Finding Home in Old East Dallas

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“I live in an apartment on Swiss Avenue, right next to the historic district with mansions from the early 1900s…
I think Old East Dallas is a hidden gem.”

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Name: Kyra Barker

City: Dallas

Neighborhood: Old East Dallas

Company/Title: CONNECTIVE Agency, Senior Account Executive

When did you move here? Where from?

July 2019 / Eugene, Oregon

Where else have you lived?

Manhattan Beach, California, and Eugene, Oregon, where I attended the University of Oregon. I moved to Dallas after graduating with a journalism / public relations degree. You may think you know Texas, but you really don’t unless you’ve lived here! Let go of all preconceptions and just explore the state for yourself… It’s a city in Texas but it isn’t defined by the state. It’s diverse and multicultural, and more welcoming than I thought it would be.

What made you ‘Say Yes to Dallas’?

What brought us to central Texas was my boyfriend’s pursuit of a career in the aerospace industry. He grew up going to airshows and had his sights set on working for Lockheed Martin.

I was drawn to Dallas because it is such a diverse, vibrant city with so much to do. When we visited the area before the move, I just fell in love. The great weather is obviously a plus, and the restaurants are amazing.

How did you choose where to live in the Dallas Region?

I live in an apartment on Swiss Avenue, right next to the historic district with mansions from the early 1900s. It’s a fascinating area — one of Dallas’s earliest planned residential communities — where nationally renowned architects designed and built these grand estates.

I think Old East Dallas is a hidden gem. It’s in a great location, close to the CONNECTIVE Agency office, and the reasonable rent was also attractive. When I look out my window, I can see the Dallas skyline. It’s very close to the city, yet it’s still affordable.

It’s the ideal location to easily access Downtown and all the interesting surrounding neighborhoods such as Uptown, Lower Greenville, Bishop Arts and Deep Ellum.

Tell us about your city/neighborhood. What do you like best? What makes it different?

Walking Swiss Avenue is one of my favorite things. The houses have plaques in front of them that give the history of the homes and details on their residential design. It’s a lovely neighborhood to walk through.

There are some great restaurants in my neighborhood. La Victoria is one of my favorites. It’s a local family-owned Mexican restaurant with the best breakfast burritos in town, and it’s just right around the corner from me. There are also some great Thai options including Sakhuu Thai and Bangkok City Restaurant that I can walk to.

I also love Deep Ellum. Pre-COVID, I went there every other weekend. I really enjoy sitting out on the outdoor patio at Deep Ellum Brewing Company.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move here?

You may think you know Texas, but you really don’t unless you’ve lived here! Let go of all preconceptions and just explore the state for yourself.

If you are moving to Dallas, I highly recommend living close to the city. As far as job hunting, while there are a lot of huge Fortune 500 companies that are a major draw, there are also a lot of smaller, nimble and creative startups and small businesses to consider as well.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to connect with people. In Dallas, I’ve found that people want to have a conversation with you. You don’t really get that vibe in California, especially Los Angeles. People are so busy they don’t have the time to answer your calls or questions. But in Dallas people genuinely want to help you and network with you, so don’t be shy about reaching out.

What is the one thing that you could have done to make your move easier?

If you’re moving from college, leave everything behind. Just sell it and start over anew. I moved here with three suitcases and that was it. It made my life so much easier.

How has your opinion of the Dallas Region changed since moving here?

It’s changed in a lot of ways. It’s a city in Texas but it isn’t defined by the state. It’s diverse and multicultural, and more welcoming than I thought it would be. When I moved here, I think working at CONNECTIVE was the best way for me to understand what Dallas is.

Our team is so diverse, and filled with such brilliant, kind people who are open to having conversations and value experience and ideas from other areas. I think Texas is honestly a melting pot of all the things that I love.

What would you miss most about the area if you had to leave?

I would miss a lot of things if I left. I love Dallas summers and really enjoy all the outdoor bars and restaurants the city has to offer. I would definitely miss the weather. The winters are usually mild, and the sun comes out every so often. In Oregon, we went weeks on end without sun and that definitely takes a toll on you.

I would miss the diversity of the city, the amazing food here, and so many random things to do. No matter what your passions are, you’ll be able to find a community that’s equally as passionate as you are to connect with.

Where do you go and what do you do on the weekends or days off?

I can’t get enough of plant shopping! I love Oasis Plant Shop in the Bishop Arts District. I also like to go to Lower Greenville as often as I can. I haven’t been exploring as many things as I’d like to because of the pandemic, but there are safe ways to get out with outdoor bar and restaurant options.

The Rustic is a really good restaurant with live music, farm-to-table food and craft beers.

Where do you go to experience culture?

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is on everyone’s favorite list, for me especially because one of CONNECTIVE’s clients, Signature Illumination Designs, does some of their lighting. I recently went to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science with my nephew, who just turned 4. He is crazy about dinosaurs and absolutely loved it.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a can’t miss for visiting guests; it really put everything into perspective for me on the JFK assassination. And one spot that I haven’t had a chance to see yet but is next on my list is the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

What is your favorite outside activity, and where is your favorite place to do it?

My favorite outside activity is just sitting in the sun on a nice, hot Dallas day. I like going to Excelsior Park near my apartment.

Where do you like to shop? Why?

I did a lot of my Christmas shopping this year in the Bishop Arts District. I wanted to buy local and find unique boutique shops for one-of-a-kind gifts.

What is your passion, and how does the Dallas Region help fulfill it?

Sustainable living is a big one for me. I am also passionate about marketing. What I really like about marketing is finding unique ways to tell a brand story. Finding ways to communicate a brand’s message and get others excited about it is really interesting to me.

I’m able to blend my two passions through CONNECTIVE’s client Aquafil, a leading global nylon manufacturer with a sustainable product that’s helping to reshape the fashion and design industries. Our company values include going deep and creating positive experiences, and I believe that works both ways!

Who is your local hero? Why?

My local hero is Jacqueline Chen Valencia, partner at CONNECTIVE Agency. She is one of the first people I talked to in Dallas, and through the phone she gave me a great first impression. She was so kind, energetic and passionate about her work and where she lives, it gave me a really neat insight into what Dallas could be.

Jacqueline stayed in touch with me throughout my Dallas job search, and she genuinely seemed to care about me and my career goals, which I feel like you don’t find very often. I was attracted to CONNECTIVE as it’s a woman- and minority-owned business, with talented and authentic people deeply involved in making the community a better place along with our clients and partners.

Where do you feel most at home in the Dallas Region?

The plant shop or my apartment. After getting my own space, Dallas really feels like my home. I feel like it’s where I belong.

Do you travel often? Is it easier or harder to do here?

I haven’t been traveling much lately but it’s a great place to be for travel. You’re in the middle of country, so I can easily get to California to visit family or head to the East Coast to visit my brother in New York.

On Dallas’ job market

As far as job hunting, while there are a lot of huge Fortune 500 companies that are a major draw, there are also a lot of smaller, nimble and creative startups and small businesses to consider as well.

On the Dallas Community 

In Dallas, I’ve found that people want to have a conversation with you. You don’t really get that vibe in California, especially Los Angeles… in Dallas people genuinely want to help you and network with you, so don’t be shy about reaching out.




The Dallas Theater Scene

Name: Brad Pritchett

City: Dallas

Neighborhood: Oak Lawn

Company/Title: American Heart Association, Regional Vice President of Marketing & Communications

Volunteerism: Co-Chairman for Black Tie Dinner, the nation’s largest LGBTQ charity event.

Over the past five years, what changes have you seen in arts and culture in Downtown Dallas and the region?
I was born and raised in Dallas, so to see where we have come is truly astonishing. Art is transformative; it changes lives and causes reactions – I think the people of Dallas are finally paying attention to that. From the interest in the community to the leadership from former Mayor Rawlings, more emphasis is being placed on the importance of arts engagement. More and more producers of the arts are paying more attention to programmatic diversity, strategic partnerships amongst arts institutions and emphases on patron loyalty. For us to sustain the art form, we must continue these types of initiatives and use our voices to advocate daily.

Being a native Dallasite, what made you Say Yes to staying in the Dallas Region?
I have had the opportunity to travel the world, live in different cities, states and even countries, but I keep coming back to Dallas. There is a certain synergy here – a pulse that unites us. There is a dedication to become and remain diverse in our offerings and in our people. Dallas is one of the fastest growing cities in the country now, and we have the ability to cultivate all of these new residents into ballet-loving, Picasso-obsessing and Shakespeare-adoring residents. The opportunities in this city are what have kept me here and what have brought in more than 140,000 new residents in the past five years. I have no plans on leaving anytime soon, and I welcome every single new face that comes our way!

What is your favorite Arts District space?
Hands down it’s the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre [at the AT&T Performing Arts Center]. The space is one of the world’s more innovative theater facilities. When we first started to hear and see the plans for the venue, many at Dallas Theater Center, where I worked at the time, couldn’t wrap our heads around the 10-level building that takes the word “flexible” to a whole new level. Designed by REX | OMA, Joshua Prince-Ramus, and Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rem Koolhaas, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre has a groundbreaking design that completely rethinks how we have traditionally experienced theater until now. From the extruded anodized aluminum rods on the exterior of the building to the magnetic wall leading up to the performance chamber, patrons are in for a treat when they come to this venue. Depending on the director’s choice, the seats, stage, and levels can be reconfigured each time a new show takes place. Since Dallas Theater Center moved in five years ago, we’ve had our patrons sit ringside at a wrestling match in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, be pushed around by the actors in seats that moved in The Wiz, lounge in leather recliners and sofas in Second City Does Dallas, and thrown smack dab in the middle of a football field in Colossal. Needless to say, if you haven’t checked out the Wyly yet, then it better be first on your to-do list.

What’s a hidden gem of the Arts District?
I continue to learn more and more about the offerings of Klyde Warren Park each and every time I visit. The park itself is no longer a hidden gem, but with a host of activities every day, there is a lot to do that many people don’t know about; from fitness to food trucks and concerts to chess, there is something for everyone!

What’s your favorite Arts District event?
During the holiday season, The Arts District is transformed into a magical winter wonderland with dazzling lights, tons to do with the family, and visual and performing arts options every single day to help the most bah humbug of visitors get right into the holiday spirit.

What would surprise people most about the Dallas arts scene?
That it is affordable, accessible, and inclusive! Not only are there numerous cheap and free options in The Arts District, but Dallas hosts a plethora of festivals, exhibitions, shows, and performances all over town that won’t break your bank.

For someone new to Dallas and only just getting acquainted with The Arts District, where would you recommend getting started?
I would suggest checking out visitdallas.com to see a pretty comprehensive listing of arts and culture events. The website is informative and can link you right to all the sites that will surely have your to-do list full within minutes.

What is your idea of a perfect day in the Dallas Region?
It’s hard to compete with Sunday in this great city. So this is how mine would go down: I’d grab a few of my closest friends and we would start off early by heading over to Bishop Arts and grabbing coffee and breakfast at Oddfellows. We’d head back to Uptown and join the rest of the fitness-minded Dallasites for a quick run on the Katy Trail. We would follow that up with lunch — and by lunch I mean mimosas — at Company Cafe. Next, we head over to Klyde Warren Park to relax and people-watch before a quick walk through the Dallas Museum of Art. We’d have dinner at Savor. After dinner, we would head over to The Rustic and grab a seat at a picnic table and enjoy some awesome live music and ice-cold drinks. If we still have any energy left, we would spend the last few hours of our epic day checking out some of the country’s more entertaining performers in the Rose Room at Station 4. Lastly, I’d pray that there weren’t any meetings that snuck their way into my calendar before 10 AM the next day!

Photo Courtesy of Hoyoung Lee




Jobs




Culture




From Zimbabwe to Dallas

Name: Simbarashe Musarurwa

City: Dallas

Neighborhood: Downtown Dallas

Company/Title: Dialexa, Senior Solutions Engineer

When did you move here? From where?
I moved from Austin, Texas, before that Wichita Falls, Texas, and prior to that my home country, Zimbabwe. This initial move was solely for the purpose of education. I was accepted at Midwestern State University as an undergraduate studying computer science.My main focus when I first came to the U.S. was trying to get through school as quickly, but also as effectively, as possible. The transition to living in Wichita Falls, and Texas in general, wasn’t as hard for me as I thought it would be, except for, surprisingly, language barriers. English is one of the official languages in Zimbabwe, but I was often left very perplexed by the local idioms used and some of the deeper Texas drawls here, even though whomever I was talking to was also speaking in English. What made the transition of living in Texas so much easier was that the people that I met treated me so well and welcomed me as a friend — and with some people I even feel like I gained an extended family.

What made you decide to Say Yes to Dallas?
Ultimately, I moved to Dallas so I could pursue a dual career as a software developer and as a rugby player. Before I graduated from college in Wichita Falls, I was approached by a rugby team, the Griffins, based in Allen, who wanted me to play for them after I graduated college. I already had a commitment in Austin to start work. However, after a brief stint working there, I decided to move up to Dallas so I could play for this new rugby team, and work as a software developer for a health startup company, which was coincidentally also the main sponsor of my rugby team.

How did you choose where to live in the Dallas Region?
I wanted to be as close to work as possible, and my company, Dialexa, is located in Downtown Dallas. I also enjoy the prospect of being close enough to walk to a plethora of exciting and diverse experiences such as the Farmer’s Market, or to all of the different bars and restaurants in Deep Ellum.

How has your opinion of the Dallas Region changed since moving here?
I always used to think that traffic in Dallas was horrible, and then after living in Austin, I realized that Dallas’ is mildly annoying but in reality not at all that bad. Another myth that I had heard in my time in America was that people from Dallas were somewhat aloof, but I don’t think that is true. People here just have a passion for their city and what it represents to them.

Tell us about your city/neighborhood. What do you like best? What makes it different?
I live close to the Farmer’s Market, so the convenience of being able to regularly stock my fridge with fresh fruit and vegetables is awesome. Also, the local stores and trades, especially in The Cedars, are very amiable, and I have made friends with many of the store owners. It always feels like I’m going to go and visit my friends rather than going to a store just to buy goods. The products seem to be just that much better because they are made with the love and dedication of these store owners. For example, I often enjoy coffee from the local roaster Mike at Full City Rooster who makes some of the best coffee I’ve ever had —I never thought of myself as a coffee aficionado until I had his. I often go to Full City Rooster on the weekends, grab some coffee and spend time with Mike and his family as they roast and run the establishment. I’m also friends with Katherine Clapner, who runs Dude Sweet Chocolate, some administrators of the Farmer’s Market, and so many other awesome characters from within the Dallas community. Through these people I have learned about the history of Dallas, and, in some regards, I know more little tidbits about this part of Dallas than some people that were born and raised in the Dallas Region!

Can you tell us more about Deep Ellum?
Deep Ellum is a thriving and up-and-coming community just outside of Downtown Dallas. It is home to sports bars, restaurants, live music performances, comedy houses, art stores, and a plethora of other fun and unique establishments that add to the vibrant and lively atmosphere here. Recently, I found possibly the best barbecue I’ve ever had in my life when I ate at Pecan Lodge, and I highly recommend it to anyone that ever finds themselves in the area. I also love bringing any new people to the area to have a drink at Braindead Brewing. They brew their own very good beer and also have some other local brews on tap, including cider from the Bishop Cider Company in the Bishop Arts District. For anyone that likes noodles, I love going to Monkey King Noodle Company, where they hand-make all of their noodles on sight and are easily some of the best I’ve ever had.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move here?
Get in touch with some sort of social organization, hobby group, church, or anything, and get to know the people that live in Dallas. They will be instrumental in getting you acclimated to the area and making you feel welcome.

What is your passion, and how does Dallas help fulfill it?
I’m passionate about technology. In Dallas, there is a vast selection of Hackathons, meetups and tech events that give those with a passion for technology and learning an opportunity to learn more or to implement a new and awesome idea they already had. In addition, my job has begun fostering the creativity and passion I have for technology. I found that the underlying core principle in my field of work is to make cool and innovative tech solutions for any problem. I have been to one Hackathon here in Dallas, when I was doing some software development with the Microsoft Kinect; it focused on computer visionaries. Hackathons are fun competitions where software developers meet up to build awesome stuff using a particular technology or based on a theme, such as solutions for a particular industry. What sets Hackathons apart from friends meeting at home to make software is that at Hackathons, whatever the developers make is usually built within the day or two that the Hackathon is happening. Most times there is a prize for the team that builds the winning project, but regardless, it’s always a great and fun experience seeing the kind of awesome stuff that people build. In fact, some great ideas and companies began at hackathons. At Dialexa, we are highly encouraged to be involved with these sorts of events because they are conducive to creativity and working under pressure (hackathons always have a time limit). For people interested in technology, implementing something new or crazy, or just wanting to hang out with a bunch of developers and drink beer while coding, going to a local hackathon is definitely where it’s at!

What is your idea of a perfect day in the Dallas Region?
A perfect day for me may begin with breakfast at Breadwinners Café with my girlfriend. I may also stop by Full City Rooster and pick up some coffee for the week. The afternoon would be spent walking and exploring somewhere I haven’t been — maybe the Bishop Arts District, Deep Ellum or the Design District. I’d like an evening spent relaxing with friends, sharing conversation or just plain tomfoolery, if that’s what the night has called for.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Rodeo Goat, a bar/grill/ice house in the Design District.

How do you interact with your community?
I am very involved with my church, Highland Oaks Church of Christ. I volunteer with the middle school children when I can, and this past summer, I was part of a mission trip with them to the Fort Worth/Arlington area. Being a member of a church is awesome; it’s a great way connect and get plugged involved in all the community activities, family events, and outreach programs.