(John and Marilee Eitel)

Welcome to Austonia, a new, locally owned news company reporting on news, business, and politics in Austin. Like what you see? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our latest stories in your inbox.

Late at night on April 23, under the cover of darkness, John and Marilee Eitel drove around Rollingwood on their golf cart, planting signs in their neighbors' yards.


They featured song lyrics from Willie Nelson ("I just can't wait to get back on the road again"), The Little Mermaid ("I want to be where the people are"), Talking Heads ("Home is where I want I want to be") and Bob Marley ("Everything's going to be alright"). One version included advice from Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey ("Just keep livin'").

"The next morning it was super fun to wake up and see the Instagram posts and Facebook messages and NextDoor messages with people saying, 'Have you seen the really cool signs?'" John said. "It started to get even more interesting because people are like, 'Look, there's more of them.' 'I found them over here.' It became kind of an Easter egg hunt, and no one knew who did it."

Rollingwood residents responded to John and Marilee's signs on social media. (John and Marilee Eitel)


John got the idea to make the signs a few weeks into the coronavirus quarantine, during which he got into the habit of walking along a four-mile loop in Rollingwood. "My wife and I started to see that as our outlet to the outside world and our chance to socialize and see neighbors," he said.

One night, on a whim, John broached the idea of making signs. He works for Canva, a company that makes graphic design software, and—after drumming up about a dozen different sign ideas—reached out to a coworker, who printed 50 and shipped them to the Eitels.

Since the signs made their debut, John has revealed his identity—and is now fielding requests from neighbors near and far. John placed a second order for 50 signs and then a third for 100 more. "It's been neat to see them popping up in lots of new neighborhoods," he said, citing appearances in Clarksville, Tarrytown and even on someone's boat dock.

(John and Marilee Eitel)

A Google form used to corral orders revealed crowd favorites, such as the Beatles' lyric, "All you need is love." John said he's enjoying the crowdsourcing nature of the project and making connections with Austin residents he might not have met otherwise, especially at a moment when our worlds feel smaller than usual.

On Wednesday, John is expecting his fourth shipment, which will bring the total number of signs to 400. When they arrive, he and his family will help prep the deliveries, with Marilee delineating orders with Post-It Notes and their children driving them to their new homes.

"I hope that my kids come away from this with a really positive memory," John said. "How we were able to make a small impact on people's lives and bring some positivity into our lives."

(John and Marilee Eitel)

(Capital City Bakery/Instagram)

Halloween season is rapidly coming to a close but there is still time to celebrate. Austin is making the most out of the holiday with themed cookies, cakes, coffee, cocktails and more. If you're not too scared, you might still have time to try them all.

Keep Reading Show less
ATXN.tv

Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden introduced her coronavirus-themed piñata during a press conference Wednesday.

Instead of door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween, local health leaders are recommending that Austin residents start new traditions. For example, coronavirus-themed piñatas are proving very popular in 2020.

Keep Reading Show less

Rainey Street Residences is a 48-story, 409-unit apartment complex proposed at the corner of Rainey and River streets.

Two original Rainey Street bungalows, home to longtime bars Craft Pride and Javelina, could be replaced by a proposed 48-floor apartment complex.

Keep Reading Show less
(MetroBike/Twitter)

Capital Metro is making sure people can get to the polls to vote this year.

Keep Reading Show less
(Charlie L. Harper III/Austonia)

After sounding the alarm last week that the pandemic was growing in Austin, local health officials said Tuesday there are signs of a possible plateau. But caseload increases across the state suggest another surge is on the horizon, and researchers at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that there is a 100% chance the pandemic is growing locally.

Keep Reading Show less
(Bob Daemmrich)

Austin ISD will offer face-to-face, on-campus learning to all students whose families choose to take advantage of it starting on Monday, Nov. 2, in compliance with the Texas Education Agency's guidelines.

Keep Reading Show less
(Austin Bergstrom International Airport)

Zack Morgan playing the piano during his set at the airport.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping the tradition of live music at the airport alive.

Keep Reading Show less