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The past year was a whirlwind of a year and one that has given Austinites plenty of time to think and reflect on how they want 2021 to look. With only so much we can do, New Tear's resolutions are a traditional way to set goals and improve yourself. With a rocky start to 2021, maybe you fell behind in your new year planning. This is the perfect time to infuse the new year with good changes to yourself and the area around you.
So whether you're looking for a resolution to adopt in 2021 or don't know where to start, here are some resolutions that can help you better yourself and the community at the same time.
With the pandemic giving us so much more time at home, reading has become a hallmark activity for people of all ages due to its ability to transport the reader anywhere, mask or not. Austin has no shortage of local books stores to support, so you can find something to read all year. For those who like to break the spine of their book themselves, get a brand new book from Austin's most famous book store, Book People, on 603 North Lamar Blvd. If you love the experience of walking through cozy bookshelves, check out South Congress Books on 1608 S Congress Ave. Finally, for the lover of a home library, check out Recycled Reads on 5335 Burnet Road, so you can collect your books at a fraction of the new price. Bonus points if you check out Austin-based authors like Olga Campos Benz, Sarah Bird, Elizabeth Crook or Jennifer DuBois.
Volunteer in the community
After spending so much time at home and watching the community struggle in the midst of COVID-19, 2021 offers a unique opportunity to help out in a renewed way. If you've made it to the new year wondering how you can help your fellow Austinites, maybe check out one of these resources. For an easy way to directly help the community, donate convalescent plasma with We Are Blood. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate convalescent plasma, which is infused with virus-fighting antibodies that can help current patients recover. If you have a hidden talent, are good with your hands or are innovative, ATX COVID-19 Exchange, a project put on by Dell Medical School allows people to submit their needs and find a solution via crowdsourcing. Finally, with so many people struggling, the Central Texas Food Bank is always looking for volunteers who can help out in these trying times. From the kitchen to the warehouse to the garden, there are plenty of opportunities for all kinds of talents.
Try new things
Out with the old and in with the new, as they say. Austin said goodbye to too many staple businesses last year and it is important now more than ever to show support to the community industries that keep Austin weird. Whether you're stopping for a horchata cold brew and cachapas con queso Guayanés at Filipino/Venezuelan restaurant Cuatro Gatos, scouting for the perfect vegan Tex-Mex at Lick It Up or trying to get your hands on a Japanese Wagyu burger brought to you by Luck's Wagyu Burger Shoppe, the possibilities are endless if you expand your search enough.
Get outside more
Use this time to soak up the sunny Austin breeze on Lady Bird Lake—you can even do so in a bougie retro boat from Retro Boat Rentals ATX. If you're looking for a little bit of peace and quiet, explore the waterfalls of Pedernales State Park. Of course, if you want to see the outdoors but don't want to be too far from the nearest highway, there is always Zilker Park.
Learn something new
People discovered new hobbies like crazy in 2020—sourdough bread, dalgona coffee and crocheting all around—so there's no reason not to continue the trend in 2021. If you're not sure where to start, find a topic that interests you and connect with a local group who can help. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers virtual classes on designing a rain garden or trying yoga with singing bowls. Take a live-streamed art class through the Dougherty Arts Center or maybe even get a feel for the delicate art of glass blowing with Ghost Pepper Glass classes.
We've already made it through 2020, so we might as well be our best selves in 2021.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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