Better Understanding of What Makes Houston Special
Just a few short items this week mostly around a common theme of understanding what makes Houston special:
- Texas Monthly: To Love Houston Is to Accept That Making Sense of It Is Futile.
- Chronicle: Houston is ugly, and I’ve never felt more at home. Excerpt:
“I love the ugliness of Houston, but I know that’s far from all this city is. I can’t wait to get to know the community that has already felt welcoming and warm and to experience the food, music, museums, parks and more. Houston is far, far more than its outward appearance.
Until then, I’ll appreciate the comforting ugliness and continue my mission of trying all the take-out I can. Houston already has the best food in Texas, hands down.”
- Good KUHF NPR story on why Houston protests have been less violent and destructive. Hat tip to George. Key excerpt:
“In Houston, African Americans enjoy high political representation, homeownership, historically black universities and several black newspapers – all of which empower the community, Conyers said.
“If people can negotiate and communicate, they don’t need protests,” he said.
Stein agreed that leadership in Houston has played an important role – and not just in city government.
“The black leadership in these communities tends to be church-centric, very much built into the churches. That’s not what you see in the North and Northeast,” he said. “And the second is, it’s an older population… and to a large extent, these are people who followed Dr. King’s nonviolence.”
Stein also credits less racial segregation than in other cities and its low density as factors that help keep Houston relatively peaceful in times of social unrest.”
- WSJ: I’m Leaving Seattle for Texas So My Employees Can Be Free – The West Coast’s high cost of living is measured not only in dollars but in stifling conformity.
- Great piece in Texas Monthly by Evan Minz on the new Houston book from Rice’s Stephen Klineberg. I get that education is critical to Houston’s future, but who’s the right model for us to follow? Who’s doing it right? I have trouble finding good examples, even in the much higher spending blue states. California spends much more per student than Texas but with worse results. The most success I’ve seen is the big charter operators – maybe we just need to let them expand even faster? That, plus more pre-K funding. The comments are also really good on this one. A favorite:
“The article is right, Houston isn’t about the city, it’s about the people. What most people outside of Houston don’t understand is what that means. Houston is an attitude, a drive, a motive. Houston thinks forward, never back. The most generous, open people you will ever meet. Houston is not a destination, it’s a journey.”</>
- WSJ: The Coming Urban Exodus – Failing progressive governance is making daily life too chaotic and stressful in many U.S. cities. A warning for Houston, where we’re already seeing population shifting out of the city and county.
- Scott Beyer, Market Urbanist: Three Ways the Government Blocks Urban Density – Limits on height, floor-area ratio, and dwelling units per acre have tremendous societal costs. Luckily Houston has very few of these. Excerpt:
“All these rules and more strip creativity and artistic flair from the city development process. Ultimately they raise rents preventing our cities from densifying, robbing the nation of wealth, productivity, and the opportunity for more people to live in economically vibrant urban settings. They’re perhaps the costliest regulations we have in the U.S., and, at least to me, make for our biggest domestic policy mistake.”
This piece first appeared on Houston Strategies.
Tory Gattis is a Founding Senior Fellow with the Center for Opportunity Urbanism and co-authored the original study with noted urbanist Joel Kotkin and others, creating a city philosophy around upward social mobility for all citizens as an alternative to the popular smart growth, new urbanism, and creative class movements. He is also an editor of the Houston Strategies blog.