11th Street Bridge Park Working Group

See more posts about our work in DC

[bc] is supporting the 11th Street Bridge Park with developing cultural strategies to include in its Equitable Development Plan. On July 20th and 25th, [bc] and the 11th Street Bridge Park facilitated two small working group meetings. Local artists, arts organizations, and national leaders drafted initial strategies that identify how the Bridge Park can support arts, culture and heritage in its impact area. 

These draft strategies will be shared with the public at an open house on Wednesday, August 16th. 

Remembering the Fallen Officers of July 7th, 2016

Click here to read more about Little Free Libraries!

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP hosted the official opening reception of the DPD & DART Officer Memorial Little Free Libraries last Saturday, July 22nd at South Side on Lamar

Wisconsin resident Helen Stassen, whose late son Benjamin has been commemorated through a Little Free Library in their hometown, reached out to [bc] after July 7th to initiate this endeavor and generously funded the design and construction of the five libraries. 

“We are offering a small contribution to personal and community healing in the form of Little Free Libraries as memorials to the slain Dallas Officers. Since Benjamin’s death our family has embraced the positive experience of being stewards of a Little Free Library, used by many people, that is a memorial in Benjamin’s name. This offers us an evolving and ever changing way to nurture and care for others in our community and to keep Benjamin’s memory alive. May the families, friends and community of Officers receive some of these same benefits. We hope/pray those who see and use these libraries and hear this story be moved toward helping others and sharing in peaceful nonviolent ways.“

Over the last 12 months, the five Little Free Libraries have been designed, built, and installed across the City of Dallas to commemorate the five officers who lost their lives on July 7th, 2016. This project has been an opportunity for a meaningful collaboration between [bc], the Dallas Police Department's Office of Community Affairs, a team of dedicated volunteer designers, and our library stewards: South Side on Lamar, El Centro College, N W Harllee Early Childhood Center, Our Saviour Episcopal Church, and Vickery Meadow Community Garden. To realize the libraries, a group of 6 core volunteers offered their design services with help from dozens of other volunteer professionals and students. The design of the 5 libraries is composed of 5 shapes that were fabricated by hand. The libraries work together as a group, but are arranged in different compositions in each location to preserve  a sense of individuality for each library. 

This scheme was inspired by the police officers, who were all unique individuals who came together to work as one unit.  The unique geometric qualities of each library are meant to represent this bond. Proudly painted blue and yellow, all libraries display the fallen officers’ badge numbers, the “Read in Peace” slogan, and other personal memorial items from the Stassen family that address people affected by gun violence.

The memorial libraries are part of our Little Free Library/Libros Libres program. Little Free Libraries/Libros Libres is a literacy and community based design initiative in Dallas, Texas that uses free book exchanges to build community and promote a culture of reading. Inspired by the Little Free Library movement (www.littlefreelibrary.org), these small neighborhood book shelters operate under the guiding principle of “take a book, leave a book.” The project uses community engagement and design to makes books available in a variety of publicly accessible locations, supporting the health of the neighborhoods by fostering collaboration and relationships.

We would like to thank everyone who was involved in the creation of the libraries. Over the course of the year, we had over a dozen hands involved in the design and fabrication process. The core volunteer group was led by: 
Amruta Sakalker
Kristin Henry
Haven Hardage
Oswaldo Rivera-Ortiz
Freddie Ortiz
Sonya Shah

Additional support and in-kind donations were made by:
Richardson High School’s R Studio
Dallas Metal Inc.
SMU Deacon Innovation Lab
Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries in the press:
Little Free Libraries will honor fallen Dallas officers, Dallas Morning News, September 9, 2016. 

Announcing Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas Call for Proposals

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, with Downtown Dallas Inc, is excited to announce Activating Vacancy Downtown Dallas’s call for artist proposals.  Artists are invited to submit applications for this project that asks artists to create create work that directly addresses issues identified by downtown stakeholders through a previous process called Community Audited Public Space (CAPS), as well as by a Community Advisory Committee.  

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Priority Setting Meeting for 1208 Tenth Street

Learn more about POP Dallas and Tenth Street

[bc] is soon to begin rehabilitation on a small house in the Tenth Street Historic District in Dallas, one of the few remaining intact Freedmen’s Town in the country. [bc] has long relationship with the neighborhood, having worked together with the Tenth Street Historic District on Neighborhood Stories and Activating Vacancy: Tenth Street, as well as being involved with the local crime watch, Operation Tenth Street. The house, which will be remodeled according to the historic district guidelines, will be turned into a Neighborhood Resource Center, a hub of activity, information, and programming for the community.

Residents of Tenth Street turned up in front of the house on Saturday, February 11th, for a Priority Setting Meeting to determine what goals the Neighborhood Resource Center should focus on, what kinds of programming and events should happen there, and what resources they want to access.  A few of the many suggestions included: different activities to involve kids and stay active, larger cultural events or festivals, a community gallery, and more!

Neighborhood Stories Kickoff in Elm Thicket

[bc] and the City of Dallas Planning and Urban Design Department have joined forces to bring Neighborhood Stories to the historic neighborhood, Elm Thicket, a Northwest Dallas community located near the Dallas Love Field airport. On Saturday, February 4th, residents and community leaders gathered at the K.B. Polk Recreation Center to kick off the much anticipated project. The event encouraged residents to share memorable stories, impactful historic events, and most of all, to celebrate their culture, identity, and history. Among some of the residents who shared their story was Mr. Thomas Buffin, a current resident who has lived in the neighborhood for over 75 years. Some of the events remembered included the geographical evolution of the neighborhood, the birth of local churches and businesses, the creation of the Dallas Love Field airport, and the desegregation of public schools. 

Stay connected with us as we uncover the untold story of Elm Thicket, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

Little Free Libraries: Dallas Development Code Amendment

The proposed Dallas Development Code amendment that will affect current and future Little Free Libraries (LFL) in our community. Free outdoor little free libraries encourage vibrant, connected public spaces and help to increase access to books throughout our community. 

Here are few of the highlights on how the code amendments and how it affect current and future LFLs:

  • Proposed amendments are rigid on location and size.  Size and location requirements in the front yard limits LFL to small boxes located in very specific locations that leave no scope for creativity.
  • Under the proposed amendments, there is no possibility for the existing LFLs to be grandfathered in as the proposed requirements will be applied retroactively.
  • A survey of existing LFL in Dallas found that more than half of the LFL would become illegal if the new amendments are passed as presented. The vast majority of those are located in front of single family homes, designed and built by families.
  • It also means that out of 19 LFLs available to be purchased online on LFL National site, only 3, would be allowed under the proposed amendments.
  • No other big cities of Texas - including Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso - have any code regulations for LFLs. Other cities around Dallas - Frisco, Plano, Fort Worth, Richardson and Irving - do not have any code regulations for LFLs. Only one suburban city, Pearland has rules that disallow LFLs.

Dallas City Council will be considering the proposed amendments at the next council meeting on October 26th, 2016 at 9 am, in City Hall

CLICK HERE for a brief description of the LFL program in Dallas, research on how the
proposal affect LFLs, and a copy of the proposed amendment.

We encourage you to reach out to your council member to express your opinion on the proposed amendments and attend the council meeting on October 26th to make your voice heard during the public hearing.  

If you have any questions about the attached document, please feel free to contact us at lfldallas@gmail.com or inform@bcworkshop.org.

Press written about the code amendments include: 

Smart Growth for Dallas Community Engagement Kick-off

Learn more about Smart Growth for Dallas.

Join us on Thursday, November 10th, at Dallas Heritage Village to kick off the community engagement events for Phase II of Smart Growth for Dallas, a new initiative to help Dallas protect its most important natural places and create a city of great public spaces. Sign-in begins at 5:30pm, presentation and activities will be 6:00-7:30pm.

During this event we will present work done to date, provide an opportunity to ask questions about the project and data gathered, provide details on the 7 community engagement meetings that will be held over the next two months, and record stories about Dallasites’ favorite parks. We hope you’ll join us for this exciting event on November 10th.

RSVP for the event here

For more information about the project, read our web-post about Smart Growth for Dallas.

Smart Growth for Dallas is a partnership with The Trust for Public Land, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, The Dallas Park and Recreation Department, and The Texas Trees Foundation. Combining Geographic Information System computer modeling and on-the-ground engagement with residents and park users, Smart Growth for Dallas will create an interactive “decision support tool” to help Dallas prioritize its investments in parks based on their economic, social, and ecological benefits. Results of the program will be available to city staff, non-profit partners and the public through an interactive website.

Smart Growth for Dallas Phase II

Today the Trust for Public Land, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, and The Texas Trees Foundation presented the initial results of our Smart Growth for Dallas partnership to the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Board. The innovative program uses computer modeling and community engagement to identify areas where parks can grow the local economy, connect communities, improve public health, and protect the city’s most important natural places.

“Considering the environmental, social, and economic challenges we face as a city, the need for parks in Dallas has never been greater,” said Willis Winters, Director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. “Thanks to The Trust for Public Land’s science-based approach, Smart Growth for Dallas is helping build a strategic roadmap for protecting our city’s most important natural places.”

Using sophisticated Geographic Information System (GIS) computer modeling, the Smart Growth for Dallas program has created a series of maps that depict areas of Dallas where parks can cool neighborhoods during summertime heat waves, protect homes from floods, improve the health of nearby residents, build equity in underserved neighborhoods, and connect communities to each other. Through analysis of the data, Smart Growth for Dallas has identified dozens of potential locations across the city for building new parks that can provide these benefits.

“From flood protection to connectivity to health, parks provide a multitude of benefits that directly address Dallas’s biggest economic, social, and environmental challenges. Our mapping and data tools are helping Dallas build smarter parks that realize as many of these benefits as possible,” said Robert Kent, North Texas area director for The Trust for Public Land. “Parks are more than just a nice place to spend a sunny Saturday—they are critical for building a city that is resilient to the challenges of the 21st century.”

The results presented at Thursday’s meeting are the first phase of a two-year effort to develop a new set of strategies to guide future investments in parks, open space, and green infrastructure for Dallas. On Nov. 10, we're launching a series of eight community engagement sessions to hear from Dallas residents about what they want from the city’s park system. The sessions will be held throughout the city.

“Decisions about our parks and open space are so much stronger when they are informed by community members,” says Brent Brown, Founding Director of bcWORKSHOP. “Our community engagement sessions are essential to getting that feedback.”

Over the coming months, the program will expand to include additional data, including results from a landmark new study of the urban heat island effect in Dallas being conducted by The Texas Trees Foundation. “Understanding the relationship between tree canopy, open space, and the urban heat island effect is crucial for building resilience in Dallas,” says Matt Grubisich of the Texas Trees Foundation. “The data we generate in the next six months will provide valuable guidance to the city for how to combat the urban island effect in the neighborhoods where it’s needed most.”

Once complete in 2018, Smart Growth for Dallas will represent the largest and most comprehensive data analysis of the city’s park system every conducted. Results from the program will be available to city staff, public officials, non-profit partners, neighborhood associations, and Dallas residents through an interactive website. The website will feature maps, data visualizations, and storytelling about the important role parks play in building a city that is resilient to the challenges of the 21st century.

In advance of the November 10th launch of the community engagement sessions, the public is encouraged to take an online survey about Dallas’s parks system and signup for the Smart Growth for Dallas email list to receive project updates or visit www.SmartGrowthForDallas.org.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

Texas Trees Foundation is a private nonprofit dedicated to creating healthy communities by protecting and enhancing the urban forest while investing in people. Established in 1982, the Mission of the Texas Trees Foundation is (i) to preserve, beautify and expand parks and other public natural green spaces, and (ii) to beautify our public streets, boulevards and rights-of-way by planting trees and encouraging others to do the same through educational programs that focus on the importance of building and protecting the “urban forest” today as a legacy for generations to come. www.texastrees.org

POP Neighborhood Map Update - Modifications to Existing Boundaries!

Based on input we received via the interactive neighborhood boundary drawing tool Draw Your Neighborhood[bc] has been considering making some changes to the boundaries of a few neighborhoods - ParkdaleLake Park EstatesL StreetsMerriman Park/University Manor, and Lake Cliff - already on the POP Neighborhood Map

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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.”

Kickoff! Activating Vacancy Arts Incubator

Learn more about Activating Vacancy.

Kickoff AVAI

[bc] is excited to announce a kickoff for the Activating Vacancy Arts Incubator (AVAI), a new art and public interest design initiative in Market Square, the center of Historic Downtown Brownsville. This program will create a viable means for artists to thrive in a region where attaining basic needs can be a struggle. The incubator will provide a catalytic hub for Downtown Brownsville and the arts, creating a platform for artistic production and collaboration between artists and the community. AVAI begins Spring 2016 and is produced and curated by [bc] in partnership with the City of Brownsville.

Come hear about the new Activating Vacancy Arts Incubator and other exciting new initiatives happening in Downtown Brownsville. Share your downtown stories and help us envision the future of arts and culture in Downtown! We'll start off with a social hour, including some creative activities and refreshments, followed by a panel discussion with local artistic and cultural leaders. 

where: 609 E 11th Street

when: friday, april 8th, 5pm social hour , 6pm panel discussion. 




Call for Artists! Announcing the Activating Vacancy Arts Incubator

[bc] is excited to announce the launch of the call for artists for the Activating Vacancy Arts Incubator (AVAI), a new art and public interest design initiative in Market Square, the center of Historic Downtown Brownsville. This program will create a viable means for artists to thrive in a region were attaining basic needs can be a struggle. The incubator will provide a catalytic hub for Downtown Brownsville and the arts, creating a platform for artistic production and collaboration between artists and the community. AVAI begins Spring 2016 and is produced and curated by [bc] in partnership with the City of Brownsville.

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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 Project Guides

Ever thought about doing an oral history project in your neighborhood? Want to learn more about why we think Little Free Libraries / Libros Libres is one of [bc]’s most important neighborhood planning tools? Check out the first two buildingcommunityWORKSHOP Project Guides, a series of short publications that describe the what, how, and why of our People Organizing Place projects.

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