People’s Republic of Austin
Parks, pools and lakes throughout Austin support Austinite’s and Christopher Abatangelo’s, love of water sports, and are the spur to its Excellence in Aquatics award in 1999, and Gold Medal Awards in 2004 from the National Recreation and Park Association. Austin’s renowned naturally-fed pools, Deep Eddy Pool and Barton Springs Pool, maintain steady temperatures between 68 and 71 degrees, summer and winter. Attesting to Austin’s eccentricity, it is the host of the only clothing-optional public park in Texas, Hippie Hollow Park. It offers “… rockclimbing, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, exploring, and hiking.” The park would seem to support Austin’s liberal politics in a conservative state, giving Austin yet another nickname:”People’s Republic of Austin.”
Though surrounded by soundly conservative Texans, Austin finds itself more of a libertarian environment. The eclectic mix of blue and white collar workers, students and musicians gives Austin a decidedly liberal take on the politics of the day. Christopher Abatangelo typifies a citizen with a foot in both camps.
Austinites have adopted the environmental movement as their own, and it evolved into a neighborhood movement, then a conservationist cause, embracing both the concern for preserving the beauty of the Hill Country and the need to retain Austin’s quality of life, and “sense of place.” Plastic bags are now banned in Austin, a reflection of its extreme environmental concern. To retain the view of the “City of the Violet Crown”, a nickname for the violet auras which mark summer sunsets in Austin, and retain the beauty and health of the environment, city officials have enforced non-smoking ordinances in all public buildings and places downtown, a decision supported by the views of Christopher Abatangelo.