By his own admission, 35-year-old software marketer and musician Jason English had “never been involved in politics or anything like that.” English says this as he’s driving to a special-purpose meeting that has been called so the City Council can be briefed on the Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay District. Clearly, something changed English — it’s not just any citizen who’ll drive downtown in the middle of the workweek to attend city government briefings. And one need look no further than the name of English’s website,, to see what’s gotten him riled up. The site, started in June, began “as a rant.” He was tired of “coming home from work in his neighborhood southeast of Abrams and Mockingbird and seeing another house gone and a monster put in its place.” Since then, the goals of his site have changed: He now wants to spread the anti-McMansion gospel, “rais[ing] awareness of the reality of irresponsible development.” His primary concern is one heard often — “The developers are exercising no restraint or taste on their own,” he says. “They don’t have any desire to work with existing or established neighborhoods to try to build something reasonable.” But he knows he can’t change an entire industry, so he’s using to keep people in the know about the overlay district, to offer anti-McMansion yard signs and T-shirts, and also to promote the work of people such as Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live,” a tome that proposes quality over quantity in the spaces we call home. English says his site has had an unexpected bonus — he has met people from throughout Lakewood and East Dallas — though it probably hasn’t endeared him to the two families on his street living in what he describes as McMansions. But, English says, “I don’t think my concern or the concern of most is about the people who already live in these houses. The concern is about stopping more of this in the future — not about stopping new houses from ever being built, but stopping this extreme development that we’re seeing played out again and again — having houses that are better and not necessarily bigger.”


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