Monday, November 19, 2012
Texas PBS stations to feature local landmarks in 5-part One Square Mile: Texas series
Instead of being a tourists' guide, the program will focus on Texas culture for Texans.
Collin County is made up on hundreds of square miles, each with unique stories that set it apart from the rest of the county.
Thanks to a new television program, some of these stories may be revealed and shared with a statewide audience. Season one of One Square Mile: Texas will debut next summer and be shown on PBS stations across the state.
"We are doing a five-part series where we are looking at different square miles across Texas," said Carl Crum, a producer with Brazos Film and Video. "We are looking at Texas culture, but instead of looking at the tourist version, we are looking for the real Texas culture of what it is like to live in this state."
Part of the problem with showcasing what it means to be a Texan is that there is no one identifiable trait that runs through all Texans, Crum said. While cowboys and ranchers may be commonplace in some parts, they may be nearly forgotten in major metropolitan areas.
"Texas is so diverse we couldn't just focus on one area that defined the state as a whole," Crum said. "Instead, we are looking at nine different square miles in different regions. The nine of those together will create a patchwork of Texas culture."
Nominations of specific square miles are being accepted until December 1, with the final decision on which miles will be showcased coming before the end of the year. So far, three locations in Collin County have been nominated: downtown Plano, the intersection of Custer Road and State Highway 121, and the area near Finch Park in McKinney.
While she was not the one that nominated downtown Plano, business owner Bonnie Shea said she believes the area is one-of-a-kind.
"In terms of our city in general, downtown is really unique," said Shea, who is president of the Historical Downtown Plano Association. "It really brings back the history of the city in a lot of ways. The historical buildings take you back to the late 1800s, and I don't know any other place in the city that can do that."
Shea and her husband Nathan own two buildings in downtown Plano, the W.R. George Building that was built in 1896 and now houses Urban Crust, as well a former ice house from the 1910s that is now home to Urban Rio.
Even though new, modern businesses have moved in, the historic charm still comes through, she said.
"People love to be able to revisit the past," she said. "They like to come back and share their old stories, but they also like to live in today."
The intersection of S H 121 and Custer Road is unique because it is the intersection point of the four largest cities in the county. It also provides a mix of new and old, with a little bit of wilderness thrown in, according to the person who made the nomination.
"[The area] combines new development (most homes/businesses built within last 20 years) with old landmarks dating back to the early 1900s and 1800s with very few structures in between," they wrote. "The area contains two historic cemeteries and examples of the region's agricultural heritage ... there is a feeling of wilderness difficult to describe which lingers over the area, especially in cooler weather. This is Texas -- new/old mixed together and an unsettled mysterious feeling the past has not left us."
Longtime county resident Mike Simpson also praised the area. Simpson is a former mayor of Frisco and past executive director of the Arts Center of North Texas, which was to be located in Allen less than a mile from the intersection. In a county such as Collin, having green areas for younger families is crucial, he said.
"In today's economy and today's environment, you often have both parents working full time to make a living and afford the lifestyle they want to have," Simpson said. "You need these park areas and hike-and-bike trails so families can get away from the stress of work and the constant youth sports events that most families are wrapped up in."
Simpson noted that the location serves as the convergence point for cities with more than 600,000 residents, while also offering some of the prettiest terrain in Collin County.
Crum said there are also plans to film a second season of One Square Mile: Texas, which would feature additional locations. To nominate a square mile, visit osmtx.com/tv/Nominate.html.
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