By: Edgar Bazan, Mayor’s Star Council Class of 2016-2017

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

-Tagore

 Games, face painting, dancing to Drake’s One Dance (and many others!), and all you can eat sloppy joes with pickles and onions, and, of course, your choice of chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies. This sounds like a party, right? Well, it was. It was a joy to serve in our city. The Mayor’s Star Council joined with St. Philip’s School and Community Center, Dallas Police Department and Mayor Mike Rawlings to celebrate on October 4th, 2016 National Night Out with the community of South Dallas, Texas. It was a great time where we shared not only food and games but most importantly lots of laughs with our neighbors as we continue to work to build healthy and strong communities.

This event 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. We have been learning that there is profound beauty in South Dallas, one that can only be witnessed by being there. And it is not a beauty that relies on stuff, but on the sacredness of human worth, on children that are eager to learn, to join, to partner with anyone willing to tutor them.

This is our city: our neighbors, our children, our responsibility. And this city is beautiful and diverse, desperately crying out for people to see, to be aware of the unknowns, of those that typically are just labeled but nameless. It is time to tell the good stories such as St. Philips School and to raise each other in our community for the sake of our common well-being, and reinforce the foundations that lead to healthy and strong communities.

The Mayor’s Star Council exists for opportunities to serve like this by linking arms with leaders from all around our communities for a better Dallas and to lead in the discovery process of the beauty of our city. But, why do we care? Because we want a city that is good, kind and better for everyone; and because we are people that are not satisfied with just exploring and dreaming about what could be better, but are actively engaged in contributing creative solutions to help build a great city. We are doers, and we are passionate about the dreams of our city for our future. We come from different contexts; we look different; we think different; but we share one passion: to serve others. We have done this and will continue to do so by addressing issues such as neighborhood building (GrowSouth), homelessness (HEP), poverty (CitySquare), and education supporting programs (TRM). This is what moves us, what brings us together with shared purpose. We have accepted the challenge from our Mayor to be civically engaged in the challenges the city faces rather than inheriting them in the future. We are stepping forward, becoming a tangible presence all around the city.

However, this is not an easy task, and one that can be accomplished by a few, for the main foe to face and overcome is one of the misguided perceptions and apathy towards people and places we may consider different than us. As people, we naturally tend to fear that which looks different from us, and when we make decisions based on assumptions our perception is not only misguided but opposing. But we, The Mayor’s Star Council, have accepted the challenge, and now we offer it to you too: the time to be engaged with our neighbors to build our city is now, for there comes a time when we are gifted to see the beauty that is all around us and be shaken to our core with excitement.

For too long our beauty as people in the city in Dallas has been hidden in plain sight, and we deny its existence because we lack vision and hearing. It had been avoided, even rejected, but the time has come for our city to embrace it. I think this is precisely what is beginning to happen, we are seeing and hearing the beauty of our city in its diversity expressed through language, art, music, food, festivities, beliefs, traditions, and race. Dallas is a wonderful place to live, to raise our family, for it is surrounded by wonders all around.

Therefore, one of our greatest tasks is to change perceptions; to speak to each other and feel compassion for each other’s needs; to create awareness of how our differences don’t subtract from each other but add and multiply to what we already have. Dallas could become handicapped as a city if this is not addressed and healed within our generation. Our future is found in learning to rely on each other, to lift each other up and working towards the reality of not leaving anyone behind, not a single child.

Just as we are joining with others around the city, we invite you to do the same. Join your neighbors, connect with each other, look for the beauty within the hearts of each other, and contribute to your social wellness. The tasks are many, seemingly insurmountable; but it is there, where our future lies, where the opportunities for growth, and new identity are promising. We can’t wait for tomorrow, we can’t afford any longer to ignore it, we must accept our destiny for it is today when is to be found.

May our dreams be those of the community. May we hear and see our neighbors’ dreams too, so we can commit to each other, trust each other, and work for each other to complement and not exploit. This is our greater good, our way to be collectively impactful in every possible and positive way we can. This city is no longer just our dad’s and mom’s, but ours to steward. Our shared calling is to serve each other; there is where one of the greater joys is to be found.

Let’s become a city full of joy, let’s serve together.

 

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