Adopt-a-Block Wants to Make Dallas Sparkle

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Adopt-a-Block Wants to Make Dallas Sparkle

“Make your bed every morning” sounds like something my ten-year old twins need to be told, but it turns out adults need to as well. Those of us who attended the Dallas Regional Chamber’s annual event this year were reminded of this admonition by four-star Admiral William McCraven, the Naval officer who planned and led the famous raid on Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Admiral McCraven brought us back to one of life’s basic principles of leadership—and it’s exactly the message our city needs to keep its shine and draw the best and brightest of America to DFW.

Dallas is going to start “making its bed”—so to speak. That’s why the Metroplex Civics and Business Association is launching the Adopt-a-Block initiative—a cleanup program that invites local businesses to make our streets sparkle. From Oaklawn to Deep Ellum, to Victory Park and Trinity Groves, everything about DFW is poised to be one of the country’s hottest places to live. We should take that seriously and work to make this vision successful.

Success doesn’t get any simpler than how the Admiral explains it. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” he highlights. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another….the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never do the big things right.”

Adopt-a-Block is going to clean up our streets and take a small sense of pride in beautiful sidewalks, bright grassy areas, and clean-swept storefronts. The first thing we should notice on our morning run or commute is that DFW picks up after itself. This small task will inspire greater ones.

I travel around the country on business quite often, and everywhere I hear the same concern from business owners and professionals—in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta—“our downtown is so filthy.” We should be thankful that Downtown Dallas, Inc. does such a good job mobilizing to clean the core of Dallas. But Oak Lawn, Uptown, and those surrounding business districts are in danger of resembling areas of the country that are infamous for disorder.

Disorder is contagious. If trash is left around, the trashy area becomes a neglected area, then an unsafe area, then an impoverished area. Like any pathogen, we need to stop contagious disorder before it spreads.

Cleaning up after ourselves is a longstanding Texas tradition. The now-famous slogan “Don’t mess with Texas” actually started as a pun—don’t make a mess by littering. This campaign demonstrated a core attribute of our state—Texas is beautiful, especially when clean.

In recent years, the population-dense areas surrounding Dallas and Fort Worth have struggled to maintain cleanliness and order, which serve as the basis of bringing our best neighborhoods into an energetic and attractive future. The Metroplex Civics and Business Association has proposed the right response to this issue—working as a team to ensure a thriving, vibrant cityscape.

Everyone in our community will benefit from the Adopt-a-Block initiative, which calls on local businesses and their employee volunteers to lead the way in maintaining and beautifying the streets that belong to them and to everyone. Once again, DFW has a plan to make its bed.

Well-maintained urban environments will inspire hotter storefronts and deeper investment by new businesses looking to experiment and take risks. The state of our streets and public spaces will send property values soaring and attract an elevated clientele. In a word, DFW will become the undisputed “happening place” of America.

Addressing the challenge of contagious disorder—making our bed—is not just a boring job to be left for municipal cleanup. It’s a responsibility and a privilege for all of us to take ownership over one of the hottest cities in the country.

Louis Darrouzet is an entrepreneur and businessman from Dallas-Fort Worth. He's also chief executive of the Metroplex Civic and Business Association.

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