By Casey Miller, Imaginuity
Where we live has a profound impact on our daily lives, naturally. But how much does the HISTORY of our home region affect our lives? The answer: Just as profoundly, if we take the time to learn from our shared history.
It seems obvious enough. Our shared history – as a planet, as a nation, as a state, as a family – is crucial to charting a path for the future. But in our manic, 24/7 plugged in society, how many of us take the time to learn that history?
The 2013 Leadership Dallas Class just finished its first class day with the topic Dallas Past, Present, Future. The amazing Trinity River Audubon Center was a perfect host location: serene, beautiful, natural and quiet. The day was designed to give our class an introduction to the shared history of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, as well as focusing our brains on the future challenges we all need to be ready to communally tackle.
Among the speakers:
- Rose-Mary Rumbley, PhD, who provided an oral history introduction of Big D
- Walt Human, the co-founder of Leadership Dallas who somehow also managed to get 13 disparate government entities to work together to create Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Wow!
Some interesting did-you-knows
- In the 1850s, French, Belgian and Swiss immigrants formed a utopian community on the Trinity River, named La Reunion, and one of its former residents became a mayor of Dallas
- The city is one of the only major cities in the US that owns a radio station, 101.1 Classical FM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WRR_(FM)
- Fair Park originally included more than 50 temporary buildings
- By 1860, African Americans made up 14% of the total population of 678, eight years before the Ku Klux Klan made its first appearance in Dallas (1868)
- The roots of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce can be traced back to September 1939 when 11 men and women met at the El Fenix Restaurant on McKinney Avenue, launching the then-titled Mexican Chamber of Commerce.
We also shared parts of the story with each other from our individual perspectives: Anglo, Small Business, Mexican-American, Education, African-American, GLBT, Neighborhoods, and Asian, just to name a few. So we learned a lot.
More importantly, we learned what we still need to learn in terms of milestones, challenges, setbacks and triumphs for the diverse blend of communities that call Dallas-Fort Worth home. At the end of the day, we left with tons more questions than answers. That’s definitely a good thing.
Some great places to start
Here’s where you come in. We need you to work with us on the shared solutions to our current and future challenges: water resources, improving education, creating long-term development. Pick your topic and jump in. We need your ideas, resources, talent and experience.
To do that, you need to be part of the conversation. And that means investing in our shared history. Let’s do this. Here a few ways to start.
- The Dallas Historical Society website rocks with great introductory overviews, reading lists and links: http://www.dallashistory.org/
- Lost Dallas is a great introduction into the history of our city, via historic photos and illustrations:
- White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas 1841-2001 is an honest, thoughtful analysis of power and challenges in our blending of cultures, races and religious faiths: http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/phiwhi.html
- And though it is just a drop in the bucket, here’s a website our class put together on a few of the amazing, diverse treasures that make our area strong: http://urbaneadventure.wordpress.com
The Trinity River Audubon Center is one of our region’s under-utilized treasures. Check it out at: http://trinityriver.audubon.org/
Members of the Leadership Dallas Class of 2013 talked history and the future during breaks.