CEC proud to be an Environmental Partner with the City of Houston in the Houston Inspira project. Houston Inspira, an EPA-funded project, seeks artists, musicians, playwrights, dancers, writers, and all creatives to engage with communities to educate, inform and activate via storytelling in all disciplines. The project, headed by Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, occurs in five Complete Communities – Acres Homes, Alief/Westwood, Kashmere Gardens, Near Northside, and Second Ward.
The project focuses on improving prosperity and equity in the Complete Communities listed above. Many Complete Communities have copious amounts of concrete batch plants and are affected by major pollutants like benzene and PM2.5. Benzene gas and PM2.5, a small particulate matter, are both known to increase cancer risk and other health ailments. This disproportionate human and environmental health issue demands change. Through art, Houston Inspira hopes to bring awareness to the concerns that these communities face.
Over a six-month period, a chosen artist worked on a project in a designated community with the City of Houston and community partners (also including Air Alliance Houston, Environmental Defense Fund, and Houston Wilderness). This is a great collaboration between local artists, the environmental community, and the city which will amplify Houston’s stories and bridge the gap between equity and opportunity.
CEC was thrilled to be partnered with Kam Franklin of the Suffers to work on a project serving the Second Ward on Houston’s East End.
Second Ward Healing Hours was a series of community events hosted to get people within and around the neighborhood of Second Ward, Houston, TX, familiarized with Particulate Matter (PM) and Benzene.
A learning event was hosted by the City of Houston on June 10, 2022. To launch the project and get people excited about the work to be done.
The first community engagement event was held on August 26th, 2022 in partnership with Hurricane Harvey and Houston: Five Years Later at Fire Station #2 and Houston Climate Justice Museum. The purpose of this event was to spread awareness about the October listening events while also connecting with fellow community members, speakers, elected officials, and fellow activists ahead of the October healing hour sessions. Allyn West of EDF interviewed Kam on the future and environmental and climate justice.
The final 5 community engagement event dates took place on October 10,11,12,13,and 14, 2022, at Wonky Power in Second Ward. These events featured vendors, DJs, recorded interviews with community members, and interactive ways for those attending to learn about the Inspira Houston project and the purpose of the overall mission. In total, these event saw 120 people of all ages come through over those five days. CEC answered all the tough environmental questions that needed a bit more expertise, while Kam put together a sustainable fashion marke, and donated the proceeds to CEC as a way to encourage other artists/clothing lovers to do the same. Through this, an additional $600 was raised for the project.
The team also created a Linktree website for anyone interested in learning more about this project, environmental complaints, and how to empower themselves with even more information. You can view that here.
About 30 people were interviewed at the Wonky Power events within the community, and some of those responses are used on the final music project that Kam created, The Second Ward Healing Hours EP. The purpose of the songs are to educate anyone listening on what PM 2.5 and Benzene are in a new way. This knowledge should be accessible to everyone, and her hope is that the music she created will encourage the listener to ask more questions about environmental issues.
Files to the slideshow presented at the events, the original proposal, a video recap from the week of events, and a link to the final EP, “Second Ward Healing Hours”, can all be found here.