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.

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.


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.


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!