Location: Sandbranch, TX 
Region: Dallas County, TX
Founders/leadership: Tonnette Yarbough Byrd; Jacqui Patterson

Believe it or not, there are folks living just 14 miles from Dallas, TX — one of the wealthiest cities in the world — who do not have access to clean, running water.

In 1878, emancipated from enslavement, Allen Hawthorne and 11 other people from Louisiana collectively purchased this parcel southeast of Dallas — as a homestead, and to provide opportunity and financial security for their families. A Freedmen’s Settlement, it was called Sandbranch — so-named for its abundance of sand and gravel, just one of the area’s abundant natural resources. Like so many Black and low income communities, those resources were exploited for industrial and agricultural uses that rarely benefited the community. Today, a dwindling population of residents faces pressure to move from pollution, a lack of infrastructure, and unfair zoning that prohibits many essential capital improvements.

Saddlebranch is an underdog. In its 142-year history, the community has never had running water. It lacks a sewage system and its groundwater became contaminated in the 1980s. Living in a waterless town means living in a place without fire hydrants or a way to put out fires, leaving homes and businesses destroyed. There is no trash pick-up and residents must burn their garbage — adding to the air pollution caused by adjacent cement plants. Every drop of drinkable water in Sandbranch is shipped in. The closest grocery store is seven miles away; the closest health care facility is 35 miles away. There are no streetlights and few signs. Yet, Sandbranch is rising.

Today, one hundred intrepid Sandbranch residents are determined to make their community a sanctuary — a healthy and thriving place to call home. They’re led by the Sandbranch Planning Committee whose first priority is to provide drinking water directly to 25 households through the cutting edge, regenerative technology of Hydropanels — a solar-powered system that extracts clean drinking water from the air.

The Sandbranch Revitalization Fund is managed by Movement Strategy Center in support of Sandbranch’s efforts to organize around its self-determination.