A Tribute to Bruce Dale

Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for Bruce Dale. As I scanned the pews, there were so many people who, like Bruce, made a real difference. Of course, it is on occasions such as these that we reflect. I thought about how at certain moments in history, at the right time, in the right place, and under the right circumstances, the right people converge and work together on seemingly intractable problems. I also thought about how — absent any of the people in that Church and so many others that were unable to attend or who we’ve already lost — the struggles we endured would have been much more difficult.  For me, history would have been different, and more likely, not better.
I first met Bruce on Kelly Street. At that time he worked for the city’s new housing agency. I had experience with housing officials from the old housing agency – and if you had any unconventional, especially people-centered, approach to housing and neighborhood development you were viewed as a nut. I also met many planners during the time when the Bronx was burning. They were, to say the least, perplexed. So here was Bruce Dale visiting us as a professional planner and a city housing official. Experience would dictate that the meeting would yield no productive result.
But it did. Bruce walked the neighborhood with us.  Where there were people, and where there were buildings that could be revived, Bruce saw hope and promise.  Within six months Banana Kelly was one of the first neighborhood groups to undertake a new community management program. And from that meager beginning, Banana Kelly grew to preserve and develop buildings with well over 2,000 units of affordable housing, including housing for homeless and special needs populations.
We will all miss Bruce. He was one of those people without whom history would have been less kind to our neighborhoods. He made a real difference in peoples’ lives and I am proud to have known and worked with him, and fortunate that he chose to apply his talents and his love to the field of community development.

Tags: No tags

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *