To become the city the future needs it to be, Houston must invest in its people more than ever before
URBAN EDGE : February 21, 2023
When my family and I moved here from the East Coast in the early 1970s, Houston was a booming oil-based metropolis, riding the key resource of the industrial age to continuing prosperity. It was also world-famous for having imposed the fewest restrictions on development of any large American city. This was the undisputed energy capital of the world, the “Golden Buckle of the Sun Belt,” the bastion of classical laissez-faire capitalism, the epitome of “free enterprise” America — a city to be built almost entirely by developers’ decisions.
The research is clear: We must do more to help bilingual students thrive
URBAN EDGE : December 19, 2022
When English language proficiency is delayed among Houston-area students, a stark divide occurs. Today, the majority of English learners in Houston and across the state become “long-term English learners.” We now have an even clearer picture of what’s at stake and the need for early intervention. To borrow from the adage about the best time for planting trees: The best time to address the needs of English learners was years ago. The next best time is now.
Houston’s moment for transit-oriented development may have finally arrived
URBAN EDGE : December 13, 2022
This week, the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County is expected to vote on an update to the agency’s development policies—a key step as the agency fundamentally rethinks how it can influence the urban fabric of Houston so that more people can live in proximity to public transit.
Lone scarred state: Texas must contend with outsized death toll from COVID-19 and anti-vaccine attitudes
URBAN EDGE : November 14, 2022
The United States of America leads all high-income nations in COVID-19 deaths, even though as a nation it had the greatest access to antiviral vaccines and therapeutics. To understand this disconnect, we can look to the COVID-19 deaths and disability in the state of Texas. Because of COVID-19, Texas is enduring one of the greatest human tragedies in its 186-year history. It did not have to be this way.
To achieve Vision Zero, Houston must shift the way it thinks about transportation at every level
URBAN EDGE : October 20, 2022
Vision Zero has been changing traffic safety culture internationally since the 1990s, but in Houston, it did not begin until the 2010s. A traffic safety culture shift is happening among city leaders and within departments. However, transforming communitywide beliefs here will require meaningful engagement, clear strategies and sustained political will for the long road ahead.
The first project in Buffalo Bayou Park's eastward plan is its most urgent: Build more housing
URBAN EDGE : October 14, 2022
It’s really quite a lovely park, with features that check all the standard boxes: a playground, a gazebo with a big table, a soccer field, restrooms and water fountains, a paved trail that winds through the property, and lots of plain old green space. On a recent weekday afternoon, though, a visit to Tony Marron Park on Houston’s East End revealed a few glitches.
Thanks to Justice40, Port Houston investments will bring long overdue relief to Pleasantville
URBAN EDGE : October 12, 2022
My wife and I couldn’t believe it. When we retired and moved back home to Houston’s historically Black Pleasantville, just east of downtown, we smelled the unmistakable odor of the petrochemical plants and saw the close-knit community where we’d grown up surrounded by noisy freeways. The apartments where friends of mine lived had been replaced by warehouses swarming with old diesel trucks.
While we fix our flood infrastructure, let’s also improve mental health care and strengthen communities
URBAN EDGE : September 12, 2022
Natural disasters are increasingly common each year, affecting infrastructure and contributing to economic, social, health, and psychological hardships. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, it quickly amassed $125 billion in damages, displacing over a million people and their homes. Along with the economic toll of a disaster event, mental health concerns carry a cost that is difficult to measure.
Borderlands without borders: How poetry can dismantle the walls between planners and communities
URBAN EDGE : July 22, 2022
As a method of community planning, and as an impetus for creative placemaking (and placekeeping), poetry can help anyone–not just writers–think about how they are situated within their local communities and urban spaces. By writing poetry, any member of the public—in particular, those who are historically underrepresented—can turn conceptions into things that can be discussed and implemented. Since poetry has dislodged itself from patrician control and has found fertile ground in the digital landscape, it can be easily shared within local contexts and beyond.
To grow Houston’s prosperity, it must become a better place — for everyone
URBAN EDGE : June 27, 2022
As the name of my new book of essays suggests, I have always believed that place and prosperity are deeply intertwined. A city or town probably won’t be prosperous unless it has lots of place amenities – things that draw people to the location like parks, good schools, restaurants and stores, cultural institutions, walkable neighborhoods. And a city or town probably can’t afford all those amenities unless it is prosperous.