By Willow Higgins
In the summer of 2020, in the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dove Springs community members began to wonder how they could better use a section of the local greenbelt that had become neglected. The unmarked trail, which is overgrown and enclosed by a 10-foot flood wall, was once actively maintained and a go-to river access point for residents in the mood for a stroll or a swim. Last week, project partners presented their proposal for a revamp of a section of the East Williamson Creek Greenbelt–which they’ve named Donde Corre el Agua (Where the Water Runs)–to the Parks and Recreation Board.
The project team has been working tirelessly over the past year to figure out how to transform the space. Dove Springs residents Blanca Ortíz, Elena Rodríguez and Enedina Sánchez, who initiated the project, teamed up with Frances Acuña of Go Austin/Vamos Austin and Bjørn Sletto, a UT architecture professor, and his class to pull together a 100-plus-page book that spells out how the project should be approached.
“The residents and students have been working every single weekend for a little bit more than a year so they could get the language that was needed to be included in this book so we could have a model for how to transform something that looks like (this) into something beautiful and doing it the right way by including the residents and including the neighbors,” Acuña said in her presentation to the parks board.
While some enjoy hiking the trail in its current wild state, steep drop-offs to the creek and eroded riverbanks have prevented neighbors from enjoying it the way they used to. The parcel used to be lined with houses that backed up to the creek, but after the area was hit by a flood, the houses were bought out and removed. Nonetheless, the area has a rich history and holds memories, especially for older residents, that the team worked to honor.
What they have in mind is a beautiful, well-maintained trail with flower gardens, a community garden, rest stops, picnic areas and a play area including swings and volleyball and basketball courts. The trail will also be adorned with murals that tell stories about the community.
“We prioritized culture preservation and conservation, making sure that the culture wasn’t lost in our community,” Acuña said. “We have been losing (our culture) little by little because of gentrification and displacement, but at least in this space, we were able to come together and see what the residents, between the youth and the older adults, highlighted that they wanted to see.”
Now that the community-activated project proposal is complete, the partners will move on to complete the Neighborhood Partnering Program application, which will include an estimate of the budget and zoning and permitting logistics. Then they’ll identify and begin to implement the project’s priorities. If they don’t secure the funding to complete the project in one sweep, they’ll steward their plan over time.
“This means a lot to the neighborhood because we have taken so much of our minds and our souls into this project,” Acuña said. “Dove Springs is an area that has been neglected and all the work the residents took and the students took to make this happen is something that is admirable for it to become a reality.”
After more than 7,200 miles, 120 hours in the car and spending $12,000 on food, gas and airfare, Austinite Peter McConville now holds the world record for fastest visit to all 50 states.
McConville, along with friends Pasha Krechetov and Abdullahi Salah, completed the trip in five days, 13 hours and 10 minutes for his YouTube channel. The previous record, five days, 16 hours and 20 minutes, was held by Thomas Cannon and Justin Morris.
The trio started in Vermont on May 13, snaked through the continental U.S., hopped on a plane from Washington to Alaska, then Alaska to Hawaii, completing the trip to a round of applause on the plane for breaking the record.
“It finally started to hit me that not only were we really going to break this, but even with all the tiredness and the discomfort, this is definitely one of the best experiences that I have ever had,” McConville said in the video.
Their trip will not be recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records, as McConville explained that cannonball runs are no longer accepted for being “too dangerous” in 1996. The group’s achievement will be recorded by the All Fifty States Club.
Along the way, they visited landmarks like Times Square, Mount Rushmore, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate a.k.a. the “Bean” in Chicago, Bonneville Salt Flat and the Grand Canyon.
However, the rest of their trip was spent cutting bathroom, food and gas breaks to as short as possible. The trio was only able to shower once during the entire journey to make it.
After taking home the gold, McConville and his friends spent two days living the island life before heading back home.
"This is by far the hardest, craziest video I've done," McConville said. "I've always wanted to break a world record."
- Austin's COTA sees biggest race ever as Formula 1 tightens grip on ... ›
- Excitement over Giga Texas opening continues at Tesla Con ... ›
- Long legs, longer marriage and a long-living cat: 11 Guinness World ... ›
- Meet the Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest fitness ... ›
- 11 Guinness World Records held in Austin, Texas - austonia ›
Founded in 2017 by University of Texas at Austin research scientist Andrea Thomaz and Vivian Chu, an alum of Google and IBM, Diligent Robotics aims to offload non-patient tasks from hospital workers.
It’s accomplished through Moxi, a robot that carries out key tasks around a hospital like delivering lab samples and picking up pharmacy prescriptions. Moxi is in hospitals across the country, including Dell Children's Medical Center in trial years for the bots.
Christy Warring, director of marketing and PR at Diligent Robotics, said that operation departments at hospitals have started reaching out with interest in having Moxi join the team. Previously, they had more commonly heard from the innovation department.
“It's like, hey, this used to be a really fun innovation project,” Warring said. “Now, it's like, we need you. This is something we have to have. So it's really moved from an innovation to a necessity in hospitals.”
While Moxi has an important role, the robot is undeniably cute, providing a warm expression resembling Eve from WALL-E. The team didn’t want to just make a box that carries items across the hospital, but a robot with a demeanor, an arm of sorts and a height around 4’11.
“They wanted to create a robot that felt like it belonged in your environment, but not something that would take over your environment right?” Warring said. “Moxi is never going to do patient care. So that was very deliberate.”
Of course, Moxi needs time to train just as anyone else doing the job. Over the course of six to 12 weeks, Moxi becomes skilled at maneuvering its way to an elevator, badging into rooms and learning its way around a hospital so that nurses can save themselves time.
“They understand that Moxi can come in here, and actually reduce those routine tasks so that you don't actually need your nurses to have to go deliver those lab samples or pick up those pharmacy prescriptions,” Laxmi Shetty, chief of people at Diligent Robotics said. “That's the importance of giving them that time back so that they can focus on patient care. And a lot of the time, that's what brings them joy— the impact that they're having on their patients.”
Moxi comes at a time when the stress of working in a hospital, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to burnout among nurses and staffing crises across the nation. So Diligent Robotics sees room for relieving hospital workers of some tasks.
“They're hearing their nurses, their clinical staff and what they're feeling and thinking about how do we supplement this? How do we support our team and support retention?” Shetty said. “Moxi is that solution.”
Going forward, the company is in “hyper-growth mode,” Shetty says. Earlier this year, Diligent Robotics received funding from Tiger Global and some other key investors for $30 million. With about 100 people at the company currently, Diligent Robotics is aiming to reach up to 200 by the end of the year and are hiring across all departments with some positions in Austin and in their other markets.
As they look to expand, Moxi continues bonding with patients and healthcare workers alike.
“I've heard several people say they'll walk by Moxi in the morning, ‘Good morning, Moxi’ like talking to the robot. Moxi is truly part of the team,” Warring said. “So I think it's been fun for Andrea and Vivian, just to watch their vision of having a robot interact with humans like actually come to life.”
- Health Care - austonia ›
- Austin nonprofit and local buildings promote mental health - austonia ›
- Central Health's quest for Medical School accountability blocked by ... ›
- SXSW: Bill Hader talks mental health during his SNL days - austonia ›
- Central Health plans $63 million headquarters at Sears - austonia ›
- Commissioners order Central Health performance audit - austonia ›
- Austin plans Health South redevelopment as part of inno district ... ›
- Central Health negotiating settlement in million dollar lawsuit ... ›