For the Neighborhoods of Fair Park

We talk at lot at FCE about what it means for Dallas to be a whole city. That’s the heart of our mission—“mobilizing people, data, ideas and resources that help distressed neighborhoods become vibrant, thriving places, making Dallas a whole city.”

But what would Dallas look like if it were whole? That’s not an easy question to answer. In part, it’s about opportunities that can be shared by every neighborhood—opportunities for jobs, housing, health, and services. In part, it’s about justice.

Much of our work for the last 20 years has focused on South Dallas, particularly the neighborhoods near Fair Park. We have tried to listen well to the folks who live and work there, to be good partners. We have tried to advocate for the Fair Park communities because their voices have often been drowned out. Since money talks, these proud communities have often found few people who are willing to lean in close enough to hear them.

To be sure, the residents of South Dallas / Fair Park have much to gain from the other parts of town, if Dallas were to become a whole city. But they also have much to give, more than most people know. The role of our foundation has been to amplify their voices, to provide leverage and access wherever possible, to be a good faith partner for community empowerment.

For those reasons, Fair Park itself has often been the focus of our work, because the Park could be the economic engine the neighborhood needs. It could be a gathering place for the City, a bustling events venue, a year-round attraction for restaurants, hotels, and businesses. Which is to say, jobs and opportunities.

But it is not.

This blog, at least for the next several months, will focus on Fair Park and its neighborhoods. We want to do so fairly and sympathetically. But we also plan to tell the truth as we understand the truth.

Our ultimate goal is not to fix whatever may be wrong with Fair Park. Improving Fair Park is not an end; it’s only a means. In other words, we want to suggest solutions for Fair Park because we think doing so could make a difference for the nearby neighborhoods and for Dallas.

And while we believe revitalizing Fair Park is necessary for revitalizing the neighborhoods, it is not sufficient. It will take more than a thriving park to create a thriving neighborhood. That will take people—listening, giving, serving, sharing, dreaming… together.

Perhaps then Dallas might take a long stride toward becoming not just a great city but a whole city.