Houston Environmental News Update October 14, 2020

Galas Galore, Wild About Houston, Low Carbon Energy Summit, Clean Waters Initiative, UH Energy Symposium, The Policy of Resilience, Big Thicket Day, Livable Places Initiative, Green Jobs, and more

‘Tis the season for our community to come together to support the many organizations that work to protect and improve the environment in the Houston / Gulf Coast region. Here is a partial list of galas and other annual events you can look forward to this year. And don’t forget CEC’s Wild About Houston Green Film Festival on October 21 and November 18, 2020!

Please scroll down to read about public engagement opportunities and notes from our member organizations and the community.


Tickets on Sale: Wild About Houston Green Film Festival

The CEC is proud to host the third annual Wild About Houston Green Film Festival. The virtual festival will tell the story of local environmental issues, their champions and how you can make a difference. This year, the number and quality of film submissions was so great that CEC will host two nights of programming: October 21 and November 18, 2020. Each night will feature different films. A few of the best local films will be shown at the January 2021 Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Tour. Tune in to the live program to vote for your favorite film, or register to receive a link to watch the on-demand program later. In addition to pay-what you-can tickets, you can pre-order a delicious meal featuring local, organic food from Pat Greer’s Kitchen. Register at eventbrite.com. If you are interested in sponsorship, visit cechouston.org.

Save the Date: Justice and Transformation: Houston Women on Climate Action, Oct. 28, 2020

On October 28, 2020, please join Rice University’s Fondren Library for a discussion on justice and climate. This virtual panel will bring together four Houston women whose work addresses climate justice: Dr. Denae King (TSU), Dr. Cymene Howe (Rice), Amy Catherine Dinn (Lone Star Legal Aid), and Iris Gonzalez (Coalition for Environment, Equity & Resilience (CEER)). CEC is pleased to be a cosponsor of this event. Learn more at library.rice.edu/JusticeTransformation.

Support the environment through workplace giving

If you work for employers such as the City of Houston, the State of Texas, or HISD, among many other public and private workplaces, remember that the fall is campaign season for most employee workplace giving programs. Employees are offered the chance to select from many charitable organizations to support through payroll contributions. You can give to CEC via EarthShare of Texas, as one of 60 local, regional and national environmental organizations supported by EarthShare of Texas. You can designate individual organizations or let EarthShare of Texas divide it equally among their participating organizations. A complete list of participating workplaces is available at www.earthshare-texas.org. For more information about EarthShare of Texas, including information about how your organization can offer workplace giving, please visit www.earthshare-texas.org or call 800-GREENTX. Look for the the CEC’s code number under the EarthShare of Texas heading in workplace giving campaign literature at all state agencies (035569), at HISD (0111) and at the City of Houston (1413). Please consider CEC in your workplace giving program!

Be CEC’s Neighbor at MECA

CEC’s office is at MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling for the Arts) in the historic Dow School in the Old Sixth Ward off of Memorial Drive just outside of downtown. Studios (aka classrooms) are available, including one right next to CEC! (We might even share our conference room.) Learn more at meca-houston.org or email rachel@cechouston.org to get the scoop.


Let’s Talk Houston: Livable Places Action Committee Meeting

The recently launched Livable Places initiative is a continuation of the City of Houston Planning Department’s effort to update portions of Houston’s development codes to create more opportunities for walkability, affordability and equity. On Oct. 20, 2020, from 3-5 p.m., the Living Places Action Committee will hold a regular meeting which begins the Committee’s Public Engagement process. For more information, including how to attend the meeting, visit houstontx.gov. Learn more about engagement opportunities with the Planning Department’s Let’s Talk Houston website.

Through Oct. 31, 2020: City of Houston Draft Long-Range Solid Waste Plan

The City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department (SWMD) is excited to announce the creation of an updated Long-Range Solid Waste Management Plan covering waste and recycling programs for Houston until 2040. The draft plan will provide for sustainable materials management for the Houston area for the next 20 years. SWMD welcomes comments through Oct. 31, 2020. Learn more at houstontx.gov/solidwaste/longrange/index.html. Residents are encouraged to provide comments on surveymonkey.com.

Through Nov. 2, 2020: Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study Interim Feasibility Report released

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, along with the Harris County Flood Control District, recently released an Interim Feasibility Report for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study. The purpose of the study is to evaluate alternatives with the goal of helping to reduce flooding under a range of flood events. Information sessions are scheduled for Oct. 15, 22, and 26. Learn more at usace.army.mil.


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).

Low Carbon Energy Summit

On Oct. 15, 2020, the Center for Houston’s Future will present the second part of its Low-Carbon Energy Innovation Summit, which highlights the region’s progress in accelerating Houston’s development as a leader in the energy transition. This year, the focus is on the theme of innovation, spotlighting the technologies and players making Houston a low carbon energy capital. For more information and to register, visit centerforhoustonsfuture.org.

Clean Waters Initiative Workshop

On Oct. 15, 2020, from 8:30-11 a.m., the Houston-Galveston Area Council will present a Clean Waters Initiative Workshop. The topic of the workshop will be “Regional Resilience and Preparation for Extreme Weather Events”. Presentations will examine potential solutions, tools, and recommendations to improve regional resilience to these weather events. For more information and to register, visit h-gac.com.

TPWD Celebrates Careers during National Hispanic Heritage Month

On Oct. 15, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., join the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing the contributions of our colleagues and learning about careers at Texas State Parks.

A Conversation with Leaders in Green

On Oct. 15, 2020, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the U.S. Green Building Council Texas will present a panel discussion in which several green leaders will discuss how they got into sustainability (their journey), why sustainability is essential (in the context of green building and sustainable land development practices), and what the opportunities are for people wishing to explore/get involved in this important sector. For more information and to register, visit usgbctexas.org.

Houston 2020 Visions Lecture Series: The Policy of Resilience

On Oct. 15, 2020, beginning at 6 p.m., the American Institute of Architects Houston chapter, as part of its “Houston 2020” exhibition, will present its introductory panel discussion, “The Policy of Resilience”. City Council Member David W. Robinson, FAIA, will moderate a discussion on how city government is implementing policy ranging from infrastructure projects to policy recommendations, from flood warning systems to resilient housing design. For more information and to register, visit houston2020visions.org.

Australia and Asia’s Transition to a Lower-Carbon Future

On Oct. 15, 2020, from 6-7:30 p.m., the Asia Society Texas Center will host a panel discussion featuring leading experts discussing how Australia and Asia are playing a leading role in transitioning to a more sustainable energy future through policy, innovation, and technology. This virtual event is scheduled from last spring. For more information and to register, visit asiasociety.org.

Texas Native Seeds and the Coastal Prairies Native Seed Project

On Oct. 15, 2020, beginning at 7 p.m, the Houston chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas will hold its monthly meeting featuring a presentation by Douglas Jobes, assistant director of the Coastal Prairies Native Seed Project. He will discuss the project’s efforts to enable native plant restoration across Texas. For more information and to register, visit npsot.org.

Imagine A Day Without Water Essay Contest

Houston Public Works is sponsoring the “Imagine A Day Without Water” essay contest, open to 1st-8th grade students within the City of Houston limits, whether in public, private or homeschool settings. Essays up to 300 words should focus on what it takes to deliver clean and safe water to people’s homes, and describe what it would be like if the water stopped flowing. Prizes for teachers and students are $200 gift cards. The deadline for entries is Oct. 16, 2020, and winners will be announced during the Oct. 21 City Council meeting. For full details, visit cechouston.org.

UH Energy Symposium Series: Houston’s Low-Carbon Energy Capital

UH Energy, the UH Bauer College of Business, and the Center for Houston’s Future have conducted a major research project on Houston’s potential role as “Houston’s Low-Carbon Energy Capital”. This month, the results of these projects are being unveiled during a seminar series on Fridays, beginning at 11:30 a.m. The remaining presentations are: “Low -Carbon Electricity Grid” (Oct. 16), “Hydrogen” (Oct. 23), and “Circular Plastics Economy” (Oct. 30). The series not only shares the findings of these studies, but also begins a broader discussion on Houston’s energy future with leading industry experts. Each session will conclude with an audience Q&A. For more information on the series, visit uh.edu.

Houston Botanic Garden Opening: Celebrating Africa

On Oct. 17, 2020, the Houston Botanic Garden will continue its series of opening season weekends with special educational opportunities that will showcase Houston’s cultural richness and biodiversity, focusing on Africa. The event will include educational demonstrations on Caribbean plants and food; and on gumbo and connections between African-Americans and West Africa; performances by FAM Houston’s Congolese Women’s Empowerment Group, children’s activities, and more. For more information, visit hbg.org.

Big Thicket Day 56th Annual Meeting Oct. 17

Big Thicket Association

The Big Thicket Association’s Annual Meeting, originally scheduled for Oct. 10, has been rescheduled to Oct. 17, 2020, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Participants will receive get up-to-date information about BTA projects and programs and how it has been impacted by COVID-19. Participants will be able to ask questions, meet new Executive Director Wendy Ledbetter, get a Big Thicket Preserve up-date from Wayne Prokopetz, Park Superintendent, and election results for our 2021-2022 board directors. The keynote speaker will be Senior Policy Director and long-time Executive Director of the Texas Conservation Alliance, Janice Bezanson, in a talk tilted “Celebrating Successes: Coalitions and Persistence.” Here is the Agenda. Join the meeting at zoom.us. Meeting ID: 832 5318 9474 Passcode: 442200. Dial-in:  +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston).

My Home Is Here Town Hall Meeting

On Oct. 17, 2020, from 3-4 p.m., the My Home Is Here engagement team will hold a Facebook Live event to discuss the relationship between environmental infrastructure and the availability and sustainability of affordable housing. Panelists will include representatives of Air Alliance Houston, the Coalition for Environmental Equity and Resilience (CEER), West Street Recovery, and Asakura Robinson. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Texas Pollinator BioBlitz & Plant Sale

Through Oct. 18, 2020, Mercer Botanic Gardens is hosting the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz, an annual, statewide effort to increase the awareness of Texas pollinators, including many species of butterflies, moths, bees, and more. Pollinator nectar and host plants, including plenty of Texas native plants such as coneflowers, milkweed, and passionflowers, will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting Mercer Botanic Gardens. For more information, see the Facebook event.

Katy Prairie Conservancy 2020 Bash

On Oct. 20, 2020, beginning at 6:30 p.m., the Katy Prairie Conservancy will hold its 2020 Bash fundraiser virtually. The theme of the event will be a “Celebration of Rare Birds,” featuring a talk by author, poet, and wildlife biologist J. Drew Lanham. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit katyprairie.org.

Butterflies, The Border Wall, Our Environment

On Oct. 21, 2020, from 7-8:30 p.m., the Bay Area Sierra Club will host a virtual meeting featuring a presentation by Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, in Mission, Texas, on the potential adverse effects of a border wall on the butterflies that traverse the border region. For more information and to register, see the Meetup event.

Houston Audubon’s 2020 Avian Affair

On Oct. 22, 2020, beginning at 6:30 p.m., Houston Audubon will virtually holds its 2020 annual fundraiser, called “An Avian Affair.” The event will be livestreamed for all. Registering in advance allows people to receive event updates, bid on the silent auction, receive bid notifications, and participate in Fund-a-Need. For more information and to register, visit benefitbidding.net.

2020 Scenic Houston Virtual Celebration

On Oct. 22, 2020, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Scenic Houston will host its annual fundraising celebration vitually. The event will present the Scenic Visionary Award to John R. Breeding, president and CEO of the Uptown Houston District, and feature  a conversation with urban planner, educator and author Alexander Garvin. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit scenichouston.org.

Bayou Land Conservancy – Past, Present, and Future

On Oct. 22, 2020, beginning at 7 p.m., The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. will kick off of its 2020-2021 Going Green Sustainability Lecture series with a talk by Becky Martinez, conservation director of the Bayou Land Conservancy, who will discuss the lands that BLC, working with willing landowners, has protected over the last 20 years and their Strategic Conservation Plan to protect lands in the future. She will also discuss how BLC connects our greater community to nature through educational series, events and volunteer opportunities. For more information, including how to connect, visit thewoodlandsgreen.org

Bike Around the Bay

On Oct. 24, 2020, beginning at 7 a.m., the Galveston Bay Foundation will host its annual Bike Around the Bay fundraising event. The ride will start/finish at Fort Anahuac Park in Chambers County. There are 28-, 67-, and 95-mile routes. There is a $100 fundraising minimum to pick up your packet and participate in the ride. All funds raised from the ride will support the work of the GBF. They will be taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of riders and volunteers throughout the event. For more information and to register, visit gbf.convio.net.

Prairie Pandemonium

On Oct. 24, 2020, from 8 a.m.-noon, the Armand Bayou Nature Center will hold its Prairie Pandemonium event, where volunteers will become part of a team planting effort to transplant native grasses into ABNC’s restored prairies. This important effort will give the ABNC prairies a jump-start to a native state of abundant wildflowers and tall grasses. Registration is required for participants. All waivers and confirmations from participants must be received by Oct. 17. Volunteers must be 12 years of age or older and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information and to register, visit abnc.org.

Works Days at Talbot Brothers Prairie in New Boston and Lawther-Deer Park Prairie in Deer Park

On Oct. 24, 2020, from 9 a.m.-noon., the Houston chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas will host a volunteer workday at the Talbot Brothers Prairie in New Boston. This special workday will involve collecting seeds from the prairie to plant in areas that were disturbed during the fence project. For more details and to RSVP, contact Kirsti Harms at kirsti_harms@texasprairie.org.

On Oct. 24, 2020, from 9 a.m.-noon, the Houston chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas will host a voluntter workday at Lawther-Deer Park Prairie in Deer Park. This is an opportunity to explore and help out at this special coastal prairie and continue work on the new boardwalk. For more information and to RSVP, contact Kirsti Harms at kirsti_harms@texasprairie.org. 

Texas Conservation Alliance Annual Meeting

On Oct. 24, 2020, from 10-11:45 a.m., the Texas Conservation Alliance will hold its Annual Meeting virtually. The meeting will provide the latest TCA updates and preview 2021 events celebrating TCA’s 50th anniversary. For more information, inclucing details on how to participate, visit tcatexas.org.

The Path of Hope: A Study on Climate Action for Faith Communities

On Tuesdays from Oct. 27-Nov. 17, 2020, the Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston is presenting 15-minute videos featuring interviews with US faith leaders, representatives of climate-impacted communities from the global South, and presentations by UN officials and other experts. The series focuses on how climate change is impacting the core ministries of faith communities around the world, how those impacts will increase in the future, and why these impacts create an imperative for people of faith to advocate for strong US climate action. For more information and to register, visit eventbrite.com. Contact Lisa Brenskelle at gcs.lrc@gmail.com for more information.

People’s Eco-Challenge

The Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston invites Houstonians of all faiths to join their team for this year’s People’s Eco-Challenge, through Oct. 28, 2020. This online event offers you the opportunity to care for the earth by taking on a challenge in: justice for the whole community, healing & renewal, waste, food, health, transportation, energy, community, nature, water, or simplicity. Create a new environmental justice/stewardship habit over the course of the three weeks of the challenge. Join the team at https://peoples.ecochallenge.org/. For more information, please contact Lisa Brenskelle at: gcs.lrc@gmail.com.

Local Foods, Local Places planning assistance applications now open

Through Oct. 30, 2020, communities are invited to apply for a new round of planning assistance from the Local Foods, Local Places program, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Local Foods, Local Places helps communities revitalize neighborhoods through development of local food systems. For more information, visit epa.gov.

Lights Out for Birds

Most North American migratory birds fly at night, and lights on buildings can disorient birds on their paths, resulting in fatal collisions. The Upper Texas Coast plays a key role on the Central Flyway, an important migratory path for birds. Birds that move along and across the Gulf of Mexico depend on safe passage through the Houston-Galveston area. Through Nov. 15, Houston Audubon is participating in “Lights Out for Birds,” an effort to reduce light pollution in the region. For more information and to make a pledge to help reduce light pollution, visit houstonaudubon.org.

Power Tools For Nonprofits registration now open

From Nov. 17-18, 2020, the annual Power Tools for Nonprofits conference will be presented by CenterPoint Energy with community partners, United Way of Greater Houston, and the University of Houston Downtown as a full, high-quality conference all online and easily accessible. The conference will feature experts and insights across a variety of topics of most importance to nonprofit organizations working in these most unusual times. Topics will include Advocacy & Community Engagement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Fundraising, Leadership, Management, and Personal Development. For more information and to register, visit eventsquid.com.

Submit your Ideas for Texas Restoration Area Planning

The Texas Trustee Implementation Group is beginning the process of considering restoration activities that will address injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Through Dec. 10, 2020, the Implementation Group is seeking restoration project ideas that benefit wetland, coastal, and nearshore habitats, and living coastal and marine resources, and restore water quality through nonpoint source nutrient reduction in the Texas Restoration Area. In our next restoration plan, a range of projects will be considered to address injuries to these restoration types: wetlands, coastal, and nearshore habitats; nutrient reduction (nonpoint source); oysters; sea turtles; and birds. Additional information on these restoration types is available in Chapter 5 of the Trustee Council’s Programmatic Restoration Plan, and the Strategic Frameworks for birds, oysters, and sea turtles.

“Houston and Nature” podcast

In the latest “Houston and Nature” podcast, Nivien Saleh speaks with permaculture expert Shawn McFarland about the lively Houston permatculture community. She discusses how it can be applied to business, architecture, and how people live their lives. As a consequence, it lends itself to re-imagining how we function as a society. Hear the latest episode at houstonnature.com.

“Unmuted” report examines best practices in videoconferencing

The Goodman Center recently released its report, “Unmuted: What works, what doesn’t, and how we can all do better when working together online.” Based on a survey of 4,405 people at nonprofits and foundations, colleges and universities, and government agencies, “Unmuted” examines the explosion of videoconferencing triggered by the pandemic and addresses the question: What’s really happening when working together face-to-face means screen-to-screen? Download a free copy of the report at thegoodmancenter.com.

AAMA Graphic Design Assistance for Nonprofits

The Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans’ Work and Learn Center teaches opportunity youth graphic design through its Youth Enterprise Design Studio. Participating youth, ages 16 – 24, are not enrolled in school, employed, or in a job training program. The Youth Enterprise Design Studio supports these passionate students while providing valuable career and hands-on experience. The students create a variety of designs and branding materials for local businesses and non-profits, ensuring that your vision becomes a reality. You can help support participants by providing experience working with clients. If you are interested in supporting AAMA’s students with your graphic design needs, please contact Jacob Saenz for a consultation at jsaenz@aama.org or at (218) 932–4661. Be on the lookout for the great work they have been doing for the CEC!

Weekly Events with Changing Content

ABNC “Nature as Nature” blog

The Armand Bayou Nature Center offers its “Nature as Normal” blog as a means to “remember that things are still happening as normal in the bigger picture, and that we’ll all be back to normal soon too.” Each entry features photographs by award-winning kayaking photographer Gary Seloff and ABNC Volunteer Photo Walk Leader Lyman Brown, with commentary by ABNC’s Conservation Director and Chief Naturalist, Mark Kramer. The latest entry is titled “Night Heron Departures“. Find all of the blog entries at abnc.org.

TV: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Broadcast on KUHT Channel 8 at 3 p.m. each Saturday and on municipal access cable channels in Baytown, Deer Park, Houston, Texas City, Galveston, Nassau Bay, Pasadena, Seabrook, Sugar Land, and on HCC TV. More info on the TPWD website (* indicates a segment about the Houston area). For a preview, visit TPWD’s YouTube Page.

  • One fleet little fox is seldom seen. Is it vanishing from its range in Texas? A crew of researchers labors long hours to learn if time is running out for this elegant animal in the Panhandle Plains
  • In early 2017, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef Program created a new underwater oasis for fish and fishermen with a 371-foot cargo ship called The Kraken. Just months after sending the Kraken to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, biologists return to investigate one of the Texas Gulf Coast’s largest artificial reefs
  • Join a group of Harlingen high school students as they discover birding. These South Texas teens realize they have some amazing birds right in their own backyard

Additional Upcoming Events

Check out the latest Green Jobs at cechouston.org/green-jobs/.