It has been almost two years since our family relocated to Waco. What began as a surprise birthday getaway for our design-loving daughter turned into more than we could have ever imagined. I am thoroughly convinced that our first Waco road-trip was divinely orchestrated.
In June of 2021, we attended our first Juneteenth celebration in Texas. We watched the parade and then took a self-guided walking tour of Elm Street. It was a hot day. Thankfully, there were two women on the street handing out drinks and snacks. They asked where we were from and then proceeded to tell us about the community we were exploring. It was very clear we had stumbled upon a font of historical knowledge—someone who really knew East Waco. Though I didn’t know who she was at the time, my intro to East Waco 101 lesson was taught by Jeanette Bell.
I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time in East Waco since that first Juneteenth celebration. At the ribbon cutting for Bridge Street Plaza, there were many unfamiliar faces that are not so unfamiliar anymore. I see them almost daily—East Waco business owners, pastors, civic leaders—all working together to strengthen the community.
My primary remit at Grassroots is to listen. Connect and collaborate, yes—but listen first. Like many communities, East Waco is not a monolith. Different people feel differently about different things. It has been a pleasure listening to a plurality of voices and I’m thankful for all of the people who have so graciously given me their time.
East Waco has a rich history and an exciting future. There is a lot happening. The new Bridge Street Farmer’s Market will increase access to nutritious food. The Levitt AMP music series will bring quality concert performances. Many Waco residents look forward to enjoying these new community assets. I know I do. As we enjoy the wonderful newness, however, I am reminded that we must also be intentional about appreciating and respecting the historical richness of the East Waco community that has always been.