Scott Swearingen - Author
Scott Swearingen received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas. But he earned his knowledge about Austin and its people by growing up in Austin, and taking part in the latter battles between "environmentalists and developers". Swearingen was one of the many foot soldiers in Austin's environmental movement, passing out flyers and working phone banks and elections and such. Volunteering on so many campaigns gave him a unique insight into the times and the people and the movement, so he decided to write a history of that movement.
But the Environmental Movement of Austin did not just spring up, win some elections, and then disappear. It is still very much part of the political and social landscape of Austin, and has an enormous inmpact on the way Austin looks and feels today. The third part of the book details those impacts, and where the movement stands today. The author continues to play a minor part in that story as well. The Current Issues link will take you to some of the pressing environmental and growth issues facing Austin today.
Swearingen mixes observations of the movement from personal and academic angles, as he explains in the introduction:
"My participation in the movement also helped define my academic interests, and my academic training helped define my understanding of the movement, its people, and my own role in it. If my childhood shaped my emotional and psychological ideas about this place we call Austin, my academic background and occupation shaped my intellectual curiosity about it. My experiences of Austin from my childhood, my participation in the environmental movement, my academic training; they all interact up there in my head, bouncing off each other, trying to understand it all in various ways. Sociology helps explain the power and economic relations that cause social movements. The social geographers who talk about images of the city and the discourse of the city help explain how the physical and the social and the ideal go together. Frame analysis from sociology helps us understand the way ideas are communicated between social groups. When you put all three of these together, you get a pretty good idea of how the environmental meaning of Austin emerged, and how it shaped the way Austin looks today."