Houston Environmental News Update June 3, 2020

In solidarity, Equity, National Trails Day, Houston Family Nature Challenge, Interfaith Justice Advocacy Training, Flower Garden Banks public meetings, and more

Normally, the CEC would not start its newsletter by discussing police brutality and violent protest, as they are not explicitly related to environmental issues.* However, to remain silent is to be complicit in the systemic racism that manifests itself throughout all aspects of our society.

CEC looks at systemic racism through the lens of environmental justice and equity–and there is a lot to see. One timely example is a new, 25-minute documentary released by Al Jazeera about the fight in Fifth Ward to hold Union Pacific accountable for the creosote contamination and cancer cluster. We share this video as a way to connect this city’s legacy of environmental racism to the larger moment.

As Andre West looks through the chain-link fence out over the Union Pacific railyard that was the likely source of a cancer cluster in her community, she says, “We matter. We matter.

“The documentary is very powerful,” writes Allyn West of One Breath Partnership, who shared the video with us. “I’d urge caution if you are feeling emotionally drained, understandably so, and need to take care to protect yourself right now.”

CEC is intentional about lifting up the work of organizations that advocate for equity, including (and certainly not limited to):

By supporting and highlighting the work of our environmental community, CEC will continue to advocate for environmental justice through robust civic engagement, which might include include peaceful protests and civil disobedience, voting, volunteering, contacting elected officials and decision-makers, and conversation about difficult issues with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

CEC is purposeful in seeking diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. While CEC is not an expert on environmental justice, we are learning and hope you will join us on our journey.

In solidarity.


* Normally, we would have started the newsletter talking about National Trails Day, which, this year, calls for us to take action to preserve trails and fight for equitable access to quality green space.

Please scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community.


CEC NOTES

Teacher Professional Development: Place-Based Learning

Teachers, learn what’s outside your window and how you can use it to engage kids in any subject. Gain an understanding of what’s affecting Houston’s prairies, forests, and marshes. Discover resources to differentiate instruction for all learners, including tech options. Connect virtually with local informal educators the morning of June 10 (elementary and middle school) or June 11 (middle and high school). Sign up on Eventbrite for June 10 or June 11; limited to first 20 participants. Three hours CPE and G/T credit available, with an option for six hours, through the Texas Association for Environmental Education. Hosted by CEC in partnership with TAEE.

Superpowers Sessions for environmental educators

The Environmental Educators Exchange continues to offer virtual meet ups every Friday, featuring locally-relevant topics. Join us June 5 for “Urban Beekeeping:, June 12 for “Collecting Stories from the Pandemic” and June 19 for “Connecting Students to Conservation Careers”. Offered at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. every Friday, spend 15 minutes connecting with fellow educators, and 15 minutes learning about each unique topic. Find details and register on this Google form.


CEC Volunteer Info Session June 30 will be held online

CEC seeks individuals who might be interested in volunteering to help with our website and newsletter, plan events, design graphics, serve on one of our committees (programs, communications, finance, fundraising and development, membership, and governance) this year, or possibly joining our board of directors in January 2021. The next info sessions will be held June 30. For more information, please email [email protected], or join us online at Google Hangouts.


COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES

We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts, particularly in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

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Buffalo Bayou Partnership seeks Director of Communications

Buffalo Bayou Partnership is the non-profit organization revitalizing and transforming Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to the Port of Houston Turning Basin. The organization is at a moment of significant change and growth as it expands its staff and embarks on implementation of the recently completed Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. The Partnership is seeking a Director of Communications to work closely with the BBP leadership team on a vision that will enhance BBP’s visibility and engage a wide range of populations with Buffalo Bayou. This position is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic, detailed communications and marketing plan that includes media relations, branding and design, and community engagement. For full job description and application instructions, visit buffalobayou.org.

Houston Environmental News Update May 27, 2020

World Environment Day & Biodiversity, State of the Mobility, Lady Bird Wildlife Center, L.A.N.D.S. Outreach Teacher Workshops, Flower Garden Banks webinars, Green Jobs, and more

The theme for World Environment Day, June 5, 2020, is biodiversity — a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world.

The W.E.D. website contains a wealth of information, including practical guides to what organizations, businesses, cities, governments, schools and faith groups can do; global news articles (including stories about relationship between biodiversity and COVID-19); and photos of African savannas, coral reefs in the South Pacific, South American rain forests, antarctic penguins, European arctic foxes, and Asian snow leopards, among other things.

The website highlights the fact that one million plant and animal species risk extinction, largely due to human activities. “If current trends continue, by 2050 the global urban population is estimated to be 6.3 billion, nearly doubling the 3.5 billion urban dwellers worldwide in 2010,” writes the Convention on Biological Diversity in its report Cities and Biodiversity Outlook. “More than 60 percent of the area projected to be urban in 2030 has yet to be built. Most of this growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in megacities.”

In this respect, the Houston region is no different than other cities around the world. Biodiversity is threatened–by urbanization, pollution, pesticides, habitat loss, and degradation, climate change, overhunting and overfishing–in our forests, prairies, and marine habitats. But dire circumstances are not the only news in biodiversity in the Houston region.

A good news example? Just last month, the Houston region was a participant in the City Nature Challenge. Because of COVID-19, this year wasn’t an actual competition, but we still have a great deal to crow about. Well over 1,000 participants identified 3,359 species in 27,853 observations–breaking records in all three categories. As pointed out by Jaime González of The Nature Conservancy, Houston is part of the North American Coastal Plain, designated as one of only 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

As I mentioned earlier, the World Environment Day website (and partner sites such as TED’s Earth School) contains many photos and videos about biodiversity, but few are specific to our biodiversity hotspot. iNaturalist’s City Nature Challenge has many photos from our region, but we’d like to challenge YOU to create a short video about biodiversity in our region–perhaps a riff on short biodiversity films featured on TED Earth School. Can you create an example of diversity in our region that could replace the example of the Amazon rainforest used in the into video with a local ecosystem such as the piney woods, coastal wetlands, or prairies?

Please scroll down to read notes from our member organizations and the community.


CEC NOTES

Superpowers Sessions for environmental educators

Join fellow environmental educators in Houston on Fridays for short, “superpowers” sessions, organized by the CEC. Network, learn and share resources, and walk away with new knowledge and new friends. Open to any educator. Ten-minute presentations on local topics, are followed by 15 minutes of Q&A and community-building time. The sessions are offered at two times on the same day (10 a.m. and 3 p.m.) to ensure smaller groups and more opportunity to connect with fellow environmental educators in Houston. May 29: Tech Tools 2.0 used by Teachers,” hosted by Lisa Gianukos and Amanda Brown of Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation; June 5: “Beekeeping in the City,” hosted by Kevin Kohli of Alveole. Details and registration on this Google Form.


CEC Volunteer Info Session June 30 will be held online

CEC seeks individuals who might be interested in volunteering to help with our website and newsletter, plan events, design graphics, serve on one of our committees (programs, communications, finance, fundraising and development, membership, and governance) this year, or possibly joining our board of directors in January 2021. The next info sessions will be held June 30. For more information, please email [email protected], or join us online at Google Hangouts.


COALITION & COMMUNITY NOTES

We have endeavored to confirm the opportunities listed below. Please consider confirming directly with the hosts, particularly in light of concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Continue reading