March Corporate Meeting

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March Corporate Meeting

On March 27, Mayor’s Star Council Class Six gathered at Jaycee Recreation Center in District 6, and the topic for the evening was gentrification.

Maureen Locus, Josh Prywes and Robert Weaver assembled panelists that hold different stakes in what gentrification means for the city of Dallas.

Jack Matthews, president of Matthews Southwest, Sandy Rollins, executive director of the Texas Tenants Union, and David Noguera, director of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization for the City of Dallas represented private, commercial interests, renters, and government respectively. The panel was moderated by Owen Wilson Chavez of BC Analytics.

Chavez began the session by defining gentrification as “where you’re building homes and who is able to move into those homes once they’re completed.”

All panelists touched on the cyclical nature of gentrification, pointing out that redeveloping an area can lead to the current population being entirely priced out.

“It was intriguing to get a better understanding from the panelists' varied points of view, based on their areas of expertise and people served,” said Maureen Locus of her key takeaways from the evening.

“I learned gentrification continues to be a sensitive subject with no clear cut direction to appease everyone involved - from the developer, city, or residents' perspectives,” Maureen continued. “It would behoove citizens, MSC Class Six included, to educate themselves and be more aware of what gentrification is and how it could or would impact them before jumping to conclusions and pointing fingers.”

The tension of the evening’s underlying question was palpable: How can you responsibly gentrify or better an area without displacement?

Robert Weaver saw a communication and knowledge gap for those living in communities that have been or could be affected by gentrification.

“For me, it hardened my desire to educate those who are in communities affected by gentrification on the need to own and invest in their communities if they have a desire to maintain the culture and historical significance of that community past the point of another’s desire to own in that same place as a result of proximity to or being the next hot place to live,” said Robert.

“It also increases my desire to educate the people of those communities to take control of their own education as it is essential to having an understanding deep enough to offset the intentional displacement of those with less means,” Robert added.

The development of the City of Dallas’ first housing policy has been in the drafting stage for months and was presented for the first time on April 5. The contents and final conclusions of that plan will be eagerly anticipated to see what needs it can meet for communities that seek to better their neighborhoods – while still being able to afford to live there.

We’d like to extend a special “thank you” to Jaycee Recreation Center and Carmen’s Mexican Café.

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February Corporate Meeting

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February Corporate Meeting

“Organizing the February meeting gave me the space to meet amazing individuals and work closely with my fantastic MSC classmates. It was a great experience that truly introduced me to the work of many in our city,” said Joe Carreon.

Joe planned the February Corporate Meeting alongside Mahoganie Gaston and Cristal Retana.

The group focused on the topic of immigration, and especially honed in on immigration in District 13 in the city of Dallas.

In developing the structure and content of the Corporate Meeting, Joe, Mahoganie and Cristal sought to let the experts be the experts.

“I think when meeting with local businesses, nonprofit, etc., it’s important to go in with a clean slate,” said Mahoganie. “Yes, have questions to ask but they are the experts on the topic. You want it to be more of a conversation and less of an interview and generally additional questions, topics and thoughts come up.”

The group created a panel made up of representatives from the City of Dallas in addition to non-profit executives. The panelists included Jennifer Staubach-Gates, Councilmember, District 13, City of Dallas; Liz Cedillo-Pereira, director of the Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs, City of Dallas; Jesus Ramirez, United States Customs and Immigration; and Susana Lubanga, executive director of International Rescue Committee. Tiffany Jelke of International Rescue Committee moderated the panel.

“For me, I knew a little about immigration due to work experience and going to the immigration office with a youth,” said Mahoganie, who works with Dallas Independent School District’s homeless students. “However, I wasn’t aware of the full spectrum of services and how different each case could be. Hearing the story from one of our guest at our Corporate Meeting was that reality.”

In addition to panelists, the Corporate Meeting also hosted a number of immigrants to the City of Dallas from across the world. Many stories from the immigrants were shared allowed of why they had to leave their home countries, the challenges faced in coming to the United States, and finally living in a new place without friends or family.

Food was provided by Break Bread, Break Borders. The social justice initiative provides opportunities for immigrant women and their families to connect with other immigrants and the broader Dallas community through food and culture.

We’d also like to thank Temple Emanu-El for hosting the evening’s Corporate Meeting.

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January MSC mid-year retreat

Mayor’s Star Council Mid-Year Retreat Focuses on Leadership, Equity

The Mayor’s Star Council (MSC) class six recently gathered for a one-day retreat dedicated to the city’s current events, leadership development, and equity building.

Held at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center in the West End, the retreat featured distinguished speakers throughout the city and recent alumni of the MSC program.

Brent Brown, president and CEO of the Trinity Park Conservancy (TPC), began the day’s learning with a discussion on the history of Dallas’ most storied natural resource, the Trinity River. Brown touched on the re-routing of the river in the early 20th century, the physical and societal barrier the body of water creates, and how even after 116 years and more than 25 plans for river development, the TPC is committed to developing meaningful amenities within and around the levies by involving the community through all aspects of the design process.

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The morning continued with an active discussion on the role of equity in leadership, led by Jarie Bradley, Chief People Officer at City Square and MSC alumna. Bradley asked class six members to evaluate their own personal privilege, how they use their power and relationships, and how each component can drive others forward through inclusion.

“What I want you to feel like today is knowing that you are part of the solution,” Bradley told the class. “We all have a responsibility to take the diversity and inclusion part to the next level. We are able-bodied, and we have the means to do it.”

The afternoon portion of the retreat kicked off with Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough sharing his B.U.I.L.D. method for coalition building through conflict. McGough’s presentation provided MSC class six members a formula for successful cooperation between parties who might otherwise be at an impasse. The key to his formula: active listening and understanding.

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The retreat wrapped with thought-provoking activities focused on authentic leadership led by April Bowman, founder and CEO of Bold Believers United and MSC alumna. Bowman’s exercises challenged members of the retreat to scrutinize their ideas of leadership to connect genuinely, reflect on competencies, and assess and stretch to see how leadership growth can be achieved.

The mid-year retreat left each member of class six equipped and energized for the next six months of activities of the Mayor’s Star Council.

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December Corporate Meeting

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December Corporate Meeting

The Tommie M. Allen Recreation Center served as the host for the December Corporate meeting for the MSC Class Six. This meeting featured multiple speakers all tackling higher education challenges in their own way. We heard from Tennell Atkins, District 8 council member, Marnese Elder, President of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Brittney Farr the regional and local relations manager for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Dr. Joseph Seabrooks, President of Cedar Valley College, and Marty Cox a Senior Human Resources Business Partner with Amazon. All panelists provided unique perspectives as well as various points of interest to consider when discussing challenges associated with higher education.

Council member Atkins opened the discussion with background about District 8 saying “we are a blank canvas”. He made a point to mention both opportunities as well as accomplishments that District 8 has seen over the last few years. Challenges around transportation, housing, and workforce have lingered however, having the Bryon Nelson Golf Tournament will bring development to the area. In addition, both Paul Quinn College and UNT Dallas have grown and increased their student populations improving the awareness and traffic around both colleges.

The topic of traditional vs. non-traditional education was brought up to give the landscape in which the ways education has shifted. Dr. Seabrooks believes that college is for everyone, they just have to understand what their interests are and find the appropriate college program. Dr. Seabrooks mentioned the pursuit of non-credit programs as well as career/technical education in addition to the traditional credit model. Marty Cox from Amazon mentioned that they have a Career Choice program for their employees in which Amazon will pay for their tuition no matter what their educational goals.

The discussion then took a broader turn as Council Member Atkins asked about things Dallas can do to be a great city and bridge the gaps. The topics that were brought up were directly related to economic development, strategic planning, and culture change around developing a community. For the first time, the corporate meeting became less about what was happening to what can/needs to be done. It seemed to be more empowering to have this discussion about our ideas and suggestions versus just hearing about problems. This discussion allowed for various takeaways, one such takeaway for Class Six member Andrea Durham was:

“Current and future generations may have to get creative when it comes to securing post-secondary education and career development. A 4-year college may not be the most logical, or even the best, next step after high school. Individuals may want to consider entering the workforce immediately after high school in order to: 1) determine what career path is best suited for them and 2) take advantage of benefits offered by an employer such as tuition reimbursement. It is also important to understand that many students will not have the privilege to go away to school, but need to stay near family.” 

Needless to say District 8 has plenty of opportunities but the question shouldn’t be where do we begin but rather what’s next.

 

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November - Corporate Meeting & Service Event

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November - Corporate Meeting & Service Event

“The undercurrent you’re hearing tonight is the tension between equity and quality,” said Dr. Linda K. Johnson, president and CEO of LIFT and a panelist for the Mayor’s Star Council’s November Corporate Meeting.

The November Corporate Meeting, hosted at T.R. Hoover CDC in District 7, focused on primary and secondary education in Dallas. Experts and community leaders in various roles across Dallas Independent School District and the non-profit sector offered perspectives on issues that chiefly dealt with school funding. Hot topics included total taxable value per weighted student, state funds and the recent T.R.E. (tax ratification election) opportunity. 

"We wanted the November Corporate Panel to be held at the T.R. Hoover CDC because of the life-changing childcare and education they provide for primary and secondary students in the Lincoln and Madison feeder schools since it is right in the heart of South Dallas: our MSC focus area for the month of November," said Mayor's Star Council Member David Reeves, who works with Education is Freedom and helped put together this month's Corporate Meeting and service project.

Johnson was joined on the panel by Garrett Landry, head of Education Initiatives for Williams Family Foundation; Ben Mackey, principal at TAG Magnet; Marcia Page, president and CEO of Education Is Freedom; and Bernadette Nutall, Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, District 9. April Bowman, CEO of Bold Believers United and MSC alum, moderated the conversation.

“For Primary and Secondary Education, we could have dove right into the problems, however, we decided to set the stage first by highlighting how school funding was raised  – local, state and federal – and how many kids and schools have access to the total school budget,” explained Kyle Turbitt, who is a member of Mayor’s Star Council Class Six (2017-2018) and helped plan and guide the panel.

In addition to funding, the panel delved into implementation of new systems and the progress that has been made over the past few years around in-school resources and partnerships with local community colleges.

“We tried to not just single out the budget limitations, but also issues with teachers and the number of kids leaving the public school system,” Turbitt said.

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The funding-focused panel on Primary and Secondary Education in Dallas was paired with a service project revolving around college preparedness. More than 20 Mayor’s Star Council members and alumni volunteered at the HBCU College Fair at Beckley-Saner Recreation Center, organized by the City of Dallas Park & Recreation Department. Between 500 and 600 attendees met representatives from local and national HBCUs and attended a panel on the college application process organized by the Mayor’s Star Council.

“I think the pump up session before the official fair started was exciting to watch since the students were starting to get engaged and participating in the pep rally-like environment (with) band, dance performance, music, etc.,” said Aline Bass, a member of the Mayor’s Star Council Class Six (2017-2018) that helped oversee the service project. “The panel worked well and the interest from attendees was highlighted by all those who stayed after to keep asking questions to panelists.”

In all, more than 90 students and parents attended the Mayor’s Star Council college application panel.

We’d like to extend our appreciation to both our Corporate Meeting,  HBCU College Fair panelists and the City of Dallas Park & Recreation Department. Specifically, thank you to T.R. Hoover’s Sherri Mixon, who generously provided a location for our Corporate Meeting with close to 40 attendees. To learn more about T.R. Hoover, click here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbYomIm2prU) to watch a video produced by the State Fair of Texas. To become involved with the organization, Mixon broke down T.R. Hoover’s needs into four verticals: community exposure, community education, community accessibility and community partnerships.

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October - Corporate Meeting

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October - Corporate Meeting

Mayor’s Star Council Class Six had its second meeting during October on Early Childhood Education. The class heard from Shelly Sender, Director of Early Childhood Education with Temple Emanu-El; Regen Fearon, the board chair for Early Matters Dallas; Derek Little, who is an Asst. Superintendent at DISD; and Dan Micciche a DISD trustee. Regina Nippert with the Budd Center served as our moderator. The panel discussed a variety of topics such as defining early childhood education, things DISD is doing to improve early childhood education development, effects of economic status on early childhood education, and other educational models that are being executed both in Dallas and around the country.

Class Six member Amanda Arizola found the meeting very informative. She enjoyed learning about the partnerships between DISD and childcare centers. “Strong partnerships between DISD, Early Matters Dallas, and Educational First Steps have become a driving force in this arena; but additional support for daycare owners, which are proportionally minority business women, is needed in order for them to expand services and provide quality educational services that will prepare students for Pre-K.”

Harold Hogue of Class Six said, “It’s also worth noting DISD is doing an incredible job using their resources to make early childhood education a quality experience for families.”

The overall emphasis from the panelists highlighted that issues facing early childhood education are intricate and multifaceted. For example, with regards to food, 90 percent of DISD students are on free and reduced lunch and that 90 percent of brain development occurs before age 5. This is a major issue that DISD is wrestling with because the more healthy and nourished students are the more likely they are to perform better in school. Affecting change on this continuum at an early age is important because of its long-lasting impact. Regen Fearon stated, “Before third grade, you are learning to read, and after you are reading to learn.”

This is a problem with no quick fix but there are opportunities for solutions to take effect – it just takes a village to do it!

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September - Corporate Meeting

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September - 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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