A Treasure Hunt of Pleasant Grove Texas Essay

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Government - Local
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #12791618

Excerpt from Essay :

Community Treasure Hunt: Pleasant Grove, Texas

In Pleasant Gove news coverage has stopped depicting violent crimes in its articles because it's old news. People die here every day, it's nothin'.

Pleasant Grove, Texas resident c. 2015

I was born and raised here and have traveled the world, but I could never imagine any place lovelier to call home.

Norma Davis, Chair, Pleasant Grove Historical Society, 2015

Introduction, Demographic Information, and Community Immersion (suggested length: 3 pages)

There are a number of ways to conceptualize a community, with its geographic boundaries being among the most straightforward (Knowing your community). The geographic boundaries of Pleasant Grove, located in the southeast section of the Dallas, are shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Location of Pleasant Grove

Source: https://www.google.com/maps/

Geographic boundaries alone, however, reveal little about the people that comprise a community and this is certainly the case with the working-class community of Pleasant Grove. Described by the Web site Blacks in Dallas as "an interesting community that is currently in transition (Pleasant Grove, 2017, para. 1). Named for a particularly beautiful grove of trees, Pleasant Grove began as a one-room schoolhouse (built in said grove) built in 1886 (Davis, 2015). According to one long-time resident and chair of the Pleasant Grove Historical Society, "Annexed by Dallas in 1954, what was a 6-square-mile town centered on Buckner Boulevard and Lake June Road became the heart of Southeast Dallas" (Davis, 2015, p. 2).

The current population of Pleasant Grove is estimated at 58,753, representing a 7.8% increase since 2011 and is projected to increase by another 6.9% by 2021 (Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017). Pleasant Grove, though, has experienced profound changes in its demographic composition over the past 2 decades or so. Until around 2000, the community was comprised of nearly equal percentages of white, blacks and Hispanics, but "white flight" has resulted in a slight majority of Hispanics (51%) and around 30% blacks concentrated along the Buckner Boulevard main corridor (Pleasant Grove, 2017). Fewer than 10% of the residents of Pleasant Grove have college degrees (Pleasant Grove, 2017).

Most (87.8%) of the 15,088 households in Pleasant Grove are single-family residences (see photographs at Appendix A) with a median home value of around $55,000 (versus $80,975 for other southeast Dallas neighborhoods), and more than two-thirds (68.6%) are owner occupied (Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017). Monthly rental rates in the community range between $700 and $950 a month (Pleasant Grove, 2017). The median household income in Pleasant Grove is $37,988; however, more than one-third (37.8%) of the available workforce aged 16 years and over are unemployed and more than one-quarter (28.4%) live below the poverty line (Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017). Nearly half (45.3%) of those who are employed are blue-collar workers, almost a quarter (23.4%) are employed in some type of service industry or farm work and just under one-third (31.3%) are employed in a white collar position (Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017). Despite its proximity to downtown Dallas and connected highways, Pleasant Grove residents still experience an average 35-minute commute with their average 2.0 vehicles per household (Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017).

Searching for treasures in Pleasant Grove is also interesting because the community appears to have enjoyed its fair share over the years, but few of these remain today. Indeed, rather than extolling the virtues of their community, members of the Pleasant Grove Historical Society currently wax nostalgic concerning the "good old days" with their Facebook page replete with black-and-white photographs of yesteryear's stores and public buildings that are no longer in existence. In fact, searching for riches in this working-class community is an especially challenging enterprise. For example, one Grove resident recently characterized Pleasant Grove as being "without a doubt, the 'krunkest' place in the entire Dallas Metroplex. Pleasant Grove has three times as many murders as Oak Cliff, 12 times as many rapes, five times as many armed robberies, and is one of the leading problems in America as far as illegally exported arms" (as cited in Pleasant Grove Texas, 2017, para. 3).

This characterization is consistent with an article in The Dallas Morning News that reported one local resident "could easily walk the few blocks from her home to her restaurant job in Pleasant Grove. But she doesn't. She won't. She doesn't feel safe near St. Augustine Drive and Bruton Road -- one of the most dangerous places in Dallas" (Hallman & Martin, 2015, p. 2). This Pleasant Grove resident -- and many others -- have good reason to fear for their safety because Dallas police rank the community as among the top 15 worst place in the city for criminal activity (Hallman & Martin, 2015). Some indication of the types of extent of crimes in the Pleasant Grove community can be discerned from the statistics set forth in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Criminal activity in Pleasant Grove: 2014

Crime type

No.

Aggravated Assaults (non-family violence)

62

Aggravated Assaults (family violence)

39

Business Burglaries

Home Burglaries

Motor-Vehicle Burglaries

Auto Thefts

Business Robberies

12

Robberies of Individuals

86

Shoplifting Incidents

20

Other Thefts

Murders

1

Rapes

17

Source: Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017

According to Hallman and Martin (2015), gang-related activity, including most especially robberies, drug dealing and violence has significantly increased in recent months, and Dallas law enforcement authorities have been essentially powerless to combat the problem despite the allocation of additional resources including an automatic license plate reader and 10 surveillance cameras to monitor high-crime areas such as the intersection of Bruton Road and St. Augustine Drive (Hallman & Martin, 2015). In this regard Hallman and Martin report that, "The intersection, especially at the carwash and convenience store there, has been plagued in recent years by crime, gangs, drug sales, fistfights and gunfire" (2015, p. 2).

On the north side of the intersection, the convenience store, Adams Food Mart (see photograph at Appendix B), is adjacent to the self-service carwash and a bus stop and the rest of the byway on Bruton Road is populated by struggling strip malls with numerous vacancies, a vacant lot, and small family-run businesses (Hallman & Martin, 2015). On the south side, there is a concrete building dating to the 1970s next to Dallas Fire Rescue Station No. 5 and the A Dallas ISD building, with a series of single-family residences as a few "seemingly out-of-place mansions" backing them (Hallman & Martin, 2015, p. 3).

Many small business owners in the neighborhood report that gang-related activity began around 2013 and has intensified ever since, harming their commerce in the process. Some business owners have hired unarmed security guards in response to gang-related murders, robberies and drug dealings near their businesses but few are able to afford them and one complained that his security guard was "scared off" by gang members (Hallman & Martin, 2015). Other local business owners such as Black Jack Pizza's Vince Pond note that the community was far safer when they established their enterprises and they have been dismayed at the manner in which Pleasant Grove has gone downhill since the mid-1990s. These problems are further exacerbated by a pronounced lack of employment opportunities in Pleasant Grove, and a neighborhood association chairwoman reported that many residents are "trapped in a vicious poverty cycle" that includes repeated involvement with the criminal justice system (Hallman & Martin, 2015).

Some members of the Pleasant Grove Historical Society have been compelled to counter these reports about the deteriorating condition of their community by pointing out Pleasant Grove is being painted with an overly broad brush. For example, one member complained that, "Pleasant Grove has gotten a bad rap for crimes that have occurred over the years in other areas. Eighty five percent of the crimes that occur in what is considered 'Southeast Dallas,' happen in Buckner Terrace and Scyene" (Davis, 2017, para. 10). Nevertheless, many residents report that they are trying to escape from Pleasant Grove at their earliest opportunity (Hallman & Martin, 2015).

The one truly bright spot identified in this "treasure hunt" was the renovated Pleasant Oaks Recreation Center which reopened in January 2015 after being closed for several years due to budget cuts. The recreation center features the first indoor soccer field in the Dallas Park and Recreation system (Hallman & Martin, 2015). Other noteworthy community resources include the 266.2-acre Crawford Memorial Park, established in 1964 (Neighborhoods of Pleasant Grove, 2017) and two well-run branches of the Dallas library system (Humphrey, 2017) and land for the first library building in Pleasant Grove was donated by Grady and Doris Wall, local real estate entrepreneurs whose home was situated on the property until their deaths (Humphrey, 2017). Finally, some empirical observations from D. Magazine concerning Pleasant View include the following:

• LOCALS LOVE: The neighborhood's multicultural harmony, low-cost housing, and easy access to all parts of the city via highways and DART light-rail;

• LOCALS COMPLAIN: There are too many businesses of certain types: car lots, payday loan stores, and insurance companies;

• FUN FACT: In 1937, the local youth took pride…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Davis, N. (2017, April 5). The Pleasant Grove Historical Society. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/156970454468433/.

Davis, N. (2015, June 25). Why I love Pleasant Grove. D Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.dmagazine.com/neighborhood-guides/2015/06/why-i-love-pleasant-grove/.

Hallman, T. & Martin, N. (2015, March). Fear, fights, crime thrive at Pleasant Grove intersection. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2015/03/01/fear-fights-crime-thrive-at-pleasant-grove-intersection.

Humphrey, J. P. (2017, May 28). The Pleasant Grove Historical Society. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/156970454468433/.

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