I could easily say the Domino’s Dots story and Workbook project came about after dozens of interviews, plenty of research, and lots of writing and thinking. And that was certainly all part of the process.
But the spirit of Domino’s Dots started with one encounter.
It happened at one of the rare places in this world where intersections of age, race, socioeconomic status, political views, and identity are on display daily. The opportunities for interactions—or avoiding them—are boundless, depending on our circumstances and mood.
It happened at H-E-B.
It was at our local H-E-B grocery store where I helped an elderly man in a wheelchair reach something from a higher shelf. I noted the American flag on his scooter and his patriotic hat and asked him about it. He proudly told me about his veteran status with an enthusiastic smile and a sparkle in his eyes.
What piqued my interest even more was when he claimed “original owner” status in our nearby neighborhood.
My family lives in a neighborhood that was originally developed for those resettling in Austin after World War II. It was the “suburbs” then, technically outside the city limits – hard to imagine as it sits in the city’s urban core now.
The older houses were built in the late 1940s. As you work your way up the blocks of the neighborhood north, the construction dates rise accordingly into the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond.
Our house was built in 1948, and though there are still a few remaining original residents (so I’m told), it is rare to run into one.
I asked my new friend if I could visit him sometime and hear about the “old days” in our area. He was happy to oblige, and thus began my family’s friendship with Mr. Herman. We've listened to his stories, made cards for him for Veteran's Day, and checked in on him from time to time. While he's not part of our everyday life, meeting him planted the seed for the passion I feel about paying attention to community.
Community is all around us—the nature outside, the familiar things we pass every day, and of course the humans with whom we cross paths, interacting or possibly avoiding interactions at all costs.
Domino’s Dots is a story about a pig that temporarily lived in my neighborhood in the early 2000s, but really it’s about noticing what and who is around us. It’s about acknowledging that what’s around us is worth noticing.
And as a stretch, maybe it’s even about how the interactions with those things and people around us make us who we are, if we’re willing to look up and notice.