Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Something's wrong with Blogger!

Some of you have noticed, I know. 

Something has gone whacky on this blog!  Hackers?  Surely not!

But somehow, my posts from June 17-24 have all disappeared from my page.  I know I have at least one comment that sort of implies I took something down due to its controversial nature. 

Didn't happen!

I've tried to restore the posts in quesiton, but can't make that work. 

So, I'm going to post them all here in one giant "reprise" attempt to put them back up.  Here goes!

The Guts and the Gutters

We cannot know the God of the guts and the gutters unless we have traveled deep enough within ourselves to touch and experience our own guts--where God lives, and unless we have reached out far enough beyond ourselves to smell and sit in the gutters--where God squats.

Edwina Gateley
 I Hear a Seed Growing

Today I witnessed one of those breakthrough moments at "the Corner." 

The heat rose to oppressive levels.  The crowd that huddled in the shade under Billy's tree in front of his old, delapidated, abandoned house resembled a congregation in the fellowship mode. 

During the two-and-a-half hours that I sat there, I heard countless stories and enjoyed conversations with many people. 

But the sea change that occurred happened very quickly. 

Isaac Nelson, a man who migrated here from New Orleans, ended up in the "walk in" around the corner (an emergency homeless shelter down and around the block from "the Corner) thanks to a fairly tough illness.  About mid-way through our time together I went to my car to get bottled water to replinish the supply in my ice chest.  Upon seeing me lugging the case of water, Isaac sprang to my aid.  He grabbed the water and began filling the ice chest.  Two other men quickly rose to assist him.

"Man, I haven't seen guys jump around on a job like this out here, ever," one of our friends razzed them. 

As we settled back into the comfort of the  porch, two or three other passerbys came down the sidewalk.  Isaac opened the cooler and he invited people to help themselves. 

Isaac was in charge.

Today, the community took over "the Corner" in a brand new way! 

It was a "mission accomplished" moment! 

Just before I had to leave, George, another friend, reminded me of a conversation we had about a month ago.

"You know, I haven't been able to forget what you told me the first day we met," he offered.

"What was that?" I inquired.

"When you said there were enough of us to elect a city council member--I haven't been able to stop thinking about that, man." 

"As many of you as there are and as few folks as actually vote in Dallas, I'm convinced it's something that you all should keep thinking about.  You just need to get organized," I told him.

What a day.  I'll keep coming back here.

CitySquare's new Opportunity Center is exploding out of the ground, literally! It's fun watching the progress while visiting with neighbors who stay in the area. The new center will focus on employment. At the same time, the project has provided jobs for scores of workers.

Drop by the project at Malcolm X Blvd. and I-30 to see the progress.


The Same Inside

Walking to your place for a love feast
I saw at a street corner
an old beggar woman.

I took her hand,
kissed her delicate cheek,
we talked, she was
 the same inside as I am,
from the same kind,
I sensed this instantly
as a dog knows by scent
another dog.

I gave her money.
I could not part from her.
After all, one needs
someone who is close.

And then I no longer knew
why I was walking to your place.

Source: The Same Inside

This report hit the news last Friday.  When I read it, I thought of all of the children and youth we know who will be protected by this sensible policy change.  What do you think?

U.S. Will Give Immunity to Some Young Illegal Migrants

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.

Obama planned to discuss the new policy Friday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden.

Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.

The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. It tracks closely to a proposal offered by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as an alternative to the DREAM Act.

"Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration's action. "Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."

The extraordinary move comes in an election year in which the Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida. While Obama enjoys support from a majority of Hispanic voters, Latino enthusiasm for the president has been tempered by the slow economic recovery, his inability to win congressional support for a broad overhaul of immigration laws and by his administration's aggressive deportation policy. Activists opposing his deportation policies last week mounted a hunger strike at an Obama campaign office in Denver, and other protests were planned for this weekend.

The change is likely to cause an outcry from congressional Republicans, who are sure to perceive Obama's actions as an end run around them.

To read the entire report click here

Fair Park may be the most under-utilized asset in the city of Dallas. 

The 277 acre community resource combines museums, seasonal attractions (including the best known, State Fair of Texas), history, art and performances.  It is a national historic landmark. Personally, I have very fond memories of walking to the State Fair with my best buddy when we were grade school kids.  His dad allowed us to tag along to his workplace not far from the park and we'd walk the short distance to a destination of great fun and wonder. 

For many reasons, those days are long gone. 

I've been thinking about Fair Park and its possibilities for quite awhile now.  When Jerry Jones decided not to build Cowboys Stadium in the park, I wondered why the city of Dallas wouldn't redevelop it in a manner that would actually produce more economic return to more of its citizens than a football stadium. 

More recently, I read Patrick Kennedy's opinion piece in the June issue of DMagizine ("Big Tex Is a Murderer," page 14) reporting that two zip codes just south of the park are two of the 25 most violent neighborhoods in the U. S. (75210 and 75215 rank 9 and 12 respectively).  Kennedy blames the violence in large part on the fact that the park includes 47 acres of surface parking, noting that "Crime follows disinvestment."

Kennedy wonders what would happen if the parking lots gave way to redevelopment and new investment.  I like the way he is thinking.  However, I don't think he goes far enough. 

The entire park needs comprehensive redevelopment.  One  possibility would be a public-private partnership, possibly backed by an aggressive bond issue and including private investors, land planners and community development organizations.  I know the Dallas 2020 Olympic Committee focused its attention on Fair Park as a potential, wonderful site for an Olympic Village had Dallas landed a bid for the games.  Plans included thousands of apartments that could be leased/sold after the competition concluded. 

Selling off some or all of the park should be considered with built in obligations to develop a truly diverse community in and around the park.  The value of adjacent homeowners' properties  would have to be protected as an upfront part of any deal. 

Can you imagine the vitality of a mixed use, mixed income development at such a scale?  The redevelopment, reinvestment coupled with DART's Green Line at the doorway of the park would draw Fair Park back into the entire community.  Businesses, performing venues, an entertainment corridor, apartments for lease, condos for sale, a healthy connection to the nearby schools--the deal, done properly and adequately capitalized, would set off real transformation of South Dallas.  The return on investment to the city and to the entire region would be phenomenal. 

Wonder what would happen if a group of accomplished folks got together and worked on this?  It's way past time to take some creative action on this largely untapped jewel of our city.

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