In this month’s Advocate, Vickery Place Neighborhood Association president Pam Stephenson talks about “reclaiming our neighborhoods.”

What’s more interesting, she talks hopefully about a “reclaiming” without financial assistance from our friendly taxing authorities.

In effect, Pam wants to wipe out crime, neighborhood deterioration, declining education quality, and underfunded city services with two weapons: Willpower and hard work.

Can she do it?

Is she crazy? Naïve?

One thing is certain: She can’t do it alone.

And that’s where Advocate can help.

This is the inaugural issue of the East Dallas/Lakewood Advocate, a monthly neighborhood newspaper dedicated to a single goal: Improving life in our neighborhoods.

We intend to bring neighbors and neighborhoods closer by spreading the good news of individual successes and by offering constructive solutions for the bad news that inevitably touches all of us.

Without meeting and knowing our neighbors, there can be no sense of neighborhood. Without a sense of neighborhood, we can continue to expect increasing crime, decreasing community responsibility and, in general, a daily dose of Dallas as-is.

However simplistic this dream of stronger neighborhoods through meeting and getting to know each other may be, the Advocate is committed to it.

Each month, 10,000 issues will be distributed free of charge throughout East Dallas and Lakewood. Many will be delivered directly to doorsteps in what we expect will be an ever-growing number of neighborhoods. The remainder will be distributed via newspaper racks in high-traffic and neighborhood-oriented businesses.

As our advertising support grows, our distribution will increase. And so, too, will the amount of information about neighbors and neighborhoods.

This newspaper is written by and for the people of East Dallas and Lakewood, which for our market purposes is defined as the area bounded by North Central Expressway, Northwest Highway, Buckner Boulevard and R.L. Thornton Freeway.

Any general-interest news, events or personalities in this market are fair game, and we encourage you to contact us at 601-2331 or write us at P.O. Box 596422, Dallas 75359. Let us know what is happening in your neighborhood so we can help spread the word.

Although the Advocate will strive to print good news about East Dallas and Lakewood, we have no intention of candy-coating the truth. Our neighborhoods face serious problems – expanding drug use, gang proliferation, rising crime rates, vital zoning issues and code enforcement, questionable electoral representation and deteriorating schools.

Sticking our heads in the sand won’t work. If we, as neighbors and neighborhoods, don’t take action to solve these problems, who will?

Today, in our big-city homes with eight-foot privacy fences and state-of-the-art security alarms, many of us idealize the enticing aspects of small-town life as a hopeless dream. We wonder why it is so difficult to meet neighbors and make friends.

The Advocate believes that by creating a regular opportunity to sit down with our neighbors, even if only through a newspaper, our East Dallas and Lakewood neighborhoods can continue to become the urban equivalents of the American small town.

We will start by getting to know each other.

Here, each month, in the Advocate.

The Advocate will feature monthly columnists and columns, but we aren’t a private writing club. If you’re burning to let your neighbors know where you stand on 14-1, or 10-4-1, or anything else, let us know. Any topic of general neighborhood interest is fair game.

Future issues will include, among other features, Letters to the Editor (hopefully), recycling information (when we find a writer) and a church page (when we find a sponsor).

The Advocate won’t hide from controversial issues, but we will work hard to ensure that all opinions on an issue are fairly presented. Some will say this policy blunts our impact, that without a torch-carrying editorial policy, a neighborhood paper won’t thrive.

So be it.

The Advocate will carry a torch for East Dallas and Lakewood, but we’ll assume our readers are smart enough to sort through issues and draw their own conclusions, rather than have some newspaper (or some federal court, for that matter) tell them what to think.

This newspaper will only succeed if you read it regularly and learn something from it. And we won’t know how we’re doing unless you tell us.

The Advocate needs additional volunteer writers, photographers and a part-time, commissioned advertising salesperson. If you like to write, shoot or sell and would enjoy getting to know your neighbors better, call us at 601-2331.

Also let us know if your neighborhood would like home-delivery of the Advocate. If your neighborhood organization is willing to deliver the Advocate along with your organization’s newsletter, give us a call. We can work out a delivery program that benefits both of us.

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