It was more than cool to see Fort Worth’s homegrown Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Leon Bridges belting out some velvety smooth songs from Kent & Co. last Thursday night. The music had more grooves than a thousand miles of Texas back roads.
The concert was the result of an effort by local businesses and leaders on Fort Worth’s awesome Near Southside to raise funds to help restaurants, retailers, entertainment venues and other creative and service industry employees hard hit by shutdowns and economic changes wrought by the pandemic. You can probably catch a repeat at: www.twitch.tv/kcomagnoliawinebar
The goal was to raise $50,000 and they easily eclipsed that. That’s the way the Near Southside does things. They exceed expectations.
Many of Bridges’ songs are about the bumpy road of love, but they could just as easily been referring to the equally bumpy road of living in the time of COVID-19. It ain’t easy, but Bridges’ music did make it a little better.
The event was the product of the Southside C.A.R.E.S. fund set up by area businessman Marty Englander, owner of Kent & Co., and his wife, Marilyn. C.A.R.E.S. stands for culinary, arts, retail, entertainment and service. The Englanders have pledged to match, dollar-for-dollar, every donation made to the fund up to $10,000. The Near Southside has been able to offer $250 relief grants to members of the community impacted by this pandemic. Like we said, they exceed expectations.
Now today, in Fort Worth and in many cities across Texas, businesses are beginning to reopen. It’s gradual, but there’s little doubt there will be plenty of people and businesses pushing the boundaries, if not engaging in wholesale disregard. Hair salons, for instance, are not included in the initial reopening plans and everyone seems to want a haircut.
We get it. Believe us. We get it. Local journalism, already struggling, has taken a big hit during the pandemic with many outlets closing shop. We’re a small business too. We’d like nothing more than to get back to – at the very least – business as usual. Just before the pandemic set in, the Business Press was all set to celebrate our 2020 class of Forty Under Forty honorees with a big event. Now, much like the many high school and college graduates, we’re looking for ways to honor these very deserving individuals.
At the same time, as Texas begins to reopen, Fort Worth has reported a single-day high for deaths from the COVID-19 virus – not a very auspicious statistic for a reopening.
Fort Worth wasn’t alone. The Lone Star State reported 50 Texans, including the seven in Fort Worth, died from the virus. The state also reported an additional 1,033 had tested positive for COVID-19, the third most for a single day. Again, not very auspicious.
But there are a few hopeful signs. The rate of hospitalizations from the virus have trended downward and the ratio of positive cases to tests conducted have also improved. And we are seeing some hope on the medical front as health care professionals are reporting some progress on treating the disease.
Still, it’s little wonder that plenty of people are cautious about venturing out. Some countries are already seeing a rebound in cases – which may indicate a second wave.
There are still plenty of people eager to open more businesses and get people back to work. Many businesses are understandably worried about bankruptcy. With the coronavirus and the current turmoil in the energy markets, the bankruptcy courts will be busy.
Shopping center giant Simon is reopening several of its properties May 1, including several in the North Texas area: The Shops at Clearfork, North East Mall, Grapevine Mills and University Park Village.
As part of the reopening process, Simon has announced a policy to control exposure to the virus developed in conjunction with a team of leading experts in the fields of epidemiology and environmental health and safety, according to the company. That’s probably as responsible as any company can be in these uncertain times.
The policies are aimed at protecting both customers and employees. That’s a pretty good model for everyone.
But, if anecdotal evidence is any indicator, some will violate the reasonable policies, by error or even maliciously. We live in a time when many on the political spectrum were at each other’s throats before the pandemic, so this stressful time just ratcheted up the tension.
For the good of the community, it’s probably better to be a bit more like the Near Southside and work together instead of tearing each other apart. And the music is a lot better, too.
Next Tuesday is a special North Texas Giving Day for nonprofits. If you can, you should consider a donation. And you can still donate to Southside C.A.R.E.S., the organization that sponsored the great concert on Thursday.
North Texas Giving Day: