I was hired by Re:Vision to go to Dallas and find people to tell the story of Dallas. Re:vision is hosting an architectural contest to build a community in one city block of downtown Dallas. Their premise is, “building community one city block at a time.” So Re:Vision wanted to show the architects a multimedia piece that would help them design a community that will fit the wants and needs of the people of Dallas… and they hired me (insert huge smile here) to do so.
Just in case you don’t know me… this is exactly the kind of documentary work I want to do in life!
The multimedia piece is still under construction, but because it has been such a long time since my last post, I wanted to at least share something from my amazing journey. And because the Rolleiflex photos don’t work as well in the multimedia piece, I thought I would let them shine on their own here.
So, below you will find a series of photographs and quotes from many different Dallas residents. The photographs do not necessarily line up with the quotes, meaning the faces might not match the voices. This is just an experiment, so please feel free to leave your critiques in the comments below.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Dallas as much as I did.
“How does the rest of The World see Dallas? Nobody knows how The World sees Dallas.”
“We’re going from a typical American 1950’s city, where people went to work and everyone lived out and around. We are trying hard to create a downtown area where people can live, work, and play… a dense, urban, vibrant, fun downtown.”
“Having a place around which the community meets is enormously important and you don’t realize it until you get to a place where it doesn’t happen.”
“Nobody walks here, so you don’t meet people and share a sense of space and community.”
“That is why community is around church, high school football and The Cowboys.”
“You’ve got all that space. You can take any one of a number of thoroughfares and it’s amazing how far out the Dallas Area Metroplex goes. And then when you finally get out there and it is The West in the movies.”
“Community in suburbs is tough because the architecture creates islands. You close your door at the back and you don’t see each other. You come and you go, and it’s just classic.”
“It’s just a big old sprawling, sunbelt, southern, western, nutty, consumer, crazy… it’s just classic. It’s the best of the best and the worst of the worst in this genre of community.”
“The question is, do you need a core anymore? Does the core matter? I think it should. For density. We’re supposed to get 5 million people over the next 25 years, where are you going to put them?”
“Dallas has the largest amount of open land. To be efficient and good stewards of the environment, we have to work on density. We can’t move people up the highway further and further.”
“Today there is the economic segregation that was brought about by racial segregation. Now the Black middle class is gone.”
“This city will not be successful until it talks about education. Over 90% of kids in the Dallas Independent School District qualify for free or reduced lunches.”
“So, the number one problem facing Dallas, is reducing poverty.”
“I think a lot of people have a good life here and are real happy about it. Happy to take their kids out of Dallas schools and put them in private schools or suburban schools.”
“Other people who aren’t doing so well, they find joy in their lives, but they would find more joy with better opportunities. If we could get together, we could create a community that would work better for everyone.”
“This project could be the rallying point. By saying, “This is what it means to be community. This is what it means to come together, and to have access to the tools we need, and define our own values and goals, to execute this as a group and a neighborhood.””
“Dallas is a minority majority city with one third Black, one third White, one third Latino… and the Latino population is growing. We’ll be more than 50% Latino in 20 years.”
“Most people here aren’t from here. A lot of the ideas here came from other places, but it’s still Texas. It has that real quality.”
“It’s a lot more cosmopolitan than people give it credit for. When I travel everyone thinks it’s a backwards hick town because of that stupid show in the 70’s. People get past that and its an OK place.”
“Dallas is playing catch up. It’s a vibrant city that doesn’t know it is vibrant. So much culture, but so little comes to the surface, you have to find it.”
“Downtown Dallas made a mistake when it decided to bury its pedestrian life. We have underground tunnels with businesses, as a result you don’t see people, they are all moles underground.”
“I fight The Underground everyday of my life. You can spend the whole day in the air-conditioning without ever going outside. My opinion is that it’s the downfall of downtown. But slowly people coming up to the street level.”
“We all sort of live in a bubble and we don’t see the rest of the world. We certainly don’t see it through the eyes of people that live there, or work there, or pray there. Sometimes we don’t even know it exists and we make a lot of judgements thinking we know the world, when we don’t.”
“I think 80% of Dallas cares; there has just never been a way to get involved to bring it together.”
“Because of the cost of fuel, people are coming back downtown, so we have an opportunity to plan development and new pockets of life. It will be interesting to see what happens downtown.”
“Dallas needs to start to figure out what we can do as a city to make life better for everyone… easier, less expensive with green building and mass transit. Dream bigger.”
“Things change. Maybe they will revert back to being more compact, to where people exercise more, save energy, start walking, and say, “hello,” to people.”
“We are on the cutting edge of some things, and we are behind the times on some things, but we are going to get there.”
“Dallas knows where it needs to go.”
“It’s one of the World’s great cities. It is only going to get better because the people I know who are involved are all working on it. There is not a person here that doesn’t want to work on it. There’s lots to be done and it’s promising.”
About the author paige green
Paige Green is a documentary and portrait photographer, whose storytelling approach to photography frequently addresses issues involving agriculture, land use, and food. Her work is featured in nine books and has been published in Glamour, National Geographic Traveler, New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, GQ, Country Living, House Beautiful, and Culture. Paige lives in Petaluma, CA with a house full of boys.
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this is great. i know nothing of dallas. i have friend that lives there and she loves it. i see what you ment by things not matching up, but i get your idea. had no idea about the tunnels. kinda creepy. on hot days the streets must be empty. cities should always have people in the streets going places, doing things. it’s like new york city in the summer. there is a lot of humanity and you breath it in and you feel human. that is important.
wow!! I’m really impressed with this project, how cool for you Paige! You knocked it out of the park for sure.
i want to know about this man who sold the world. These look really great. I hope some of them do make the multimedia project.
So Americana. I like how hopeful the piece is — the words and the photos. I just learned tons about Dallas..thanks!
You are amazing only you would make Dallas a place people would want to see outside of an 80’s program.
I love your pictures they are so real and raw with beautiful colors. I need to get you and Aarron to Austin once and for all.
All my love to one of your biggest fans!
Yay. You are the perfect person for this project and I am so happy for you. I imagine you flagging the biker down and running up to the family as they are leaving for work in the morning. At first they were all whoa sister who are you and then you started talking with your big camera and they melted into your subjects. Is that how it went?
Right on sister