This week's blog-a-thon contains quite a few intriguing-looking links, IMHO. That's not to say that I'll click through all of them, and I seldom do, but there's plenty of stuff below that looks as if it will hit home.
I have already taken a peak at Durrel Douglas's piece regarding "racism in the progressive movement," on his Houston Justice blog. It was not what I expected, but it's an important read. Activist organizations—particularly those addressing issues of racial justice—seriously need to put more POC in the top decision-making roles, he reminds us. It isn't just a matter of crusty old white folks being racially insensitive (or just plain clueless) at meetings, as unfortunate and sadly pervasive as that might be.
To no one's great surprise, the big story in Texas remains a mix of cleanup efforts and ruminations on how public policy must focus on flood-proofing counties near the Gulf coast. We've just completed three weeks since that ungodly wet weekend, but it's just over a week that residents near the Addicks Reservoir can even get to their homes to assess the damage. I find myself both nauseated by the constant Harvey focus in local news outlets and addicted to it.
This is what I did between calls at the Blackboard help desk this afternoon. It has been quite some time since I last posted a blog entry on hcgp.org, and I took too long getting around to putting up something Harvey-related. But then, so has the rest of the party.
Everybody and his proverbial dog has posted something about our recent unwelcome parade-pisser-onner Harvey, on magnillions of websites and social media pages. The Harris County Green Party's Steering Committee hasn't even posted an Ooh, Look! Climate Change in Action! piece. Some of them have been rather busy dealing with the after-effects of two feet of standing water in their living rooms.
As HCGP has no designated blogmeister, I took on the task and presumed to speak for the party organization. Having known these folks for 17 years or more, I feel comfortable in presuming, even though I no longer attend regular meetings.
I hope you enjoy it and are sufficiently inspired to click some of the many links in it.
UPDATE: As sustainability wonk Jay Crossley so eloquently put it on Facebook, Wow. Just wow. (From the Dallas Morning News, so you may run into a paywall.)
In a variety of ways, blogging can be a public service before, during, and after an event like Harvey. If used correctly, blogs don't just keep the reading public informed; they also can give them more positive feelings on which to return from disaster mode to routine. When we talk about "recovery" after a disaster, what we really mean is recovering or rebuilding the life we had before, perhaps not wholly but in large part—i.e., in the Texas idiom, getting back to bidness.
If we or our loved ones lose treasured objects or people, we lose part of that life-before. In essence, it is a partial death. For most of us, grieving is a healthy and necessary process, even if we are (in a sense) mourning for ourselves.
But I have not been blogging much lately. When opportunities have arisen, I have instead spent parts of two days helping friends empty their inundated homes, and parts of two other days involved in the Burners Without Borders Harvey Relief effort. The BWB group and others met at warehouse location in Houston's Near Northside to assemble packages of donated food, clothing, toiletries, and cleaning supplies for shelters and neighborhoods all over Southeast Texas. After a hot and busy Sunday afternoon, when I had time to breathe, it occurred to me that I had never been so proud to call myself a Burner: not for anything I had done that day, but for the way my friends made it all happen.
Harvey has drifted off to the northeast, still moving slowly, dumping a zillion gallons per hour on the Piney Woods of Texas and Louisiana. We have clear to partly cloudy conditions here in South-Central Houston today; yesterday, in light to moderate rainfall, I was helping a friend and his family move lots of stuff out of their flood-damaged home and surveying where Brays Bayou had lapped over some of its bridges inside Loop 610.
The university where I work remains closed, with classes canceled, but I will likely make a trip into the office to take care of some overdue business. Before that, however, I wanted to post this as an add-on to Monday's entry.
There has certainly been no shortage of articles, from various web publications, about the exact topic of Monday's entry. I wanted to link to just a few of those here.
Here's a pretty good piece from Ana Campoy and David Yanofsky on Quartz.
Naturally, Dahr Jamail weighs in on the climate angle, his specialty, for Truthout.
And at least one contributor thought it appropriate to mention the twin scourges of climate disruption and suburban development in the Wikipedia entry for Hurricane Harvey.
All for now.
Friday night, as Hurricane Harvey was pulling ashore near Matagorda Bay, we got a little rain here in Greater H-Town. It wasn't enough to scare my visiting brother into packing up his three sons and his new ladyfriend and all their stuff to leave town ahead of their scheduled Saturday morning departure. The Friday night meet & greet proceeded as planned; they rolled out of our sister's driveway early Saturday and arrived safely in Pennsylvania last night. The boys presumably made it to the first day of school this morning.
Meanwhile, here in Southeast Texas, we are not having school this week. Thanks to Tropical Marathon Summer Shower Harvey, in many places, the water is too high even for a school bus to get safely through. Area districts will resume (or in some cases start classes) the Tuesday after Labor Day. My own employer, a small private university, just now announced that it is closed for the entire week. (My director just texted to say that we'd soon have more news on extended closure soon.)
Most businesses are closed; social media outlets are useful for informing us which are actually open. Metro service is suspended, although yesterday I saw an Out of Service bus on Scott Street, presumably taking people to a storm shelter. Some surrounding communities are under mandatory evacuation. There are far fewer cars and trucks on our streets than usual, but yesterday on a reconnaissance walk I witnessed people parking their vehicles on Scott where it crosses Brays Bayou, getting out, and taking video of the high and rushing water.
Stormy Thoughts and Tweets
Hey Lee & Jill, I love you guys, but it's not certain whether we can pin the blame for Harvey on Anthropogenic Climate Disruption. While my neighbors and I endure this unprecedented amount of moisture, I have been careful not to kvetch on my social networks about climate change and those who enable it.
Presumably, according to the scientific consensus, ACD is to blame for our planet having more frequent, more intense, and wetter tropical cyclones. The amount of precipitation from Harvey breaks all records locally, but a lot of folks around Alvin still talk about 1979, Victoria about 1998, even if they don't remember that storms by name (Claudette and—well, Victoria's storm didn't even have a name).
However, just as Katrina was a man-made disaster in 2005, I see Harvey as a continuation of a man-made disaster that has spanned multiple years. With Katrina, the lack of evacuation infrastructure and the inadequate structural integrity of the levees killed more people and caused more misery in Greater New Orleans than the storm itself. You could also throw in the loss of wetlands and mangrove patches in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, wetlands that would have absorbed a lot of the rain.
In the ever-expanding Houston metropolitan area, we've lost some wetlands too. More importantly, we've been losing prairies. To the northwest, west, southwest, and south of the city, developers have been turning those prairies (as well as the old rice farms) into subdivisions. There is far less permeable ground in the watersheds of the bayous that flow from those prairies. The subdivisions discharge their treated sewage back into the bayous. Downstream, older neighborhoods that formerly flooded never or very seldom have had devastating floods four times in the last three years.
Meanwhile, inside the Loop and just beyond it, older single-family homes and duplexes with yards (aka, affordable housing) have been razed and replaced with omnipresent, butt-ugly, multi-story townhomes on big concrete slabs with token vegetation deployed here and there (aka, profitable housing).
Bigger, Faster, Stupider
The connection between development (which is not exactly new) and the recent flooding is officially controversial, as this article notes. Even stupid development is not new: Just ask the folks who bought in Cy-Fair–area subdivisions like Norchester and Ravensway, both situated right along Cypress Creek.
But there are reasons, other than the Attwater's Prairie Chicken, for concerned citizens having fought against development of the Katy Prairie and the construction of the Grand Parkway for so many years. Even Republican candidates for elective office havepublicly and vociferously opposed the Grand Parkway, which has kicked the sprawl machine into top gear. Just as the oil & gas companies are now resorting to high-risk strategies like tar sands, deepwater drilling, and hydrofracking, the housing mafia has begun gobbling up the most vulnerable lands that might protect the area from Harvey-esque catastrophic flooding.
The painful part for me is that I have friends who live and work in that sprawl—e.g., teaching the children of the Sprawlites. One of them posted photos yesterday of Seven Lakes High School, which over the weekend has turned into One Lake.
Inside the city, the builders may be building for density, but they're doing it stupidly and maliciously. Townhomes and luxury mid-rises are pushing out students, working folk, and families who have lived in their neighborhoods for generations but can no longer afford the property taxes on their over-valued bungalows. The ultimate insult is the new Grey House and River Oaks District, which I've blogged about previously: a new-urbanism-style luxury apartment village with luxury boutiques on the ground floor, where rents start at if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it. (OK, it's actually about $1,700 for a 1-1.)
Rather than continue wallowing here, I may have some real wallowing to do today. I'll post a follow-up tomorrow or the next day.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.