Tonight, I begin the Green Monday series, Green Party orientations for the Green-curious. We'll be meeting, greeting, drinking, and discussing the party's past, present, future, and mythology. This meetups will take place at various area taverns: Tonight's is at Axelrad Beer Garden, 1517 Alabama Street at Almeda. (For the geographically challenged, that's Alabama Street in Midtown, not West Alabama in Montrose.) Yes, it is inspired by the Drinking Liberally meetups, but it's different.
Additional sessions will be occurring on Mondays for as long as we can stand it, except the fourth Monday of any month. The Harris County Green Party's general business meetings happen on the fourth Mondays. The locations will appear in later posts.
Meanwhile, our Green comrades Henry and Alma Cooper have begun a series of meet-n-greets at public libraries, mostly inside the Loop. We started this past Saturday at the Carnegie Branch Library in the Near Northside. We weren't really sure what the presentation would consist of, so we kinda make it up as we went. We have a better idea now. Future iterations include:
- Saturday 17 September, Mancuso Library, 6767 Bellfort, 2:30-4:30
- Saturday 8 October, Smith Library, 3624 Scott, 2:30-4:30
- Saturday 15 October, Looscan Library, 2510 Willowick, 2:30-4:30
- Wednesday 19 October, Heights Library, 1302 Heights Blvd., 6:30-8:00
Jillmania! is a worthy blog that someone who goes by dylanfreak has revived after a long post-2012-election hiatus. Here's a short entry published on 11 September about Jill Stein's adventures in the Dakotas. In a proverbial nutshell, dylanfreak notes that Jill's unauthorized spray-painting on the blade of a bulldozer is a pretty damn petty crime compared to what the major-party nominees have done.
Big New HEB
Lastly, I want to give a shout-out to Houston's District D Councilmember Dwight Boykins and HEB. They and some other folks from the city and elsewhere put on quite a presentation for a standing-room-only crowd at the Judson Robinson Center in Hermann Park last Wednesday. They held a community forum to inform citizens about the proposed new HEB supermarket to be built at TX-288 and North MacGregor Way, which also gave folks an opportunity to make comments and ask questions.
Mr. Boykins, something about this deal doesn't smell right. Kayleen in particular has been doing the math—not the budgetary math, but the human-cost math.
One of the reasons the city is involved with this project is that it received federal grant money to help eliminate food deserts. For a city as car-dependent as Houston, we actually have a fair number of supermarkets offering produce in low-income neighborhoods, but these supermarkets are not necessarily within comfortable walking distance for the carless and the elderly. Ergo, food deserts.
We became suspicious about the "food desert" narrative when we learned that HEB was planning to close its store at Old Spanish Trail and Scott Street. Employees there will most likely just transfer to the new location, which will have an additional 100-150 jobs available.
The OST location, aka the "HEB in the Hood," is currently the only supermarket within walking distance of our abode, a difficult and perilous walk at best. It also features aggressive panhandlers in front, far fewer organic options than one of the yuppified HEB's, and a higher proportion of the usual processed crap that HEB's market research has concluded working class black folks demand.
Last year, Boykins worked some magic to match up the Pyburn grocery family with a location at Scott and Corder Streets; until then, the HEB was the only legitimate grocery in the South Union neighborhood. (Aldi is about to open a new location near the current HEB, but it will be smaller.)
This proposed 72,000-square-foot HEB will be closer to people living along the Almeda corridor. There are still some older apartments in the old Binz and Southmore neighborhoods, but those are rapidly being gentrified out of existence. The store will be far more convenient for residents of the luxury high-rises, mid-rises, and townhomes that have sprouted up in the last decade. In other words, it will be closer to the money.
The luxury set will not be walking to this HEB. They will spend five minutes getting to their cars in the multi-level garages, five minutes getting out of said garages, and five minutes driving to the store.
For bus fans, Metro's 4 Beechnut runs down that stretch of North MacGregor, which is one-way, but only on its westbound route through Third Ward. Eastbound passengers will need to ride the 4 along South MacGregor to where the route backtracks on Ardmore Street, get off at Ennis, and then wait for a westbound bus (or walk the remaining quarter-mile). South Union residents will need to take the northbound 5 Southmore or 54 Scott and transfer to the 4 Beechnut (quite a bit out of the way) to get there.
People who decry urban food deserts can take a pebble of encouragement from something I heard a TSU professor say two years ago. On Election Day 20214, we were working for Protect the Vote at MacGregor Elementary School, sitting outside, talking about new developments like the Mosaic, a neo-urbanist luxury high-rise on Almeda Road at Hermann Drive. The professor noted, just as the recent energy boom was showing signs of a downturn, that the Mosaic was having trouble keeping its occupancy numbers up; by his reckoning, within 15 years it would be mostly subsidized housing.
Food desert issue solved! Move the people where the food is, as soon as there aren't enough wealthy people to keep the high-ticket housing viable! And it will take just a tad more than a decade!