What should Dallas do to spur sustainable development? Should we focus on big, iconic projects or smaller-scale initiatives, like pocket parks with outdoor movies? Former Mayor Ron Kirk surely spoke for many when he said Dallas has to do both. But how realistic is that in an era of diminished financial resources? Does the future of Dallas look more like vast Victory Park or like the homey Bishop Arts District? (A generational divide on that question emerged in one seminar.)
Personally, I believe in what you might call the preferential option for pocket parks. I asked the seminar at one point why, on Election Night, the Bishop Arts District was the place to be, but Victory Park was not? Someone said, "Because it's real." Yes! Exactly!
More to the point, ordinary people can go to the Bishop Arts District, which lacks a gathering space or a plaza, and walk around, find something to eat, and so forth. If you go to Victory Park, it's all high-priced grub, and off-putting bigness. I was talking about this with an East Dallas friend yesterday, who said that he gets more excited by things like that new strip of restaurants on Henderson Street than about big new things that open downtown. I know exactly what he means. In that strip, the Fish City Grill has become kind of a neighborhood hangout for families with kids. Families can afford to eat there, and the management makes a point of getting to know your name and face, and being nice to neighborhood people. It really feels like someplace.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that we're building an Arts district. But it's not for families like us, for the most part. It's too expensive. A young man said that what this city needs is to do things like spend money buying outdoor movie projectors, and have movie night in city parks, inviting folks to bring picnic dinners and blankets, and watch a movie together. When I lived in Brooklyn, NY, we had that, and it was a blast! Small, simple things that are accessible to all, or to most. That's what builds a sense of place, and loyalty to that place.
--from "Should Dallas Grow Big or Small?" by Rod Dreher
Read full article at: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/11/should-dallas-g.html