You can’t deny people are awesome. Who doesn’t like sitting down with good friends to ask them interesting, insightful, and funny questions? That’s what 11 Questions is about. I’ll be featuring some friends I look up to as well as people within the Orlando community I’ve always wanted to get to know.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED BY CARLSON ON HIS OWN BLOG.
The minute I read Austin Valle’s answers to 11 Questions I knew we would get along. We’ve both got similar ideals and a long history in the Orlando area (we actually went to competing high schools). I love that he wants to continue making The City Beautiful into “The City Affordable,” “Walkable,” “Bike-able,” and “Enjoyable.”
For this shoot, I lobbed a bunch of ideas at Austin and he handled all of them with an eager smile. We talked more than we photographed and I’m perfectly okay with that. Orlando is in good hands with people like Austin hanging around. Just do me a favor, when you’re behind the wheel in College Park, keep an eye out for him on his bike, we don’t want to lose him.
Follow Austin’s efforts at Orlando Yimby on Twitter or via the newsletter.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to people who persist in fighting a losing battle over a very long time horizon. There are people in this city that have been fighting bad urbanism and car subservience for decades, with their words typically having fallen on deaf ears. I’ve found that they have incredible wisdom to share, and they will be a critical part of a budding movement to bring good urbanism to Central Florida in the coming years and decades.
Favorite book, album, or musician who has impacted your life?
The on-brand answer would be Jane Jacobs or Donald Shoup, but I will keep it real. I re-visited The Count of Monte Cristo about five years ago and fell back in love with it. I had gotten too deep into reading non-fiction. I had this attitude where reading was just about self-developing and storing away interesting knowledge. Now I often find that most non-fiction books should be articles, most articles should be blog posts, most blog posts should be tweets, and most tweets should be personal diary entries. Life’s too short not to fill it with wonderful stories. Since rediscovering The Count of Monte Cristo, I typically only read fiction books, unless I get a strong recommendation from somebody––and my life is a lot better for it.
If you could mate two different species of animals what would they be?
The Greeks had it exactly right: a horse and a bird. A lot of people go about on rocking horses and think it’s a Pegasus. Always better to get the real thing.
Who in your life has inspired you?
My wife, Bridget. We got a book for our one-year-old son called, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse. It’s wonderful. There is a piece of dialogue where the boy says, “Sometimes I think you believe in me more than I do,” and the horse responds, “You’ll catch up.” I nearly choked the first time I tried to read the line to my son. I am very critical of myself. Bridget is gracious, loving, encouraging, and uncompromisingly kind. She has inspired me to love myself, which allows me to love others more fully.
What are you proud of?
After I got out of the Army in March 2020, I had gotten a bit out of military shape. I don’t think I ran at all from March until December, when I gave myself the goal of running 30 miles on my 30th birthday in March 2021. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.
What rejuvenates you?
A good one-on-one conversation and a cup of coffee. I can’t have anything on my calendar following it. It has to have time to breathe. People are the most interesting thing in the world.
Is there anything you haven’t done yet which you feel compelled to do?
Yes, in the future I will lead the campaign to remove the wretched I-4 from the heart of our city.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
If tweeting counts as personal life, then my personal life is robust and healthy. If tweeting counts as professional life, then I’m afraid I can’t give much advice. I am a big fan of not taking my phone with me when I leave the house, especially if I’m with my wife and son.
Best place to eat in Orlando?
Mediterranean Deli on Fairbanks. I would recommend either falafel or gyro – whichever is more your speed. You can’t go wrong with anything, my friend.
How do you hope to be remembered?
A loving husband and father. A caring friend and stranger. Constantly full of ideas that are a little crazy, but just might work.
If you were to choose a different career what would it be?
My first ever job was in the sixth grade. I was a newspaper delivery boy. Growing up my mom always said I should be a journalist. I like to write, I ask a lot of questions, and I have an incredible propensity to not shut up about something I get really into. I have an enormous amount of respect for a lot of writers in our community and think they provide a greater public service than many realize. So perhaps something in that field. But I’m not all the way grown up yet, so who knows.
Click HERE to read more “11 Questions” columns by Brian Carlson.