With so many folks in need these days, it may be somewhat ludicrous to rate which volunteer program does the best job of do-gooding. But that won't stop us from trying. Amachi Texas, headquartered in Dallas, is a statewide effort to prevent crime by breaking its cycle at the source. Research shows that the children of offenders have a 70 percent greater likelihood of becoming involved in the criminal justice system. This Big Brothers/Big Sisters offshoot provides mentors for the children of inmates, parolees and probationers—mentors who can be positive role models for their absent, emotionally unavailable or drug-addled parents. The Dallas Bar Association has made Amachi Texas its pet pro bono project for 2009, and lawyers are volunteering in droves to help out. Children matched with an Amachi mentor are 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school, 46 percent less likely to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking alcohol. And with the Dallas bar's influence, they also may be 78 percent more likely to become lawyers. (Kidding.)

He might take over your FM dial only once a week—and on Sunday nights, no less—but Mark Schectman deserves some serious praise for the way he's been running his Local Show on The Edge since taking over the hour-long slot earlier this year. Unlike some of his predecessors, Schectman actually seems to pay attention to the local scene, instead of just relying on the music that just-launched local acts toss the station's way. And his recent play lists have boasted songs from some of our favorites—like RTB2, Matthew and the Arrogant Sea, The Crash That Took Me, Dove Hunter and The Orbans, just to name a few. Secretly, we like to pretend that he's just mining our music section for his play lists each week, but that probably doesn't give Schectman enough credit for a job well done.

You won't find The Indie-Verse on your AM or FM dials. And only for a short period of time could you even find the station on your HD2 frequencies (assuming you're the only person in the world to actually have one of those receivers). But here's the trick about The Indie-Verse: You might only be able to listen to it by streaming the station on its Web site, but it's got the very best play list in town, playing everything from Pere Ubu to Memory Casette—or, basically, the kind of music that real music fans seek out. Even though it lost its spot on your HD dial, the folks at the local branch of CBS Radio are committed enough to the idea of the station that they're still funding the thing, even without a frequency. And with good reason: Aside from the great tunes, regular listeners are treated to an almost overwhelming amount of free tickets to some of the best shows in town. So do yourself a favor and listen. 'Cause, by doing that much, you just might force CBS to put the station back on a dial near you. And that'd be a favor for everyone.

Krys Boyd's the perfect interviewer: informed but not intrusive, objective with just a hint of opinionated. At a time when most talk radio shouts dumb-ass at you, she's the rational, calm, thoughtful voice of reason; she wants her guests to teach her something, not agree like a fast-food flunky. And she's just as likely to welcome a jazzer as she is an author as she is a foodie—hers is a wide-ranging menu from which we gladly pick and choose. And if we forget, well, there's always the podcast.

Double Wide
Matt Nager

Sure, there's the live music room across the patio. That helps. But the Double Wide wins points because you don't have to hit the music room—or pay that room's separate cover charge—to enjoy a night of fine music and good friends. Regularly playing host to a couple of the region's finest niche DJs—DJ Slim, whose soul music selection is authentic enough to transport you to another era, and DJ Burlap, whose country tunes offer up a perfect soundtrack to the bar's white trash décor—the bar's recently added another fine offering for its crowd of local musicians and active fans. It hosts a rotating cast of local musicians and advocates as its Tuesday night DJs, ensuring that its insider crowd shows and enjoys a night among friends.

Iron Cactus

This rooftop patio is hands-down among the best in town. You can sit at the bar under the stars or grab a table at which to enjoy shots of tequila or margaritas accompanied by fajitas, nachos or fish tacos. The tequila selection is vast, from Cuervo on the bottom end to El Tesoro Paradiso and Don Julio in the mid-range and Patron Gran Platinum and Herradura Seleccion Suprema on the top shelf. There are dozens of cocktails to choose from, from the ginger martini to the cactus cosmo and a variety of mojitos. If what you're after is a margarita, the bar offers a wide variety. Whether you order the signature agave margarita made with Margaritaville Silver and Cointreau, the Don made with Don Julio or the Cazuela, made with Izze grapefruit soda, fresh oranges and Cazadores Reposado Tequila served in a clay bowl, you'll get a killer drink made from scratch with fresh-squeezed lime.

Mountain View College

Colleges and universities always use the campus scenery to entice prospective students, but if you're looking into a Dallas County Community College, it's understandable if scenery falls far below practicality and affordability on your list of priorities. After all, El Centro and Eastfield are not much to look at. The Urban Wildlife Sanctuary at Mountain View College, however, is actually something to behold. A wooded, hilly area bisected by a creek softly gurgling along limestone banks, the northern boundary of Mountain View is one of the prettiest hidden gems in Dallas, perfect for a little early morning birding or a post-exam stroll.

Not many drives in Dallas can compare with the surreal scene that is Mountain Creek Parkway. Take the exit off Southbound Loop 12 and you'll come upon the desolate lakeshore that borders the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery—you might see the occasional van full of misguided fishermen parked under the giant power lines overhead, but there's also plenty of empty space in case you've got a body in the trunk or something. Keep driving and you'll come across Dallas Baptist University, a brightly lit congregation of buildings that resembles that giant FLDS temple outside Eldorado, Texas—you know, the one that was all over Dr. Phil last year. Then, take a left and you'll find the Potter's House and the under-construction utopia of Capella Park. Or take a right and cross Dallas' only toll bridge into Grand Prairie. Either way, it will be interesting...and creepy.

Trinity River Audubon Center

This spot, located only eight minutes from downtown, used to be an illegal dump. The construction debris and rotting garbage caught fire and burned for a month in 1997. But millions of dollars and many years later, the city has turned the 120-acre site into a home for hundreds of bird species and critters. Spend a Saturday morning exploring the two and a half miles of trails through three different ecosystems—forest, grassland and wetland. Look out from a perch over a bend of the Trinity River. Or just relax and explore the site's $14 million green building with insulation made from recycled blue jeans. The building has been deemed the city's official gateway to the great Trinity River Forest, which at 6,000 acres is the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States. See how much you've learned already?

Best Spot to Meet the Fledgling Community in Downtown

City Tavern

City Tavern
Beth Rankin

City Tavern is the Cheers of downtown. Everybody knows your name. That's because most patrons are downtown residents, especially on any given weekday. As the downtown population has grown from 200 to 6,000 residents in the last 15 years, the Tavern has been transformed by demand into the downtown community center. In May, a group of downtown residents threw their favorite barfly, a decades-long resident of the Manor building, a fund-raiser to help pay for her life-saving surgery. The next week she was back on her favored bar stool sipping a white Zinfandel. The heyday of the historic building housing the two-story bar was some 50 years ago, but the bar keeps that old-timey feel, with its high-backed booths, grainy mirrors and hardwood floors.

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