Sunday, March 16, 2014

Addressing Democracy in the United States: A Brief Reflection

Towards the end of a UTSA College of Architecture "Dialogue in Urban Planning" session, president and founder of imagine San Antonio Bob Wise called for more citizen-oriented democracy in the planning process for the benefit of the future of San Antonio.

After taking an evening and a workday of harnessing creative momentum in exercising my writing skills, I drafted a poem on the lines of yellow legal pad and soon committed it to memory. The rest is as follows...

I write this as a concerned American citizen, concerned with the existing implementation of democratic practices - or lack thereof - in our institutions such as the classroom, the workplace, electoral politics, and so on. Though our nation portrays itself as an outstanding model of democracy on the world stage, I feel there remains a need to examine representative vs. direct democracy pertaining to the development of these environments, specifically in determining policy and economics.

Enamored with the eloquence of poetry and the liability of the social contract, the poem I've written is a reflection – a reflection expressing my perspective of the current state of democracy in the U.S.

Addressing Democracy
O democracy
O democracy
how my heart bleeds for thee
O democracy
O democracy
how you cradle the cry of liberty

They slander your name at every step, every twist, every turn

My ears cringe, my heart aches
but for your promise I still yearn

O democracy

O democracy
harboring equality in a day's work
O democracy
O democracy
in the face of your doubters I smirk

In the town halls, in the courtrooms

In the streets, on the block
"They all shall have a voice," you say,
your utter profoundness leaving many in shock

O democracy

O democracy
with no pecuniary motives to be found
O democracy
O democracy
your simple grace perseveres to astound

With each passing insurrection
your potential increases tenfold
I revel in the rapture of your ethos,
a truly glorious site to behold

O democracy

O democracy
how my weary heart bleeds for thee
O democracy
O democracy
your self-evident truths shall set us free

Recommended reading:

Social Contract Theory from the International Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Democracy in Corporate America by John C. Bogle
Capitalist Democracy: Elective Affinity or Beguiling Illusion? by John Dunn
Public Policy and Community: Activism and Governance in Texas by Robert H. Wilson, et al.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LARGECOMM x RR: East Point Promise

EastPoint logo-courtesy photo

This past Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the San Antonio Growth for the Eastside (SAGE) quarterly business briefing “Breakfast with the Mayor” event, reporting for the Rivard Report. SAGE announced their Grow Eastside Fund – a 3-to-1 match grant endowed by the National Development Council Grow America fund - in which they will be doing their part in raising $500k with the GAF supplying the additional $1.5 million.

Also, Mayor Julian Castro unveiled the EastPoint neighborhood through the Promise Zone program enacted by the Obama administration in an effort to revitalize 5 communities throughout the U.S. I had the chance to interview Christine Drennon, director of Urban Studies at Trinity University, as she and her team at Trinity are responsible for demographic research and area statistics.

This year I plan to be a more regular contributor for the RR with new segments and ideas in the works. As always, stay tuned and spread the word!

Read an excerpt from my report below:

A majority of Eastside residents surveyed were discontent with the deteriorating conditions of their parks and playgrounds, homes and office spaces. The community also grapples with about double the unemployment rate – 15 percent – and half the median household annual income – $25,000 – compared with the City of San Antonio, seven percent and $53,000 respectively.
EastPoint Promise Zone Initiative Map. Click here to download full-size PDF.
EastPoint and Promise Zone Initiative Map. Click here to download full-size PDF.
The neighborhood program boundaries stretch east from I-37 along the intersection of Loop 410 and I-35 north.
Although the Eastside has maintained its cultural status as predominantly African-American, demographic studies identify Mexican-Americans as an emerging ethnic population with 68 percent as of 2010.
The City of San Antonio 2014 Fiscal Year Budget will delegate $3.6 million dollars in infrastructure funds for the Eastside, said Mayor Castro. SAHA is working with the University Health System to locate a healthcare center in the EastPoint area.
Castro was candid about the unfavorable public image associated with Eastside San Antonio. As the neighborhood “on the other side of the tracks … on the other side of the highway,” he acknowledged that Eastside schools, streets, and parks have a long history of neglect.
He called for residents of San Antonio to overcome social barriers that perpetuate superficial discrimination and told the audience that he is determined to turn that image around to develop the Eastside as a viable consideration for future business and community investors.
 The $2 Million Promise to East Point Business Owners