Houston Environmental News Update August 12, 2020

Heat, Harvey, Hurricanes, Environmental Justice, CEC seeks fall interns, Virtual Film Nights, Exploration Green meeting, Rain Barrel Workshop, Health & Highways, Green Jobs, and more

Three years ago, as many of us were contemplating the solar eclipse crossing the US, a westward-moving, seemingly harmless tropical wave–not yet even a disturbance–began passage east from Africa. The system passed through the Caribbean Sea and into the Gulf of Mexico, devastating Rockport before arriving in the Houston region with record-setting rainfall. Hurricane Harvey was a game changer in this region, 17 years after Hurricane Katrina caused a wake-up call further east.

It may be hard to say how much these traumatic storms storms are connected to climate change, but warmer water temperatures tend to mean more-powerful hurricanes. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has cited warmer waters as one of the reasons this year’s hurricane season is forecast to be “extremely active.” Climate change is making hurricanes worse. Learn more and take the “Hurricanes and the Climate Crisis” quiz at climatereality.org. And storms like these will be exacerbated by rising sea levels along the Texas Coast; check out this sea level rise visualizer from NOAA.

In addition to making storms more dangerous, heat is the number one weather-related killer globally, causing more deaths each year than floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes (Yale 360). By late in the 21st century, if no reductions in emissions take place, our region is projected to experience an additional 30–60 days per year above 100°F than it does now, as reported in the Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Hurricanes, rising sea levels, and increasing temperatures–all related to the climate crisis–are also examples of situations in which inequity and systemic racism are becoming increasingly scrutinized. While rainfall, storms, and heat don’t discriminate, the least able to recover are low-income people, communities of color, and other vulnerable populations.

It isn’t all bad news. Many people, agencies, businesses, and organizations are working to reduce climate change, social vulnerability, and its impacts. Here are just a few initiatives in the Houston region, with more details below:

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


CEC NOTES

CEC seeking fall interns

CEC is currently recruiting interns for the fall semester to help with projects, gain experience, and develop professional competencies. Interns will work in Communications & Marketing, Policy & Government Relations, Journalism, Digital Media, Event Coordination, Business, Education or design a custom program to fit their needs. If interested, please email a resume and cover letter to [email protected] and visit CEC Houston for detailed job descriptions.

Houston Environment in Review: Midyear Survey

What you think have been the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region so far this year? Take two minutes to take our survey, and you can see what other people have submitted. We’ll check back in at the end of the year.

Virtual Film Night: A Look Back at Fan Favorites

With the Wild About Houston Film Festival coming up this October (see below), the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition is taking a look back at some of our favorite films from festivals past. Join the environmental community for a fun evening of inspiring films on August 19, 2020. Find ways to get involved with our member organizations right here in the Gulf Coast region. Registration information and tickets available on eventbrite.

Call for submissions: Wild About Houston Green Film Festival

The CEC is proud to host the third annual Wild About Houston Green Film Festival on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. CEC hopes to use this festival to tell local environmental stories, highlight the work of CEC’s member organizations, and to inspire our residents and visitors to make a difference in the environment and our quality of life. The festival will be held virtually to protect the health and safety of our community in these times. We invite you to submit a film for consideration. Films should be specific to the environment in the Houston/Gulf Coast Region, should be no more than seven minutes long, and must be of suitable quality to be shown publicly. Find the Submission Guidelines here, and make submissions here.

Buffalo Bayou Cistern Tours

CEC Event Marketing Interns Riane Harris and Jennifer Truong recently participated in a Sound Healing Meditation at the Cisterns at Buffalo Bayou Park. They loved the quiet, dark, cool space in the heart of Houston. They enjoyed being immersed in a sound bath from the singing bowls and wind chimes, and said it was truly a mindful experience. Join BBP any Saturday at 9 a.m. in August for a similar experience; reservations required. For more information and to register, visit buffalobayou.org.

Environmental Educators Exchange

The next virtual meeting of the Environmental Educators Exchange (EEVENGERS) will be held August 14, 2020, from 9:45-10:15 a.m. All are welcome to join us and take a few minutes to share best practices for environmental education in the Houston region this fall. Based on lessons learned during summer programs, come prepared to discuss what is and what’s not working and questions for the EE community. Sing up on this Google form.

Environmental Issues Virtual Forum with Candidates for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3

On August 20, 2020, the Houston environmental community will host a virtual candidate forum with Tom Ramsey and Michael Moore, the two candidates for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3. We invite you to join as Houston environmental leaders ask questions. This informational forum is not affiliated with any party or candidate. Advance registration is required. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information on joining the ZOOM meeting. Tendremos un intérprete disponible para cualquier persona que desea escuchar en Español. Se proveera instrucciones cuando comience la reunión de Zoom. Advance registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/environmentalforum2020. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information on joining the meeting. Event co-hosts include:

Air Alliance Houston * Bayou City Waterkeeper * Bayou Land Conservancy *
Bayou Preservation Association * CEER  (Coalition for Environment, Equity and Resilience) * Citizens Climate Lobby * Citizens’ Environmental Coalition * Galveston Bay Foundation *
Houston Audubon Society * Houston Sierra Club * Houston Tomorrow * Katy Prairie Conservancy * National Wildlife Federation * Save Buffalo Bayou * THEA (Texas Health and Environment Alliance)


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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Houston Environmental News Update August 5, 2020

Oysters! Climate Action Planning Across Texas, Texas Children in Nature Workshop, Houston Botanic Gardens Docents, Big Bend Camping, Green Jobs, and more

Happy National Oyster Day!

Galveston Bay Foundation, among many other things, is an oyster champion in our area. They have programs to collect shucked oyster shells for recycling (oysters grow best on other oyster shells), to garden oysters (baby oysters are called “spat”), to build linear oyster reefs to protect shorelines, and to support large-scale reef restoration.

Working with partners, GBF also publishes the Galveston Bay Report Card, which, most recently, gave the Bay a grade of “D” for shellfish overall, and a “C” for oysters. “Oyster populations and the reef habitats that they create in Galveston Bay have been negatively impacted by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the drought of 2011, Hurricane Ike in 2008 and increasing fishing pressure,” states the Report, “but oyster populations in Galveston Bay received a C, indicating that the population may be recovering.”

Facts about oysters (from TPWD unless otherwise noted):

  • Oysters have been found attached to bricks, boats, cans, tires, bottles, crabs, and turtles, but they prefer to attach to other oysters. 
  • All oysters sold in Texas must be certified, which means they must be harvested, handled, processed, and stored in accordance state and federal standards.
  • Oysters are protandric–in the first year, they spawn as males, but as they grow larger and develop more energy reserves, they spawn as females. From eggs, they hatch into free-swimming veliger; once they land they become spat.
  • Because they are filter-feeders, oysters may ingest pollutants out of the water.
  • Oysters are in best condition in winter and early spring, but are good to eat all year long.
  • A world record has not been established for the most pearls in an oyster, but a Galveston Bay oyster containing 356 pearls must be a leading contender. Because the commercial oyster lacks the ingredient in its secretion to form the mother-of-pearl coating that gives the luster and beauty of the true pearl, its pearls, although interesting, are not valuable.
  • Oysters may be taken by hand, with tongs or by oyster dredge (more about oyster regulations)
  • Galveston Bay oysters are being passed off as Blue Points and Chincoteagues in other parts of the country. (Robb Walsh’s book Sex, Death, and Oysters.)

If we are lucky, keep an eye out for two future oyster events: Bayou City Waterkeeper’s Folks ‘N Oysters on Nov. 7, 2020, and Galveston Bayou Foundation’s inaugural Houston Oyster Festival in spring 2021.

The image of an eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, is (c) Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

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


CEC NOTES

Houston Environment in Review: Midyear Survey

What you think have been the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region so far this year? Take two minutes to take our survey, and you can see what other people have submitted. We’ll check back in at the end of the year.

Call for submissions: Wild About Houston Green Film Festival

The CEC is proud to host the third annual Wild About Houston Green Film Festival on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. CEC hopes to use this festival to tell local environmental stories, highlight the work of CEC’s member organizations, and to inspire our residents and visitors to make a difference in the environment and our quality of life. The festival will be held virtually to protect the health and safety of our community in these times. We invite you to submit a film for consideration. Films should be specific to the environment in the Houston/Gulf Coast Region, should be no more than seven minutes long, and must be of suitable quality to be shown publicly. Find the Submission Guidelines here, and make submissions here.

Educators Professional Development in 2020

CEC’s HERE in Houston has compiled a listing of professional development opportunities for educators, including registration links, throughout the remainder of the year. Find the full listing (and send updates) at hereinhouston.org.

Environmental Educators Exchange

The next virtual meeting of the Environmental Educators Exchange (EEVENGERS) will be held August 14, 2020, from 9:45-10:15 a.m. All are welcome to join us and take a few minutes to share best practices for environmental education in the Houston region this fall. Based on lessons learned during summer programs, come prepared to discuss what is and what’s not working and questions for the EE community. Sing up on this Google form.

Trivia Night Results

CEC congratulates our July 29 Plastic Free Trivia Night winners: Lisa Rasberry, who won a one-year membership to the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center; and Adam R. Perkins, who won beer glasses from the American Association of Zoo Keepers Houston Chapter and a produce box from Sustainable Harvesters. CEC sincerely thanks our sponsors: Houston Arboretum, American Association of Zoo Keepers Houston Chapter, and Sustainable Harvesters.

Environmental Issues Virtual Forum with Candidates for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3

On August 20, 2020, the Houston environmental community will host a virtual candidate forum with Tom Ramsey and Michael Moore, the two candidates for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3. We invite you to join as Houston environmental leaders ask questions. This informational forum is not affiliated with any party or candidate. Advance registration is required. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information on joining the ZOOM meeting. Tendremos un intérprete disponible para cualquier persona que desea escuchar en Español. Se proveera instrucciones cuando comience la reunión de Zoom. Advance registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/environmentalforum2020. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information on joining the meeting. Event co-hosts include:

Air Alliance Houston * Bayou City Waterkeeper * Bayou Land Conservancy *
Bayou Preservation Association * CEER  (Coalition for Environment, Equity and Resilience) * Citizens Climate Lobby * Citizens’ Environmental Coalition * Galveston Bay Foundation *
Houston Audubon Society * Houston Sierra Club * Houston Tomorrow * Katy Prairie Conservancy * National Wildlife Federation * Save Buffalo Bayou * THEA (Texas Health and Environment Alliance)


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 July 29, 2020

National Farmers Market Week, Community Resilience Task Force bylaws meeting, Creating School Gardens, Climate Change Emergency course, From Reef Raiders to Tasty Treats, regional Water Quality Management Plan, The Resilient Garden, Green Jobs, and more

Happy National Farmers Market Week! It starts on Sunday and we have a great deal to celebrate.

In 2004, Urban Harvest’s Saturday Farmers Market started with just seven vendors, providing an outlet for community and backyard gardeners to sell fresh produce harvested directly from their own soils. Today, many of the original vendors – including Animal Farm, Atkinson Farms, and Pat Greer’s Kitchen – are now part of one of Texas’ largest farmers markets, supporting over 70 local Houston farmers market vendors.

As the Urban Harvest Farmers Market has grown, the number of markets registered with USDA has grown, more than doubling nationwide. It is likely that the increase has been even more dramatic in the Houston region. Recent additions to the market scene have included markets in food deserts as well as participation in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

According to the USDA Farmers Market Directory, almost 40 markets are within 50 miles of downtown Houston, but not all markets are registered. Other directories list a handful of on-farm markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venues, but these listings appear to be even more under-reported than for farmers markets.

None of the markets are operating the way they were before COVID, but many of them–including Urban Harvest’s Saturday Farmers Market–are still open, albeit with adjustments. In addition to masks and social distancing, online pre-orders and drive-thru service are now available at the Urban Harvest Market. (Be sure to check out Urban Harvest’s “Climate Change Emergency” course information, below.)

Central City Co-op, a hybrid between a flexible CSA and a farmers market, has also made some changes in addition to COVID adjustments. The Co-op’s farmers continue to harvest on Mondays and Tuesdays for online ordering and pickup on Wednesdays. What is especially new is the Co-op’s new location and hours. On June 3, after more than 10 years in Montrose, Central City Co-op has moved to a new location in the Heights, at 420 E 20th St. The new digs are open Tuesday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm and Sunday 8 am – 3 pm (and they sell coffee). Check out the Co-op’s Instagram page for recipes, cute puppy pictures, and beautiful photos–including the pepper photo–of what they are selling at the Co-op.

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


CEC NOTES

Houston Environment in Review: Midyear Survey

What you think have been the most significant environmental accomplishments, controversies, issues, news, and events in the greater Houston region so far this year? Take two minutes to take our survey, and you can see what other people have submitted. We’ll check back in at the end of the year.

Call for submissions: Wild About Houston Green Film Festival

The CEC is proud to host the third annual Wild About Houston Green Film Festival on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. CEC hopes to use this festival to tell local environmental stories, highlight the work of CEC’s member organizations, and to inspire our residents and visitors to make a difference in the environment and our quality of life. The festival will be held virtually to protect the health and safety of our community in these times. We invite you to submit a film for consideration. Films should be specific to the environment in the Houston/Gulf Coast Region, should be no more than seven minutes long, and must be of suitable quality to be shown publicly. Find the Submission Guidelines here, and make submissions here.

Environmental Issues Virtual Forum with Candidates for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3

On August 20, 2020, the Houston environmental community will host a virtual candidate forum with Tom Ramsey and Michael Moore, the two candidates for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 3. We invite you to join as Houston environmental leaders ask questions. This informational forum is not affiliated with any party or candidate. Advance registration is required. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information on joining the ZOOM meeting. Tendremos un intérprete disponible para cualquier persona que desea escuchar en Español. Se proveera instrucciones cuando comience la reunión de Zoom. Advance registration is required at https://tinyurl.com/environmentalforum2020. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email with information on joining the meeting. Event co-hosts include:

Air Alliance Houston * Bayou City Waterkeeper * Bayou Land Conservancy *
Bayou Preservation Association * CEER  (Coalition for Environment, Equity and Resilience) * Citizens Climate Lobby * Citizens’ Environmental Coalition * Galveston Bay Foundation *
Houston Audubon Society * Houston Sierra Club * Houston Tomorrow * Katy Prairie Conservancy * National Wildlife Federation * Save Buffalo Bayou * THEA (Texas Health and Environment Alliance)


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