Community History Harvest at the Dallas West Branch Library

Residents of West Dallas are invited to join us on Saturday, April 27th at the Dallas West Branch Library from 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm for a community history harvest. This will be the first event in our collaboration with the Dallas Public Library to further the digitization and oral history aspects of the Neighborhood Stories program.

Folks from across the area are invited to share photos, documents, and oral histories about their community, to be recorded and digitized for the Dallas Public Library’s public collection. Participants will also receive digital copies of their photos and documents, preserving these important artifacts for future generations to learn from.

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In consideration of time, we ask that residents bring up to five artifacts to be digitized. Examples of items to bring include:

  • Family or school photos

  • Yearbooks

  • Menus from local restaurants

  • Property surveys or maps

  • Church programs

We are looking forward to learning from and with the residents of West Dallas’s neighborhoods about the local history and how their communities experienced change during the Civil Rights period and beyond. The topics to be explored include the role of city planning, development, and school desegregation with the ultimate goal of understanding how historic inequities have shaped the communities we see today. The collective neighborhood history gathered from the archival event, interviews with community members, and our research about the area will culminate in an exhibition at the Dallas West Branch Library.

[bc] encourages any individuals and organizations who are interested in participating in this effort to reach out to Lizzie MacWillie, Associate Director, who will lead the project. Stay tuned for future updates on the details of this digitization event.

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This project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.



[bc] Receives Common Heritage Grant from the NEH

We are excited to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to partner with the Dallas Public Library for a new project which will further the digitization and oral history aspects of the Neighborhood Stories program through events and exhibitions in the neighborhoods served by the Library’s Polk-Wisdom, Dallas West, and Martin Luther King Jr. Branches.

This collaboration builds off of several years of work by [bc] to collect and preserve Dallas’s local histories as they relate to changes in the physical and cultural form of the city. Through oral histories and physical artifacts like photos and documents, the project will document how these changes have had an impact on Dallas’s historic communities of color and how residents experienced cultural and demographic shifts in their neighborhoods during the Civil Rights period and beyond.

Topics to be explored include city planning, development, and school desegregation. Ultimately, [bc] hopes to advance a greater understanding of the way in which historical inequities have had a role in shaping the communities we see today. Given various efforts currently taking place across the city to better understand issues of racial equity and how future development may impact vulnerable communities, the project will leverage this momentum to engage Dallasites in a re-examination of local histories.

Project activities will begin in 2019. [bc] encourages any individuals and organizations who are interested in participating in this effort to reach out to Lizzie MacWillie, Associate Director, who will lead the project.

Stay tuned for future updates on the dates and locations of digitization events in these three locales.

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This project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.




Hurricane Harvey Disaster Recovery Guides

Image Credit Lafayette, TN, February 8, 2008. George Armstrong/FEMA Photo Library

Image Credit Lafayette, TN, February 8, 2008. George Armstrong/FEMA Photo Library

Since Hurricane Harvey, we have been working alongside our partners and residents of communities affected by the storm. Building off our work to empower community members with the knowledge to drive the future of their communities through projects like the Land Use Colonia Housing Action (LUCHA) and the Disaster Recovery Leadership Development program in partnership with the Texas Organizing Project, [bc] will produce a series of graphic Disaster Recovery Guides to aid residents of Harris, Aransas, Refugio, and Nueces Counties in accessing disaster recovery resources to aid them and their families in their recovery, in conjunction with the disbursement of federal funding allocated to these four counties. This project is supported by a generous grant from the American Red Cross.

We look forward to providing further updates on our progress to engage diverse community members throughout this process and to sharing the Disaster Recovery Guides, which will be available in 5 languages, via our website.

To learn more about how you or your organization can get involved with this project, please contact us at inform@bcworkshop.org

Funding for this project provided by:

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Bridging the Block Wrap-Up

This fall [bc]’s Bridging the Block project set out to hear from Dallasites about some of the challenges they face when trying to use the sidewalks of Downtown Dallas. Through a series of design meetings and a tour, participants identified the biggest problems hindering mobility, and workshopped design solutions. The most pressing issues singled-out included broken and narrow sidewalks, steepness of driveways, a lack of curb cuts, visibility issues, and poles or debris blocking the public.

[bc] and participants concluded that recognizing an issue can be the first step to solving it, and that people often don’t recognize something is a problem unless they have been personally impacted by it or know someone who has. This understanding framed the approach to the final installation: not only would the final product include a method to address the issues seen and discussed, it would also make it a point to highlight the issues and the various populations they alienate on a daily basis.

The final work is a kit of parts that together create different configurations of temporary “bridges” on the sidewalks of Marilla Street between City Hall and the Farmers Market - a stretch of sidewalk in such poor condition that it is extremely difficult to navigate. These “bridges” are mobile installations that raise awareness of accessibility issues in public space and celebrate creating a city accessible to everyone. To accompany the bridges, [bc] built a series of signs featuring pictographs and text that explain the challenges the ramps address. As a whole, the installation uses color, texture, and modularity to create awareness about the breadth of mobility challenges and experiences in public space.

There will be another opportunity to see the installations at the #MarillaMakeover Grand Opening on Friday, Nov. 16, 11:30 am - 2:00 pm.

The Bridging the Block project is supported by AARP and coincides with the #MarillaMakeover Project currently being led by Downtown Dallas Inc. and the City of Dallas’ Planning and Urban Design Department.


 

Bridging the Block

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This fall [bc]’s Bridging the Block project will be installing temporary “bridges” on the sidewalks of Marilla Street between City Hall and the Farmers Market. These “bridges” will be a group of mobile installations that aim to raise awareness of accessibility issues in public spaces and celebrate creating a city accessible to everyone.

We have held several community design meetings to hear from people about their experiences as a pedestrian in downtown Dallas and the ways they would approach addressing the issues at hand. The meetings set out to identify accessibility issues and have conversations about who would be impacted by these limitations. We learned from participants about the challenges of broken and narrow sidewalks, steepness of driveways, a lack of curb cuts, visibility issues, and poles or debris blocking the paths.

The conversations touched on whether minimum accessibility requirements were sufficient in addressing the needs of all. One issue identified was the challenge of navigating textured pavers found at crosswalks with a walker. Another topic of concern was safety and the small but important design decisions that could address this concern—from street lights to reflective materials that would indicate the presence of a pedestrian to oncoming traffic.

The Opening Day Lunch and Conversation will be on Friday, Nov. 2, 12:00 to 1:30 pm. You will have another opportunity to see the installations at the #MarillaMakeover project Grand Opening on Friday, Nov. 16.

The Bridging the Block project is supported by AARP and will coincide with the #MarillaMakeover project currently being led by Downtown Dallas Inc. and the City of Dallas’ Planning and Urban Design Department.

 

Macon Starks Update

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The Macon Starks project is a housing development at the intersection of Macon and Starks Streets in the Bonton neighborhood. This housing project, which began a couple years ago, was met with a few delays along the way, but we are pleased to announce that the five senior housing units have been built and all are currently occupied. This project is a partnership between East Dallas Community Organization and [bc].

The units are a mix of duplex and single family dwellings centered around a communal garden space with raised planter beds. We look forward to advancing our design practice through different housing typologies serving the various populations of our cities.

Harold Simmons Park Public Workshops

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[bc] is serving as a consultant to the Trinity Park Conservancy, bringing our skill set in public interest design to engage Dallas' communities around the future of Harold Simmons Park, 200 acres along the Trinity River. Engagement efforts will focus on discovering how Dallas residents currently use parks and public space while encouraging them to re-imagine what this area could be. This understanding will inform the design of the 200 acre Harold Simmons Park.

Join us as we support the Trinity Park Conservancy in envisioning the future of the Harold Simmons Park as a public space that connects Dallas residents to each other and nature. Starting September 15th, the Conservancy will host 10 public workshops across the city to reimagine our river. For more about Harold Simmons Park, click here. Click here to RSVP to the upcoming workshops.

Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Forum Update

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As we gear up for the final two Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Forum conversations on Parks and Public Space for People of All Abilities (August 9th) and Designing for Equity in Parks and Public Space (September 6th), we have been reflecting on the thoughtful conversations we’ve had had so far.

In our first panel discussion in May, moderated by Dr. Ivonne Audirac of the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), we had a compelling conversation about the issues of urban development and the impact of public space design on neighborhood vitality. Our panelists Aaron Abelson of HR&A Advisors, Brianna Brown of Texas Organizing Project, and Brent Brown of the Trinity Park Conservancy joined us at Better Block to talk about how public space design can contribute to the perpetuation of neighborhood disinvestment or be a catalyst for new development and neighborhood desirability. You can listen to the conversation online.

The second panel discussion in June was moderated by Alfreda Norman, Senior Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, where we discussed the issues of race and ethnicity in public space design. Our panelists Bobby Abtahi, President of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board, Isaac Cohen, a Landscape Architect at Studio Outside, Delia Jasso, former District 1 Council Member, and Yui Iwase, New Roots Coordinator at the International Rescue Committee joined us at the Dallas Black Dance Theater to talk about how a city with a long history of segregation might approach current and future public space design in a way that supports equity and access to public space for all of its residents. You can learn about the history of Dallas’ public parks and residential racial segregation within the city in [bc]’s Race and Control of Public Parks and listen to the panel conversation online.

Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming focus forums!

Smart Growth for Dallas, an initiative led by the Trust for Public Land, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, and Texas Trees Foundation, seeks to combine community insight and science to promote quality public spaces and green infrastructure in Dallas. To unpack the issues highlighted during our community engagement process, Smart Growth for Dallas will be hosting a series of 'Focus Forums' to explore the challenging topics of race and ethnicity, urban development, and accessibility within our public space design. The closing discussion will seek to knit together the prior conversation by exploring the specific role of design in bringing equity to public spaces. Through these conversations we hope to uncover forward-thinking ideas about planning and public space design in Dallas by bringing together groups whose work directly relates to each theme.

Smart Growth for Dallas Focus Forums

Learn more about Smart Growth for Dallas!

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Smart Growth for Dallas, an initiative led by the Trust for Public Land, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, and Texas Trees Foundation, seeks to combine community insight and science to promote quality public spaces and green infrastructure in Dallas. To unpack the issues highlighted during our community engagement process, Smart Growth for Dallas will be hosting a series of Focus Forums to explore the challenging topics of race and ethnicity, urban development, and accessibility within our public space design. The closing discussion will seek to knit together the prior conversation by exploring the specific role of design in bringing equity to public spaces. Through these conversations we hope to uncover forward-thinking ideas about planning and public space design in Dallas by bringing together groups whose work directly relates to each theme.

The first focus forum, "Equitable Development & Public Space" will be held on Thursday, May 17. A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ivonne Audirac, of the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), will convene key stakeholders to explore the issues of urban development and the effect of public space design on neighborhood vitality. This moderated forum will discuss how the design of public spaces can impact neighborhood strength and urban development, through exploring how public space design can contribute to the perpetuation of neighborhood disinvestment or be a catalyst for new development and neighborhood desirability.

Joining us as panelists are Aaron Abelson of HR&A Advisors, Brent Brown of the Trinity Park Conservancy, Brianna Brown of Texas Organizing Project, and Cynthia Salinas of the Esperanza Building Blocks.

Stay tuned for more information about future focus forums as their dates and locations are announced!

Dallas Cultural Plan Public Engagement

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As a partner in the team with Lord Cultural Resources, HR&A Advisors, and Idyllic Interactive[bc] is working to engage Dallas's residents for the Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs' Dallas Cultural Plan 2018. Through a year-long process, the Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) seeks to gather community input on how residents experience culture in their daily lives and how the city can continue to stay arts-friendly. 

The public engagement process for the Dallas Cultural Plan kicked off with a series of four events this September. At the Dallas Museum of Art, the Dallas Children's Theatre, Walnut Hill Recreation Center, and Southwest Center Mall, attendees participated in a series of activities which included realtime digital mapping, drawing stories of cultural experiences, and building ideal cultural communities. 

Through October and November, Community Conversations at South Dallas Cultural Center, Oak Cliff Cultural Center, Fretz Park Recreation Center, Bath House Cultural Center, Pleasant Grove Branch Library, West Dallas Multipurpose Center, and Moody Performance Hall provided forums for residents to share their visions for arts in their neighborhoods.

The Community Conversations will engage residents of all 14 districts within the City of Dallas. The series resumed for the new year at the Grauwyler Park Branch Library on January 11, 2018. In January/February 2018, we'll continue engaging residents through Community Conversations at:

This phase of outreach also includes a series of discussions focused on specific art mediums, cultural institutions, and practicing artists. Upcoming opportunities include:

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Don't miss your chance to share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams for Dallas's cultural future through this once-in-a-decade opportunity. Be on the lookout for future events on the Dallas Cultural Plan event calendar

Even if you can't make it to an event, there are other ways that you can get involved! Take the Dallas Cultural Plan Survey to help us understand the diversity of arts and cultural activity occurring across Dallas and in your neighborhood.

You can also contribute to Dallas’ Arts & Culture Ecosystem Map by entering locations where you go to to create, experience, or learn about arts and culture in Dallas here—please enter only one location at a time, but you can submit as many responses as you'd like.

The Neighborhood Toolkit can be used to facilitate a conversation with friends, neighbors or co-workers on your own time. Email engage@dallasculturalplan.com to tell us about the date, time and location of your meeting!

Check out photos from Dallas Cultural Plan activities that have taken place thus far in the gallery below!

Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas Recap

For the Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas, a National Endowment for the Arts-supported project in partnership with Downtown Dallas, Inc., two artist teams worked with community members to create works of public art to activate spaces in Downtown Dallas. Through a call for proposals, artists were tasked with devising a project in response to public space priorities, identified through our Community Audited Public Space (CAPS) process and a Community Advisory Committee. Two series of works were created through a community-engaged process: the WonderPhones and MAY I // a blessing project. Project teams engaged with community members through a variety of workshops and community gathering events, which included project tours and a culmintaing public interview with the artists. 

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WonderPhone

The WonderPhone is an interactive payphone that connect the people in downtown Dallas to the city and each other. The team combined old and new technology to allow people to listen to content and play and record their stories. Five WonderPhones were created, placed in colorful enclosures in various locations downtown and popping up at events.

The WonderPhone team (Rickey Crum, Gray Garmon, Katie KrummeckEdward Li, and Justin Childress) worked with local high school students, architects, historians, designers, urban planners, musicians and essayists to create and record engaging Dallas- or phone-related content for participants to enjoy. Audio content ranged from personal stories of memories downtown to future imaginings of new possibilities for Downtown, as well both curated and newly created pieces that focus on the history and architecture of downtown Dallas. Interactive prompts ask participants to share reactions to specific questions (and hear responses live) as well as follow instructions to participate in immersive experiences exploring downtown.

The artists said, "We hope that the WonderPhone will inspire participants to listen and think deeply about the lived experiences of the citizens of Downtown Dallas as well as engage participants in activities to help them observe Dallas in a new light and reflect on their own participation in the city."

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MAY I // a blessing project

MAY I // a blessing project is a walkable installation of blessings written by local young women for the Dallas community, manifested large-scale. The artists Ruben Carrazana and Janielle Kastner worked with a group of young women (ages 12-18) who wrote specific declarations of hope for themselves (MAY I), for their community (MAY WE), and for their spaces (MAY THIS SPACE).

The team issued an exhortation to the city: "We believe these young women don’t need us to 'empower' them, they need us to acknowledge they already have the power to speak life into their community. We call these declarations blessings as they begin with the word 'may' - a word that summons into existence that which isn’t here yet. Our work as artists has been taking their words and manifesting them in unexpected places downtown in a bold, surprising, even defiant manner. In a world that asks them to shrink, MAY I radically insists young women take up extraordinary amounts of space. We encourage you to join these young women and manifest your own blessing in your spaces, tagging #mayiblessdallas."

Our partner DDI will continue to use the artworks to activate spaces in downtown Dallas. Check out photos of the artworks and the AVDD events below!

This project was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To find out more about the National Endowment for the Arts visit www.arts.gov.  

To find out more about our project partner Downtown Dallas Inc., visit www.downtowndallas.com.

Pre-Construction Clean-Up at 1208 E. 10th Street

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[bc] received a Safety Grant from Texas Mutual to support our purchase of ergonomic office equipment and safety equipment to keep our staff safe at the Tenth Street Neighborhood Resource Center construction site. 

In the Tenth Street neighborhood—one of the last remaining and perhaps the most intact of Dallas's historic Freedmen's Towns—we’re working with residents to help build local capacity.  We're renovating a historic home at 1208 E. 10th Street to serve as a Neighborhood Resource Center.  When completed, it will become a repository for essential resources, a site for activities that promote technical learning among residents and strengthen community cohesion, and a residence for a [bc] architectural designer who will hold open office hours to assist the community with technical advice.

The Neighborhood Resource Center will support residents in their efforts to address the pressing issues they've identified in their community, such as vacancy, redevelopment pressures, and the disrepair of historic homes in the neighborhood.  

In preparation for construction activities, [bc] and community members visited the property to conduct preliminary site clean-up.  Activities included leaf-raking, trash pick-up, and bamboo and brush clearing.  Check out the photos below!

Staff benefitted from the use of coveralls, safety glasses, gloves, ear protection, and hardhats purchased through Texas Mutual's generous grant.  We're so grateful for this support!

[bc] is grateful to all those who have provided support for the Tenth Street Neighborhood Resource Center: The Real Estate Council Foundation, The Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, Inc., the Hillcrest Foundation, the Hoblitzelle Foundation, and Bank of America

Welcome Hafsa Ambreen!

Learn more about Hafsa Ambreen here!

Hafsa Ambreen is a Design Associate for buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. She plays a dynamic design role in the office and is part of several projects taking place in and around Dallas.  

Her interests include design research, community based design, and design as a tool for advocacy. Her professional work has included working on the design and fabrication of an entirely cardboard set for a production of Rose and Cavalier by Victory Hall Opera. While working for the Charlottesville-based research initiative Thriving Cities, she completed research, created diagrams, and designed layouts for a series of city case studies.  

Hafsa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Virginia.