I moved to Austin in 1989 to attend the graduate school in film and television at U.T. Austin. Having moved from the drained swampland of Washington, D.C, I was used to hot and muggy, but the searing sun of Texas was another story altogether. I asked a neighbor how they handled the heat. Not surprisingly, he recommended Barton Springs.
I went. Looking over the fence that first time grabbed my soul. The color, the enormity, and then the plunge, the reset that happens to mind and body is like nothing I had experienced before.
In early summer 1990, certainly while procrastinating the memorizing of f-stops and microphone pickup patterns, I happened upon the City of Austin Channel 6. With the sign language interpreter in the top corner of the screen, I saw many people testifying about something called the Barton Creek PUD. I could not look away and kept watching for the whole night, drifting in and out of sleep. It was singularly impressive how so many people, old and young, came to testify against a massive development on Barton Creek. The people wanted a stronger water quality ordinance, one that would allow for non-degradation of Barton Creek and Barton Springs. Having become Springs afficianado, that sounded like a fabulous idea to me. Where else in the world could one find clear, swimmable water so close to an urban center?
When I communicated to my fellow grad. students that I was going to document the revision of the Comprehensive Watershed Ordinance, they all thought that sounded incredibly boring. Little did they know that this “boring” story of water quality regulation would become one of Austin’s most historically significant movements, Save Our Springs.
My film, Common Ground:The Battle for Barton Springs,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkZqUqIe__0 completed as my Master’s thesis at U.T., would chronicle the early days of the movement, culminating in the victory of the Save Our Springs ordinance at the ballot box on August 2, 1992. It was a moment in time that will be with me forever and it all began on that fateful night on June 7, 1990 at the famous “All Night Hearing.” To this day I cannot get away from the Springs and am inspired to explore all facets of the Springs history and culture, good and bad. In many ways, the story of the Springs is the story of Austin. Today, I continue the work begun back in 1989 with the Living Springs documentary series. Barton Springs Eternal!