We have the honor of getting to know some real special people living in Carlton Landing and getting the inside scoop on the journey that brought them here. Some stories have more twists and turns than others, but the twists and turns in Austin Tunnell’s story are quite remarkable.
After college in Birmingham, Austin started his adult career life as an accountant, of all things, and I imagine somewhere along the way someone in Austin’s life told him what a good accountant he would be and what a nice safe career move that would be for him and his future family. Well, it may have been, but the ka-chunk of the adding machine or the painfully long hours staring at P & L’s were no match for seeing the world! So, like a good accountant, he analyzed his options and made the most logical choice, The Peace Corps…………..In Uganda! He didn’t know it at the time, but this was the fortuitous decision that would lead him to meeting his wife, Sarah. After two years in the Peace Corps, Austin heard of a little project happening in the jungles of Panama. Kalu Yala is nestled in a valley, 30 plus miles from Panama City, where they are building the most sustainable community in the world. Austin’s time in Panama taught him the values of New Urbanism and a new career was budding. Also, while working in Kalu Yala, he met Clay Chapman (see our interview with Clay, here) which was another fortuitous turn in Austin’s life, because when he came back from Panama, he married Sarah and moved to Carlton Landing, Oklahoma, USA to be an apprentice for Clay Chapman’s home building company, Artisan Trades and Hope for Architecture. I can’t do Austin’s story justice in the little space I have to write this, but I love the adventurous spirit he exudes.
Settling Down, Sort Of…
Evidently, Sarah likes adventure as much as her spouse. In Austin’s own words, “I love her courage, effort to grow, her laugh and smile, her goodness, kindness, and support…” We do too, because it takes all that, plus a lot more, to watch Austin run off to the jungle, then when he returned, accept his proposal, bump up the 8 month engagement to planning a wedding and getting married in 5 weeks so he can have a “trial week” with Clay in Carlton Landing. Then, pack up her stuff and move to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people in Oklahoma two weeks after you get married!
The rest, as they say, is history. Austin’s company, Building Culture, has partnered up with Daryl Nieto of Anchorage Lakeside Homes, to build The Bend, an awesome pocket neighborhood in Carlton Landing. They are doing some cool stuff, like lime wash (pictured below), to enhance the luster of the brick and giving you the option to marry mass wall with stick frame to build your dream home that will last.
Austin has taken some risks in getting to where he is today and I think he is a better man because of taking the risks. It’s not easy to turn your back on what you studied in college to pursue a different life that will, possibly, change the world a little. Enjoy his well thought out rants in this weeks edition of Builder Spotlight!