By Matthew Hall
Regional Advocacy Director, Greater Fort Worth
Raise Your Hand Texas
It’s been said that Fort Worth natives are a proud folk. Those who have grown up in the city “Where the West Begins” certainly don’t have any problem reminding you of that fact. In the course of my life, whether I found myself as a young man weathering my first real winter in Scandinavia or teaching at a middle school along the demilitarized zone, I never hesitated to very explicitly tell neighbors I was not from Dallas (with all respect to our neighbors to the east!). That pride doesn’t exist in a vacuum, nor is it just a visceral response to being situated near another major city. Fort Worth is home to a deeply-rooted, permeating civic tradition that can overcome anything and bring out the best in us.
No better example of this can be seen than in our community’s fierce and famed support for public education and the arts. Our world-class museums and civic spaces are a testament to civic leadership, now and past, rightfully recognizing that one must give back to a community that has given you so much. Our philanthropic culture, from large foundations to PTA fundraisers, speaks to a willingness to confront challenges and community needs directly, together.
How we’ve seen that come to life this year! Throughout a pandemic that has strained so many Cowtown families, I’ve had the privilege to see neighbors come together to support one another and our public schools. From small businesses collaborating to feed food-insecure children and their families, to social workers and public school teachers meeting parents at the front porches where they live and places where they work and worship to make sure their children are safe, healthy, and whole.
Even social media, which often serves to make us feel like we live in increasingly polarized and partisan silos, bears witness to what it really means to be from, and of, Fort Worth. A Facebook search for “FWISD – Bridging the Gap Together” will take you to a barely-weeks-old Facebook group that, as of this writing, is over three-thousand neighbors strong and is focused singularly on one goal: Supporting the supplies needs of teachers and campus administrators in all 149 Fort Worth ISD campuses. Parents and community members of all backgrounds, political persuasions, faiths, and creeds are working together to quickly tackle a real need and support our classroom leaders. Ad hoc. No questions, just action. Get the job done — community and schools first. Because that’s what matters the most. That is peak Fort Worth.
Our city finds itself navigating unprecedented times and confronting challenges that require creativity, courage, and community. In this moment of character-testing, I take comfort knowing that we will not be found wanting. No single crowded hour of uncertainty can diminish that. No matter how contentious a campaign, a debate, a disagreement, now or in years to come, the roots of our city rest in a commitment to one another, supporting our public schools and the students, families, and professionals that give them life, and getting the job done. It isn’t a matter of chance or simply fortune. That is the Fort Worth way.