Houston Environmental News Update January 13, 2021

MLK National Day of Service, Climate Justice, Volunteerism, Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Every Penguin in the World, Arbor Day Celebration, Day of Service at the Big Thicket, Sustainability through Equitable Communities, Green Jobs, and more

Since the mayhem last week, much of our attention has been focused on Washington D.C., and likely will continue to be until things have calmed down in the capitol. A little closer to home, however, the 87th Texas Legislature Regular Session began yesterday without quite the same excitement as the certification of the election of the President and Vice President last week. Nevertheless, our state legislators have been busy, pre-filing more than 1400 bills and resolutions before the Legislature convened.

Pre-filed bills pertaining to the environment from November (we’re still working on December) relate to air contaminant emissions, hydrofluorocarbons, renewable energy, fuel, groundwater, above ground storage tanks, aggregate mining, pipelines, property taxes, seismic monitoring, solid waste facilities, and concrete batch plants. Learn more about the bills that have been filed, key dates for the session, and interim activities at cechouston.org.

While we may not agree with the positions of all of our elected officials, we can appreciate the people who serve our community as elected officials. If you would like to serve your community (perhaps without the side of politics), now is a great time to start.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is on Monday, an opportunity to honor his service and commit to his vision of equity, peace, justice, nonviolence, and neighbors working together to build a better future.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

The time is always right to do what’s right.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In our newsletter, we do our best to share opportunities to work toward a better future. We’d like to highlight a few that we think are especially aligned with MLK Day of Service:

CEER Climate Justice Trainings Series

CEER is excited to launch a training series focused on climate justice, starting later this month. The series will be offered as three workshops focused on Past, Present and Future. The curriculum features environmental experts, the lived experiences of residents and core elements of an interrupting racism training. It will be a dynamic training space full of storytelling, music, power building and piquing curiosity.  These trainings merge an interrupting racism curriculum with a climate justice curriculum. Our goal is to create space that brings in more folks to shape the narrative about what climate justice is, what it means for Houston and how we achieve it. The audience will be a mix of impacted community members, the general public, advocates, health equity experts and city and county folks implementing solutions around the climate crisis in Houston. The full series of workshops will take place virtually on the following dates and times. Each workshop is offered twice and will be held on Saturdays from 10am-2pm CT. The workshops will be bilingual (English and Spanish). Learn more on the CEER Facebook event page or at ceer.org.

“Again, Together: The Cumulative Impacts of Environmental Racism in Houston” online film screening and panel discussion

Join One Breath Partnership on Jan. 21, 2021, for an online screening and panel discussion. The film, created in partnership with Ronald L. Jones, brings together stories from communities across Houston that have been impacted by environmental racism — namely redlining, segregation, underinvestment, exposure to pollution, gentrification, inequitable disaster recovery resources and freeway development. Panelists include Dr. Denae King, Dr. Bakeyah Nelson, and Keith Downey. Learn more and register at onebreathhou.org.

Volunteer Houston & Houston Together

Volunteer Houston is a great place to find volunteer opportunities. It has also stepped up its support for volunteer coordinators. Case in point: Houston Together, an annual volunteerism event (virtual in 2021, April 21-24) that supports nonprofits. Early registration is now open for nonprofits. Register by February 5 for a chance to win an annual subscription to the Leaderosity Learning Library (L3). On VolunteerHouston.org, you can find opportunities with CEC and several of its member organizations, including Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy, Mercer Botanic Garden, TWRC Wildlife Center, Memorial Park Conservancy, Nature Discovery Center, Recipe for Success, Armand Bayou Nature Center, BikeHouston, Galveston Bay Foundation, Hermann Park Conservancy, and the Houston Chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas.

Local environmental groups in the Houston region offer a vast array of opportunities to volunteer and to serve our community. Not sure where to start? In addition to finding volunteer opportunities here in our newsletter, check out these resources for finding local environmental volunteering opportunities:

  • VolunteerMatch.org–Many organizations, including most of the above, also post opportunities on this national site, where you can search for both local and virtual opportunities.
  • Allforgood.org, a service of the Points of Light volunteer organization.
  • EarthShare of Texas provides, among other things, suggestions for corporate volunteer groups.
  • CECHouston.org–Volunteer with CEC! In 2019, dozens of volunteers contributed almost 2000 hours of their time helping with everything from this newsletter to selecting films for our upcoming film festival to board service.
  • Serveforgood.org–A resource developed by local teens for teens.

Among our favorite calls are inquiries about volunteer opportunities; with a community of almost 150 member organizations, CEC can suggest great volunteer opportunities for everyone. If you are new to town or new to environmental volunteering, please get in touch.


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


CEC NOTES

Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Tour

Tickets are on sale now for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival On Tour, hosted by CEC, on Jan. 29, 2021. Preview the film lineup on our website. The program features local winners from the Wild About Houston Film Festival: City of Pearland, SETSVN and Native Prairies Association of Texas. Special thanks to our sponsors: McMac CX and Veritex Bank. The Silent Auction is also back by popular demand; bidding is now open on this Google Form. Purchase festival tickets at eventbrite.com.  


Virtually Wild! Field Trips

Need a virtual lesson, activity or field trip about Houston’s environment for your students? Send an email to SCA Americorps Intern Emma Wilson ([email protected]) to book and create a free, custom program that aligns to any of the TEKS. She is available any date and time from now until March. Or participate in a scheduled program with the USFWS on Wednesdays. Details at hereinhouston.org/virtual-field-trips. 


Environmental Educators Exchange

Join CEC for the Environmental Educators Exchange on Jan. 15 and 29, 2021 from 9:30 – 10 a.m. January’s meetings feature tips on collaborative social media practices from Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation, and updates from TAEE and TCIN. Email [email protected] for the meeting link.


CEC Educators Survey

CEC wants to hear from our formal and informal educators. What are your professional development needs in 2021? Please take this brief survey to help us help you in the new year. Google Form: https://forms.gle/iJLBtxGNj5GzTQsr7.


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

Houston Environmental News Update January 6, 2020

Wild & Scenic, Zoo Lights and Dunes Day, 10 years on Facebook, H3AT Map results, Debris Management Workshop, TEAA Providers’ Meeting, Trees of Houston Giveaway, Faithful Resilience, Green Jobs, and more

“Zoo lights waterway” on flickr by John Stephen Chandler
Zoo Lights waterway was photographed by John Stephen Chandler and is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0.

Last week, we looked back at 2020, and shared our reader’s thought about the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region in 2020.

CEC is especially grateful to all of our readers, members, donors, and volunteers who have helped us connect our environmental community. You remind us that we are not alone and that together we can make our world a better place. THANK YOU!

This week, we ask you to try to predict the future. How do you see the environment and our community changing in 2021? And, perhaps more importantly, how will you be part of that change? Please take our survey.

Today’s banner photo, of Houston Zoo Lights, was photographed by John Stephen Chandler and is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0. We’re sharing this photo to remind you of recycling opportunities for both Christmas lights and trees. (Speaking of recycling, check out the notice, below, from the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling.)

Trees


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


CEC NOTES

Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Tour

Tickets are on sale now for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival On Tour, hosted by CEC, on Jan. 29, 2021. Preview the film lineup on our website. The program features local winners from the Wild About Houston Film Festival: City of Pearland, SETSVN and Native Prairies Association of Texas. Special thanks to our sponsors: McMac CX and Veritex Bank. The Silent Auction is also back by popular demand; bidding is now open on this Google Form. Purchase festival tickets at eventbrite.com.  


Virtually Wild! Field Trips

Need a virtual lesson, activity or field trip about Houston’s environment for your students? Send an email to SCA Americorps Intern Emma Wilson ([email protected]) to book and create a free, custom program that aligns to any of the TEKS. She is available any date and time from now until March. Or participate in a scheduled program with the USFWS on Wednesdays. Details at hereinhouston.org/virtual-field-trips. 


Environmental Educators Exchange

Join CEC for the Environmental Educators Exchange on Jan. 15 and 29, 2021 from 9:30 – 10 a.m. January’s meetings feature tips on collaborative social media practices from Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation, and updates from TAEE and TCIN. Email [email protected] for the meeting link.


CEC educators survey

CEC wants to hear from our formal and informal educators. What are your professional development needs in 2021? Please take this brief survey to help us help you in the new year. Google Form: https://forms.gle/iJLBtxGNj5GzTQsr7.


CEC Celebrates Ten Years on Facebook

On January 6, 2011, CEC created its Facebook page, more than a year before Facebook enrolled its one-billionth user. CEC posted its logo, but, from what we can tell, little else until later in the year.


PUBLIC PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES

Learn more about public participation opportunities at cechouston.org/public-participation-opportunities/.


Comment Period Extended to Jan. 13, 2021: Coastal Texas Study

The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office recently released plans for the Coastal Texas Study. Learn more and submit comments at swg.usace.army.mil. NOTE: Several area environmental groups have raised concerns about the draft reports. Watch a recent discussion on the study by those organizations here.


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

Houston Environmental News Update December 30, 2020

2020: A whirlwind of a year. First Day Hikes, Urban Harvest Permaculture Classes, Wildlife by Design Classroom Presentations, Wild and Scenic Film Festival, Harris County Master Gardeners Plant Sales, Green Jobs, and more

First Day Hike, Brazos Bend State Park, 202o

2020 has been as much of a whirlwind as this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, the most active on record with 30 named storms. 2020 has often felt more unsettling than the threatening storms. 

We asked you, our readers, to share with us what you thought were the the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region in 2020. This is what we heard:

  • Black Lives Matter: Environmental justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion are all front-of-mind
  • Buffalo Bayou: notable/controversial projects and proposed projects from the Turning Basin to beyond the Barker and Cypress Reservoirs
  • Zoom
  • Publication of the City of Houston’s Resilient Houston and Climate Action Plan
  • A dead-heat–with 2016–for the hottest year on record 
  • Record-breaking Atlantic Hurricane Season – the Houston region narrowly dodged the major storms this year, but that won’t always be the case
  • I-45 Expansion Project
  • The Election
  • COVID-19: Reduced travel during stay-at-home orders = fewer miles driven and decreases in pollutants
  • Creation of Harris County’s Community Flood Resilience Task Force
  • Environmental Rollbacks (tracked by the New York Times
  • Bayou Greenways: city park renovations, ebike stations and green bike lanes, renovated and new mobility bridges
  • Opening of the Houston Botanic Garden
  • Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary

What have we missed? For posterity, add your suggestions.

It has been a remarkable year for the CEC as well, as, together, we have connected our environmental community and:

  • Substantially expanded our environmental education program, providing training for educators; development of environmental resources on hereinhouston.org; and partnerships with local, state, and national organizations
  • Sent more newsletters to more people, sharing opportunities to find a green job (or hire someone), to comment on public policy, to participate in events, to learn something new, and to change the world.
  • Received so many amazing local environmental film submissions that we had to host TWO nights of Wild About Houston Green Film Festival.
  • Hosted more than twice as many attendees at CEC events than in 2019 (not including Earth Day Houston, which has been postponed until  2021).
  • Welcomed a record number of amazing interns, from Texas Southern University, University of Houston Main Campus and Downtown, Texas A&M, Rice University, Duke, University of Colorado, Virginia Tech, and more. We also hired our first Student Conservation Association/Americorps intern!
  • Grown our social media following by 20%, to almost 12,000.

These accomplishments are not possible without the valuable support of friends like you. Please consider a donation to support these efforts. You can donate securely through Paypal Giving Fund, at Network for Good (which makes it easy to set up recurring donations), or on Facebook. As always, you may send a check (payable to Citizens’ Environmental Coalition) to PO Box 702, Houston, TX 77001. Help make our 50th year the best ever.

We don’t ask you for money often, but we can’t send this weekly newsletter without your help. If each of our readers gave just $3.50, we’d be able to fund our newsletter for a year. Thanks to the 2% of readers who donate each year, we are able to continue providing this newsletter to you every week. If CEC’s weekly newsletter is worth more than one cup of coffee to you, please take a moment to donate. If you are one of our rare donors, we are deeply grateful for your support. If you are unable to make a financial contribution, give us a little love by leaving a review on GuidestarGreat Nonprofits, or Facebook.

As an extra incentive, for 2020, the CARES act allows taxpayers who don’t itemize deductions to take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions to qualifying organizations such as the CEC. If $300 doesn’t sound like a lot to you, it makes a big difference to the CEC. Furthermore, if you are taxpayer over age 70 ½, you can make a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA – up to $100,000 – directly to an eligible charity. 

* Banner Photo Notes: The photo above was taken at Brazos Bend State Park, located near Needville, Texas, southwest of Houston. Brazos Bend State Park is one of several local state parks that are hosting First Day Hikes, part of the national First Day Hikes initiative. Learn more and reserve your socially distanced spot at:

Wishing you peace,

From all of us at the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition.


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


CEC NOTES

Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Tour

Tickets are on sale now for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival On Tour, hosted by CEC, on Jan. 29, 2021. Purchase your tickets today; they make a great holiday gift. Special thanks to our program sponsors: McMac CX and Veritex Bank. The Silent Auction is also back by popular demand. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.com.


Virtually Wild! Field Trips

Need a virtual lesson, activity or field trip for your students? Send an email to SCA Americorps Intern Emma Wilson ([email protected]) to book and create a free, custom program that aligns to any of the Science TEKS. She is available any date and time from now until March. Or, join us for Virtually WILD Communities every Tuesday at 4:00 on Facebook Live (houstonwild) or 4:30 via Zoom (email [email protected] for the links). This program is great for all audiences, and gives Houstonians a chance to interact with various environmental professionals every week. Details at hereinhouston.org.


PUBLIC PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES

Learn more about public participation opportunities at cechouston.org/public-participation-opportunities/.


Comment Period Extended to Jan. 13, 2021: Coastal Texas Study

The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office recently released plans for the Coastal Texas Study. Learn more and submit comments at swg.usace.army.mil. NOTE: Several area environmental groups have raised concerns about the draft reports. Watch a recent discussion on the study by those organizations here.


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