October - Corporate Meeting

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October - Corporate Meeting

During Class Six’s first Corporate Meeting, we listened to a Q&A with Commissioner John Wiley Price conducted by MSC alumnus, Matt Houston. We learned about Price’s history and role on the Commissioners Court, and that he has also served Dallas County for 41 years. 

Included among Price’s responsibilities are overseeing the building of roads and bridges, setting the tax rate, and governing health care initiatives, like Parkland Hospital and the Health Advisory Board, in District 3.

Dallas County spends 65 percent of its time on public justice, said Price, as well as some public health issues. Price mentioned that he has tried to put himself on as many boards and councils as he could so he could ensure the right decision is made. 

I felt like the man that spoke to us that night was very different from the way that he has been depicted on TV or in the newspaper. You could hear the passion and dedication in his voice as he spoke about how little has changed in the City of Dallas over the last 40 years. 

While we learned about Price and what the County does, we also received a history lesson about some of the older neighborhoods in Dallas, like Uptown’s West Village, Deep Ellum, and South Dallas. These neighborhoods originally were inhabited by the Jewish and African-American communities, he said. Price touched on the migration south of the “Divide” (Interstate 30) and said that most African-Americans actually started living in the northern parts of the city. The lack of resources such as water, food, and mobility in the South are what Price counts as motivators to stay involved and work as long as he can. Correspondingly, Price said he advocates for health, education, and policy reform because he views those as the source of enacting long term change. 

Learning about some of Dallas’ issues provided us an honest insight into the challenges and barriers that keep real change from happening in Dallas. I, for one, hope to understand more deeply in the coming months all these issues and ways in which we as a class can enact change together.    

– Jesse Trevino, Mayor’s Star Council Class Six
 

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April Corporate Meeting Recap

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April Corporate Meeting Recap

Gentrification and displacement of poor people is a hot topic nowadays in West Dallas, and there are opposing views on this situation. Some argue that this gentrification has nothing to do with displacement but with progress and development that also benefits the quality of life of those that currently reside in this community. Others, however, challenge this position and argue against it criticizing it for being a scheming tactic to push out lower-income families and welcome a new affluent community.

On April 25th, 2017, the Mayor’s Star Council met with some of the protagonists of this contest for West Dallas. The issue was discussed openly and candidly, getting a first-hand experience of the political and economic battle that is taking place. Among the panelists was Mr. Khraish, owner of HMK Ltd. Along with his father, Mr. Khraish bought back hundreds of 70-year-old rental homes in this contested area of West Dallas in 2004. Since then, they have been leasing these homes to lower-income families for about $300 a month.

Mr. Khraish argues that what is taking place is a typical gentrification process of renovating the community to conform to middle-upper-class standards and displacing minorities and poor people (both of which are the prevalent community of West Dallas). He vehemently contended that the economical movement taking place there does not have the people of West Dallas in mind for it is a simple strategy to develop high-standard housing with a big property-tax-assessment. He says, “the Dallas historic pattern is: whenever it is time to grow, minorities have to go.”

There is no arguing that gentrification does push low-income people away when they no longer can afford to live in the developed area. However, in this case, some are challenging this notion of gentrification and claiming that it is about improving the standards of living for all people. Gentrification, in this context, is meant as a process to raise the quality of living in a place that is racially and economic diverse. The desired goal is not expensive property and taxes but a safe and clean community.

Mayor Mike Rawlings of the City of Dallas dismisses the displacement conspiracy theory of Mr. Khraish and says, “we [want] those families to continue to stay there; it makes us richer.” (KERA) Mayor Rawlings has been outspoken about this and has challenged the claims of Mr. Khraish by voicing out his concern about the precarious, unsafe, and unhealthy condition of the houses Mr. Khraish owns and leases in West Dallas. Rawlings is concern about the condition of these houses and how low-income families are suffering.

For Mr. Khraish, this is a hostile takeover situation of gentrification to displace minorities and low-income families that have no other place to go; for Rawlings, this is a concern about the wellness of the community that has been long neglected and ignored, and have endured many years of poor housing that do not meet city code.

In an article published early this year in the Dallas Observer, Jim Schutze notes that Mr. Khraish proposed that Mayor Rawlings replace the broken houses with multi-family rental properties using his own capital and the aid of federal subsidies. The problem with this proposal is that Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is unable to subsidize areas that are “heavily afflicted by poverty and segregation,” (Schutze) rendering Mr. Khraish’s proposal unviable.

There is enough blame to go around and issues like this one need creative leaders to help find solutions. Dallas has had an affordable housing issue for many years and has failed to plan appropriately. If people are displaced, they will be hard pressed to find and afford housing anywhere nearby. But just staying is not a solution either, for their homes are barely standing or functional. The bad condition of these houses go back 60 or more years and today are even worse.

The two sides in this city’s battle for West Dallas are contentious and make appealing cases. One claims that the issue is not the development of high-standard housing, but the displacement of low-income families; the other makes a case for improving life quality in spaces that have been neglected for many years and have the right to better housing standards.

Whatever the outcome, this battleground will define the character of the City of Dallas for many years to come.

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March Corporate Meeting Recap

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March Corporate Meeting Recap

J.C. Gonzalez (Vice President / Branch Manager II at Wells Fargo), MSC Class of 15-16, opened our March corporate meeting by sharing his current experience of running for Mayor of Irving and answered questions from the current class.

We learned from an exceptional panel about the school-to-prison pipeline issue we have in many communities across the nation. Our panel was comprised of Sara Mokuria (Associate Director for Leadership Initiatives, The Institute for Urban Policy Research at the University of Texas at Dallas), Courtney Egelston (Assistant Principal, Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy), Kristin Algier (Director, Uplift Heights Primary), Solomon Adair (Dean of Scholars, Uplift Grand Prep), Hon. Amber Givens-Davis (282nd Judicial Court), Terry S. Smith, Ph.D. (Executive Director, Dallas County Juvenile Department), and Allison Brim (Education Campaign Director, Texas Organizing Project).

The purpose of this gathering was for the Mayor’s Star Council to hear from those dealing with this challenge on professional and judiciary levels to learn the causes of this harmful dynamic, and the strategies for keeping children in the classroom and away from courtrooms.

Sarah Mokuria observed that the war on drugs and zero tolerance policy has led to the growth of the school-to-prison pipeline. The presence of law enforcement in schools has caused a change in dealing with misbehaviors. Since the early 1990’s, punishments for infractions in school began to be characterized as criminal behavior which was dealt with in the courtroom rather than inside the school. Today, we spend more money on those in prison ($30,000/year) than children in schools in Texas ($10,000/year).

The conundrum here is to address the definition of discipline. One opinion is that discipline is meant to be instructional, not castigatory. Sadly, many of our children are victims of punitive discretionary disciplinary practices with the goal of control over them rather than support of their healthy learning development. The tendency of this disciplinary approach is to force conformity through sanctions and fear. This is an inappropriate practice not conducive to a learning environment. However, this is a practice that has made its way into our educational institutions and is a primary cause for assigning character-criminalizing labels to children. These labels are based on the criminalization of behaviors and actions that are not criminal in nature (e.g. truancy) and have put many students in the system as criminals.

The argument here is not not to sanction misbehavior, but to differentiate between criminality, inherent disabilities, and plain bad choices. Criminality implies an intentional choice to break the law, to cause harm, and do evil, while bad choices are made out of a misinformed position. Both have consequences, but should not be dealt as if they were the same. Criminals are a threat to others. Troubled children are in need of help.

Hence, the issue with criminalizing discipline is that it causes students to face sanctions that become stumbling blocks in their future advancement and opportunities. The system as it stands today is, in many cases, in opposition to providing assistance to improving the wellbeing and development to many of our children.

This is one of the primary causes of the school-to-prison pipeline in present reality. In the last few years, this has become a national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As noted by the ACLU, “Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.” (ACLU.org)

The fact is that the criminalization of minor offenses of school rules is hurting our children, robbing them of their future and making them accessories to populate jails. The inability (or unwillingness) of our schools to handle misbehavior of children by just sending them out to the courtroom must be challenged. Children should be educated, not incarcerated.

A question that was raised during our time together in our corporate meeting to bring light to the dynamics that are behind what appears to be a broken system had to do with mandatory discipline vs. discretionary discipline. The panel was asked about observing others dealing with discretionary issues at schools. Kristin Algier, Director of the Uplift Heights Primary, offered the following insight, “Response is different for Primary, Middle, and High [School]. At primary level, we try to treat them with compassion and understanding as opposed to criminality. Promoting a positive environment is crucial to building a learning environment of respect and personal growth.” Other panelists emphasized the critical need for restorative practices where faculty, staff, parents, and children engage in discussing the issues together before they boil over and are sanctioned in ways that begin to mark our children as juvenile criminals.

In light of these learnings, we realized that we must work together to repair the harm caused by punitive and criminalizing disciplines that are sending our children away from learning centers and into the path of incarceration.

It is a fact that many of our schools are not set up to work well with children with challenging behaviors and disabilities, especially hidden disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And, as a result, these children become targets of increased discretionary discipline, increasing exponentially the chances of them dropping out of school. If the school is an environment of punishment, why would they even try to stay there? The end for many of these kids is to be underemployed; a greater risk for incarceration.

Our job is to keep our children and young people from being criminalized for behaviors that speak more about our failing to them, rather than a criminal character in them. Kids of 10-17 years old do not belong in the criminal record system; they need nurturing.

The players that need to come together and tag-team to find solutions to this issue are the principals, teachers, staff, parents, students, and the larger community.

Clearly, there is a need of self-giving individuals of good moral character willing to pour themselves into the most vulnerable of those amongst us. By doing this we are taking responsibility in our city, with our people.

 

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ACT, March Community Project

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ACT, March Community Project

A distinctive characteristic of the Mayor’s Star Council is that we exist to the betterment of our neighbors. We are constantly engaging in conversations and actions to understand the needs of our city and how we can contribute to the wellness of our communities. The health of a city is in the experience of peaceful, safe, and supporting communities, and we at the Mayor’s Star Council are journeying together alongside many others to learn, connect, and serve our city. We have accepted the invitation to be engaged in the challenges the city faces today rather than inheriting them in the future.

For this, every month we participate in different communities and with groups that are making a tangible difference in our city through social services, educational programs, poverty solutions, and many others.

This March of 2017, we met with the people of ACT (Advocates for Community Transformation) to learn about their ministry in South Dallas and get a glimpse of how they are making an impactful difference in people’s lives.

ACT is a justice ministry founded in 2009 to reduce crime in urban neighborhoods using the justice system to fight crime while sharing a life-giving message of hope based on the Gospel the Bible teaches. The mission of ACT is “to affirm and protect the God-given dignity and legal rights of inner city residents to live in a safe, stable neighborhood by empowering them to be advocates for transformation in their own communities.” (Sarah Galaro, ACT’s Mission Statement)

The reality we face in our city and that ACT is addressing is the presence of crime-ridden properties threatening the safety of our people. In the research ACT has performed, they found that the main causes of deterioration and crime in our neighborhoods are: drugs, prostitution, vandalism, rodent infestation, acts of arson, human and animal waste, and hazards for children playing in the area.

The work of ACT is a powerful witness of the best of us, of what we can do when we care for the wellbeing of others, of our neighbors. As noted in DMagazine in an article published in December of 2016, “ACT empowers inner-city residents to fight crime on their streets. The ministry aims to reduce the number of crime-ridden properties, prevent criminal networks from expanding, and restore dignity and hope to the communities it serves. It’s a lofty goal that takes street-level action.”

This first-hand learning experience left us, the Mayor’s Star Council, truly moved and inspired by learning not just about the good work ACT does, but about the reality that there are many good people amongst us trying to make a positive, sustainable, and lasting difference in our city.

We asked Asheya L. Warren, a fellow Mayor’s Star Council member, to share her experience with us of our community project with ACT.

She makes the following observations,

“We spent a brief time learning about ACT. Afterwards, we joined them in door to door canvassing to talk directly with neighbors, sharing information with them on how to access the city resources and authorities, as well as prevent and report crimes. We also provided the residents with information on 911/311 to make sure that they knew how to report any concerns.”

And, Asheya also shares a particular experience that was meaningful to her,

“Our group spent a significant amount of time with two neighbors. One of them was an elderly lady who appreciated the visit and the opportunity to have some conversation. She seemed extremely glad that we were present and planned to immediately put the refrigerator magnet with the new information we shared. She said she was a 40-year resident of the neighborhood. She, along with the many others we met, was appreciative of the outreach effort, willing to listen and engage with us, as well as receptive to the message. Some were unaware of the use/function of 311 as an alternative and non-emergency number. I think this helped neighbors recognize that people were concerned about them and their neighborhood.”

Asheya, alongside many others, was profoundly impressed and moved by the work ACT does and how they are intentionally present in people’s lives addressing and supporting their need of safe neighborhoods. The city of Dallas has limited city resources to meet this need on its own, but it has a vast talent and resources of its people. There are many others that are contributing to the wellness of our city as the people of ACT do.

The future of the city is in the ability of the leaders to empower others so they too can become advocates for transformation in their own communities. ACT will continue to empower residents and promote sustainable systemic change by “[leveraging] local resources, including local laws, courts, attorneys, law enforcement, nonprofits and churches to empower inner-city residents to fight crime on their streets while sharing the hope of the Gospel.” (Galaro)

We commend the work ACT is pursuing and the inspiration they instigate in those of us that want to be part of the solutions too. Our city, our responsibility.

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Broken Window Theory: Spotlight on Dallas' Dog Crisis

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Broken Window Theory: Spotlight on Dallas' Dog Crisis

This is our reality in the city of Dallas. Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year United States of America. Nearly one out of five bites becomes infected (Preventing Dog Bites, The Centers for Disease Control Prevention, May 2015). In 2014, loose dogs off their owner’s property inflicted 40% of all fatal attacks, a sharp rise from the 10-year average of 24% in 2005-2014 (Dogsbite.org). 

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Cedar Crest Tree Planting Project

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Cedar Crest Tree Planting Project

The Mayor’s Star Council consists of dependable and responsible leaders that are taking the responsibility to learn and address the needs of our communities to lead today for the sake of the other. Each of these men and women have a proven record that makes them uniquely gifted to undertake the dreams of tomorrow and work for them today. We know this is not a “solo” task, and we are linking arms with like-minded individuals across the city to work hard for our communities. We are shovel-ready. Literally. Take for example the following occasion.

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October Corporate Meeting - Life After Sports

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October Corporate Meeting - Life After Sports

Most people I know dream big about their kids, and when it comes to sports, we can’t help but dream about the possibility of raising an all-star professional athlete, an Olympian legend, or at least, becoming a recipient of college scholarships. These dreams have many parents instigating in their children to play sports at younger ages with the goal of becoming one day an athletic superstar.

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National Night Out, GrowSouth October 4th

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National Night Out, GrowSouth October 4th

National Night Out 2016 took place at St. Philip’s School and Community Center, and we were truly impressed by the work they do and how they are giving a future to many children, particularly by providing services and resources that assist families in enhancing their quality of life. The focus of their mission is to “provide an unparalleled education fueled by a confluence of spirituality, self-determination, and service to others.” (Stphilips1600.org) In the Mayor’s Star Council we have this motto: the beauty of a city is found in the hearts of its people. 

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Reflections of Our September Corporate Meeting on Homelessness

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Reflections of Our September Corporate Meeting on Homelessness

CitySquare is a non-profit, human and community development corporation in Dallas, Texas thatprovides food, health, housing and outreach services to the poor. The Mayor’s Star Council recently visited CitySquare, hosting a panel (Philip Kingston, Dallas City Council member, District 14; Edd Eason, Assistant Vice President of Health and Housing, City Square; Kourtny Garrett, President, Downtown Dallas, Inc.; Ron Hall, Author, Same Kind Of Different As Me; and Chad Houser, Executive Director and Chef, Café Momentum) to learn how we as leaders in our community can begin to be part of the solutions. 

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Local Voting, By the Numbers

By: Elizabeth Caudill, MSC 2015-2016

Each year elections take place on the local, state, and national level. As citizens of the United States, we have the privilege to vote on those who represent us in our city, county, state, nation, and of course the reigning heir to The Voice crown. Through all of the recent conversations surrounding the democratic process, one that is often accepted is: “Why should I even try to vote? It’s not like my vote counts anyways.” My vote doesn’t count. This is a hard and pessimistic view that leads to civic apathy, and hands all the power to those who choose to engage in the process.

Here are four numbers that show how “My Vote Doesn’t Count” is a load of bologna:

1.     5.63% - That’s less than the percentage of alcohol in Dallas’ own Deep Ellum IPA beer, yet it was the percentage of Dallas County that voted in the May 7th election. Out of 1,067,080 registered voters in Dallas County, a mere 60,117 votes were cast making the voter turnout 5.63%.

2.     42 – The number of votes that Dallas ISD Candidate Dustin Marshall won the District 2 trustee election in the June 18th runoff election. If everyone who ate at The Porch restaurant on Knox Henderson the night of Saturday June 18th decided to vote for the same candidate, they would have easily changed the outcome of the election.

3.     805,052 – The number of people in Dallas County who are over the age of 18, yet still not registered to vote or participating in government elections. Barriers such as voter registration requirements, education, and transportation to polling locations are some of the existing issues keeping people from being civically engaged.

4.     1 – The number of votes that you get in each and every election. A vote that may seem small and ‘doesn’t count,’ but when used with your fellow Dallas citizens holds a huge impact for the 2.5 million people living in Dallas County.  

Find out if you’re registered to vote or if your voter registration is up to date at www.dallascountyvotes.org . There you can also find information about upcoming elections, polling locations, and candidates. 

Each year elections take place on the local, state, and national level. As citizens of the United States, we have the privilege to vote on those who represent us in our city, county, state, nation, and of course the reigning heir to The Voice crown. Through all of the recent conversations surrounding the democratic process, one that is often accepted is: “Why should I even try to vote? It’s not like my vote counts anyways.” My vote doesn’t count. This is a hard and pessimistic view that leads to civic apathy, and hands all the power to those who choose to engage in the process.

Here are four numbers that show how “My Vote Doesn’t Count” is a load of bologna:

1.     5.63% - That’s less than the percentage of alcohol in Dallas’ own Deep Ellum IPA beer, yet it was the percentage of Dallas County that voted in the May 7th election. Out of 1,067,080 registered voters in Dallas County, a mere 60,117 votes were cast making the voter turnout 5.63%.

2.     42 – The number of votes that Dallas ISD Candidate Dustin Marshall won the District 2 trustee election in the June 18th runoff election. If everyone who ate at The Porch restaurant on Knox Henderson the night of Saturday June 18th decided to vote for the same candidate, they would have easily changed the outcome of the election.

3.     805,052 – The number of people in Dallas County who are over the age of 18, yet still not registered to vote or participating in government elections. Barriers such as voter registration requirements, education, and transportation to polling locations are some of the existing issues keeping people from being civically engaged.

4.     1 – The number of votes that you get in each and every election. A vote that may seem small and ‘doesn’t count,’ but when used with your fellow Dallas citizens holds a huge impact for the 2.5 million people living in Dallas County.  

Find out if you’re registered to vote or if your voter registration is up to date at www.dallascountyvotes.org. There you can also find information about upcoming elections, polling locations, and candidates. 

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Remembering Juneteenth

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Remembering Juneteenth

By: Brittany Teal, MSC 2015-2016

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The institution of American slavery was prohibited by law when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 on New Year’s Day.  On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, soldiers from the Union Army landed at Galveston, Texas to deliver the news and enforce the Proclamation.

While the exact reasons of the delay are unknown, we know that the instantaneous information sharing available today is a far cry from 19th century methods, which included snail mail, traditional media sources like newspapers and telegrams.

Further, slavery was the backbone of the American economy, particularly in the South, with many in the elite class vested in maintaining the institution. The financial impact of slavery prohibition in 1863 is tantamount to the illegalization of banking, insurance, or any other bedrock industry in current society.

There is a common misconception that Juneteenth is a Texas holiday. In actuality, Juneteenth is celebrated nationwide with Milwaukee and Minneapolis boasting two of the largest celebrations. Here in Dallas, you can celebrate at the Dallas Juneteenth Festival at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center or at the Best Juneteenth Celebration in Desoto.

We celebrate Juneteenth, not to highlight the delay. Rather, we celebrate the day that all enslaved African-Americans were legally freed from slavery.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. phrased it best - none of us is free until all of us are free.

 

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Mayor’s Star Council hosts record-breaking fundraiser

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Mayor’s Star Council hosts record-breaking fundraiser

More than 120 Mayor’s Star Council current class and alumni network members, guests, and the honorable Mike Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas, hosted the third annual Mayor’s Star Council fundraiser on March 31 at the Granada Theater in Dallas, Texas. The program opened with a few words by Mayor Rawlings and one of the Mayor’s Rising Star Council Leadership Academy students, David Johnston, after which blues artist Wanda King performed a private set for MSC guests. The headline performance of the evening came from locally born and raised musician Sarah Jaffe. Jaffe, who was opened for by Sam Lao, performed for more than 600 attendees, with the Granada Theater graciously donating a portion of the proceeds from the evening’s ticket sales to the Mayor’s Star Council.

How does this help Dallas?

Funds raised from that evening will be used by the Mayor’s Star Council operations fund, and will provide scholarships for many of the college-bound students in the Mayor’s Rising Star Council Leadership Academy. The MRSC includes students from a combination of five participating high schools in southern Dallas including Adamson, Lincoln, Roosevelt, South Oak Cliff, and Madison. 

Something new

MSC announced at the event that Neiman Marcus has signed on to be the first sponsor of the Bench Project. This is a joint venture between the MRSC Leadership Academy and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency, or DART. DART operates buses, light rail, commuter rail, and high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Dallas and 12 of its suburbs. Companies and individuals who sign on to sponsor a bench at a DART station support MRSC students who, alongside a local artist, come up with an artistic concept on a bench that will be located in historical locations throughout South Dallas and Downtown. Funds from the Bench Project support MSC operating funds.

What’s next for MSC?

Most Mayor’s Rising Star Council Leadership Academy students graduate from high school in southern Dallas this June. Many will go on to be first generation college students, and many have received numerous scholarships and are in the top 10 of their class. This August, MSC will also add a new class of diverse, young professionals. Are you interested in making a difference in the city of Dallas? Join us by applying no later than 5:00 PM on June 15th to have a voice in the future of this great city. 

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A better way to share dallas land bank data

Open Data is an emerging trend among municipalities and Texas cities have embraced it's tenets including City of Dallas with it's Dallas Open Data portal. There are Dallas datasets that haven't joined the portal yet and are making their way through the process. As affordable housing, poverty and blight continue to drive important discussions, one of the data sets that is prime for openness is Land Bank property data.

What is a Land Bank?
Land banking is a way to collect properties that are vacant, abandoned or owe five years in back taxes and the amount owed is greater than the value of the property. The goal is to get these properties back to a "taxable" state in the shortest time possible. A prospective purchaser would owe back fees and taxes on the property beyond the value of the property, making the sale of the property difficult. Many of these properties are unkept and in disrepair requiring the city to spend tax dollars to maintain them, which add additional liens to the property. Land bank organizations, through cities, will take ownership through County courts and hold or "bank" them. The City of Chicago has implemented a $1 Large Lots program which sells lots for $1 and requires new property owners to live on the same block as the lots.

In Dallas, Land Banks are owned and administered through the Dallas Housing Acquisition and Development Corporation (DHADC). To improve the understanding of this data we used Tabula to extract tables from the pdf, Microsoft Excel 2016 for cleanup and BatchGeo for mapping.

View Dallas Land Bank Properties - Jan 2016 in a full screen map

We hope this data can better visualize available land bank properties for future prospective owners and enhance the communities, particularly in Southern and South Dallas, to bring these properties and their neighborhoods back to a state of productivity and community ownership.

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MSC: A Look Back to Move Forward

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MSC: A Look Back to Move Forward

From the get-go, the mission of the Mayor’s Star Council spoke to my desire to meaningfully plug into the neighborhoods and issues that are imperative to building a strong future for our city. I wanted to be connected to similarly impassioned young professionals who seek a little less talk and a little more action. A group of people who understand that there are no limits to progress if you’re agnostic to who gets the credit, who are capable of servant leadership without ego. What I found during my year on MSC were some of the most incredible people I’ve met in Dallas, connections to the leaders on the ground in neighborhoods from downtown to Vickery Meadow to Oak Cliff to Lancaster Corridor and everywhere in between, and a stronger sense of the part I hope to play in finding solutions within our community.

Working with the Mayor’s Rising Star Council (MRSC), MSC’s leadership academy at five Southern Dallas DISD schools, has been incredibly rewarding – those kids give us more than we could ever give them, and watching their growth over the past year has been magical. This coming year, our first class of MRSC will be applying to college and graduating, many the first in their families to do so. To know this, and to hear these kids not just talking about undergrad, but about a future in law, public service and STEM shows us how trajectories and communities heal through one on one relationships. The impact is real and I am so proud of this organization’s dedication to the next generation. A great partnership for the MRSC seniors is with the Marcus Graham Project, who has developed a curriculum for high school students that will teach these young leaders how to creatively develop, create, tell the story, and execute a campaign that highlights their neighborhoods and their vision for their communities. It’s an amazing experience that will allow them to build skills and importantly, a portfolio of their work that can carry forward into their careers. We are grateful to the mission and leadership at MGP for giving the MRSC this opportunity.

As a young organization, there is great opportunity for continued evolution in MSC, we have the ability to be agile, adapt and shift course when needed. Each member of our four classes has had the ability to shape the next year, the next iteration of our mission. I am honored to serve as President of the 2015-16 class and my goal is to continue to provide avenues for awareness, engagement and empowerment to our current class and alumni network, that as a team, we can connect, learn and serve in our city. We look forward to serving alongside you on this journey. Stay tuned and stay present, this is an incredible time to be in Dallas.

Jen Sanders

MSC 2014-15, President 2015-16

 

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Get to Know: MSC Partner The Marcus Graham Project

This year, Mayor's Star Council is thrilled to be working with the Marcus Graham Project (MGP), a Dallas-based non-profit, co-founded by Lincoln Stephens and Larry Yarrell, who believe in the power of marketing BIG ideas.  Dallas, is certainly not a stranger to BIG ideas and BIG thinking.  MGP empowers young adults to think BIG each year with their iCR8 Summer Boot Camp, which trains young leaders with an interest in the advertising, media and marketing industry.  MGP has recently partnered with the Mayor's Rising Star Council (MRSC) to develop a similar experiential learning initiative for its high school seniors.   The program, officially launched a few weeks ago at the first meeting of the MRSC students this school year. These students will finish the program with real life experience creating, designing and executing a multi-faceted marketing campaign to highlight their communities, and a portfolio of work they can utilize in their future endeavors. The program is supported by a recent grant by the South Dallas - Fair Park Trust Fund and a matched donation by Microsoft. 

MGP will be holding their annual masquerade gala, Lavender Hill, in Dallas on October 31st.   MSC's own Trey Bowles, Founder of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center and the Mayor's Star Council, is serving on this year's host committee. The final date to reserve your seat at the table of change is 10/28.  We can say from experience that this is a great time for an amazing cause.

The event is sponsored by PepsiCo, Moet Hennessey and D CEO Magazine and will also honor MGP's outstanding board members, agency partners and alumni.  

Event Venue: Sixty Five Hundred 

6500 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235

Saturday, October 31st at 7:00pm

Attite: Semi-Formal Masquerade

To RSVP please visit: http://lavenderhill2015.splashthat.com

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3 Lessons I Learned from MSC

If you’re reading this, you likely have a good idea what MSC (Mayor’s Star Council) is. In case you don’t, MSC is a 501c3 that focuses on bringing together young, passionate and diverse leaders from the City of Dallas with the purpose of having them learn about the City and find ways to engage – both with the City and one another.

As a member of the 3rd class of MSC (2014-2015), and newly minted alum, here are three lessons I learned from my experience in the organization:

1.     Dallas is filled with some remarkable people

STOP what you’re doing. Take a moment and look around. Seriously. Stop rolling your eyes, take a deep breath, briefly look around and think about the people who are around you – if you’re by yourself, just pop into a Dallas Public Library or head over to Klyde Warren Park. What battles have these people fought? What struggles are they currently going through? (Everyone has one). How did they wind up in Dallas? The City of Dallas is filled with some remarkable people. People who are somehow making our City, and our lives, better and we often have no idea they exist… 

People like Daron Babcock with Bonton Farms. In the middle of a successful career, he evaluated his heart and values and decided to move to a low socioeconomic location so he could serve others. It wasn’t long before he began Bonton Farms, an urban farm in the middle of an inner-city food desert where he also hires men with criminal records as a way to help them integrate back into society.

That’s what MSC taught me – that there are truly remarkable people in Dallas that care about making the City better (with no ulterior motive).

 

2.     Networking is dead. Genuine relationships are what count

Ughhhh... “networking”. Does anyone really think that works anymore? Honestly. Although “networking” may work 1 out of 100 times, the truth is that networking is dead. The only way to do good business, and to live a personally fulfilled life, is to volunteer or become an active member of an organization. Local organizations like the Mayor’s Star Council or Leadership Dallas are particularly special because they help us match our skills or passions to serve local areas in need alongside like-minded people. Spending one year volunteering with other leaders who share your values will go a lot further in business development and produce richer relationships than spending 60 minutes at one-off networking events once a week.

3.     “Dallas is boring?” Wait…WHAAAT?! 

I often hear it, “there’s nothing to do in Dallas”.  Sighhh… I sadly used to make the same wrong assumption. The fact is that the City of Dallas is filled with remarkable opportunities and things to do. Business wise, there are 21 Fortune 500 companies in Dallas/Fort Worth – whoa… Personally, there are MANY things to do in the City:

·         Join the Trinity River’s young professionals group – who often kayak the river

·         Spend time at Klyde Warren Park  and the Arts District

·         Visit Bonton Farms or volunteer to work one Saturday morning

·         Help make capes for children with chronic diseases at Capes 4 Kids

·         Check out an event at the historic Kessler Theatre

·         Spend time at Oak Cliff film festival  

·         Go to Deep Ellum and pop into the Deep Ellum Brewery

·         Volunteer to teach English at Vickery Meadow Learning Center

·         Visit Fair Park – other than during the State Fair

And these are just the first things that popped into my mind.

The fact is, there is a lot to do in Dallas and there are many wonderful opportunities and people to discover! We just have to open ourselves up to learning about our City and the Mayor’s Star Council is a special opportunity to learn about the City and get to meet some incredible people.

Paula.jpg

Paula Gean is a member of the 2014-15 Mayor's Star Council and the Director of Marketing at Dialexa, a tech firm that designs and engineers award-winning products across mobile, web, IoT and embedded device platforms. She belongs to the Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, is a 2014 Dallas Business Journal's Women in Technology awardee and dreams of bettering the world. Follow Paula on Twitter @Agean6.

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Thank You One and All for Helping to Celebrate Our Rising Stars!

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Thank You One and All for Helping to Celebrate Our Rising Stars!

Dallas has had a much needed wet spring thus far – the days leading up to the Fund Raiser on May 12th to celebrate our Rising Stars were no different. As the members of the Mayor’s Star Council were making final preparations for the Event, we began to wonder … will Mother Nature cooperate with us and allow the City to celebrate the youth from the local High Schools the MSC mentors?

The answer was a resounding – YES! Nearly 100 participants came by for the celebration at Souk Restaurant in the Trinity Groves.

Guests learned about the work from the students through descriptive panels from each of the 5 High Schools while enjoying Mediterranean appetizers and tasty libations.

The proceedings began with a vote of thanks to recent funders and board members – and continued with stories from MSC members about the benefits of the Council and impact of the Leadership Academy on the students the MSC mentors. A lucky winner won a suite to a Texas Rangers baseball game through the raffle held.

The Event brought together friends and well wishers, including MSC alums, community & corporate leaders, and Leadership Academy students. Regardless if it was the participants first time attending a MSC event or an active participant, the Fund Raiser was a prime example of achieving the Mission of the Mayor’s Star Council through Learning, Serving, and Connecting.

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These kids...

Almost two years ago, the Mayor's Star Council ventured out and committed to mentoring 30 sophomore students.  When you see "30 students" you immediately think this is going to be something really surface level.  Something we cannot truly commit to.  We will give it our best, but can't guarantee this is really sustainable. 

Then you meet them.  30 students.  They might not look like me.  They may not be raised in the same way I was.  But they absolutely have a heart that beats in the same way mine does, and they have forever stolen my heart.  

Last year the Mayor's Star Council again committed to mentoring 30 students, 6 students from 5 south Dallas schools; Adamson, South Oak Cliff, Madison, Roosevelt and Lincoln.  We went in anticipating that we would pour our entire lives into their life for one year, graduate them and start over with the next class of sophomores.  Well, a year later we have 30 juniors and 30 sophomores, engaged as ever and not going anywhere.  We even went as far as to have a graduation ceremony for the sophomores (now juniors) and they still begged for us to stay…so we did. 

The only way I know to share the story of Mayor's Rising Star Council (MRSC) is to share the many things they have taught me (in order of sappiness).  

(1) KIK – yeah, it's an app.  One where you can talk (until ALL hours of the morning) on group text with one another.  I had to come up with a creative name (I think it's christielynn) and then they could message me, even if their phone service was turned off…as long as there was wifi.  I sometimes have to remind them that I am old and they need to stop texting so I can go to sleep… 

(2) There are so many words that are now "cool" that I can't even begin to pronounce

(3) High Schoolers are easy to love, they just want you to pay them some attention 

(4) Students, do not want to be known for the stereotype the city gives them…they want to be asked who they are and THEY want to tell you who they are

(5) Neighborhoods and schools can change, when you give students the opportunity to show you how

(6) MRSC kids have pride in their communities, they sometimes just need someone to guide them to the why and how…once they figure it out, you better watch out, they will blow you away

(7) They get "it".  Better than I ever did.  I am envious for what they have learned and know.  Their wisdom is pure and thoughtful.  They genuinely understand the challenges and are willing to create solutions, even if they are difficult. 

(8) If you empower students, they will speak boldly.  This is my favorite story.  Recently, we took students to a debate where "adults" were talking about City of Dallas politics.  One of the questions was DIRECTLY about GrowSouth and the impact it is having on the city.  Two of the adults answered in a way that was offensive to the students.  I was standing across the room and one of the students texted me (which I still have saved) and said, "Ms. Christie, they are talking about us…but they've never been to our neighborhood…they don't know.  If it were not for GrowSouth, we wouldn't be where we are today."  After the debate, the students, together, went and talked respectfully to each person and INVITED them to attend their next MRSC meeting so they could better understand what GrowSouth has done for them and how they have experienced opportunities they would have otherwise not experienced.  I have tears rolling down my cheek recalling the story because IT IS EXACTLY why we started out on this journey.  To teach students and empower them to speak out about who they really are and how they can be leaders of change.  

(9) These kids have become my brothers and sisters.  When I first started this journey, I was talking with one of the Dallas ISD Executive Directors and my voice was laced with fear.  I didn't look like these kids and was not sure what I could offer them.  I didn't know anything about where they were from or the challenges they experienced.  I am almost embarrassed by my fear.  The ED took his hand and reached out to my right shoulder, looked me dead in the eyes and said "Christie, these kids don't care what you look like or what you have experienced in life.  They care that you are entering their community.  So stand up and pour your life into them."  I did just that.  Today, I cried reading texts from them of their gratefulness for MRSC and for the commitment we have given them. 

(10) There are 159,000 other kids.  We have done a great job with 60 kids.  But it's not enough.  There are still 159,000 other Dallas ISD kids who need people to just simply care.  It is up to others to take the charge and start making a difference…might I just remind you, these kids ARE OUR FUTURE. 

Forever changed because of MRSC.

- Christie Myers - 

 

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