A border is defined by Webster as “a line separating one country or state from another, or a boundary between places.”

Sam Garcia
Sam Garcia

Last month, a group of speakers came together under the banner of the TED organization to share their ideas about “breaking borders” at TEDx McAllen.

Architect Sam Garcia led off the discussion with a challenging look titled “Between Empires & Estuaries,” challenging the traditional notion of which border really matters to us here in deep South Texas. To see Sam’s Ted Talk, click here.

When anyone mentions “the Border” anywhere here in South Texas, the images that come to mind, almost instinctively, involve bridges and lines of cars, fleets of Border Patrol SUVs (white body, with a green stripe), or the actual slow-moving body of water called the Rio Grande. However that border…  THE Border… is largely beyond our control. It is patrolled and controlled, allocated and adjusted, processed and politicized by the powers in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City. And though we continually make our pilgrimages to petition the leaders at the capitols for changes and adjustments, for aid and assistance, it is not ultimately our Border.

There is a border, or rather a series of borders, though, that we can and do control. This series of borders has its origins in a faraway kingdom at a time before the American Revolution. The Kingdom of Spain’s dominion over this dusty strip of what is now South Texas ended around 200 years ago, but the borders that most affect our everyday lives are still based on the economic development decisions of a Bourbon monarch, 250 years ago.

So, with the theme of breaking borders, Sam and I have mapped out a dialogue about casting off the borders of the Spanish Monarchy, and redefining South Texas in a way that will reshape the way we think of ourselves as a region, and more importantly the way the leaders in Austin, Washington and Mexico City view us. Would it make a difference if we were ACTUALLY the seventh largest city in Texas, or in the top 50 cities in the U.S.? What if we were the 11th largest city in the U.S., and the largest city on the U.S./Mexico border? Would companies seeking to relocate view us more favorably? Could we exert more influence in the capital cities? Could our lives be made simpler? Could we SAVE MONEY?

If any of this sounds interesting, or frightening, or exciting, or threatening, Futuro McAllen will be hosting a conversation between Sam and myself about all these things, and MORE. Join us and dare to envision a greater, more unified South Texas, at the McAllen Public Library on November 10. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the program will start promptly at 6:30 p.m.