Saturday, May 28, 2005

Community Reborn

Recently, a group of CDM leaders, along with an architect and a couple of commercial realtors “explored” the inside of an old and cavernous building that sits empty in downtown Dallas.

Twenty-two stories of abandoned stone and steel, it rises from the street with no current purpose or utility.

As I walked through the building, climbing dark stairways with a flashlight, making my way through office areas and peering out from the upper floors through grimy windows, I could see community lost.

On the ground floor a staircase sweeps smartly up to the mezzanine level where a once busy coffee shop, surrounded by novelty stores, overheard the banter and conversation of hundreds of urban workers. Around lunch tables, across office desks, in conference rooms and even down in the engine rooms, this building housed a thriving community years ago.

Today it is dead.

Completely dead.

Empty.

Quiet.

Spooky, frankly.

But, I have to tell you; we can see community rising from the ashes of this place, or one much like it.

We continue to explore a radical, but very possible dream of bringing life to such a place again. We can see two hundred single room occupancy (SRO) apartments carved out on the upper floors of such an abandoned place. New homes for very low-income persons who simply need just that—a place to call home.

We can see thriving offices down below where our administrative and development functions could be housed alongside our law firm, the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation and CDMWorks, our employment training arm. We see other community development partners housed with our team in such a space.

I can see, better, I can smell the coffee brewing and I can hear the conversations ignited again in the restaurant and in the shops.

Best of all, I can observe folks getting life together after long journeys into far countries of confusion and isolation!

Home at last!

Community lost.

Community rediscovered!

Stay tuned for the details.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something in this post reminded me of the poet, Li-Young Lee, and his work, "With Ruins." Let us hope that CDM, in its struggle to bring life and hope to the darkest corners of the inner city, will gain the grace it needs to "unruin" our community.



Choose a quiet
place, a ruins, a house no more
a house,
under whose stone archway I stood
one day to duck the rain.

The roofless floor, vertical
studs, eight wood columns
supporting nothing,
two staircases careening to nowhere, all
make it seem

a sketch, notes to a house, a three-
dimensional grid negotiating
absences,
an idea
receding into indefinite rain,

or else that idea
emerging, skeletal
against the hammered sky, a
human thing, scoured, seen clean
through from here to an iron heaven.

A place where things
were said and done,
there you can remember
what you need to
remember. Melancholy is useful. Bring yours.

There are no neighbors to wonder
who you are,
what you might be doing
walking there,
stopping now and then

to touch a crumbling brick
or stand in a doorway
framed by the day.
No one has to know you
think of another doorway

that framed the rain or news of war
depending on which way you faced.
You think of sea-roads and earth-roads
you traveled once, and always
in the same direction: away.

You think
of a woman, a favorite
dress, your old father's breasts
the last time you saw him, his breath,
brief, the leaf

you've torn from a vine and which you hold now
to your cheek like a train ticket
or a piece of cloth, a little hand or a blade -
it all depends
on the course of your memory.

It's a place
for those who own no place
to correspond to ruins in the soul.
It's mine.
It's all yours.

Brandon Scott said...

Larry-
How very exciting!! Please do keep us posted.

songbirdintl said...

This is SO exciting Larry! I am praying for Central Dallas Ministries and the work that God is doing in Dallas. May He provide for every need to make this home a reality for the people of Dallas who desparately need it. May God bless you for your faithfulness and boldness in calling us to greater concern and community for those around us.