Bruce E. Shaw is attempting to transform his Dallas community, one suit at a time, while intending to reform the esthetics and infrastructure of the neighborhood. I had the opportunity to speak with him and find out more about his style of leadership and fashion.
Me: For those who don’t know, please tell them who you are and what you are currently doing?
Bruce: My name is Bruce E. Shaw, and I’m running for the Dallas City Council, District 5 Pleasant Grove area.
Me: You know that I’m the North Dallas Style examiner for the Examiner Magazine, so I’m going to ask you some style related questions. Ok. How would you describe your style?
Bruce: My style. I’m a soft-spoken, yet firm, no nonsense kind of individual. I pride myself on my integrity and just my character. I’m the kind of person that is approachable, I am the sort that tend to encourage inclusion. I’m the kind of person that tends to bring unity.
Me: You’re a community man?
Me: I got a chance to look at some of your photos, and you seem to be a good dresser to.
Me: So, I have a question about the trend of young men and some ladies wearing clothing that exposes their underwear, how do you feel about that?
Bruce: Well, obviously sense I don’t subscribe to that look, I know that every generation brings on its own particular type of style, look, trend or what have you. That’s the same thing that’s happening now. However, I cringe at the fact that it has to be so, for lack of a better term crass, in that so many others who don’t participate in that look, find it really [really] confusing. You know? And wonder why it has to look so inappropriate.
Me: Right. I’ve been in places where young people were applying for jobs, but were dressed in such a way that created an immediate profiling opportunity to the employer, and in turn they didn’t get hired. Legally, that would never be stated as the reason, but I believe it’s definitely is a major factor.
Me: As a leader in the community and candidate for a District 5 City Council seat, do you feel that you can influence the younger generation to dress more appropriately for employment, which may help decrease the unemployment rate in the area?
Bruce: I certainly do hope so, because here is the thing. You’ve got to understand priority. And it’s a greater priority, more urgent priority, that you are employable. You know if everything about how we enjoy our life hinges on that. So some things in life, you’ve got to trade this for that. Certainly, I would think that most young people would be able to indentify the need to be employed, and to realize that “maybe I need to adjust, modify at least my dress in order to secure employment.” Because, that’s critical.
Me: Outward appearance is not the only thing that defines a person, of course, but it is the first thing that people see and begins the process of formulating and opinion in most minds. Have you thought of creating a class that teaches people how to dress for success or do you have already program for this?
Bruce: I don’t have a program, but I have certainly thought about it. Because I do realize that there is a certain etiquette that should be observed when it comes to society. And as you hope to stated earlier, I tend to try and dress the part as best I can and so, that’s the same thing I hope to perpetuate and impact young people. Making certain that they observe that as well. You know it’s one of those things, like you said earlier, when people initially see you, the judging process begins. And so, you only have one time to make a first impression. So I hope the young people would take the opportunity to recognize the benefit in making a very good first impression.
Me: I hope you do get around to creating that class. I think that people in your district and all over the Dallas would benefit from that. Especially the young people. Tell me about Men with a Cause and how can people get involved with that.
Bruce: Well, that’s a program that we have at our church. Gospel Tabernacle Church. Which I am an elder there in the church. I am also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Men With A Cause is one of the programs in the ministry where we use men to go out and impact and involve, in a positive way, the community. We have gone into some of the neighborhood schools. At one time, I know there was a hundred of us we went into the schools and we were are suited and dressed as fashionably as we could be. Every time that we would do this, it would always seem so deeply impactful to the children, not just male children, but female children as well. So, the young guys would always want to mimic what we were doing. And many of them didn’t know how to tie a necktie. We would undo a tie and practice with them. You know? Or just indicate to them that if they are impacted by how we look, that they can do the very same thing. They can be a part as well. So then, we provided suits and ties to young men who really wanted to change their appearance and wanted to be suited up. I just believe that when you do that, it affects your personal image and so it just goes a long way toward upgrading your thinking and how you feel about yourself, your self-esteem and so forth. When you really do look good and you’re dressed “to the nines” as they say, I think it does make your outlook a little broader and you reach a little higher.
Me: I believe that as well. “When you look good, you feel good.”
Bruce:You feel good.
Me: What would you like to see happen to the infrastructure of Pleasant Grove?
Bruce: I would like to see Pleasant Grove pretty much become what exist in every other community. We need amenities within District 5 that are common to the other neighborhoods. We don’t have a real movie theater. We don’t have a hotel. We don’t have….the nicer restaurants, and we don’t have a major shopping hub. So those are the things that I would like to see, as well as, get our crime reduced. And the community really is going down, but, I think that the lingering effect of it tends to make people think that it’s worse than what it really is. But, we still need to give great attention to that and make sure that the code enforcement is ramped up higher. Just some general, housecleaning to encourage economic development. We are poised to really get some things done in order to compete better on the economic level, whether it be, business or home development, and all that entails. We just really need to put our best foot forward.
Me: Do you think that remodeling the homes and businesses will bring new residents and entrepreneurs to the area?
Bruce: Absolutely. Going back to what we said earlier about making a first impression, if the community is esthetically improved, then it certainly going to have a more favorable impact on whoever travels into the area. Whether it be for business or residential reasons. So we do want to put our best face out there and hopefully it will serve us well.
Me: Hopefully. I believe it will.
Bruce: I do. I do.
Me: Tell me a little bit about Clean Up Pleasant Grove, and what kind of turn out did you get?
Bruce: Well that was pretty good. We actually partnered with the St. Augustine Catholic Church, so it was a problem where we identified some of the trashy areas around the community. So we just got together with the city services as well, and we went around the community picking up trash and moving debris. It was a major undertaking and we really got a lot done. Just trying to encourage and ignite awareness, to making sure that we are prideful in our community and doing the things we need to do to have our community admired just like some of the other communities.
Me: Is that something that you plan to do yearly?
Bruce: Absolutely. That’s part of the going forward initiative to help foster community pride and involvement as well, in our area.
Me: Ok. I know you also helped to organize The Taste of Pleasant Grove, how was that?
Bruce: That was nice. You know everybody loves nibbling on a variety of foods, so we just got vendors and different people who presented various dishes, and so forth. It gave the opportunity for the community to try some different things. So that was nice. It was very well received.
Me: Do you have other projects planned for the community that offer others from different neighborhoods the opportunity to help your cause?
Bruce: We do. We are hoping, we’re toying with the ideas of getting some of the more active intersections of the district 5 area, and some of the sidewalks improved, so that maybe we can start to create an Arts District within district 5. What we are hoping to do this year is to invite local schools and artist, and even some of the guys who do tagging….to do artwork on the intersections. Trying to get a design that reflects all of the community….invite ideas from the various entities just to reflect the Pleasant Grove area and the city of Dallas at large. Whatever the Artists feel would be worthy to develop there on the sidewalks. We are hoping that in doing so, if we could get some of the locals to be involved in doing that, it would produce a sense of ownership and maybe people would help to preserve and protect it a little better. If your nephew did that or your uncle did that, or your daddy did that, or just your neighbor and friend, then maybe the community would not allow it to be desecrated or anything like that. I’m hoping that in doing that it will create a team community spirit and pride. It’s just another way to involve as many as we can to take pride in what we do here.
Me: I think that’s a wonderful idea! I really do. As an Artist, I really do. I can appreciate that.
Bruce: I hope that others do receive it in that kind of spirit and are motivated to get it done.
Me: Am I correct in saying that you are a Marriage Counselor as well?
Bruce: Right. My wife and I do faith-based counseling.
Me: Ok. Well, I know a lot of people who consider Marriage Counseling often do it after there is a problem, do you suggest that couples get counseling prior to marriage?
Bruce: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because it’s like any venture that you enter into. You want to do your due diligence and you want to make certain that every potential obstacle has been properly evaluated and eradicated going forward, so that you have the best chance to be successful. So yes, I think it’s really, really critical. Because, even in marriage counseling, what we find is often time people will have launched into it, and then usually something will come along that may jeopardize or even break the marriage, that was not known going into the marriage. So with marriage counseling we try to get all that we can on to the table so that all parties can be informed as to what it is they’re getting from the other. Premarital… I think it’s one of the keys to ensuring that you have the [healthiest] marriage going forward. I’m a serious proponent of that.
Me: Hypothetically speaking, if you could get 50% of the couples in Pleasant Grove to attend marriage counseling prior to and throughout their marriage, how do you feel it could affect the state of the family in the area?
Bruce: Well, I believe it would be a very dramatic effect in a positive way. I believe that it’s one of the things that people often need in order to help to make informed decisions. As much advice and wisdom and experience that you can draw from others, as much of it as you can get… it would be, just a wonderful thing to have for the residents or community at large. I just see the need for it, because, often times in marriage counseling when people hit the point where they’ve decided that the marriage will just not stand, it’s often times linked to the fact that there was no counseling of any sort. Sometimes people are stubborn and [resistant], or hurt and they just don’t want to allow anybody “snooping” if you will, into their personal lives. So at that point, I find that people will sit back and stubbornly, allow the car to race to the edge of the cliff and both are sitting there with their arms folded and neither one will grab the steering wheel, because they are angry and hurt because they feel that the other should do it.
Me: That definitely affects the children and creates so many single-parent households.
Bruce: It does, and I hear people when they are trying to justify their behavior, or lack of. “Well children are resilient.” Well, they’re resilient because they are forced to be.
Me: Exactly. That’s true. In three words, please describe your leadership style, if that’s possible.
Bruce: In three words, honest, open, effective.
Me: Ok. A man of style and purpose indeed.
Bruce: Thank you so much.
Me: You’re very welcome. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Bruce: Thank you so much Ms. Shelia. Likewise, yourself.
If you are interested in finding out more about Bruce E. Shaw and what he stands for, please feel free to visit www.bruceeshaw.com
Article by Shelia Tyler-Neysmith