keep valuable resources out of the landfill. The materials for this year’s competition include:
  • Assorted car parts – bumpers, fenders and doors supplied by AllReady Automotive
  • Sawdust supplied by Austin School of Furniture
  • Used wood pallets supplied by Builders FirstSource
  • Carbon cellulose filter pads supplied by Deep Eddy Vodka
  • Organic bagasse fiber supplied by Desert Door Distillery
  • Polypropylene #5 plastic pots and trays supplied by Tillery Street Plant Company
Competitors may select one or more of the materials listed above. Competitors are highly encouraged to attend for the live Q&A session following each pitch.    
The opening pitch event will be hosted online and recorded via Zoom Wednesday, March 1, 6-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Register here.
For more information about the [Re]verse Pitch Competition and how to participate, visit reversepitch.org.  
The [Re]verse Pitch Competition is a collaboration between the City of Austin and Austin Young Chamber, with additional support from a wide variety of community partners.
About the Circular Economy Program
The City of Austin Circular Economy Program’s mission is to attract, retain, and grow businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs in the zero waste industry in order to create well-paying local jobs, attract investment, and support the necessary infrastructure for a resilient circular economy in Central Texas. The program is a partnership between Austin Resource Recovery and the Economic Development Department.
About Austin Resource Recovery
Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) is a department of the City of Austin. We provide essential services that protect people and our planet. We collect recycling, composting, trash, large brush, bulk items and dead animals. We also sweep the streets, recycle and safely dispose of household hazardous waste, and provide community outreach and education. ARR is driving the global transformation of traditional waste management to sustainable resource recovery. Learn more at austinrecycles.com

Barton Springs Rd. Bridge Community Meeting - Thursday, March 2 from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Public invited to learn more about project to address existing bridge

The public is invited to learn more about the City's efforts to address the existing bridge over Barton Springs Rd. near Zilker Park, and provide input to the project team. 

The City of Austin is planning for improvements to Barton Springs Road Bridge to provide mobility enhancements for all users. Many of its features are functionally obsolete and require rehabilitation or replacement to ensure safety and longevity.

In November 2020, Austin voters approved $102 million for major infrastructure projects, with the possibility of allocating a portion of that funding to address the Barton Springs Road Bridge. The project is currently funded for completion of engineering and design; future funding for construction would need to be identified.  

Community Open House:

Date: Thursday, March 2, 2023
Time: 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. (drop by anytime) 
Location: McBeth Recreation Center, 2401 Columbus Dr, Austin, TX 78746

For those unable to attend, all open house materials will be available via a virtual public meeting on the project website starting March 2 until March 16, including an online comment form.

The project team provided an update to the Mayor and City Council via memo  last fall, as well as an update to the City Council Mobility Committee. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Learn about Building Code Inspections

 Learn about Building Code Inspections

The Austin Code Department released a special new episode of the "My Story as a Code Inspector" series. In the 10th episode, we join Code Investigator Hilda Martinez on a ride-along to various apartment complexes in Austin as she explains the basics of building code inspections and how inspectors ensure the safety of residents. Investigator Martinez also talks about her efforts to inform Austin residents about their rights as tenants, common misconceptions about the work of code inspectors, and challenges residents face when reporting code violations.

This series is an innovative way to connect with Austin residents while helping them learn about the value of the work done by code inspectors within the community. Each episode contains an interview with a code inspector about a code case that had a profound impact on their life personally. This series is distributed throughout multiple online platforms to provide knowledge that engages with multiple residents in a distinctive way and keeps our educational efforts at the forefront. Watch the new episode below.

To report a code violation, please call Austin 3-1-1 or download the Austin 3-1-1 app.

Listen to the full podcast version of each episode on your favorite platform by clicking the Related Links below.

El Departamento de Códigos de Austin lanzó un nuevo episodio especial de la serie " Mi historia como inspector de códigos". En el décimo episodio, nos unimos a la investigadora de códigos Hilda Martínez en un viaje a varios complejos de apartamentos en Austin mientras explica los conceptos básicos de las inspecciones del código de construcción y cómo los inspectores garantizan la seguridad de los residentes. La investigadora Martínez también habla sobre sus esfuerzos para informar a los residentes de Austin sobre sus derechos como inquilinos, conceptos erróneos comunes sobre el trabajo de los inspectores del código y los desafíos que enfrentan los residentes al denunciar infracciones del código.

Esta serie es una forma innovadora de conectarse con los residentes de Austin mientras les ayuda a aprender sobre el valor del trabajo realizado por los inspectores de códigos dentro de la comunidad. Cada episodio contiene una entrevista con un inspector de código sobre un caso de código que tuvo un profundo impacto en su vida personal. Esta serie se distribuye a través de múltiples plataformas en línea para proporcionar conocimiento que involucra a múltiples residentes de una manera distintiva y mantiene nuestros esfuerzos educativos a la vanguardia. Puede ver el nuevo episodio a continuación.


Para reportar una infracción de códigos, llame a Austin 3-1-1 o descargue la aplicación Austin 3-1-1.

Escuche la versión completa del podcast de cada episodio en su plataforma favorita haciendo clic en los enlaces relacionados a continuación.

COVID-19: Vaccines, Testing and Free Masks


Test, Vax & Mask 

COVID-19 Tests    

Another round of FREE mail-order COVID-19 test kits is available online this winter. Each household can order four tests through covid.gov/tests

The APH Neighborhood Services Unit has free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits available for pickup at Neighborhood Centers, while supplies last.  

The APH Information Line (512-972-5560) offers callers information regarding testing options, including directions to a primary care provider for an in-person or virtual visit, going to an urgent care clinic, taking an at-home test or providing a list of area retailers that offer COVID-19 testing and at-home kits.  

Testing is available at private and nonprofit sites throughout Austin, including pharmacies, hospitals and urgent care centers. If you have private insurance, contact your doctor’s office or insurer to learn more about your assessment and testing options. Here are two more resources to find nearby community-based testing available at low or no cost:  

Note: If you are testing with a COVID-19 at-home testing kit and receive a positive result, you can report it using APH'’s online reporting form.  

Vaccine Providers   

Shots for Tots/Big Shots Clinics (By appointment only) 

Austin Public Health offers immunizations, COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots to children who are uninsured or Medicaid recipients – by appointment only. 

Mobile Vaccine Program 

The Mobile Vaccination Program (MVP) offers COVID-19 vaccinations for specific groups in community-identified locations.  

If you are interested in scheduling a pop-up clinic at your facility, please complete this Austin Public Health Mobile Vaccination Request form.  

Have questions about the Mobile Vaccination Program? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.  

Community Vaccine Events 

Monday, February 27, 2023 

Austin Voices at Gustavo “Gus” L. Garcia Recreation Center 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 

Tannehill/Webberville Bus Stop 4606 

Saturday, March 4, 2023 

Pop-Up ATX at Givens Recreation Center 

CDC Website for Vaccine Providers 

Visit Vaccines.gov (or Vacunas.gov in Spanish) to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you. 

Free Masks (N-95 respirators)    

Use the CDC’s mask-locator tool to find pharmacies near you that provide FREE masks (N95 respirators). It does not show current inventories, so check with the location for availability. 

National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

Austin Public Health’s Health Equity Unit will be holding activities and events from March 5-12 for the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. This year the theme is Resistance, Resilience, and Remembrance. 

Here are the events that will be taking place this week: 

  • Noon prayer and education – Monday-Friday, March 6-10, Greater Love Baptist Church, 6601 Manor Road. Featuring Pastor Isaac Grant, Jr. 
  • Annual commemorative citywide celebration – Thursday, March 9, Freedom Home Baptist Church, 3405 Oaks Springs Drive. Featuring Pastor Oscar B. Howard Jr. 
  • Reception – 6 p.m.  
  • Worship service – 7 p.m.  

Although, thankfully, HIV is no longer a death sentence but is instead a manageable chronic condition, data in 2023 shows that access to prevention and treatment options is not always evenly distributed.  

The Health Equity Unit fosters healthy conversations to focus on ways to lessen the burden of HIV on marginalized communities, recognizing that such a conversation takes a collective effort to overcome the societal barriers that prevent too many communities from accessing the care that individuals and families need. 

Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA) Program


CDC New Report Shows Worsening Mental Health of Teenage Girls and LGBTQ+ Teens

On Monday, February 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a troubling report on the mental health of teenage girls in the U.S. Fifty-seven percent of girls surveyed in 2021 for this report stated that they felt feelings of sadness and hopelessness.   

The report compares data collected between 2011 and 2021 and includes information from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which is a study on the health behaviors and experiences of high school students in the U.S. Over this time period, mental health has worsened for teenage girls and LGBTQ+ adolescents of any gender, as both categories are more likely to experience violence. 

Nearly one in five girls surveyed reported that they experienced sexual violence in the past year and over one in ten stated that they had been forced to have sex. Fifty-two percent of LGBTQ+ students reported that they experienced poor mental health and 22% stated that they had attempted suicide.  

The CDC report points to “school connectedness” as a protective factor that can promote the health and development of students. School connectedness refers to how much a student feels that adults and peers care about their learning and well-being at their school. School programs in which students can participate can increase their sense of school connectedness and make them less prone to violence and feelings of sadness and hopelessness.  

One such program is the Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA) Program, which engages, empowers and collaborates with communities across Travis County and Del Valle to support youth in taking ownership of their own health and working to advance the health of their communities.  

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence, SAFE Alliance is a human service agency that serves the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. Their services include shelter/housing, face-to-face and digital support, prevention and education, and advocacy. Contact SAFE Alliance at 737-888-7233.  

Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of suicide, the 988 Suicide Prevention hotline is a resource to help people experiencing troubling times. Call or text 988 to discuss your feelings with a crisis-trained counselor. The service is free and available 24/7/365. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

$3.9 Million in Grants Awarded to Local Arts Non-profits


36 Thrive grantees supported through City of Austin cultural funding 

AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department announces more than $3.9 million in funds awarded to 36 local arts non-profit organizations through the Thrive grant. These grant awards, ranging from $85,000 - $150,000, provides focused investment to sustain and grow arts organizations that are deeply rooted in and reflective of Austin’s diverse cultures. Recipients will use their funds for arts activities open to and marketed to tourists.  

“Thrive will help sustain and grow our creative economy through operating grants and access to a supportive peer cohort with networking and learning opportunities” explains Sylnovia Holt-Rabb, Director of the Economic Development Department. “This program addresses the historical under-funding and cultural displacement of communities within Austin by offering transformative funding for these organizations to invest in their own future.” 

The Austin City Council approved the Thrive awardees on February 23, 2023 through Resolution No. 20230223-012. Thrive is only open to 501c arts organizations who have at least a 5-year history in Austin. This program prioritizes organizations that have not yet reached institutional status (access to large cash reserves, endowments, etc.). Thrive includes a supportive cohort learning model, leveraging expertise from within the cultural sector to guide professional development and taking advantage of learning opportunities within the Economic Development Department and other City programs. Below is the full list of 2023 grantees: 

2023 Thrive Grants 

Organization Name 




Austin Asian American Film Festival 


Austin Chinese-American Network or ACAN 


Austin International Drag Foundation, Inc. 




Ballet East Dance Company 


Capitol View Arts 


Cine Las Americas 


Color Arc Productions 


Dance Africa Fest 


DAWA (Diversity Awareness and Wellness in Action) 


E4 Youth, Inc 


Esquina Tango 


Glass Half Full Theatre 


Great Promise for American Indians 




Imagine Art 


India Fine Arts, Inc 


Indie Meme 


Jump On It 




Lannaya West African Drum and Dance Ensemble 


Latinas Unidas Por El Arte (LUPE Arte) 




Mexic‐Arte Museum 


Museum of Human Achievement (MoHA) 


Oliver Rajamani DBA Taranada 


Outreach Productions 


OUTsider Film & Arts Festival 


PUERTO RICAN FOLKLORIC DANCE INC aka Puerto Rican Cultural Center 


Red Salmon Arts 


Roy Lozano's Ballet Folklorico de Texas 




Torch Literary Arts 




Women in Jazz Association 


View a summary dashboard of demographics for 2023 Thrive Grant applicants and awardees. 

  • 97% of grantees identify their leadership as majority diverse race/ethnicity 

  • 67% of grantees identify their leadership as majority female or non-binary 

  • 183 people employed by the 36 grantee organizations 

  • 22 median years of operation of grantees 

Funding for the Thrive Grant, which is managed by the Economic Development Department’s Cultural Arts Division, comes from 15% of the annual Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) allocations for the Cultural Arts Fund. Thrive is the first arts focused program developed from new criteria informed by the 2022 Cultural Funding Review Process by the Economic Development Department, which was a three-year public process to center equity and inclusion in the City’s HOT investments in arts, heritage, and music. The Economic Development Department acknowledges the extraordinary cultural and creative talent that exists in the city contributing to Austin’s economic success and to the city’s identity. 

One awardee, the Cine Las Americas Board, Gabriel Ornelas and the entire Cine staff, stated, “With a history of 25 years, this Thrive award and the amount will provide us with the opportunity and critical support to focus on the next years and develop as a self-sustaining cultural institution. To serve, collaborate and engage not only our current communities, but diverse groups throughout Austin. And, to continue to introduce everyone to the talented, important and beautiful stories and voices of the filmmakers we represent.”  

In upcoming months, additional programs will launch to support arts & culture in the Austin surrounding area including Live Music Fund Event ProgramElevateNexus, and Heritage Preservation Grant. These new funding programs are structured to encourage new talent, support established cultural producers, and invest in the development of diverse cultural institutions that are rooted in and representative of the communities they serve. 

For more information on the Thrive Grant and other cultural funding opportunities, visit www.austintexas.gov/department/cultural-funding 


About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and subscribe to our newsletter. Connect with us @AustinEconDev on Facebook@AustinEconDev on Twitter, and @AustinEconDev on YouTube.