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My Neighborhood in Pictures

As any Instagram-addict knows, a striking image of a common thing or moment can be breathtaking and transporting. With that in mind, we asked three local talents (an artist and designer and two professional photographers) who have a knack for documenting their daily lives to lead us through a visual essay of what they cherish about their neighborhoods. As you’ll see in their poignant and lovely images, beauty often lies in the tiniest details, the ones that you’ll miss if you don’t step outside and behold your own street with eyes wide open, and with wonder.

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Nancy Mims' Hyde Park

I’ve always been someone who delights in the discovery of fleeting little moments of wonder, beauty, or just peculiarity, especially within hidden details or juxtapositions that might otherwise go unnoticed by most people. And for as long as I can remember, I have tended to compulsively assign great significance and deeper meaning to these little things, perhaps in an attempt to understand the larger reason for why they—and therefore we—exist in the first place. Or, at the very least, to make momentary sense of the order and chaos that surround us.

For the past five years, I’ve meandered through Hyde Park’s streets and alleyways each morning on sort of a walking meditation. I clear my mind. I get fresh air and exercise. I satisfy my wanderlust (even if I’m only within a several-mile radius of my home). And I open myself up to the possibility of being completely surprised by The Unexpected. When I’m able to, I document my discoveries with my iPhone (the tiny camera and portable darkroom that is ALWAYS in my pocket), in hopes that by collecting, recording, and sharing the data I gather, I am able to pass along the knowledge found in the ever-changing cabinet of curiosities along (and sometimes in and on) the road.

A couple of years ago, a fellow pedestrian paused on our shared sidewalk and stared quizzically as I stopped to snap a close-up of a telephone pole. Apparently he had seen me take other photos, and he finally asked, “Are you on a treasure hunt or something?” Thrilled by the revelation, I exclaimed, “YES! Yes, I am!” And I continued along my path, in search of the seemingly endless clues and treasures that always lie ahead.

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Alysha Rainwaters’ South Austin

My husband, daughter, and I live in South Austin in the 78745 zip code. Our house backs up to Garrison Park, and we spend a lot of time there, on wagon rides or at the pool. We moved into our little white house in 2011 and have developed a deep connection to our community and neighbors.

Our daughter is an only child, but with so many kids in the neighborhood, it really doesn’t feel that way. The kids all play together and roam from house to house, and when you look down our street, what you see is like a scene from another time or from a movie. People are always outside talking, playing, and laughing.

Typical Friday nights might feature a spontaneous kids’ karaoke session in someone’s living room, maybe a backyard potluck down the street, or a simple glass of wine at a neighbor’s dining room table.

While of course we love eating out, we usually do eat most meals at home. My very favorite part of the day is pouring my first cup of coffee from the French press, then blending up a smoothie for the family. It’s our thing, a chance for some quality time before we go our separate ways for the day.

Matt and I always talk about how lucky we are to live in our neighborhood and to be surrounded by people we genuinely enjoy spending time with. It’s not something you can plan; it really just is luck.

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Kate LeSueur’s Old Enfield

In our nearly three years in Austin, we’ve come to know and love our neighborhood. Though we are perhaps not as judicious as some when it comes to defining its parameters, we gladly (and gratuitously) consider ourselves a part of Old Enfield, Old West Austin, and Clarksville as well, as we sit in our tiny apartment just shy of the Pease Mansion. I begin most every day with a morning walk; sometimes just 10 minutes to grab a coffee at Cafe Medici, or sometimes a more exhaustive excursion down through Pease Park and back around. Regardless, it never gets old—massive oaks, beautiful old homes with varied architecture, and a view of the capitol from Kingsbury Street.

We really delight in the “feel” of our neighborhood—familiar faces, guaranteed great meals at favorite nearby restaurants, and being able to walk or bike to run most errands. We are so thankful that we can easily and quickly stroll down to the farmers’ market, grab groceries, drop off dry cleaning, pick up something at the pharmacy—it’s all there. This proximity has created a nice sense of predictability, routine, and comfort, which is a great match for us “homebodies.” More often than not, our favorite times in Austin are spent at home or somewhere in our neighborhood, over shared meals and time together with our favorite people.

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