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Dawson Neighborhood

Neighborhood Newsletter June 2016

Image: Newsletter (click to download)

Click the image to download the latest Newsletter. Visit the download page for our Archives of over a hundred old Neighborhood Newsletters, Minutes, Meeting Summaries, Agendas, By-Laws and more.

Starting a few years ago, we had a secret squirrel smuggle the Draft Newsletter to us electronically before official printing and distribution, so we could provide it to all neighbors and give everyone more time to read it. Until then, it was typically delivered no sooner than a day or two before meetings, and only delivered to a subset of single-family homes! We provide the Newsletter online here to inform our 2000 apartment and condo dwellers, who now make up over 2/3 of the more than 1550 households (circa 2010, US Census) in the neighborhood.

Yes, if you don’t occupy a freestanding home, then you’re not a priority to the Ass’n. Nor do they see fit to deliver to the homes of their critics or accept the volunteer services of folks outside their social circle. We last got our newsletter delivered in October 2015, the same month we volunteered to be a deliverer. We have never been called up to help, and our inquiries to the Newsletter Editor(s) have gone unanswered.

Why the Newsletter is Important

The Dawson Neighborhood Association (DNA) issues this newsletter only 4-6 times a year. It is the only place they grace us with the Draft Minutes of events and decisions from the previous meeting which took place two months ago. It also is the only place they divulge the Draft Agenda for the upcoming meeting. As we said above, it’s typically hand-delivered just before the meeting date!

Why the Newsletter’s Importance Is Diminished

You can probably see the problem with that timing… You’d think the Minutes would come out promptly after Meetings and the working Agenda would be available well in advance. An honest civic organization would want to engage folk’s interest and give them time to arrange to attend, right? And that’s what the Ass’n actually used to do, until mid 2010 (again, see the Archives).

With the Newsletter coming out no more than 6 times per year, the information is always two weeks to two months out of date, or more.

Image: June 2016 DNA & DNPCT Agenda

Furthermore, look to the right and see what they propose for this month’s Draft Agendas. There’s literally no information to go on! This is no way to engage the community and bring them out to meetings to make their voice heard. However, they already have a list of topics and speakers they intend to present, and if you request an addition to this Agenda now, they’ll tell you it’s “full”. Actually, having published the Newsletter today, they regard the Draft Agenda as CLOSED, since the Agenda appears on it.

This invented policy violates the Bylaws of both DNA and DNPCT as well as Robert’s Rules of Order. Meetings must be opened by calling for the Adoption of the Agenda, which they have only done once, under a neighbor’s insistence, and have refused to fulfill afterwards. The fact is, an Agenda is never “closed” and may be amended at any time, even during a meeting. It is required to invite amendments at the beginning of each meeting. Instead, they gallop straight to “Approval of Minutes”, which technically is an item appearing on that still un-adopted Agenda.

Sorry, No Room!

Another issue which the printed Newsletter creates is it’s limited printing space. Other area NAs publish full-color booklets, but DNA’s is just a double-sided legal-length black and white sheet. The Ass’n justifies extreme abbreviation and reject announcements and editorials based on “limited space”. It seems conspicuous that this is just the case with submissions from folks they disagree with. It also seems conspicuous when Newsletters often appear to be spaced and typeset to waste a bit of space.

The fact is, Officers of the Ass’n reserve the Newsletter for their own viewpoints above all others, even defying the neighborhood’s vote about usage. In October 2015, the Members voted to have the Newsletter Editor (Sandra McMillan-Davis at that time) print statements from each of the just-nominated candidates for office of DNA and DNPCT. She made no attempt to do that, instead printing a long and tedious editorial by her husband, DNPCT Chair Peter Davis. It took up over a full page’s length.

This Newsletter is in fact, a very closed and exclusive publication because of their adversarial approval process and limited distribution. It is literally a tract sheet which serves the ambitions of specific individuals in control of it. The Ass’n will publish no editorials from people with viewpoints they disagree with. They claim they will publish no announcements of neighborhood social and safety events which “they’re not sponsoring” (except that they often do).

A Neighborly Way Forward

Our neighborhood has not been well served for some time now, and our response is to work on ways to bring all of our neighbors together, and set a good example. The persecution, muzzling, and operating under the radar must become a thing of the past. It is inappropriate to operate as an exclusive club!

A group of 11 neighbors launched this new neighborhood website in Jan, 2014 to provide our community with a truly representative public face to the world. A core group of 4 continue to work closely on it, and it is in fact a collaborative work by all of our neighbors. We operate without any agenda other than to ensure that all of our neighbors have a voice and a seat at the table. Neighbors contribute our content. Send us your tips!

Our newsfeed updates almost daily, with Dawson-specific items published on the website, and topics of wider interest featured on our social media (Facebook, Twitter, G+ and 7 others). We accept neighbor’s editorials without bias or delay, and follow a strict no-censorship policy (which a couple of provocateurs have tried playing “gotcha” games with us). We strive to bring our neighbors important news as quickly as possible, especially info being withheld from everyone. Sign up on the top right column to get news conveniently emailed to you.

Public Forum

We launched a new, uncensored neighborhood forum on Nextdoor.com which almost instantly overtook the DNA’s 15-year-old Yahoo Groups-based mailing list in population and activity. However, we learned the hard way that Nextdoor does not care about democracy or letting neighbors develop a natural culture. Once our rapid growth plateaued, they expelled our moderators and handed our forum directly over to the actual persons guilty of malicious censorship on the DNA Yahoo Group. Nextdoor also engages in security and privacy theater, promising but not providing, and milking our citizens of every personal detail they can. Nextdoor does not permit criticism of itself in it’s forums(!) They do not negotiate, they simply punish if you step out of line. If you unsubscribe, they continue to display your public profile.

We have a new forum on Google Groups for now, where we also forward newsletters from area civic and environmental groups which our neighbors have expressed interest in. We’re working to launch an even better self-hosted forum in the near future. The forum doubles as our mailing list, with neighbors sharing group conversations over email.

Dawson Neighborhood ORGanization (that’s us!) is an actual neighborhood association, registered with the City of Austin. We are working toward 501(c)3 status so we can manage grants to improve our neighborhood. Long-neglected issues which we will focus on over the coming years are social gatherings and safety programs. See us at Gillis Park for a series of picnics. Join us around the ‘hood for coffee and happy hour round-ups. We’re returning this October with an official National Night Out block party to give crime a going-away party!

We warmly invite all of you to join us!

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