This is not your average home tour.
Austin, Texas is a city in flux. So much so, that dissecting and debating the inexorable winds of change is practically the city’s unofficial pastime—right behind music festivals and craft beer tastings. It’s an oft-quoted fact that over the last thirty years, Austin has gone from a sleepy college-town capitol to a city that regularly hits nationwide Top 10 charts in livability, job expansion, and population growth.
Nowhere is the change more starkly evident than in the arena of housing—and it’s an ever-evolving view. Sleek, glass high-rise condos are mushrooming in the Austin skyline. Suburbs, once on the far edge of town, are now full-fledged communities bursting with new waves of homeowners—many who make a daily commute downtown. On the Eastside, historic residences dating back to the 1920’s are being torn down to make way for newer and larger homes. A drive down South Lamar alternates between the quirky businesses Austin is known for and a crop of new apartment complexes, fresh paint still dripping. And then there are the migratory patterns of low-income African-American and Hispanic families as they move ever further into the suburbs to escape the rising costs of the city core.
This is the new face of housing in Austin in all of its complex and multi-faceted glory.
Behind the statistics and data there are, of course, real homes—houses, apartments, dorms, and trailers—filled with real people. There are stories. Memories. Rites of passage. Significant chunks of life unfolding in private rooms. The 99 Nights project intends to profile 99 of these homes and the stories of the diverse inhabitants who live inside them. By doing so, we hope to come to a broader, richer, and more nuanced understanding of what home looks like in Austin and highlight the broad spectrum of neighbors that make Austin what it is.
To pull it off, we’re organizing a social experiment packaged as an overnight home tour.
Our home-touring guinea pig is Dr. Jeff Wilson (known more notoriously as Professor Dumpster), who spent the last year living in a 6’x6’ dumpster as part of an ongoing minimalist educational experiment at Huston-Tillotson University. Jeff will spend 99 nights in 99 different homes gaining an up-close and intimate understanding of how Austinites relate to their inner spaces. Jasmine "Bobby" Oliver, an emerging Austin photographer, will document the journey with her camera and Clara Bensen, a local writer, will compile short stories to accompany each home.
If you are an Austinite interested in hosting Jeff on one of his 99 nights (or if you know someone who should) please visit the nominate page and shoot us a note. All dwelling types welcome. (And Jeff is a very tidy and well-behaved houseguest, we might add!)
Update: As of 4/07 we have over 80 nominations! Keep them coming!