Belden Trail Groundbreaking

Learn more about our work in the RGV.

March 21st, 2013 marked the groundbreaking ceremony for Belden Trail in Brownsville, TX. The ceremony was held at the intersection of West 8th and Fronton Street behind Skinner Elementary School. About 100 people were in attendance, including Brownsville Mayor Martinez, Commissioner Virrareal, Skinner Elementary Principal Moore, Assistant Superintendent Haynes, Community Development Corporation Brownsville Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett, and Commissioner Rose Gowen who spoke on the importance of the Trail. See local coverage of the event from the Brownsville Herald and United Brownsville!

The groundbreaking was a celebration of every contribution by community residents, stakeholders, and project partners toward the development, planning, and design of this project. The process was a community wide effort of collaboration between adjacent residents and institutions as well as project partners and the City of Brownsville.

The trail design includes a pedestrian and bike pathway connecting Skinner Elementary School to Praxedis Orive Jr. Park on Palm Boulevard. The 10 foot-wide pathway also runs alongside Sams Memorial Stadium. The trail design includes:

  • local plants and shade trees including tall grasses and wildflowers, live oak trees, red yucca, sacahuista, and mealy blue sage
  • bike racks, play areas, and local art at Rotary Park, Skinner Elementary School, and the Elizabeth Street intersection.
  • safe street crossings with the addition of street chokers to slow traffic, signage, and crosswalks.

The addition of this public space in Brownsville will encourage healthy lifestyles, diversify transportation options and increase access to natural resources. The trail will serve as an example for continued development of a city-wide trail system increasing city residents' access to cultural, recreational, and natural amenities.

The trail will be under construction for the next two months. You can read more about the background of Belden Trial here. Be sure to like The Friends of Belden Trail on Facebook for updates!

TEDx SMU + TEDx Kids

Learn more about POP Dallas.

On November 30 and December 1, 2012, bcWORKSHOP was invited to participate in the TEDxKids @ SMU (a special TED event for local middle school students) and TEDxSMU conferences to showcase our POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas initiative. Now in its fourth year, TEDxSMU brought a multitude of creative thinkers to the City Performance Hall in the Arts District to share and discover innovative ideas in technology, entertainment and design.

Following the conference's theme of re:TH!NK, over 400 attendees on both days shared their ideas for re-thinking the neighborhoods where they live, learn, work and play through activity cards, video interviews and good old-fashioned conversation. During the day, bcWORKSHOP created a compilation of Neighborhood Stories collected throughout the conference as well as a map of representing attendees' neighborhoods, which was screened at the end of the conference.

Conference participants were eager to share ideas for their own neighborhoods and absorb the ideas shared by others from around the city. With the POP City Map as a guide, attendees left armed with a strengthened understanding and commitment to place-making in Dallas.

Denton Neighborhood Empowerment Summit

Learn more about POP Dallas.

On October 27, 2012, bcWORKSHOP supported the City of Denton Neighborhood Planning Program's efforts to provide residents with tools to affect positive change in their neighborhoods by engaging them with the POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas Toolkit at the fourth annual Neighborhood Empowerment Summit.

Local advocates first learned about the Toolkit as a common language that guides people in understanding their physical and social environments, as well as provides them with tools to position themselves as effective advocates for change.  Next, the participants had to critically reflect on what they had done and were already doing in their neighborhood, allowing them to develop an informed strategy for advancing their interests.

The Toolkit requires active engagement, so bcWORKSHOP challenged participants to critically reflect on their daily behavior through several high-energy activities.  They were first given cards on which they wrote stories of what they have done in their communities related to a specific tool, and shared these stories in small groups.  In the same groups, they collectively chose one tool for a reflection exercise.  Group members were responsible for dissecting the story using the Toolkit’s four-step process by identifying the scale, naming the method used, and evaluating the tool's success.  The exercise generated productive dialogue, as groups discussed other tools that could be more effective and how their relationship with the physical environment influenced their actions.

To emphasize that sharing ideas and stories is an integral part of the Toolkit, bcW concluded the session by having each group not only present their discussion, but also defend the reasons their tool was appropriate for discovering, sharing, or making.

Neighborhood Stories - Arts District

Learn more about POP Dallas and Neighborhood Stories.

On October 27-28, 2012, bcWORKSHOP was a part of a monumental project for Dallas: the grand opening of Klyde Warren Park. The celebration commemorated an innovative park that decks over a portion of Woodall Rodgers Freeway, providing valuable new civic space and connecting Uptown and the Dallas Arts District.

bcWORKSHOP had a substantial presence at the park opening, engaging visitors on Harwood Street around our POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas initiative as they passed between the new park and the Arts District. The centerpiece was a Dallas Neighborhood Stories exhibit inside our 45’ retrofitted shipping container that examined the evolution of today’s Arts District from its origins as the juncture of the Freedman’s Town/North Dallas, Little Mexico, and Ross Avenue neighborhoods, and how major interventions - the construction of Central Expressway, the construction of Woodall Rodgers Freeway, and the master plan for the Arts District - affected physical and social change.

The POP City Map also made an appearance; more than 200 people marked their Dallas neighborhoods, with dozens more showing their pride in places from Irving and Lancaster to Brazil and France. Finally, hundreds of revelers shared pictures and stories about where they live on the container itself and on camera in the Story House.

The weekend affirmed how strongly people identify and connect with their neighborhoods as well as the importance of understanding the decisions and actions that have shaped our city over time. We had a great time at the opening and look forward to bringing our exhibit back to the Arts District soon!

BigBang! 2012

Learn more about POP Dallas and Neighborhood Stories.

bcWORKSHOP provided a variety of activities concerning Dallas neighborhoods at the 2012 bigBANG!, organized by Dallas Social Venture Partners. Located in Union Station, this day-long forum convened the thinkers and doers of the city for an opportunity to catalyze positive impact. Many components of the POP Dallas initiative were engaged by event participants, including the POP City Map which allowed attendees to identify and mark their neighborhoods. The Story House also made its debut, and new interviews were collected inside of it in collaboration with educational nonprofit Commit!, an organization dedicated to realizing children's full potential. Fifteen different neighborhoods were represented with 30 new recorded interviews. Next door, bcFELLOWs led two high-energy work sessions utilizing the POP Toolkit, empowering participants to think about the changes they can affect in their own communities.

Homeowners Bootcamp

Learn more about POP Dallas.

As a continued effort to strengthen the social, economic, and physical health of Dallas’s neighborhoods, bcWORKSHOP brought the POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas initiative to the 14th annual Dallas Homeowners' League (DHL) Neighborhood Bootcamp at City Hall on Saturday, August 25. Bringing together community leaders in an exchange of ideas for the betterment of Dallas's neighborhoods, DHL invited bcW to share three elements of POP: a workshop that introduced and applied the POP Toolkit;  the confirmation, adjustment and addition of neighborhood names and boundaries to the POP City Map; and the collection of Neighborhood Stories.

During the interactive work session, 21 neighborhood leaders learned about the Toolkit as a grassroots approach to addressing neighborhood issues through a four-step process. Following an introductory presentation, budding and battle-tested activists alike used the Toolkit to identify an issue, choose a scale, determine a method, and select tools to address an example concern from a volunteer. The session ended with robust discussion in breakout groups in which participants discussed local issues, swapped success stories, and shared strategies for unifying and activating their neighborhoods.

While the Toolkit presented strategies for how neighborhood leaders could direct their energy and efforts, bcWORKSHOP asked that they share their expertise in other ways. Throughout the event, residents of 27 different neighborhoods from across the city confirmed, adjusted, or added their neighborhood names and boundaries by drawing on enlarged sections of the City Map. Amidst the day’s activities, 7 new contributors to Neighborhood Stories took the time to share what they love about where they live and challenges they had overcome through collective action.

City Builder Lab

Learn more about POP Dallas.

In the summer of 2012 bcWORKSHOP partnered with Big Thought's Thriving Minds camp to launch the pilot toolkit + labs initiative. Using Dallas' historic Fair Park as a testing ground, middle school students engaged in a series of discovery, making and sharing-based learning exercises. Through these sessions, dubbed the City Builder Lab, students engaged with the historical, physical and social components of Fair Park. They examined the local environments within the park through the lense of a city builder, identifying problems and offering solutions as informed advocates of the park.

Toolkit + Labs

Learn more about POP Dallas.

The toolkit + labs is a component of the POP Dallas public design effort to strengthen our city's neighborhoods.  It is a mechanism that builds collective understanding and awareness of the historical, physical and social complexities of a place and empowers people to advocate for their own cultural sustainability.

toolkit-structure

The toolkit is an evolving strategy for how people can become engaged with the places they live. It can be about discovering our family history, sharing stories or making a garden. The toolkit is as much a recognition of human nature as it is a strategy for building and empowering individuals. It is a recognition of the many ways we give meaning to the things around us and of the ways we strive to position ourselves in the environment.

Through acts of discovering, sharing and making, the toolkit promotes engagement at the scale of the house, the street, the neighborhood and the city. Together the components build a laboratory — a living workshop — where people can begin to more clearly reveal the places they live.

Click here to see the full toolkit.

tools-abbreviated

Cedars West Arts Festival

Learn more about POP Dallas and Neighborhood Stories.

In a fine example of People Organizing Place, the businesses along Rock Island Street in the Cedars neighborhood of Dallas recently put on the Cedars West Arts Festival to showcase the improvements they’ve made to their area. bcWORKSHOP showed up with our 40-foot Gatu (shipping container) gallery to exhibit photos and stories of the area’s past and engage visitors about their neighborhoods.

Named for the Rock Island Railroad that was extended to serve the area, Rock Island Street was developed from the river bottom reclaimed after the construction of the levees channelizing the Trinity River. Framed by the old meanders and conceived as an industrial area, the street remains populated by recyclers and architectural salvage companies. Working to share how existing buildings and businesses can be a part of change, property owners initiated a public art campaign and organized a street festival to spread neighborly good will.

In addition to displaying photos and stories about Rock Island, bcWORKSHOP collected neighborhood stories from dozens of attendees who told us what they love about where they live. Despite the June heat, the street was bustling with people buying found objects, enjoying the art and music while stopping in to provide valuable input informing our POP City Map.

Check out the video of the stories collected at the Cedars Arts Festival below, and watch for the latest version of the new City Map!