This year wasn't the fresh start most Americans hoped for after 2020. But in some of what felt like the worst of times (cough, February winter storm), Austinites never ceased to bring us some of the most interesting, engaging and touching stories that we at Austonia are so lucky to tell.
In chronological order, here are some of my favorite stories we published this year.
1. 'It feels surreal': Austin vaccine recipients feel relief, and guilt, as they get their shots (Jan. 20)'It feels surreal': Austin vaccine recipients feel relief, and guilt, as they get their shots(Tom Madison)
Heading into the New Year everyone has access to vaccines but this time last year very few had access to them. Emma Freer spoke with healthcare workers, first responders and COVID-vulnerable individuals, who were some of the first Austinites to get a vaccine. They shared their feelings of relief and excitement but also expressed feeling bittersweet since so many others were in need of protection at the time.
2. Snow Angels: Local residents help one another during winter storm (Feb. 18)
They say the best blaze burns the brightest when circumstances are at their worst. During February's historic winter storm, Austinites came together to help their neighbors in various ways. Leslee Bassman wrote about various Austinites from all walks of life who donated food, firewood and spent hours pulling stuck cars out of snow.
3. North vs. South: The 'Yuppies' and 'Bubbas' of Austin are divided by more than Lady Bird Lake (May 21)North vs. South: The 'Yuppies' and 'Bubbas' of Austin are divided by more than Lady Bird Lake
In this one, Claire Partain revived the story on a longtime feud between North and South Austin. While it may not be an active rivalry today, the two regions still have a lot of the characteristics from their heyday, while also mirroring each other in different ways.
4. It's 'Shot Girl Summer,' and Austin's dating scene is heating back up (June 7)
Months into the vaccine rollout, Austinites hit the dating scene again. Claire Partain spoke to active daters about "Hot/Shot/Vaxxed Girl Summer." Austnities expressed that they were desperate for in-person dating, even if it didn't feel as natural anymore.
5. One month after opening up, Austin FC's Q2 Stadium is the biggest party in Austin (July 16)
It was a big year for sports fans as Austin's first major league team kicked off its season. No matter the scoreboard, Austinites filled Q2 stadium every game. The supporters' section was a party and half each game with chants and lots of beer.
6. 'I can't sleep': Austinite says he breaks into tears thinking of family stuck in Afghanistan (Aug. 16)'I can't sleep': Austinite says he breaks into tears thinking of family stuck in Afghanistan
Talk about heartbreaking. As the world watched the Taliban regain control of Afghanistan, it hit even harder for those in Austin with family in Kabul. Laura Figi spoke with Haroon Abassy, a seven-year Austin resident from Afghanistan. He spoke of not being able to sleep knowing his family and friends were stuck in Kabul.
7. Behind the beef: Greg Casar and Matt Mackowiak take years-long feud into congressional race (Nov. 17)Behind the beef: Greg Casar and Matt Mackowiak take years-long feud into congressional race
Two people remained at the forefront of Austin politics this year: Council Member Greg Casar and Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak. The two have been at it for years now standing on opposite sides of issues such as the homeless camping ban and defunding the police. Claire Partain dives into the origins of this feud and where it will go next as Casar runs for congressional office.
8. Before 'boomtown': For better or worse, Austin's nickname 'Silicon Hills' may be here to stay (Nov. 22)Before 'boomtown': For better or worse, Austin's nickname 'Silicon Hills' may be here to stay
In another major techy year for Austin, Andrea Guzmán dove into if Austin should be nicknamed Silicon Hills. There is some backlash from people who hope Austin doesn't become what many companies are leaving behind in Silicon Valley, though some have been more accepting of the name, such as the founder of Silicon Hills News.
9. Austintonio? Austin and San Antonio getting closer to forming metroplex that rivals DFW (Dec. 8)Wedged in between Austin and San Antonio, the city of San Marcos has seen immense growth in the past few decades as the area slowly molds into a metroplex. (Greater San Marcos Partnership/Facebook)
As Central Texas booms, Claire Partain explores the possibility in which it becomes the next DFW—Austintonio. Central Texas earned a reputation as one of the fastest-growing hubs in the country throughout the mid-2010s as newcomers from near and far flocked and real estate prices soared. With lots of smaller cities dotting the path between Austin and San Antonio, leaders say there's still a long way to go in infrastructure before Austintonio can become reality.
10. Who is Gen Z? Zoomers flock to Austin, ditching their 9-5 in pursuit of passion (Dec. 14)Who is Gen Z? Zoomers flock to Austin, ditching their 9-5 in pursuit of passion
They're not just thinking about TikTok—they're changing the status quo. Austin has become the perfect place for Gen Z to make bank off their passions, instead of going for the average 9-5 job. Claire Partain spoke with local 20-something-year-olds about their individual paths.
Here's to 2022!