Just a quick note about our cover story.
We began planning this story while following the well-publicized travails of City Councilman Craig McDaniel, whose East Dallas apartment complex was shut down by neighbors using a City zoning ordinance designed as neighborhood protection against non-conforming uses.
Most of the newspaper and television accounts portrayed this incident as a kind of “Shootout at the OK Corral” deal, complete with neighbor-against-neighbor action and, of course, the obligatory “City Councilman abusing his office for personal gain” angle.
All of that malarkey was less interesting to us than observing the raw power of an ordinance that allows neighbors to spend $500 to either shut down or clean up a major neighborhood eyesore.
Now, that is real news to those of us who haven’t been able to get the City to help us do anything about some of our neighborhood problems.
So that’s what our story is about.
Editor Becky Bull waded through normally complicated zoning issues and found peope in our community who have been quietly going about the business of cleaning up our neighborhoods by using this ordinance.
They haven’t sought publicity; indeed, they didn’t really need it. They simply wanted to make something positive happen.
Our treatment of this issue intentionally lacks the “us vs. them” mentality of some of the other news reports.
Instead, our story is researched and written to help us make a difference, not just give us something to talk about.
So now that we know what to do, let’s get out there and do it.
Welcome to My World
I heard something interesting the other night between television shows on CBS:
As a promo for their network’s news show, Dan Rather and Connie Chung were pictured doing various tasks in an effort to demonstrate their competence and ability to relate to the rest of us.
Then, the announcer intoned: “The CBS Evening News – Teamed to Cover Your World.”
Now, is it just me, or do you notice something unusual about this statement? Go ahead, read it again.
Do you see it yet?
What I don’t understand here is the reference to “your” world.
I mean, whose world do these people think they’re living in?
Perhaps this slip of the tongue is nothing more than what the rest of us do everyday, except that we don’t do it on network television.
Think back, for example, to a few years ago when the Cowboys were 1-15. More often than not, the team was referred to as a foreign entity, as in: “What’s wrong with those guys?”
Yet when the Cowboys won the Super Bowl last year, the descriptive term “we,” as in: “We Won!,” seemed more the rule.
The point of all this is that perspective makes a big difference in our lives.
If we think of everyone else as “them,” rather than “us,” particularly when times are tough, things will never improve.
If “they” are responsible for City governments that are broke, schools that don’t teach, criminals that aren’t in jail – if we wait for “someone else” to take care of these problems, they won’t go away.
No, it is “our” schools that need leadership, “our” City government that needs direction, and “our” police officers that need support.
That’s why it’s important to become involved in the many organizations discussed in the Advocate’s pages each month. Groups such as PTAs. Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce, children’s play groups, churches, and neighborhood service organizations and non-profits are the beginning of the solution.
It may not seem like we can influence federal government policy through the local PTA, but in indirect way, we can. And do.
Because everything the PTA does impacts the lives of children attending that school. And every child has a parent or guardian. And every parent or guardian comes in contact with other people through work, or at the grocery store, or on the telephone. And every one of us is a potential voter or poll participant.
Everything we do has a rippling impact on the life of someone else, and what these people do impact the lives of still others.
And that is how we start to make things better, not just for “you” but for “us.”
I don’t care what Dan and Connie think: They live in our world. And we – and they – are all responsible for making it better.