Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas humility

Sober Fact

Christians believe that so great is God’s love and concern for humanity that God became human. We do well to remember that God’s insertion into human history was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility. There was no…special privilege; in fact the entry of God into God’s own world was almost heartbreakingly humble. In sober fact there is little romance or beauty in the thought of a young woman looking desperately for a place where she could give birth to her first baby.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kids: Rich/Poor

Copyright © , Dallas Morning News, All rights reserved.


Rich kid, poor kid: Child-rearing differences stark

Socioeconomic divisions create varied paths with long-term consequences

The lives of children from rich and poor American families look more different than ever.

Well-off families are ruled by calendars, with children enrolled in ballet, soccer and after-school programs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. There are usually two parents, who spend a lot of time reading to children and worrying about their anxiety levels and hectic schedules.

In poor families, children tend to spend their time at home or with extended family, the survey found. They are more likely to grow up in neighborhoods their parents say aren’t great for raising children, and their parents worry about them getting shot, beaten up or in trouble with the law.

The class differences in child rearing are growing, researchers say — a symptom of widening inequality with far-reaching consequences. Different upbringings set children on different paths and can deepen socioeconomic divisions, especially because education is strongly linked to earnings. Children grow up learning the skills to succeed in their socioeconomic stratum, but not necessarily in others.

“Early childhood experiences can be very consequential for children’s long-term social, emotional and cognitive development,” said Sean Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University. “And because those influence educational success and later earnings, early childhood experiences cast a lifelong shadow.”

The cycle continues: Poorer parents have less time and fewer resources to invest in their children, which leaves children less prepared for school and work, which leads to lower earnings.

American parents want similar things for their children, the Pew report and past research has found: for them to be healthy and happy, honest and ethical, caring and compassionate. There is no best parenting style or philosophy, researchers say, and across income groups, 92 percent of parents say they are doing a good job of raising their children.

Yet they are doing it quite differently.

Higher-income parents see their children as projects in need of careful cultivation, says Annette Lareau, whose groundbreaking research on the topic was published in her book Unequal Childhoods. They try to develop their skills through close supervision and organized activities, and teach children to question authority figures and navigate elite institutions.

Working-class parents, meanwhile, believe their children will naturally thrive, and give them far greater independence and time for free play. They are taught to be compliant and deferential to adults.

There are benefits to both. Working-class children are happier, more independent, whine less and are closer to family members, Lareau found. Higher-income children are more likely to declare boredom and expect their parents to solve their problems.

Yet later on, the affluent children end up in college and en route to the middle class, while working-class children struggle. Middle-class child rearing equips children with the skills to navigate bureaucracies and succeed in schools and workplaces, Lareau said.

Social scientists say the differences arise in part because low-income parents have less money to spend on music class or preschool, and less flexible schedules to take children to museums or attend school events.

Extracurricular activities epitomize the differences in child rearing in the Pew survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,807 parents. Of families earning more than $75,000 a year, 84 percent say their children have participated in organized sports over the past year, 64 percent have done volunteer work and 62 percent have taken lessons in music, dance or art. Of families earning less than $30,000, 59 percent of children have participated in sports, 37 percent have volunteered and 41 percent have taken classes in the arts.

The survey also looked at attitudes and anxieties. Interestingly, parents’ attitudes toward education do not seem to reflect their own educational background as much as a belief in the importance of education for upward mobility.

Most American parents say they are not concerned about their children’s grades as long as they work hard. But 50 percent of poor parents say it is extremely important to them that their children earn a college degree, compared with 39 percent of wealthier parents.

Parental anxieties reflect their circumstances. High-earning parents are much more likely to say they live in a good neighborhood for raising children. While bullying is parents’ greatest concern overall, nearly half of low-income parents worry their child will get shot, compared with one-fifth of high-income parents. They are more worried about their children being depressed or anxious.

Claire Cain Miller,
The New York Times

Monday, December 21, 2015

Housing facts of life

Most of us don't understand the housing dynamic at work across the nation and how it drastically affects low-income Americans .  Here's a description of  part of the reality we face in urban areas:

"Nationwide, even as the rental market is growing across all income levels and homeownership has decreased for eight years running, new apartments are predominantly built for the rich. Only about 10 percent of rental apartments coming into the market are affordable to people who make less than $35,000 per year — that is, the group that encompasses half the total number of rental households. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that the median asking rent for a new unit in 2013 was a startling $1,300 a month. Meanwhile, the rate of both subsidized and “naturally occurring” affordable units is shrinking, because owners are either raising rents in strong markets or, in weak markets, they let the units deteriorate until they become unlivable."

Source here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday needs, holiday greetings. . .



Everything we do costs money. That’s the nature of the world today, right? It takes money to fight poverty. Lots of it.

It costs $15 million to operate CitySquare each year. Annually, that amount allows us to touch the lives of tens of thousands of neighbors. Sometimes we see that neighbor only once when they visit the food pantry between paychecks. Other times, we see them daily as they access a wide range of CitySquare services.

In the month of December, we’ve set out to raise $1 million. That amount of money will allow our WorkPaths training courses to continue to provide 100% of graduates with industry standard certifications. It will allow our clinic to be a medical home to 3,000 uninsured individuals. It will once more allow our food pantry to put more than one million pounds of food in the hands of neighbors who worry where their next meal will come from. A $1 million goal maintains hope in the heart of our organization.

This is why we have set such a lofty goal by the end of 2015. Please consider making a gift today to make this work possible.

We can’t do it without you.

For our city,
Larry James
Chief Executive Officer, CitySquare

CitySquare 511 N Akard Street, Suite 302  |  Dallas, TX  |  75201
P: 214.823.8710  |  F: 214.824.5355  |  Email:

© 2013 CitySquare

Thursday, December 17, 2015

advent: now what?

where to turn?
this cold night gives way
to another day of "what now?"

old, raggedy, damp house
trying to bring kids to a
better address--all they get is sick

but, really now,
so what?
don't nobody "get it," hardly

feeling surrounded by
"the surround" of
continual stress about "what now?"

baby working in dim light
over sheets, pages of
homework--do I have a home?

what is my work?
feeling sold out to
"what's the use?"

and now, Christmas done
come again
to what end--disappointed kids?

folks singing carols in church
where I ain't
really welcome, not really, right?

somehow, though, I see
my babies in
that one baby

now what,
for us and


advent 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No hate zone--the way church should be

Possibly you read Jacquielynn Floyd's provocative column in The Dallas Morning News on hatred among members of faith communities in Dallas.  In the essay she mentions the recent sermon delivered at St. Rita Catholic Church by Fr. Joshua Whitfield, St. Rita’s Director of Faith Formation and Education. 

The message moved out into the deep and necessary waters of courage and faithfulness.  Fr. Whitfield personifies the role and work of the faithful pastor.  His message is worth reading.  Repentance is not something we talk about much these days. 

Here's how the good Father begins:

2 Advent C (12.6.15)
Luke 3:1-6
I feel I need to tell this story again. It’s a remarkable story. In the summer of 1966 James
Meredith was shot walking along old Highway 51 near Hernando, Mississippi. He had begun what
he called his “walk against fear,” a risky endeavor, when we was shot by Aubrey James Norvell from
Memphis. Meredith survived, and as he lay recovering in a Memphis hospital, the whole civil rights
movement descended upon Memphis—Dr. King and many others. They were determined to
continue the march into northern Mississippi, and so they set out along that hot asphalt that had
been so dangerous for Meredith just a few days earlier.
It was a tumultuous and unharmonious band of civil rights activists however—there was by
that time considerable disagreement about the character and future of the movement, and it was in
the summer of 1966, there in northern Mississippi, that these differences began to boil. On the
march with Dr. King was a young man named Stokely Carmichael, then chair of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. But he had seen enough, he had had enough, and it was at a
rally on an elementary school playground that Carmichael introduced as a chant the words, “Black
Power!” He said in his speech that night that “every courthouse in Mississippi should be burnt down
tomorrow.” This bright young man had had enough.
King obviously was troubled by this—“Immediately I had reservations,” he said. The next
week King took a detour to lead a small march of Baptists in Philadelphia, Mississippi. There, in
1964 three civil rights workers had been abducted and killed, but no one as had yet been brought
to justice. There, in Philadelphia, King led marchers along the road into town, cars speeding past
the people, inches away. One man drove down the road with a club in his hand, taking swings as he
raced by. At the courthouse, King met the deputy sheriff, Cecil Ray Price (he would be convicted for
those 1964 murders the next year—the movie Mississippi Burning tells the story). “You’re the one
who…had those fellows in jail?” King asked him. “Yes, sir,” he said as he kept King and the other
marchers off the courthouse lawn.

So King turned around and. . . .

Read the entire, amazing sermon here.  The rest of the message takes a most relevant turn to today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Plan for "great reads" without needing to read a single book!

Book Selections for the
2016 Urban Engagement Book Club

The Third Thursday of Each Month

CitySquare Opportunity Center
                             1610 S Malcolm X Blvd.
                                  Dallas, TX 75226

January -- Broke, USA From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. - How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin

February -- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption - by Bryan Stevenson

March -- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

April -- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

May -- Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) by Dr. Marion Nestle

June -- Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

July -- Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr

August -- Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America (City Lights Open Media) by Tim Wise  

September -- Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica 

October -- All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? by Joel Berg 

November -- Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation by Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura 

December -- Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich


Monday, December 14, 2015

Prison reality--USA

No other nation has more people locked up than the USA.
Our prison/incarceration policy results in the destruction of families and neighborhoods.

Our policies cost us a fortune annually, funds that should be invested in education, job skills training, health care, public safety, housing. . .the list goes on and on.

I found this chart very useful in putting the entire picture in perspective.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

In life

Unorganized Religion

The most significant religious events recounted in the Bible do not occur in ‘temples made with hands.’ The most important religion in that book is unorganized and is sometimes profoundly disruptive of organization. From Abraham to Jesus, the most important people are not priests but shepherds, soldiers, property owners, workers, housewives, queens and kings, manservants and maidservants, fishermen, prisoners, whores, even bureaucrats. The great visionary encounters did not take place in temples but in sheep pastures, in the desert, in the wilderness, on mountains, on the shores of rivers and the sea, in the middle of the sea, in prisons…. Religion, according to this view, is less to be celebrated in rituals than practiced in the world.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Potential Resident Profiles from The Cottages at Hickory Crossing. . .

Quick facts on the 96 candidates for permanent supportive housing in The Cottages at Hickory Crossing:

6% Hispanic
28% White
66% Black

34% Female
66% Male

Mean 50.4085
Median 50

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A plan to consider. . .

Recently, the American Enterprise Institute published a report on poverty in the United States today. Teaming up with Brookings Institute, a diverse group working from varied perspectives captured an interesting result.

What follows introduces the process and some of the results. I'd love your reactions to the report.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Value propositions and barriers to housing

The Threat to Detroit’s Rebound Isn’t Crime or the Economy, It’s the Mortgage Industry

Redlining is alive, well and dangerous in Detroit.

Published on Dec 7, 2015
As a young married couple, Steven and Corey Josephson chose to begin their lives together in Detroit. They came from Greeley, Colorado, a city that couldn’t be more different. It was founded as an experimental utopian community; its majority-white population has more than doubled since 1970; and its unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and about half that of Detroit.

But in August 2014, they left. Corey, a theater and English teacher, grew up in Michigan, and Steven found a position in Detroit’s Teach for America program, teaching science to the youngest kids at Coleman A. Young Elementary School.

Along with their beagle, Baley, they moved into a house in northeast Detroit near 8 Mile Road. “We loved the house, we loved the neighbors,” Steven Josephson says. They were renting, but “homes are just so cheap here, it makes more sense to buy.” So they approached their landlord about purchasing the home. At first, everything moved smoothly — but then, Josephson said, the landlord backed out.

Read more here.

Monday, December 07, 2015

EITC and tax season

For your information. . .

(EITC) Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign Kick-Off 

Thursday, December 10, 2015; 1-3 pm; MLK, Jr. Recreation Center; 2901 Pennsylvania, Dallas, 75215. Help the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas and others promote this important tax exemption that can put thousands of dollars in the pockets of working families making under $53,000 a year.
For more information, contact Galen Smith, 214-978-0098;