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.
For years Austin has been one of the top 5 places to live in the U.S., according to an annual ranking from U.S. News and World Report. But this year, Austin dropped out of the top 10.
The publication ranked Austin at No. 13, down from No. 5 last year, No. 3 in 2020 and No. 1 in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Cities ranking in the top this year were No. 1 Huntsville, Alabama, No. 2 Colorado Springs and No. 3 Green Bay, Wisconsin.
So why did it rank lower this year?
The hot housing market is part of the reason. The report states "Austin offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income."
Still, Austin was the highest-ranked Texas city on the list. Adding to its desirability are its live music capital roots and the growing tech scene. The next Texas area on the list was Dallas-Fort Worth coming in at No. 32.
U.S. News says it analyzed 150 metro areas in the U.S. to make the list based on the quality of life, the job market, the value of living there and people's desire to live there.
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Austin parents and grocery store shelves are feeling the effects of a nationwide baby formula shortage.
Caused mostly by a February recall due to contamination issues, followed by the Abbott Nutrition factory closure in Michigan, the shortage has left Austin shelves barren. However, earlier this week, U.S. officials announced a plan with the facility to restart production.
In the meantime, local parents in crisis have turned toward the Mother’s Milk Bank to keep their babies fed.
HEB on East 7th has been picked clean of formula and is limiting purchases. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
The milk bank—which takes donations from lactating mothers and dispenses milk to babies in the NICU—has been helping feed upwards of 30 families in need as the formula supply tightens.
According to the bank’s executive director Kim Updegrove, Mother’s Milk Bank has seen an uptick in calls from parents with healthy babies in need of help since the shortage began.
“We aren't used to hearing from families with healthy infants,” Updegrove said. “They're typically very upset, angry, frustrated, sobbing—it's scary to not be able to feed your infants. So in the past few weeks, those calls have been significantly increasing.”
Mothers are only able to donate if they are within a year postpartum, so Updegrove said they are constantly bringing on and retiring donors. While donors had been on a 30% decline leftover from 2021 when the shortage began, Updegrove said the shortage has led to mass community interest and more than 90 prospective donors in just the past few days.
“We and other milk banks are experiencing significant interest from the community—becoming milk donors and helping to turn around this crisis,” Updegrove said. “Every infant needs to be fed, every one of us can relate to that need, and we need to make sure as a community that it happens.”
Whole Foods downtown was also cleaned out of typical formula. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
While you may still be able to find formula at places like Whole Foods—which currently has goat milk, soy and plant-based formula in stock—Updegrove said it might not be what a baby needs.
Updegrove said it is best to buy types that say “infant formula,” as they are FDA approved and will provide the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a baby needs. Plant-based, homemade, non-cow's milk or diluting formula may not provide the same nutritional value.
As the community navigates the shortage, Updegrove said the most important way to help out is to not panic buy or stockpile.
“This is a crisis for families,” Updegrove said. “This is the time for the community to gather together and figure out what everyone can do to help families with young infants.”