Bridging the Gap: Connecting Nonprofits and Designers

Learn more about our Public Design Impact Initiative!

"Sometimes community groups have this need and designers want to do meaningful work and they don't know how to connect with each other."  Learn how [bc] Bridges The Gap between nonprofits and designers through our Public Design Impact Initiative.

The Public Design Impact Initiative (PDII) is a program to match nonprofit & community groups with local design professional services. This program guides selected projects through a community-engaged design process and partners communities and designers to build the knowledge and experience of both to better serve others.

The PDII 2017 Request for Proposals is OPEN! Are you a nonprofit or community group in the Rio Grande Valley in need of design? Would architecture, planning, landscape architecture, or design expertise help with a project you've had in mind but not the resources to move forward? We encourage you to submit a project proposal! Proposals are due Thursday, February 2nd, 2017.


Launch of Your Vote, Tu Futuro Video Series

We're incredibly excited to announce the launch of the Your Vote, Tu Futuro video series!

For decades, voter turnout of the Latino community has lagged behind the rest of the Texas population. Your Vote, Tu Futuro was born from a desire to walk potential voters through the voting process. This web-video series will cover the importance of voting, a basic overview of government and party structures, where to find candidate information, Texas’ voter-ID law, and the methods the voter can utilize to ultimately cast their ballot.

This installment will be 8 episodes long, with new episodes being released each week starting this July. Episodes will can be found on YouTube and on the project website below. Additionally, supplemental resources may be hosted on the website.

Episode 1 of the Your Vote, Tu Futuro series covers the importance of being a voter, addresses so misconceptions and/or fears about voting, and looks at the incredible opportunity we have to affect change in our country, state, and city.

Follow the series' website and YouTube channel for more videos in the coming weeks!

Bonton + Ideal Released

Learn more about Bonton + Ideal and Neighborhood Stories.

The newest film in our Neighborhood Stories series, Bonton + Ideal, was released free online today. The film focuses on these two South Dallas neighborhoods, and illustrates the many policies enacted that aimed to isolate the community socially, economically, environmentally, and physically.

Told through the eyes of long-term residents, Bonton + Ideal tells the history of two neighborhoods thathave been tied together since their initial development during the era of segregation. Built on land in the Trinity River’s floodplain, the neighborhoods have battled the effects of massive flooding, concentrated public housing projects, and racially-motivated bombing campaigns.

The film’s director, Craig Weflen, says, “these stories give Dallas residents a chance to examine the consequences of flawed policies. Beyond Dallas, the challenges faced by Bonton and Ideal are the same sorts of challenges that have been faced by other neighborhoods across the American South. This is an opportune time to reflect on the way we’ve built our cities, and ask ourselves whether these conscious decisions have resulted in just, equitable living environments.”

Bonton + Ideal premiered on KERA’s Frame of Mind series in December 2015, and has screened publicly across Dallas, and nationally, over the past five months.

Bonton + Ideal is “a must-watch for anyone who cares about the history of Dallas and how it developed as two cities: One for whites, another for blacks,” says Mike Drago of the Dallas Morning News, adding that, “the context of such overt hostility is prerequisite to getting your head around all the neglect and misery that followed.”

Settlements to Districts - Tracing the Identities of Downtown Dallas Neighborhoods

By Amruta Sakalker

Over the last decade Downtown Dallas has diversified its offerings from a single use office district to include cultural, residential, and entertainment opportunities 24/7. Today’s Downtown Dallas has a rich history of neighborhoods with unique identities and wide range of uses. As Downtown continues to evolve and strengthen its neighborhoods, it is critical to understand the lineage of socio-cultural character, design, and urban fabric that has given the neighborhoods their unique identity. While these identities are malleable, they can impact the direction of development in neighborhoods. Knowing the narratives of identities empowers neighborhoods to evolve stronger representational identities that emerge through their own stories and adds value to them. To illustrate the variety of these evolutions, we trace back Downtown Dallas Districts through this blog post.

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Bonton + Ideal Trailer

We're excited to share the trailer for our newest Neighborhood Stories film Bonton + Ideal! The film premiered on December 24th, 2015 on KERA's Frame of Mind program. Since the premiere, the film has been accepted to the Big Muddy Film Festival in Carbondale, Illinois, and the Interurban Film Festival in Denison, Texas. Watch the film's official website for more details about local screenings as they become available. Later this spring, the film will be published online for free - be sure to keep your eyes open!

What people are saying:

Deepwood & Earth Day

Last night we were honored to screen Out of Deepwood in the Angelika Film Center as part of a partnership with Earth Day TX and TEDxSMU. We had great discussions with folks during a reception preceding the film, talking about our Know Your Neighborhood & Draw Your Neighborhood tools and collecting Neighborhood Stories interviews - keep your eyes out for those in the coming weeks!

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POP at the DHL Boot Camp!

Two weeks ago, as part of our year long POP Neighborhood Map engagement process, [bc] participated in the annual Dallas Homeowners League (DHL) Boot Camp. This years DHL gathering, titled "Return of the City", brought together neighborhood leaders from across Dallas for a day of discussions and best practice-sharing.

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Engaging the Homeless Community in Downtown Dallas

Learn more about our work in Dallas.

A video produced by [bc] Media Associate Craig Weflen highlights the Dallas Public Library's Homeless Engagement efforts.

On May 11, the Dallas Public Library asked attendees at a community forum on homeless engagement to reconsider their definition of community. Who are downtown Dallas' community members?

When asked to provide a strategy for building community between the homeless and the housed in Dallas[bc] Founding Director Brent Brown added a similar sentiment: "Say 'hi' to people, and mean it."  

When an everyday office worker walks down the streets of downtown Dallas, do they consider the homeless one of them? For the Dallas Public Library, the answer is clear: homeless people, as much as any other patron, are full community members in downtown Dallas

Moderated by StreetView podcast host Rashad Dickerson, various community organizations discussed the role of the homeless in downtown Dallas during the forum and how to engage the homeless population through social services, the built environment and art. Panelists included the Metro Dallas Homeless AllianceWillie Baronet of WE ARE ALL HOMELESS, and [bc] Founding Director Brent Brown

"The physicality [of the city] is driven by economic considerations first rather than human considerations," said Brown

Brown cited the lack of public toilets in downtown Dallas and the interactions that local homeless community members have with the [bc] office in downtown Dallas as examples of how the homeless community negotiates this physicality, while acknowledging the need for more comprehensive social services as well as the role of the Dallas Public Library in engaging the city's homeless. 

The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance provided a strategic plan for further engaging homeless populations in Dallas and significantly reducing homelessness. Another highlight of the panel included an activity by artist Willie Baronet in which participants were asked to hold up signs created by homeless people around the country and imagine their lives: Were they old or young? Were they men or women? Why did they choose to own a pet, if it was referenced on the sign? These questions sparked lively dialogue about community perceptions of the homeless in multiple contexts. Baronet also emphasized the importance of respecting a homeless person's humanity by physically acknowledging their presence. 

Other ways that [bc] has previously engaged with the Dallas homeless community include the 5750 art installations and the making of a permanent supportive housing community known as the Cottages as Hickory Crossing

To learn more about the Dallas Public Library's Homeless Engagement efforts, watch the [bc]-produced video above. 

Sharing the Deepwood Story

Learn more about Neighborhood Stories, and visit the film's website.

It’s been an awesome few months for Out of Deepwood! Since the community sneak preview at the Trinity River Audubon Center in September, the film has played in several film festivals. On October 15, Out of Deepwood premiered to the general public as part of Dallas VideoFest 27, as part of a block of films hosted by the South Dallas Cultural Center, which included 50 Years, The New South Dallas, and Dawn. This was a great experience for us, giving us an opportunity to bring this story to a wider audience, while still focused on southern Dallas.

Following Dallas VideoFest, we released the film free online, and were excited to receive an Award of Merit from the Best Shorts Competition. Even more exciting, we had the opportunity to share this story across the nation in February, as we were accepted to the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, and the Big Muddy Film Festival at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

DVDs of the film are currently for sale at the Trinity River Audubon Center for around $5. We are committed to providing this film for all who want to see it, so the DVDs are being sold at-cost for those who would like a physical copy of the film.

Currently, we are participating in the Audience Awards, an online film competition that awards prizes based on the votes that a film receives. Be sure to vote for us over the next few days, but also take the opportunity to view some of the other great work featured in the competition!

We look forward to continuing to share this story as an example of neighborhood activism leading to real, positive change.


Improving the Recovery Process

Learn more about our disaster recovery projects RAPIDO and DR2.

In Texas, disaster recovery takes far too long and is marred by inefficiencies and high costs. Instead of re-inventing disaster recovery programs after every disaster, we need to plan for recovery before a disaster strikes, allowing for faster recovery time with less money invested to build greater value. In 2009, the Texas State Legislature passed legislation creating a demonstration project to design a better system. The Legislature needs to act again to expand this Texas solution.

Given our work with the RAPIDO Demonstration Project in the RGV and Disaster Recovery Round 2 in Houston, we joined with our partners and created a video outlining what needs to change in our Texas disaster response programs.

Celebrating Local Heroes

Learn more about our MLK Day of Service projects here.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged us to build a more perfect union and taught us that everyone has a role to play in that effort. For our 2015 service project in his honor, [bc] set out to recognize some of those who serve their communities by releasing the Second Edition of buildingcommunityHEROES trading cards.  By creating a fun, tactile, and pocketable way to learn about those working to improve our communities, we hope to encourage those of all ages to honor their heroes and engage in the causes that speak to them.

We put out the call for local hero nominations at the beginning of January and received just over 100 nominations for those working tirelessly in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.  Nominations included selfless family members, state senators, founders of schools, advocacy group members and fearless neighborhood leaders.  It was not easy, but from here we researched and curated the nominations to get a final group of heroes with a diverse range of causes, ages, backgrounds and levels of impact.  After the final selections were made, the cards were printed, sorted, packaged and ready for a January 19 distribution.

We distributed the cards on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and throughout the week in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley.  We hope that the stories of these 24 heroes will inspire people to be more active in their communities.  We also hope that the cards will encourage people to think about and honor their local heroes.  If you were not able to pick up a pack, check out all 24 heroes plus 2014's at


Who is your hero?  Share them on social media at #bcHEROES2015 and nominate them for the third edition of trading cards!

Out of Deepwood Film

Learn more about Neighborhood Stories and POP Dallas.

Out of Deepwood, our first Neighborhood Stories film of its scale, has been released online for free. The film tells the story of the Trinity River Audubon Center, which today is a place of discovery, education, and tranquility. Yet this location, adjacent to a middle-class African-American neighborhood, has not always been so peaceful. For a quarter century, the City of Dallas turned a blind eye to over two million cubic yards of trash being dumped illegally. This is the story of the precedent-setting environmental law case Cox v. City of Dallas, Texas, the reclamation of land, and a neighborhood’s fight for justice.

The goal of our Neighborhood Stories initiative is to strengthen awareness of our city, celebrate the diverse places that give it character and texture, and create a platform for active dialogue about its history and future. The story of the Deepwood neighbors is a prime example of what can happen when a neighborhood isn’t given the attention it needs and how difficult it is for some neighborhoods to get this attention. The Deepwood neighbors protested for 25 years, but nothing changed until the courts got involved. Deepwood points to the need to fight against a “it’s not my neighborhood” attitude, as the results - social, economic, environmental, legal - can be devastating for an entire city. While an extreme example, Deepwood is a cautionary tale for any city and its citizens.

Check out what other people are saying, and learn more about the film:

Tenth Street Sweep

Read all the Activating Vacancy posts, and learn more about POP Dallas.

The final event of the Activating Vacancy initiative was the Tenth Street Sweep, a physical audit of the neighborhood. Community members, volunteers, and artists collected data to establish a baseline for neighborhood health. They also recorded the conditions of streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, historic structures, street lighting, and several other aspects of the neighborhood identified by community members as potential sites for the audit.  Information gathered will be used to propose, pursue and gauge positive growth and change in the Tenth Street Historic District.  Participants used a smartphone app called rePhoto to take pictures and complete survey questions during the audit

Check out the images from the audit.

After a morning of hard work, we all gathered for a barbecue  lunch at the American Care Academy. Thanks to Preservation Dallas, the The Life of Cities class at the UT Arlington School of Architecture, the 2000 Roses Foundation, Ruth West, the rePhoto team, and all the community members and volunteers who helped with the event!

Deepwood Panel

Learn more about Neighborhood Stories and POP Dallas.

On September 19, 2014, Out of Deepwood was screened for residents of the surrounding community at a sneak preview event, hosted at the Trinity River Audubon Center. After the screening, a panel discussion was held with key players from the film, including Shirley Davidson, Mike Daniel, Jan Sanders, Ben Jones, and producer Craig Weflen. The panel was moderated by Shawn P. Williams.

Macon Starks

Read more about the Macon Starks project.

Design meetings have spanned the summer and fall of 2015 for seven new rental homes for seniors in the Ideal neighborhood of South Dallas.  Residents graciously convened over five warm (sweltering may be a more appropriate description for some) Saturdays in the vacant home on site to discuss and develop the design of the series of homes.  Conversation was framed around the current assets, challenges and opportunities of the neighborhood.  From there, discussion focused in on how the proposed homes could become an amenity to the senior residents and community by harnessing select opportunities and facing select challenges.

Currently, the site strategy promotes social interaction among residents as well as physical health and safety by means of internal walking paths, active and passive gardens, and visual connections via specifically oriented porches, windows and doors.

Design meetings are scheduled to wrap up this fall with design development completing in early 2015.

Out of Deepwood Trailer

Read more about Neighborhood Stories and POP.

After months in production, Out of Deepwood is finished! This is the first Neighborhood Stories film of its scale, and we're excited to share the film with everyone. First, however, the neighborhood deserves a sneak peek! The film will be screened for the Shady Hills/Pleasant Grove community on September 19th at the Trinity River Audubon Center. Check out the Trailer below.