Friday, July 31, 2015
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Therefore, with $100,000 we can provide some 1,300 hours of legal services.
It takes an average of 20 hours of legal services to complete a case.
So with $100,000 we could provide start to finish legal services for 65 neighbors.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Monday, July 27, 2015
Rising Inequality; Rising Levels of Poverty (still!) – Let’s At Least Have Some Meaningful Conversations About ThisNews item: the number of children below the poverty line is now greater than it was in the great recession of 2008 (More US children living in poverty than before recession: report).
Indeed, the distribution of wealth is too important an issue to be left to economists, sociologists, historians, and philosophers. It is of interest to everyone, and that is a good thing. Refusing to deal with numbers rarely serves the interests of the least well-off.Read on to learn more and to be engaged in CitySquare's important, Urban Engagement Book Club during the remainder of 2015!
Sunday, July 26, 2015
The Litmus Test
Friday, July 24, 2015
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
MICHAEL S. RAWLINGS
CITY OF DALLAS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: SCOTT GOLDSTEIN
JULY 17, 2015 214.670.797
Changes announced on mayor’s poverty task force
Former chair assumes GrowSouth post; new leadership named
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings on Friday announced a change in leadership and scope of his poverty task force, which was formed in early 2014.
Regina Montoya, a co-chair of the task force, will take on sole leadership responsibilities of the newly-reconstructed task force, as the panel’s mission shifts to further study the poverty that plagues Dallas and to develop sustainable solutions.
Larry James, the head of Dallas nonprofit CitySquare and the founding chair of the task force, will take on a key role with the mayor’s GrowSouth initiative. Although he will remain a member of the poverty task force, he’ll now be primarily tasked with forming the GrowSouth Collective Impact board.
Under the leadership of James and Montoya, along with former City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, the poverty task force in August 2014 presented several recommendations to the Dallas City Council. Among them: leverage the federal earned income tax credit as an economic engine; emphasize early-childhood education; improve efforts to reduce blight; and support an increase in minimum wage for city employees and contract workers.
From his new post, James, who has been fighting poverty in the city for decades, will now work to connect the City of Dallas’ Neighborhood Plus plan with the Mayor’s GrowSouth initiative in specified areas. The envisioned Collective Impact board will oversee the work of three general managers who will focus on progress in the target neighborhoods of Parkdale/Urbandale, the Lancaster Corridor and the Education Corridor.
"The poverty task force last year presented substantive recommendations that we are continuing to pursue," Rawlings said. "In his new position, Larry James will be able to help implement those and additional policies through the Collective Impact model."
The mayor said his poverty task force will now be focused on better understanding the alarming poverty numbers in our city. It will also be charged with developing long-term solutions for the entire city.
"Portions of our city are booming with historic prosperity and development," Rawlings said. "Yet, the median family income for single-mother homes dropped by 30 percent from 2000 to 2012 and the median income for married couples with children dropped by more than half of that. This is a crisis and we must better understand its root causes if we’re going to address it. Given Regina Montoya’s leadership experience and her extensive knowledge of these critical issues facing Dallas, she will be in an excellent position to lead the work of the newly-reconstructed task force."
Newly elected City Council member Mark Clayton will also join the task force. He replaces Atkins.
Regina Montoya is a Harvard-trained attorney who has been nationally recognized as one of the top lawyers in the country. She served as co-chair of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' Task Force on Poverty, and she is a member of the Board of Directors of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Montoya was one of the first Latinas to earn partnership in a major corporate law firm in the United States, and she is a former award-winning television commentator. Montoya is currently working on a book about the importance of incorporating Latinos into the economic, political and social fabric of America, and she is a frequent public speaker on a wide range of issues, including health care, poverty, diversity and children.
Montoya has received numerous awards for her corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit accomplishments. She earned her B.A. from Wellesley College, where she is a Trustee Emerita, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Larry James has provided executive leadership since joining CitySquare in 1994. James is known in the Dallas faith, business and media communities as a social entrepreneur and committed servant to the people of East and South Dallas.
He is a graduate of Harding University (B.A. 1972), Harding University Graduate School of Religion (M.A. 1973), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv 1977), Tulane University (M.A.—American History 1986) and Perkins School of Theology at SMU (post-graduate). His first full-length book, The Wealth of the Poor: How Valuing Every Neighbor Restores Hope in Our Cities, was published by Leafwood Publishers in 2013.
Since 1999, James and his wife, Brenda, have made their home in the inner city. James, a United Methodist Minister, serves the church in a dual appointment to CitySquare and Highland Park United Methodist Church.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Friday, July 17, 2015
Better, I've come to this.
Memorializing dear friends from high school days more frequently is not a trend that appeals to me.
On July 3, Glenn Lowe passed away following a short, but intense illness.
Glenn and I were great buds all through junior high and high school.
He was a great football talent, going on to play and star at the University of Arkansas in the old South West Conference. Our football memories solidified our connection.
Richardson High School class of 1968, football season of 1967--amazing times. The Eagles went 11-3 that year, falling to state powerhouse Abilene Cooper in the state semi-finals, a game played in the biting cold at the Cotton Bowl. They kicked us 42-6! Still, I believe every starting player on that 1967 team received a college scholarship to play football.
Experiences like that create lifelong connection.
Sadly, we didn't see each other very often at all, but the heart connection remains as strong as back in the day. I realized that last week when another teammate and star player at the University of Texas, David Arledge got word to me about Glenn's death.
Funny, David and I picked up right where we left off 47 years ago!
Glenn never met a stranger. He was full of joy and laughter and goodness. He was the guy who always stopped to pick you up if you were down or defeated or ready to quit. He was a kind, humble. funny giant of a man. He must have had a million friends.
He was also a heck of a football player, and he was loyal/supportive of all of his friends!
An example of his loyalty will remain with me for the rest of my life. We played the Longview High School Lobos in the regional playoff game that final, amazing season. It turned out to be the toughest, most physical game in which I would ever play. The game was a battle to the end. We finally prevailed and won the game.
At the very end of the game, the Longview Lobo nose guard playing over me at center intentionally jumped offside and smacked me in the head, an obvious act of anger and frustration.
Glenn took it all in.
In our huddle before the next play he told us he was moving over to the guard position where David Arledge played.
"Larry, you hit him high, I'll hit him low!" Glenn informed us all.
Our play worked flawlessly, except for one thing. Glenn took the Lobo player down with a low block and I hit him high. However, when I hit him high, I just kept hitting him with my head.
I was ejected from the game. Even the coaches laughed.
Glenn was a real friend.
Something important slipped away from us two weeks ago.
No matter what you say, that's tough. It's hard.
R. I. P., Big Glenn.
If you knew Glenn, a memorial celebration has been organized for 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at First United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
American Public Health Association. 800 I St. NW, Washington DC 20001 202-777-APHA © 2015 All rights reserved.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Among the unexpected experiences and emotions of my mining the attic, I've discovered lots of correspondence from across the years.
And in that connection, I've noted a very discernable pattern.
Early in my "career" I tended to save "positive" feedback from my constituents--mainly members of the churches that I served. I've discovered so many letters and notes of encouragement from those early days. Many bring tears to my eyes and surprises to the memory capacity of my heart and soul.
Later in my work life--have I ever had a job?--I simply threw away the positive notes.
As a matter of fact, I threw away almost all of the feedback. I read it all, positive and negative. During this period, I always tossed the positive. Some of the negative remains. I'm not sure what all this means, but it seems to me that as I've grown older, I've also come to benefit from clarity and from criticism.
One thing I know for sure, really caring about people matters.
And, it's not a bad way to build a life as over against a job or career. I've never been perfect, far from it, but I have cared.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
demagoguery-- an appeal to people that plays on their emotions and prejudices rather than on their rational side; a manipulative approach — often associated with dictators and sleazy politicians — that appeals to the worst nature of people; demagoguery isn't based on reason, issues, and doing the right thing; it's based on stirring up fear and hatred to control people; for example, a politician who stirs up a fear of immigrants to distract from other issues is using demagoguery; one of the most negative aspects of politics, but it's also one that's all too common.
Think just here Donald Trump.
Trump is much, much more than a clown. He is a dangerous man.
His statements on Mexico, on immigrants from Mexico and his harsh, hateful judgmental spirit appears to be working with some voters, as he fans the fire of xenophobia and the worst of our heritage as a nation.
Possibly the irony of all ironies has to do with the fact that the United States, a nation of immigrants, has always witnessed vociferous, anti-immigrant spokespersons, usually self-appointed, voices like that of Mr. Trump.
He is short-sighted and inexperienced at best. I won't speak to the "at worst" here.
Simply put, he is dead wrong.
Try doing Dallas without immigrants from Mexico. We all benefit from the labor of hard working Mexican immigrants. We exploit them and their legal status to our benefit. This ugly truth is why we have not achieved comprehensive immigration reform: it is not in the self-interest of people like Mr. Trump to pursue a fair, enlightened immigration policy. So, he makes speeches that appeal to crowds of angry people.
Check his "facts" and you'll find nothing to back up his outlandish statements.
To be honest, he is talking about friends of mine. I find him most offensive and vulgar.
Young and old, rich and poor, the folks "the Donald" refers to have as much right to be in this nation as any of the rest of us. In fact, a stronger case can be made that their claim to the rights to be here, (especially in Texas) go all the way back to the Treaty of Hidalgo 1848 and its almost immediate violation by the United States.
My thoughts today are more in line with Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ): "Take your seat, sir, and close your mouth."
You know, it really is about my dear friends.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Almost every Friday, our President and Chief Operations Officer, Dr. John Siburt sends a personal message to our entire team here at CitySquare. His words are always perfect. Last week's message reads extra special. I wanted you to have access to it.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Watch What Jesus Does
Friday, July 10, 2015
Thursday, July 09, 2015
Hopefully, the shower will pass without bringing another halt to the project. Since beginning, we've lost about two months to snow and rain and mud!
But, we're making progress on building this special neighborhood for 50 of our neighbors who have no place to call "home" today. That will change very soon. My anxiousness relates to the delay the weather causes these new residents.
The photos that follow do document our progress, especially to those who follow this project closely. The community services building remains but a skeleton. The Cottages community sits just across Malcolm X from CitySquare's Opportunity Center.
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Sixteen years ago we moved into inner city East Dallas.
And, we brought lots of stuff! In fact, I built a garage to accommodate my junk. My cars can't fit into my garage due to the junk!
Since our move, both of my parents died, which added all of their stuff to all of the stuff that Brenda's parents left behind when they crossed over.
Get the picture? Lots of stuff.
But, back to my hours in the attic.
I've been trying to sort, stack, box and clean. And actually, I've been a bit morbid in a good way. I'm doing the downsizing (lots of stuff going to the CitySquare Thrift Store!) for the sake of my children and their children. If I can get it organized, surely it will be easier for them to throw most of it away when my time comes.
Cleaning attics is therapeutic. It's like counseling on steroids.
I've dug up so many memories, of so many people who were so good to me, with few exceptions.
My wonderful, magical, beautiful, fascinating, thrilling grandchildren!
So many memories, all encased in an attic.
Most of my stuff is junk.
Lots of it has been fried by the Texas heat.
But nothing erases the blessings or the wealth of my life captured in my junk!
I'm a privileged man due to nothing that I've done.
Grace. Pure grace explains my entire existence.
If you've ever cleared out an attic or a storage bin, you know what I mean.
Surely, this experience should prepare me for more significance in living, however long I have left on this side.
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Thought to be among the earliest, extant Christian writings, the brief letter addresses the challenges facing Jewish believers located primarily in the area around Jerusalem. Clearly, these early devotees of Jesus experienced suffering, systemic economic oppression and some forms of persecution--possibly because of their opinions about the identity of Jesus and certainly due to the social and status implications of those strongly held opinions and life perspectives. These ideas, drawing on the social context and economic constructs, may lead us to read this familiar material in quite a new way.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
Mix in a measure or two be feeling disrespected, powerless or taken advantage of and you have a recipe for civil unrest both personal and communal.
At times, oppressed persons who seek to resist and to improve their life prospects through organized, community action can turn their frustrations on their friends. All too often those who suffer lose patience, seek to gain control where they have a chance to do so. For the community James addresses the necessary message was clear: don't get angry. Listen. Not so fast on the analysis and criticism. Prove your solidarity by the manner of your communications with each other, as well as to those outside, even your oppressors.
The person who, in the face of suffering and mistreatment and dispute, can listen first and intentionally--resisting the natural temptation to get out ahead of an argument--that person will almost always deliver powerful, positive impact and needed perspective in any relationship.
The default position of effective community leaders involves a fundamental commitment to listen first and foremost. The commitment to really hear others changes everything. If I am eager or "quick" to listen--that is, I come to every encounter already "there" in terms of my decision to hear another person out, I can more easily become a factor in promoting understanding and defusing counter-productive tension and conflict.
Being "slow to speak," not feeling the need to be heard first or foremost, disarms enemies and softens critics who possibly make assumptions about you that are unfounded. A determination to listen carefully while refraining from "having your say," is a powerful tool in repairing or building trust and genuine communication.
This skill-set is essential in overcoming misunderstandings so that genuine community can be realized, and even organized to stand against the threats that come from the outside and from those in power.
In the same way, a commitment to be just as "slow to anger" as we are quick to listen, changes everything about a confrontational context. Let anger be the last resort, and make sure that its genesis emerges from injustice or some real harm to another and not just a defensive tact to guard your own self-interest in a dispute or relationship. Anger channeled in surprising non-violent resistance against harm and unjust structures and circumstances changes things over the long haul for the better.
All of us have experienced the deep emotions of "righteous indignation." The trouble is we often rush there before listening, which leads us to anger prematurely and without clear understanding. My claim to be "angry about those things that anger God," seems foolhardy in calm retrospect! Most importantly, all the anger that I can muster does not lead to an experience of God's righteousness or justice. God brings those things to pass in cooperation with a faithful, organized community, not because of my unchecked rage. God is God and I am not! Understanding my anger as an extension of God's values and God's anger is not a sustainable notion intellectually, spiritually or emotionally. In fact such assumptions are downright dangerous.
I need to lay my anger down as I pick up the pain of my community and work for change.
At the same time, the witness of the oppressed and marginalized must not be compromised by lives that are "sordid." The word here literally means "filthy" or impure. When used of clothing, it often means "shabby." Clearly, a moral stain on a life compromises one's ability to command an audience or move an argument in the right direction.
Furthermore, community builders who seek respect from those they lead must set aside all wickedness, a word that carries with it connotations of hateful feelings, trouble and worry or anxiety.
Instead of such responses to oppression or the stress of unfair poverty, James urges us to practice meekness or humility and teach-ability as we welcome the truth of God and our better selves. As we invite a higher power to join us in our struggles, we will find the salvation of our very lives. The victory that we seek over the forces that oppress will be empowered by this word from beyond our lives that promises to give us the very life we seek.
Much to ponder as community workers.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
The 1 Thing White People Can Do to End Racism
A lot of white people recently have asked me how they can put an end to racism in the United States.
They see the problem. They want to help. They want to fix what is broken.
And, after some reflection, I think I have an answer — the one thing white people can do to end racism in this country.
Are you ready for it?
Okay, here it is.
That’s it. You can’t do anything that will solve racism completely in the United States.
That’s because contrary to what white culture tells us as white people, we aren’t the world’s saviors.
We don’t have all the right answers.
I’m not even sure we’re asking the right question as white people, to be honest.
The world isn’t waiting on white people to fix the problems of the world, to come up with a quick-and-easy solution for a deeply systemic problem.
It’s tempting, of course, and probably well-intentioned, to go to our black friends or to black churches and to ask, “How can we help?” or even to suggest “Have you thought about doing this or that?” Our first impulse is to seek integration of some kind with the black institutions that we have, up until the point of the latest tragedy, ignored.
As white people, our desire is to make a difference in the lives of the hurting, the wounded, and the oppressed. Because one of the insidious pieces of white supremacy is that white people read the Bible as saviors, casting themselves in the role of Jesus or Moses instead of Pilate or Pharaoh.
Read on here.