Local briefs • 09.02.11

H4PJ schedules workshops

Hope for Peace and Justice is sponsoring a series of three free evening workshops as part of its mission to provide peace practitioner training to the greater Dallas-Fort Worth community.

Raj Gill, the director of Prosperity Circles Coaching, International, in British Columbia, Canada, and a trainer certified by the International Center for Nonviolent Communication will lead the workshops Sept. 12–14, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

To attend, RSVP by email to workshops@NVCDFW.org or by phone at 469-420-0682. For more information or to make a donation online, go to NVCDFW.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.



—  Michael Stephens

‘Ally Empowerment’ tour coming to Dallas

LGBT advocates have long said that the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal when it comes to the battle for LGBT equality is coming out, letting our friends, families and co-workers know that we are LGBT and thereby putting a familiar face on what for many people was a frightening unknown. We cannot win the battle by ourselves; we are in the minority and we need our non-LGBT allies on our side.

With that in mind, Out & Equal Dallas-Fort Worth is bringing the “Out & Equal National Tour on Ally Empowerment” to Dallas on Tuesday, June 21.

David Hall

The day-long session will be held in the South Campus Auditorium at Texas Instruments, 12500 TI Blvd.

According to a press release from Out & Equal DFW: “This multi-city tour features education of and for straight allies, helping to understand the experience, needs and roles that allies can play in our companies and our employee resource groups. This event is especially helpful for executive sponsors, human resource and diversity professionals and ERG members, both LGBT and non-LGBT alike.”

The day begins with Ally Empowerment Training, led by corporate diversity trainer and college instructor David Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. (fee for this portion is $30 per person), followed by a reception and afternoon program from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The reception and afternoon program are free and open to all.

To register online or to see a map of the location, go here.

For more information about Out&Equal and the Ally Empowerment tour, go here.

—  admin

Snowpocalypse Part III arrives, but we’ll have sunny skies and highs near 70 this weekend

Schools will be closed today (Wednesday) in Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, as well as a number of other districts throughout North Texas (full list here). Freezing rain began to fall in Dallas at about 5:45 a.m., and forecasters expected it to change over to snow later this morning. Snow accumulations may be lower than expected at 1-2 inches, but ice will pose the biggest threat on roadways. TxDOT is running low on granular ice melt after last week’s storms, and loaner plows have mostly been returned. DART is already reporting delays, and ERCOT has issued a power watch — with the greatest likelihood of rolling blackouts coming Thursday morning, when we’ll see a low of 11 degrees. Trash is piling up, and pipes are again at risk. But now for the good news: The forecast calls for sunny skies and highs in the 60s Saturday through Tuesday. Welcome to Texas.

—  John Wright

Study shows same-sex couples in Texas are among most likely to be raising kids

Courtesy of Gary Gates/UCLA

Roughly one in four same-sex couples in North Texas are raising children, a rate that’s among the highest in the country.

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranks 12th on the list of metropolitan areas in the U.S. where same-sex couples are most likely to be raising children, according to a recent study by Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA who studies U.S. Census data.

According to Gates, 3,178 of the estimated 12,761 same-sex couples in North Texas are raising children, or 24.9 percent.

San Antonio is No. 1 on the list of 52 metropolitan areas nationwide with populations of more than 1 million, with 33.9 percent of same-sex couples in the Alamo City raising children, according to Gates. Houston is No. 7 at 27.2 percent, while Oklahoma City is No. 10 at 25.4 percent.

Last week, The New York Times reported on Gates’ study, noting that child-rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region. Gay and lesbian couples in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York and in New England. From the NYT:

Experts offer theories for the pattern. A large number of gay couples, possibly a majority, entered into their current relationship after first having children with partners in heterosexual relationships, Gates said. That seemed to be the case for many blacks and Latinos in Jacksonville, for whom church disapproval weighed heavily.

“People grew up in church, so a lot of us lived in shame,” said Darlene Maffett, 43, a Jacksonville resident, who had two children in eight years of marriage before coming out in 2002. “What did we do? We wandered around lost. We married men, and then couldn’t understand why every night we had a headache.”

Moreover, gay men who have children do so an average of three years earlier than heterosexual men, according to census data, Gates said. At the same time, there are fewer white women of childbearing age nationally, according to demographers, while the number of minority women of childbearing age is expanding.

—  John Wright

Holiday giving down to HIV/AIDS food pantry, and $1 million from Wal-Mart probably wouldn’t hurt

Holiday donations have decreased this year to Resource Center Dallas’ HIV/AIDS food pantry, according to RCD spokesman Rafael McDonnell.

McDonnell told us this morning that the food pantry’s annual holiday donation drive, which began at Thanksgiving, is critical to providing clients with nutrition into the new year and through the winter.

“There will be less money to buy the groceries we need, which will mean potentially less selection and that kind of stuff,” McDonnell said. “I don’t know how much we’re off by. Obviously every bit that people contribute helps. The perception is the economy hasn’t gotten any better. The need is still there. The need doesn’t change.”

According to RCD’s annual holiday giving letter, here’s what even a small contribution to the food pantry can do:

• $30 provides vital, fresh food for a person living with HIV for an entire month. For $1.00 a day, your gift will provide groceries for a client from our food pantry – a mini grocery store in which clients fill their own baskets with a selection of dietician-monitored foods, empowering clients to make choices based on their own needs, likes and dietary requirements.

• $50 provides a daily hot meal for a person living with HIV for one month. For less than $1.70 a day, your gift will feed a client a nutritious meal – a salad bar filled with fresh produce, main course, two vegetables and a dessert – all prepared by the loving hands of Miss Doris and her loyal volunteers.

• $120 can feed a person living with HIV through the winter. For less than $1.00 a day, your gift will ensure that a member of our community has hot meals to keep them warm and sustain them through the coldest months of the year.

To donate to the food pantry, go here.

Also today, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s chief of staff Chris Heinbaugh sends along word that Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington is vying to win $1 million from Wal-Mart’s “fight hunger together” Facebook challenge. But Leppert, Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck need your help. The metropolitan area with the most Facebook “likes” by the end of the year wins the $1 million, with the next five each receiving $100,000. Right now, however, D-FW-Arl. is in 10th place.

While we’re not particularly big fans of Wal-Mart, Heinbaugh points out that if D-FW-Arl. wins, the beneficiary will be the North Texas Food Bank, which of course serves RCD’s food pantry. So you might as well go here and click “like,” then pass it along to all your friends.

—  John Wright

Fin Sushi now open at ilume

Last week we told you Fin Sushi was ready to open at ilume, and apparently that has now happened. From Scott Barretto at StraightOut Media & Marketing:

WHAT: Fin Sushi is a new Asian fusion restaurant and sushi lounge concept serving a unique menu of sushi, sashimi and pho noodle dishes. Fin Sushi currently occupies 4,000 square feet of space on the southeast section of ilume®, a five-story, self-contained, mixed-use development housing 316 luxury apartments and 23,000 square feet of retail space and the first green built apartment building in Dallas.

The restaurant can seat 160 guests and offers a full service bar with an extensive sake menu accessible from inside the restaurant and the adjoining outdoor patio. The interior décor of the restaurant features numerous water features including a 400-gallon tropical fish tank and 10 ft tall water wall at the restaurants entrance. A one-of-a-kind, hand-cut mosaic featuring three large Lion Fish was specially commissioned for the restaurant.

Fin Sushi is a new concept from the owners of Sushi Axiom, a multi-unit restaurant with four locations in North Texas; including Dallas, Fort Worth and Burleson.

WHEN: Lunch
11:00 – 2:00 p.m. Mon – Fri
Happy Hour
4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Mon – Fri
5:00 – 10:00 p.m. Sun – Wed; 5:00 – 11:00 p.m. Thu; 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Fri – Sat
Late Night Lounge
11:0 0 p.m.. – 2:00 a.m. Fri – Sat

Walk-ins Welcome; Group Reservations:  214-443-3840

WHERE: Fin Sushi
4123 Cedar Springs Road, #102
Dallas, TX 75219
Tel: 214-443-3840

—  John Wright

Texas House Democrats in big trouble

Earlier we told you about some incumbent Democratic state representatives in Dallas County who were behind after early voting. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the trend appears to be statewide:

A Republican tidal wave appears to have hit the Texas House, with a slim GOP majority poised to grow into a massive one.

Republicans, who now have 77 seats in the House, could well reach 90 by the end of the night. Locally, Democratic Reps. Patrick Rose of San Marcos and Diana Maldonado are in serious trouble after early-vote tabulations, and so is Rep. Valinda Bolton of Austin.

A number of Democratic House members in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston areas are also in serious trouble. No Republican appears in danger of losing.

Needless to say, this doesn’t bode well for pro-equality legislation in next year’s session. It could also put the community at risk for anti-gay legislative attacks.

—  John Wright

Ask the experts • Defining Homes

Ask the experts

In March 2009, President Obama released the Home Affordable Modification Plan (HAMP). This would help alleviate the pressures of potential foreclosure, lowering monthly payments and still maintaining good standing in credit. But according to RealtyTrac.com’s list of foreclosure hotspots, Dallas/Fort Worth ranked 96 out of 203 with (at the time) more than 10,000 properties listed as foreclosures — a relatively small number considering the populations of both Dallas and Fort Worth. But it does make us ask the experts, “What does Obama’s mortgage aid plan mean for homeowners here and can it help those in search of buying their first home?”

Randy Hodges
Randy Hodges

Randy Hodges,
Dave Perry-Miller InTown
First of all, the federal government’s making homes affordable plan really has helped countless numbers of American families keep their homes. It’s important to note, however, that the programs being offered by the federal government should not be mistaken for a “hand-out.” Rather, these programs offer Americans, who are struggling to avoid foreclosure, the opportunity to restructure their debt by guaranteeing certain aspects of the lending process. The positive in this is that will all be to the benefit of both the homeowner and the lender.

Tomi Kuczynski,
Prudential Texas Properties’ Homes On Call
One of the first glitches I find in the plan for most Dallas/Fort Worth homeowners is the requirement of a loss of at least 15 percent in their home’s value. Most areas throughout the Metroplex have not suffered such losses in value. There are areas such as Preston Hollow, McKinney and Oak Cliff where the numbers neared 20 percent, but these areas have already begun recovery in the market. Furthermore, analysts predict the actual number these lenders will be seeking is closer to 40 percent. If this prediction is true, areas throughout California and Florida will be the benefactors of this relief plan, not the Metroplex.

Each plan has been implemented primarily to prevent foreclosures, which is my second concern. Both plans require homeowners to be up-to-date on their mortgages to qualify. I consider this to be one of the main failures within the first attempt of this plan, and will continue to be a deterrent in providing relief to those who are truly in need for Obama’s second attempt. While they struggle to find an answer, they will not be able to look to this new plan for help without being completely current.

Jeff Updike
Jeff Updike

Steve Shatsky,
Prudential Texas Properties
I think that the greatest impact of the latest mortgage aid plan is that it will keep some percentage of homeowners in their homes rather than displacing them and putting more distressed inventory on the market. In some parts of the country there is excessive inventory and a large percentage of that is distressed sales, so anything that helps keep people in their homes, which helps to lower inventory levels, will also likely aid in stabilizing property values and help them to begin to climb again. Here in Dallas we have a good amount of inventory and that, combined with excellent mortgage rates, already makes it a great time to buy a home regardless of any impact from the latest mortgage aid plan.

Jeff Updike,
Re/Max Urban
We are extremely fortunate because the mortgage delinquency rate in Texas is less than half of the national average. The HAMP and the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) programs will help a small percentage of delinquent borrowers refinance to a permanent mortgage that will help them stay in their home.  For most others, if they cannot make the payments because of unemployment or underemployment, they will probably be forced to sell their home through a “short sale;” otherwise, it may be lost in foreclosure.

Barbara Stone

Barbara Stone

Barbara Stone,
Allie Beth Allman & Associates
If the plan is successful, it will reduce homeowners’ mortgage payments (those homeowners who have been affected by the economic crisis through no fault of their own), and help them stay in their homes instead of being foreclosed; thus reducing the number of foreclosures nationwide.  Another benefit homeowners would realize is a better credit rating, rather than having a foreclosure reflected on their credit report.
And if homes are not foreclosed on, there will be a better chance for these homes to be kept in better condition, rather than being vacated and left untended. If these homes are put on the market, then homebuyers will benefit with a better quality home to purchase.
The Obama mortgage aid plan could also help boost the value of homes and neighborhoods by keeping lower-priced foreclosed homes out of the market. If values stay stronger, then discouraged potential sellers will consider putting their homes up for sale, instead of waiting for the market to rebound. Homebuyers will then have a larger selection of homes to choose.

For more information on the  HAMP  and HAFA programs, visit 2010mortgagerecoveryplan.org or MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay retailer competes with the mall chains

Service, style and a little bit of avant-garde translate into success for this Oak Lawn eyeglass retailer

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

FASHION FORWARD  |  Morgan Metcalf transformed a failing discounter into the No. 1 fashion eyewear store in the Metroplex. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
FASHION FORWARD  | Morgan Metcalf transformed a failing discounter into the No. 1 fashion eyewear store in the Metroplex. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Over the past few years, Fashion Optical has gone from discount store to high fashion boutique, becoming the highest-volume optical shop in Dallas/Fort Worth.

When Morgan Metcalf bought Fashion Optical, located on Oak Lawn Avenue at Lemmon, several years ago, he thought he could increase the store’s volume. But, he said, sales have increased beyond his wildest dreams.

Within his first year as owner, business tripled. Today, he’s more than doubled that total again and plans to open a second store.

And all that success happened while the country was in the throes of a deep recession.

A high-profile location is important, Metcalf said. But the location didn’t sustain the previous owner, who had sold discount eyewear there for 15 years.

“There’s no one silver bullet,” Metcalf said.

Metcalf’s background was in employment placement, so he said when he came into the optical business he looked at it with a fresh eye.

He upgraded lines and dropped the word “discount” from the name. He remodeled. He upgraded the service and did runway fashion shows.

“We serve champagne on Saturdays,” he said.

Looking for a way to compete with the mall stores, Metcalf recently added $55,000 in equipment that trumps all of his competitors.

“I’m spoiling all of my customers with a 24-hour turnaround time,” he said.

He can actually produce lenses faster in an emergency when customers lose or break their glasses and are relying on him for a quick replacement.

“We’re the only store within a 300-mile radius that can produce progressive lenses with all the coatings in as little as two hours,” he said.

Mall stores usually promise them in a week. That’s because stores that used to do the work on-premises now send the work out to central locations.

Metcalf has even increased his sales volume by servicing other small optical stores, offering them the same quick turnaround time.

When Metcalf first bought Fashion Optical, he said the store was in need of remodeling. He planned to do stained concrete floors. But when they stripped the floor, they uncovered 75-year-old terrazzo tile. Although the facade of the strip center is new, the building dates from the 1930s.

HI TECH  |  Fashion Optical is the only store within 300 miles with this equipment to produce progressive lenses themselves. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
HI TECH | Fashion Optical is the only store within 300 miles with this equipment to produce progressive lenses themselves. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Metcalf said his taste runs to the avant-garde. But when he was choosing new lines for his Oak Lawn store, he didn’t want to be too way-out for Texas. The lines he picked up included Gucci, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani.

While some vendors were hesitant to place their upscale products in a store that had only recently removed “discount” from its name, Metcalf has become the No. 1 retailer in the state for those and other fashion lines. Currently, he’s working on his own line of glasses that he hopes to debut later this year.

The store has become a destination and has attracted a celebrity clientele. He counts Jeff Bridges and Troy Aikman among his clientele. Many customers drive from outside the immediate area and even from out of state to shop with him regularly.

Metcalf has been active in the community and his lenses will be included in the Black Tie Dinner auction. Among others, he’s supported the Turtle Creek Chorale and Resource Center Dallas at their fundraisers.

While this store keeps Metcalf busy six days a week, he plans to get busier as he launches his new line and opens a second location.



After 10 years on Cedar Springs, Zen Salon moved to the Centrum where owner Paul Kraft had his first business. Mark Reavis, Isabel Munguia, and Kraft offer cuts, color, highlights, facial and body waxing, award-winning sunless airbrush tanning, and Pearlbrite teeth whitening in their new facility. … Lula B’s moved from its Lower Greenville Avenue location to 2639 Main St. in Deep Ellum. Their second store is on Riverfront (Industrial) Boulevard and features 80 vendors selling funky, kitschy and collectible, vintage and pimpadelic items.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas