Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Unify South Dallas: Advanced Citizenship

The Unify South Dallas coalition has continued their meetings over the past several weeks.

What's really been impressive is not just the information received but the amount of respect the group is receiving for the quality of information provided and the engagement of the young people involved.

The September 19 meeting covered economic development in the area of housing. Most people know that two public housing developments are in stages of demolition with all of the residents having been relocated. What most people don't know, however, is that "unless the Dallas Housing Authority can secure funding in the current round of HOPE VI grant applications, Turner Courts may never be replaced, and former residents may never be able to return!"

This past Saturday the focus was on large scale commercial economic development projects, such as the Mill City Renaissance project, as well as Frazier Revitalization Initiative. Both organizations represent significant redevelopment in the South Dallas area. Each of which also represent significant opportunities for entrepreneurship and jobs.

Residents and leaders of neighborhood associations are learning about the importance of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts. Both of which have implications for the future growth of South Dallas neighborhoods. Sounds like pretty elemental stuff. But when city officials and politicians hold community meetings, they overwhelm residents by throwing around acronyms familiar to them, but Greek to the people to whom their talking.

In the next couple of weeks all of the information learned in these previous sessions will be collated and presented to those who have attended. That information will be used to develop an agenda of issues to be presented to elected representatives who will be asked to work with the community on what is important to them.

Where will it lead? Hopefully it will lead to a more informed and engaged community. Its quite a challenge, but the organizers of Unify South Dallas deserve kudos for the effort.

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