“It’s all about relationships and trust.” Those words were heard repeatedly during my visit to Bonton Farms. I was lucky enough to be invited on this two-day journey. In my group there were others wanting to make our community stronger and a place where everyone can live well.

Bonton Farms was started by a person with a vision for a neighborhood in South Dallas that had long been neglected by the city. Marginalized and pushed to the brink, this neighborhood was made up of freed slaves after the Civil War. Continued policies and laws meant to segregate people by race led to an environment of hopelessness, people preying on one another, and overcrowding in a neighborhood prone to flooding and with few jobs. Daron Babcock felt led to be a part of the conversation for change in this neighborhood. Through building relationships and trust, he set a vision for a different environment. Twelve years later, this video shows what has emerged.

My favorite quote from the video is: People are capable and filled with hope and potential. They just need the opportunities. Those opportunities need to be built in the environment that they come from (Daron Babcock).

Daron made himself and the staff at Bonton Farms available to share their story and talk about what they are building. They are not done, as there is still more to do, more people to serve, and a larger vision to cast.

Over and over during the sharing and conversations, I was reminded of the guiding principles of the Bridges Out of Poverty model and stories from Getting Ahead graduates as we met and were able to talk with new friends at Bonton Farms. They get that no changes start without relationships. They talked about learning from failures, continuing to push forward, challenging one another, bringing hope, and changing lives. What they have created are examples of “Staying Ahead” opportunities, including: creating jobs, solving transportation issues, and learning how to provide affordable housing for individuals, thus stabilizing their lives.

Want to know more? People at Bonton Farms are open to taking your questions. I, too, welcome conversations about what I learned and the people I met. And my community? We are working to not let the conversation stop around what we learned. We are working on conversation, collaboration, and building a stronger community. Stay tuned for updates.