Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Friends, really friends

I attended a rather disturbing public meeting here in Dallas a few nights ago.  I say "disturbing" because that's the only word that comes close to doing the proceedings justice. 

Contrary to how the meeting's advance billing, there was no real attempt to gain new understanding.  The majority voice in the crowd was rude, offensive, angry and aggressively opposed to gaining any new information.  The target of their anger was a new plan to house the chronically homeless in a part of a neighborhood near their homes and businesses. 

People had come to rail against a plan to elevate and assist the poorest citizens who try to live among us with virtually no resources. 

To be clear and fair, the meeting was not a new experience for me.  I've been to meetings like  this one before where the tenor and tone of the agenda and the happenings felt much the same.  I suppose it was the size of the crowd and the attitude of those who interrupted the public leaders who attempted to bring reason and understanding to the event, mostly to no avail whatsoever that really surprised me. 

As I left the very discouraging event, I noted a gleeful delight in the eyes of those who ruled the volume of the evening. 

One aspect of the evening proved most instructive for me. 

Greeters for the meeting had been selected from among the homeless, the people who would benefit from the housing plan that was to come under extremely harsh criticism.  These brave people sat at the registration table, welcomed folks as they arrived and even attempted to testify  before the angry crowd. 

At one point, one of the public leaders made reference to the presence of the people who would benefit from the proposed housing plan. 

An angry voice responded immediately, "Don't you do that to us! Don't parade these people before us to make us feel guilty!" the woman shouted at the top of her lungs. 

I've replayed that moment over and over again in my mind. 

I think it contains a truth that should be analyzed and considered carefully. 

What sounded like a shout of protest may have been an appeal for protection.  It was as if the woman knew that if she got to see and to know the people, the individuals in question, she would have to look at the entire matter differently.  She might even be tempted to place her fear aside and get to know the people in such dire need. 

It's true.

As long as the extremely poor can be categorized, stereotyped, objectified and kept at an impersonal, safe distance, the debate can rage on and on.

But as soon as the homeless poor gain an identity, become personal to us, as in friends with names and life stories and tears and fears, well, then we must regard them as they are:  humans.  Once you know some one's name, well, "game over."  Recognition of identity shifts course to the point that community development becomes possible.

Don't bring them into our meetings.  They might show us what we don't want to see--that they are just like us, but without all of benefits of adequate material resources to make life work.

I say the secret for moving through the current dilemma relative to our city's effective response to chronic, hardcore homelessness is round after round of face-to-face discussion with the homeless poor. 

In fact, new rule:  no more meetings about "the poor" without their presence in equal numbers for every discussion, and this includes our weekly City Council meetings. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Drug enforcement: something I've observed for years

Leonard Pitts speaks the truth.  I read what's beneath his by-line whenever I see it. 

In an Op-Ed essay that appeared in The Dallas Morning News recently, Pitts "unpacks" Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010).

Below you'll find a short sample of Pitt's analysis. 

Disturbing stuff. 

But, my experience in the city over the past 16 years confirms it. 

Read the sample: 

Leonard Pitts: Disturbing 'Jim Crow' book is a must read

According to federal figures, blacks and whites use drugs at a roughly equal rate in percentage terms. In terms of raw numbers, whites are far and away the biggest users – and dealers – of illegal drugs.

So why aren't cops kicking their doors in? Why aren't their sons pulled over a dozen times in nine months? Why are black men 12 times as likely to be jailed for drugs as white ones? Why aren't white communities robbed of their fathers, brothers, sons?

To read the entire Pitts essay click here.

To order Michelle Anderson's book go here


Monday, June 28, 2010

AmeriCorps and "Food on the Move"

Want to see our summer lunch innovation in action? 

What to see children served healthy meals by AmeriCorps members who've been there? 

What to see a national model for innovation that could change the way U. S. Department of Agriculture delivers meal services to millions of children every summer?

You've got to check our the story found here!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sojo and Dallas

The Dallas Justice Revival was featured prominently in the June 2010 issue of Sojourners magazine.  Check out Catherine Cuellar's essay, "Now the Work Begins":

Sharon Tillis had every comfort of a “good Christian wife”: a home, a car, a job, and children. In her 40s she also faced some challenges other Christians hadn’t—bipolar disorder, domestic violence, and shame about surviving incest. Deciding whether to stay in an unhealthy marriage or get divorced and risk homelessness, she chose the latter.

“God was with me every step of the way,” Tillis says now of her journey. After two years of counseling, time spent sleeping in her car and on the couches of friends and family members, and 18 months in and out of shelters, Tillis finally has a home to call her own again. CityWalk@Akard, a mixed-use high rise developed over the past five years by the nonprofit Central Dallas Ministries (whose chair, Larry James, served on Justice Revival’s leadership team) includes 200 affordable apartments. Of these, 50 have been designated as permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless residents like Tillis. CityWalk’s expected completion in spring 2010 is in the context of a Greater Dallas Justice Revival goal of developing a total of 700 new units.

“I could go to church and stay at members’ houses a couple of months or so. The church can provide me, I guess, with gas money or whatever I need, food. But to provide me housing—that’s a miracle.” Tillis says. “I feel independent, self-sufficient. I feel like I can do anything now. I have peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to lay my head. It gave me all of that. It gave me hope.”

To read the entire essay click here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

CDM's AmeriCorps team and children

Central Dallas Ministries unleashed a 350-member AmeriCorps team into the neighborhoods of Dallas earlier this month. Our summer members are working with children every day, providing safety, learning, social skills and lots of fun.

Take a look at the recent news report on our efforts with our AmeriCorps team.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Not everyone agrees

Not everyone agrees with me. 

No surprise there. 

Last week The Dallas Morning News published an Op-Ed essay of mine dealing with the Cliff Manor situation in North Oak Cliff and the benefits of Permanent Supportive Housing in eliminating chronic homelessness in a city like Dallas.  You can read my opinion here

Earlier this week, Jeff Herrington, co-founder of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, wrote a reply or, better, a rebuttal of sorts to my opinion.  You can read his opinion here

One of the truly great things about our society, culture and nation is the fact that we can hold to different opinions and freely argue our points of view.  It's really nice when that can happen in a civil manner.  As a nation, we've always been a little rough around the edges when it comes to civility, but the instincts remain with us even when we don't follow the values of our "better selves."

Last Monday evening I attended the public hearing to "discuss" the Cliff Manor project.  About 500 people showed up for the meeting that turned into a rowdy, loud, at times disrespectful venting session.  The targets of the anger and frustration included the Dallas Housing Authority and Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.  The plan to move 100 formerly homeless, disabled persons, many senior citizens, was opposed from start to finish.  Those backing the plan were shouted down.  Even Mayor Tom Leppert, who tried to help moderate the crowd, was interrupted and disrespected. 

Despite pleas and claims to the contrary, the truly forgotten constituents in the entire evening were the homeless men and women who need and hope for decent places in which to live. As I said in my opinion piece, when the homeless find permanent homes, they no longer behave like homeless persons because they are not any longer! 

There were several brave, homeless persons at the meeting.  A group of the homeless greeted people as they entered the hall.  As the very ugly meeting unfolded, I wondered what they were thinking and feeling.  It felt to me that the meeting was a referendum on the humanity and the value of the homeless.

At one point the thought crossed my mind, "What would happen if the homeless poor in Dallas got organized to really be in a position to advocate for better lives and living conditions?" 

Certainly, it was a night of free speech, even if much of the civility of the evening evaporated.  I continue to be thankful for that gift.  And, we'll continue the argument, the debate with our friends and for the sake of our friends.  Hopefully, we'll hang on to a civil spirit and heart.  The process is one of our rarest and most important gifts as a people.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Affirmation of Permanent Supportive Housing

Yesterday, I enjoyed the honor of speaking to a senior adult luncheon at Wilshire Baptist Church here in Dallas.  My dear friend, Dr. George Mason serves the church as pastor, a position he has held for over two decades.  I really respect the church and George.  Wilshire is a great place and I always enjoy being there.

At the end of my presentation, during a short Q & A period, a woman stood up and, with tears in her voice, she told the group that her 41-year-old son, who had been homeless of several years, was now living in our housing at CityWalk@ Akard.  She shared a bit of his struggle and her enduring concern for him.  She told about how stable his life had become since moving into our housing.  She informed the group that he was enrolled in community college and was training to be a paralegal.  She was so grateful and her soul beamed through her words. 

After we dismissed, a man approached me with tears in his eyes.  He shared that he had lost his job, experienced health issues and became homeless over a period of time.  He told me that he lived at CityWalk too.  I was amazed to find people so close to us at this event. 

I left feeling so good about our housing efforts.  I also had another experience to share about the power, effectiveness and hope that accompanies the development of and access to Permanent Supportive Housing.  The people who live in our building demonstrate what can happen when in lives when given a simple chance to begin again. 

I pray the day will come when our city and its various neighborhoods come to understand the truth of what we're experiencing every day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DREAM Act needed NOW!

Eric Balderas is the latest student to make the case for immediate passage of the DREAM Act.  Fortunately, Balderas' case has been temporarily resolved so that he can remain at Harvard University to complete his education.  Still, he has absolutely no assurance that he'll be able to remain in the United States to serve and to build the nation he has called home since he was 4-years-old.

Check out the NPR report on his case:

Undocumented Harvard Student Faces Deportation

by The Associated Press
June 11, 2010

An undocumented Harvard University student is facing deportation to Mexico after being detained by immigration authorities at a Texas airport, the students said Friday.

Eric Balderas, 19, who just completed his first year at Harvard, said he was detained Monday by immigration authorities when he tried to board a plane from his hometown of San Antonio to Boston using a consulate card from Mexico and his student ID.

"I'd made it through before so I thought this time wouldn't be any different," Balderas said Friday in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "But once ICE picked me up I really didn't know what to think and I was starting to break down."

Balderas, who previously had used a Mexican passport to board planes but recently lost it, said he became despondent and thought he was being deported to Mexico immediately, only to be released the next day. He said he has a scheduled July 6 immigration hearing.

"All I can think about was my family," said Balderas, who doesn't remember living in Mexico.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, Mark Medvesky, confirmed that Balderas was released and said his hearing will likely be in Boston.

Harvard officials immediately threw support behind Balderas.

"Eric Balderas has already demonstrated the discipline and work ethic required for rigorous university work, and has, like so many of our undergraduates, expressed an interest in making a difference in the world," said Christine Heenan, Harvard's vice president of public affairs and communications.

The case also sparked a buzz on social media sites and among student immigrant activists who see the Balderas situation as the ideal test case to push the proposed DREAM act — a federal bill that would allow illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship via college enrollment or military service.

To read the entire report click here

To sign a petition in support of the DREAM Act click here

The time is NOW to act to save an entire generation of students in whose lives we been investing for years. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Walking Cities

What would city life be like if we could actually walk to most of the places we needed to visit during the day?  What if urban design moved in a direction that minimized the need for automobiles?  What if we actually found new and effective ways to really know each other again, all due to the manner in which our lived environments were designed and built?  What if renewed communities were built with this sort of human intentionality? 

Working downtown forces these questions on me.  How can I take the rail more often?  How about my bike?  Who are my neighbors out there on the street? 

Pursue these ideas visually with a simple click here

Cool and hope-filled visions! 

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Black Eyed Peas: One Tribe

A forgotten tune heard and enjoyed at Gracie's recent dance recital.

Good words.

Good wisdom.

True stuff, whether we recognize it or not!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poverty and the wickedness that creates it. . .

Job 24

The wicked remove landmarks;
they seize flocks and pasture them.

They drive away the donkey of the orphan;
they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.

They thrust the needy off the road;
the poor of the earth all hide themselves.

Like wild asses in the desert
they go out to their toil,
scavenging in the waste-land
food for their young.

They reap in a field not their own
and they glean in the vineyard of the wicked.

They lie all night naked, without clothing,
and have no covering in the cold.

They are wet with the rain of the mountains,
and cling to the rock for want of shelter.
There are those who snatch the orphan child from the breast,
and take as a pledge the infant of the poor.

They go about naked, without clothing;
though hungry, they carry the sheaves;
between their terraces they press out oil;
they tread the wine presses, but suffer thirst.

From the city the dying groan,
and the throat of the wounded cries for help;
yet God pays no attention to their prayer.

There are those who rebel against the light,
who are not acquainted with its ways,
and do not stay in its paths.

The murderer rises at dusk
to kill the poor and needy,
and in the night is like a thief.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Andrew Jackson and equal protection

President Andrew Jackson made the following remarks during a speech regarding his veto of the controversial national bank bill that had passed by the Congress in the summer of 1832.  Jackson's view of the proper role of government is worth consideration.

"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.  Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government.  Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions.  In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers--who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.  There are no necessary evils in government.  Its evils exist only in its abuses.  If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does it rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, ti would be an unqualified blessing."

from American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham, page 210.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dallas Morning News publishes Op-Ed essay

The Dallas Morning News published my Op-Ed piece in this morning's editons of the paper.  Here's a taste of my point of view: 

I think I understand the feelings, including the fears, of the folks who live in north Oak Cliff around the now controversial Dallas Housing Authority property Cliff Manor.

Our housing authority recently teamed with Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance to open 100 apartments at Cliff Manor for use by the chronically homeless, who overcrowd the city's homeless assistance center, The Bridge. Neighborhood reaction fell into the familiar pattern we've come to expect when it comes to housing homeless men, women and children.

Just ask these Oak Cliff property owners and residents what they fear, and they'll recite a familiar list: Loitering. Petty crimes and misdemeanors. Public intoxication. Public obscenity (usually related to absence of toilet facilities). Panhandling. Threats to the safety of children.

Fears about crimes against children – or violent crime in general – are largely unfounded.

And the remaining fears relate directly to behaviors characteristic of people with no place to live. The obvious way to eliminate the offensive behaviors of the homeless is to provide them permanent places to live. Permanent housing serves as an amazingly effective intervention in the lifestyles of the chronically homeless.

Click here to read the entire essay.  Love to have your reactions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Looking for a home. . .

More news this morning about the commitment of the Dallas Housing Authority to address the needs of some of the hardest to house residents of our community:  the chronically homeless. 

Carrying on the traditions and values of her predecessor, DHA President and CEO MaryAnn Russ recently publishes a request for proposals for several hundred special use housing vouchers.  A number of groups responded.  As a result, more homeless persons will leave our streets. 

The story here is all win for our community.  You pick the angle, it's all win.

Community return on investment:  Dallas spends over $50 million annually to maintain the status quo with our homeless population.  Providing housing and welcoming supportive relationships and services can be done for a fraction of that cost.  Public and private hospitals, especially in their Emergency Departments and mental health facilities; police, fire and EMS teams will be relieved.  Win!

Private housing developers return on investment:  Property owners with apartments to rent will now have tenants who will pay their bills, making the various developments more financially viable and successful.  Last time I noticed, that's how our economy works and grows.  Win!

Community environment, appearance and public health/safety return on investment:  People who live on the streets of Dallas are forced into difficult situations, many of which continually get them in trouble.  Where to eat?  How to pay for where to eat?  Where to go to the restroom?  Where to bathe?  Where to sleep?  How to work?  How to get started over again?  Where to receive phone calls?  How to get to a doctor?  Where to secure possessions?  Where to simply sit and rest?  The daily challenges of being out there are enough to make a person drink or even lose one's mind--both happen every day because people have no place to call home.  When people move into homes, our streets improve, as do the lives of the formerly homeless. Win!

Sadly, those who oppose our homeless neighbors moving into permanent housing operate out of a fear that is uninformed.  They look at homeless persons who live on the street without the benefit of a home and assume that the same persons, once housed, will look and react to life in the same manner as before finding a place to live.  Just isn't the way things work with almost 90% of the homeless across the nation who find real homes. 

Housing provides a "level set" experience for the "out-of-control life" on the streets of a place like Dallas. 

Our experience here certainly confirms the national research and lines up with the experience and reports of housing providers in other major urban areas. 

Providing permanent, supportive housing for the homeless addresses a daunting community problem in the most efficient, economical and effective manner possible.  Nothing to fear, except the temptation we all experience: closing our minds before examining the evidence

Housing, permanent housing for the homeless.  Nothing but a huge Win!  For everyone.

[To read Kim Horner's latest in this morning's edition of The Dallas Morning News click here.  Pay particular attention to the comments of Dallas City Council Member Jerry Allen.  Nice to hear a leader speak in such a reasonable manner!  Also, note the reaction from Frank Nuchereno, board chairman of the Vickery Meadow Improvement District.  Good to see that not all neighborhood groups oppose such efforts.  It seems that those who have experience with permanent supportive housing don't object to seeing more arrive in their neighborhoods.]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Local NPR station--KERA 90.1--reports on CDM health clinic and Project Access

Yesterday, KERA 90.1 FM, our NPR station here in Dallas ran a great report on the dilemma facing uninsured people when illness strikes. 

The work being done by Central Dallas Ministries was featured prominently in Bill Zeeble's compelling report.  Both our Community Health Services clinic and our involvement in Project Access Dallas were included in the report. 

To listen to the story click here

After you check it out, do me a favor and pass it along! 

Monday, June 14, 2010

"How are you, Sir!"

I don't know why I always seem to see situations like I'm about to describe. But, I do.

Last week, I walked into a Downtown bank to do some business. 

At the teller counter I noticed two bank tellers.

One's station was closed, but the man behind the "This Window is Closed" sign appeared to be filling a quasi-security role, sort of watching over the station of the other teller. 

Ahead of me, an older gentleman approached the counter.  He carried a worn backpack.  He wore relatively shabby blue jeans.  He could well have been homeless.  He appeared to be cashing a check or breaking a larger bill into a small amount of change.  The off-duty teller watched him with great interest.  He never looked at me.

As he stepped up to the service desk, the teller looked past him and said to me, "Be with you in a moment, Sir." 

Of course, I assumed that is how things worked there.  A line forms.  When it is your turn, you receive service.  It occurred to me that the teller felt the need to explain why he was forced to serve the poor, homeless-looking gent first. 

I replied, "Not a problem at all." 

When the customer--that's what he really was--finished his business and turned toward me to walk away, I said to him, "How are you, Sir!"

Before the man was able to get out what turned into a muted response to my greeting, the teller, assuming I was speaking to him, interrupted our encounter and said, "I'm doing fine.  How's your day going?"

The customer, the man to whom I directed my inquiry, looked at me and said simply, "Hello."

You may think me overly sensitive, judgmental or seeing/hearing things that are the product of my weird mind.  But, I have to tell you, I don't think so.  Not at all.

The man ahead of me had little money, and he looked the part. 

I had plenty of money, and I was dressed in clean, pressed, relatively new clothing.

He was black.

I am white.  

I had an account. 

He didn't. 

Surely, no one would be expected to greet him with respect. 

It's just the way things work, right? 

As I left the bank, the story continued. 

I got into my car and drove up Main Street back toward my office.  As I pulled away from the curb, I spotted the man on the sidewalk just ahead of me.

He delivered the cash he had received in the bank to a man seated in a wheelchair. He handed him the backpack and began pushing him up the sidewalk.  Clearly both were homeless. 

Both are no less men than the bank tellers and me. 

Both worthy of my respect and courtesy. 

Why does money and appearance and status matter so much to us?

Why do we fear the poor? 

When will we learn?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Environmental Justice

Scripture reading for this Sunday:

Deuteronomy 20:19-20

If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you? You may destroy only the trees that you know do not produce food; you may cut them down for use in building siege-works against the town that makes war with you, until it falls.

(New Revised Standard Version)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

John Wooden (1910-2010)

John Wooden was arguably the greatest basketball coach of all time.

But, beyond that, Wooden was clearly one of the greatest teachers of all time. Just listen to his players years after they played on his teams. Listening to Wooden is no waste of time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CDM's AmeriCorps team: Food on the Move

Throughout this summer until school resumes, Central Dallas Ministries (CDM) will deploy a large part of its Ameri-Corps team and half of its Summer Lunch Program resources in a partnership with PepsiCo to bring Food on the Move to a number of inner city neighborhoods in Dallas County.  Part of PepsiCo's Food for Good initiative, our partnership intends to provide up to 500,000 meals to over 10,000 additional children during the summer, school break. 

Food on the Move is the only mobile food delivery program in the nation operating at this scale.  PepsiCo's involve-ment makes mobile delivery possible for children who are not involved in site-based summer programs.  The trucks deliver to apartment complexes, city parks and other high density gathering places for children who are often unattended by adults.  The genius of Food on the Move is that it takes the food to those places where children live and play during the normal course of their day. 

During the school year, over 19,000,000 children participate in the free and reduced rate school lunch program, another Department of Agriculture program.  However, during the summer months, that number drops to approximately 2,500,000 participants.  The USDA is committed to closing that hunger gap for low-income children.  Food on the Move provides a workable, scalable model that could be rolled out nationally.  Such a move is our hope as we work to perfect the process here in Dallas this summer.  PepsiCo is engaged in a similar effort this summer in Chicago in a partnership with Catholic Charities.

In addition to Food on the Move, CDM administers a contract with the Texas Department of Agriculture that serves over 125 summer program sites with another 500,000 meals.  This summer is the first full season that the mobile delivery program has been operational alongside the more traditional program, site-based approach.

A typical stop on the Food on the Move routes sees a team of AmeriCorps members arriving 30 minutes before the meal delivery to gather and organize the children at the location.  PepsiCo delivers the meals and our AmeriCorps team remains after the delivery team leaves.  During the concluding half hour, our team conducts recreational, social and educational activities and invites the children to return at the same time the next day and bring friends with them.  This process repeats itself at 20 sites each day. 

To get a feel for how Food on the Move works click here to view a CBS Channel 11 news report on the effort. 

Expect additional updates throughout the summer!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wyatt gets his swings in. . .I smile

If you know me at all, you know I have to talk about my grandchildren long and often! Having four now turns out to be a real hoot, and on a regular, no, routine basis.
Baseball season is here and my oldest grandson, Wyatt, is playing hard and working hard at the game. Couldn't make myself not share these images and this short video.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Big Short

Seeking a better understanding of the Wall Street collapse?

Wondering what was behind the almost complete financial failure of the nation's economy?

Then, you need to take a look at Randy Mayeux's very helpful synopsis of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.

Just click here to find Randy's very helpful work.

Randy Mayeux presents extremely valuable book synopses on the first Thursday of each month (noon Highland Park United Methodist Church--on campus at SMU) and on the third Thursday of each month (noon First United Methodist Church Downtown at Harwood and Ross).  Join us for a noon-time refresher.  We're always out before 1:15 p.m.

Monday, June 07, 2010

New national priority?

So, what do ya think?  Maybe we need alternative energy plans?  How does our current approach help the planet or the poor?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Wild Ride at Indy 2010

Forgive me, but as I've confessed here before, I love auto racing. I remember as a boy listening to the Indianapolis 500 on the radio. Not much worse than listening to a car race without benefit of video, but I did and I loved it. I could picture the cars. I could hear the roar of the engines. I could feel the speed.

So, this year's finish at Indy was especially amazing with Mike Conway's spectacular crash. Here it is. . .with video and sound!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Invitation

Not long after I arrived at Central Dallas Ministries, I found a copy of "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Inspiring words.  Great, tough questions.  The stuff for authentically framing a life and a life's mission, or so it seems to me.

What do you think?

The Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

[This post is dedicated to the memory of Frank Edward "Eddie" Wilson my best friend growing up.  His memory still shapes my life.  His too soon passing still hurts.]

Friday, June 04, 2010

Dallas long on generosity study finds

Dallas is among the nation's most charitable communities.  Most of us who have worked in the non-profit sector for any time at all know this is true. 

Read The Dallas Observer report on these findings here.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Kirk Franklin, 2010 A Night to Remember guest, featured on CNN!

Mark it on your calendar: the evening of Monday, October 25 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Central Dallas Ministries will present "A Night to Remember 2010" with renowed gospel artist and theologian, Kirk Franklin!

Did you see Mr. Franklin on CNN recently? He spoke in connection with the new book he's written, The Blue Print.

Check this out:

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Empathy lagging for younger folks

Dean Smith, our leader at Urban Connection--Austin, sent me the following article describing how recent research discovered that young people lag behind previous generations in terms of empathy for their fellows who experience difficulty. 

In my opinion, the most disturbing finding of the research was the fact that the young generation today is more individualistic than any in the recent past.  Not a good sign for the development of meaningful community action among this population.

I'd love your reactions after you've read the report.

Generation me students have less empathy than 20 years ago

The modern-day "Generation me" students are more selfish and less empathetic than two decades ago, claims new research.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 6:00PM BST 28 May 2010

Students used to be about all about holding sit-ins and rallies in order to fight for the rights of others.

But now they are too engrossed in their own lives to care, claims new research.

According to psychologists, undergraduates are fast losing the ability to empathise with other people.
Researchers reviewing surveys of empathy found that they have lost almost 40 per cent of the ability since the 1980s.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, analysed a number of surveys involving almost 14,000 college students over the last 30 years.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

"College kids today are about 40 per cent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago, as measured by standard tests of this personality trait."

Ms Konrath analysed the findings of 72 different studies of American college students conducted between 1979 and 2009, with fellow graduate student Edward O'Brien and undergraduate student Courtney Hsing.

Compared to college students of the late 1970s, the study found, college students today are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective" and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

Ms Konrath said that many people refer to the effect as the "Generation Me" which is one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, competitive, confident and individualistic in recent history.

To read the entire report click here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

D Magazine, Race and Dallas

So, Wick Allison, top guy at D Magazine. certainly not known as a liberal or socially "on the edge" rag in these parts, published a stunning essay in his June 2010 issue on race and the rich in Big D.  His questions and his concerns should be addressed by political and religious leaders.  In fact, Allison calls both groups out on the matter.  Here's how he begins: 

Why are the Best Neighborhoods in Dallas Still Segregated?

The homogenous Park Cities, Preston Hollow, and Greenway Parks could hurt the city's future.
by Wick Allison
From D Magazine JUN 2010

Tom Leppert, Dick Davis, and Bill Seay are the three mayors of the four most prestigious neighborhoods in Dallas: Preston Hollow, Greenway Parks, University Park, and Highland Park. These neighborhoods—still, in 2010—are almost entirely lily white. In Dallas, usually we talk about race and the poor. It’s time to talk about race and the rich. Race is the one thing that could derail Dallas from becoming the nation’s No. 1 center of corporate headquarters.

In 2009, New York had 94 Fortune 500 companies, California had 98, and Texas had 118, of which 46 are in North Texas. If a relocation decision is based purely on costs, taxes, convenience, and labor, Dallas wins hands down. But as we found with Boeing, other factors can come into play. Would a CEO move to downtown Dallas if his top executives only felt comfortable living in Trophy Club or Grapevine? Why not go to Atlanta instead?

It’s time to face some serious questions. Why don’t successful upper-income black families live in the most affluent neighborhoods nearest downtown Dallas? If it is because they don’t feel comfortable raising their families there, why don’t they?

To read the entire essay click here

I understand not everyone is so keen on Allison's questions and point of view.  I'm proud of him.  It's a conversation long overdue in this city.  What do you think?