• Krista Nightengale

A Look Back at the MLK Food Park

It was just a few hours before the opening of the MLK Food Park, and we had no fewer than two dozen items still left on our checklist. We didn’t have quite as many volunteers as we had expected, and stress was running high. One of the items on the checklist was problem-shooting a couple structures that weren’t behaving, another was addressing the high winds that were forecasted to sweep through the area later that evening, and yet another was hanging kites as a backdrop to the stage.

A volunteer walked up, introduced herself as Melody, and said, "Put me to work." I asked if she would like to help me hang those kites.

As we began working, I could tell the task was going to take way more time than we had allotted. My mind was racing with what to do next, how could I get a few more people out, and of course, squashing the “what ifs” that inevitably pop up just a few hours before a huge event.

Melody was not aware of any of this. She kept working and talking, and eventually began to slowly pull me out of my head and into the moment. She and her husband live and work in South Dallas, the neighborhood where the park was popping up, a neighborhood that the rest of the city has a tendency to talk about in negatives instead of positives, a neighborhood that has faced decades of neglect, redlining, and disinvestment.