On the eve of Houston Appreciation Weekend , The Hive Society highlights 8 things in Houston that are worthy of appreciation. Check out the list below:
The Houston Food Bank
As the largest food bank in the country, the Houston Food Bank serves an integral role in feeding families in the Greater Area of Houston. There are two locations in the city: Keegan Kitchen, which you’ve probably seen the “End Hunger” artwork on the side of the building off of I-45 headed North, and the Portwall facility, Houston Food Bank’s main facility off of Interstate-10 headed West.
The Keegan Kitchen is a 3,700 square foot facility at the Mary Barden Keegan Center located on the North Freeway just north of downtown Houston. With help from volunteers, culinary trainees participating in the Serving for Success Program, and Food Bank staff, hot and frozen meals are prepared for the Kids Cafe. The production of all meals is overseen by Chef Jose Montoya, who has years of experience bringing skill and love to the food he prepares.
The Portwall Facility is an air-conditioned 308,000 square feet state-of-the-art warehouse, where volunteers can assist with numerous activities, such as sort and properly label incoming donations, prepare outgoing donations, and stuff backpacks for the Houston Food Bank’s “Backpack Buddy” program, a program that provides nutritious kid-friendly food is provided on weekends for at-risk children in schools grade K-12, as well as at summer meal program sites.
How Hunger Affects Houston [Source]
I’ve volunteered for a year at the Houston Food Bank and each event is more fulfilling than the previous one. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here.
Remember, every $1 that you donate can provide 3 meals
We all know LA and NYC are historically the cities that first come to mind when you think of the entertainment business. However, in recent years, those savvy to the industry will tell you the emerging cities such New Orleans and Austin are taking the film world by storm and Chicago and Minneapolis are giving London and New York theatre a run for their money.
It’s fair to say Houston, TX as a whole has significantly increased its cultural visibility and impact in recent years, however, you may be surprised to find that the city is a secretly evolving theatre hub.
Houston’s theater district is second only to New York City for density of theater offerings, which includes the Tony-Award winning, prestigious Alley Theatre. However throughout the greater Houston area one can find the audience or the performance to best fulfill their needs from the edgy Catastrophic Theatre to re-visioned classics with The Classical Theatre Company to bright and jazzy musicals at Theatre Under the Stars.
Some of my favorite theatres and companies include Mildred’s Umbrella, The Ensemble Theatre, The Encore Theatre, Talento Bilingue de Houston, Theatre Suburbia, Stages Repertory Theatre, Standing Room Only Productions, Main Street Theatre, Obisidian Art Space, Company on Stage, Stark Naked Theatre Company and Black Lab Theatre to name a few.
With spaces like Studio 101 in the Heights it has become easier to venture outside the 17 block radius that makes up the Houston Theatre District within downtown. This space is home to various types of art beyond theatre such as puppetry and jewelry makers. However, my new favorite trend that I hope continues are those who have taken to local bars, rooftops and restaurants to stage plays and readings all while said establishment continues to operate as regularly scheduled. It’s jarring but exciting walking into your favorite local spot to find a live performance in progress –a pleasant surprise.
College theatre cannot go unnoticed. TSU, Rice and UH all frequently stage new and classic works as well as their respective faculties attract world-class playwrights and actors to participate in the daily structures of these institutions.
Houston’s cultural scene is exploding and thanks enthusiastic talent within the city, it won’t be long before Houston is synonymous with strong theatrical performances.
The Rise of a New Sports Era
The last time you could probably remember Houston being at the peak of sports hierarchy was when the Rockets won back-to-back championships in between ’93-’95. Ever since then, we’ve had nothing to look forward to in the sports world. It’s been years of drought and turmoil as sports fans in Houston have dealt with consecutive losses alongside deathly heat, growing traffic and only one amusement park to entertain ourselves with. If you’ve been paying attention, however, there’s new hope in a multitude of scenarios in Clutch City as we approach a new dawn of sports teams in Houston.
There’s a new soccer team in town by the name of the Houston Dynamo (who’ve recently had a new stadium built for them in 2012) that have won back-to-back MLS Cups in the 2006-2007 season. This is now the youngest sports team in the city (following the Texans who were established in 2002), but with a new place to work and grow, we’re expecting even more championships from our fútbol team.
Speaking of the Houston Texans, we have now embarked the “O’Brien Era” after enduring an excruciating nine years under the leadership of former Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Bill O’Brien (or as we liked to call him Billy Business) is a man who prides himself on family and unity but one that also doesn’t take any shit. He has that toughness in a coach that you’d want to see. The team’s new focus and demeanor can be pleasing and comforting as true Texans fans watch meticulously to develop a new understanding of what’s to expect this season. With a newly acquired beast at OLB/DL Jedeveon Clowney playing alongside Houston’s Hero, J.J. Watt, expect the defense to be the highlight of your after-church Sunday routines. Although the QB position is up for grabs, expect nothing but the best from our offense with WRs Andre Johnson & Deandre Hopkins, RB Arian Foster (if he can remain healthy), and also a newly acquired OT Xavier Su’a Filo that will be there to help beef up our O-Line.
The Houston Rockets are pretty much at the top of the totem pole when it comes to expectancy in championships. We’ve acquired superstars SG James Harden (who made the All-Star NBA first team which hasn’t been done since Olajuwon in 1997) and C Dwight Howard (who finished the season averaging 18.3 points and 12.2 rebounds) in the past 2 years and we’re expecting GM Daryl Morey to add one more basketball celebrity to the bunch. After the first year of playing together, this new Rockets team was able to finish 4th in the Western Conference (2nd in the Southwest division behind the Spurs) with a record of 54-28. This is great news considering how we were just 34-32 only two years ago during the NBA Strike. With another addition to the team, we’re hoping for the Rockets to manage the ability to make it further than the 1st round in the playoffs and truly be a contender for a championship in the next few years.
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t expect me to have anything positive to say about the below-average Houston Astros though. I actually do think there’s something hopeful about what’s to come for the city’s most shameful sports team. This team hasn’t finished with a winning record since 2008 and hasn’t been to the World Series since 2005. Unknown to the public, we’ve acquired former Cardinals GM, Jeff Luhnow, who’s been working rigorously to rebuild such a dismantled baseball team. Life has been brought back with newly acquired players: Rookie George Springer (who has had a hot streak of 7 Home Runs and 17 RBIs in an 11-game period) and prodigy lefty pitcher, 17-year-old Brady Aiken (who pitched for the gold-medal winning USA baseball team) and Carlos Correa (the 3rd Puerto Rican to be selected 1st overall in the MLB draft). You also shouldn’t sleep on big hitters Jon Singleton and Chris Carter as well. The Astros have went 13-5 in their last 18 games and are currently sitting at 30-37 for the season after starting the season with a record of 11-26. As Houstonians, we can only pray that this success lasts into the postseason (or at least that we can see it).
Point is…don’t sleep on Houston Sports.
The Project Row Houses
Founded in 1993 as a result of the vision of local African-American artists who wanted to have a positive creative presence in their own community. Rick Lowe, the founder of the project, was said to be inspired after being approached by high school students whom asked him for creative solutions to problems in urban America rather than just creating pieces which depicted them. Project Row Houses which started originally as a block and half has grown to 6 blocks and from 22 houses to 40 properties.
Deborah Grotfeldt created the concepts of the Young Residential Program, which went into operation in 1996. Grotfeldt has been apart of PRH since its initial creation. The program gives single mothers one year of housing to allow them to finish their studies and create a foundation of themselves.
I have seen first hand the effect that PRH has on the people in the Third Ward community surrounding the installation. They provide food, internet, and most importantly a place were people can gather for positive reinforcement. Ever time I have went to PRH you can feel the positive energy that the people possess. Each piece of art in the house depicts a time in history and an artists interpretation of that time.
Houston has a long history of street art and street artists taking residence here. You can be on various sides of town and find some awesome street art tucked away in a place you’d least expect it. It could be on an underpass, on a barrier wall on a freeway, on a massive wall of an auto parts store, or who knows where else. Significantly differing crews and artists call Houston their home and rep this place proudly, with one great example being the art dedicated to the late Elroy Boogie who passed away last year. Houston’s street artists support each other and keep each other busy creating and bettering their art all the time, so it’s easy to see how a crew like Aerosol Warfare can do so much for the culture, for example. Here are shots from an event they did that we attended last year
The Texas Medical Center
Would it be weird to say: “If you get sick, or shot, or need emergency surgery, than you better hope you live in Houston…”? IS that weird? Or is the truth? One of the things the 7 million people who live in the Greater Houston area (or in all of Texas for that matter) appreciate the most, is that we have the largest and most advanced medical center on the Planet. No, I’m not kidding. I mean we’re the best place on Earth to be if you’re sick and in need of professional care!
The Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world with one of the highest densities of clinical facilities for patient care, basic science, and translational research. With the epicenter located in South Houston (does the southside) the center contains 54 medicine-related institutions, including 21 hospitals and eight specialty institutions, eight academic and research institutions, three medical schools, six nursing schools, and schools of dentistry, public health, pharmacy, and other health-related practices. The Center is where one of the first and largest air ambulance services was created, word to Life-Flight, and it is also where one of the first successful inter-institutional transplant programs was developed. More heart surgeries are performed in Texas Medical Center than anywhere else in the world. Anywhere else on the PLANET Bruh! All 54 of these institutions are not-for-profit yet in 2011, the center employed over 106,000 people, including 20,000 physicians, scientists, researchers and other advanced degree professionals in the life sciences. (And a lot of y’all looked at me sideways when I made The Hive Society a non-profit…). The Center exceeds one thousand acres (or 1.562 square mile) in size and receives 160,000 daily visitors and over seven million annual patient visits, including over 18,000 international patients. Personally, both of my parents were employed in the Texas Medical Center for most of my life, and my father has been working for the Fondren Orthopedic Group for over 25 years… MY WHOLE LIFE WAS SUPPORTED BY THIS PLACE BASICALLY. Not only does the Texas Medical Center save lives, but it supports lives as well, with a local economic impact of about $10 billion annually. Almost all of us knows someone who was saved by Ben Taub… so it is definitely worth appreciating the TMC.
The Sound that told the whole world to “Slow Down…”
A whole way of life that spawned from the creation of Robert Earl Davis, Jr., the Screw Culture is one of the unique things about this great city which I appreciate so much. An identity that is specific to the metropolis of southeast Texas. The late Robert Davis, a.k.a. DJ Screw was the originator of “Chopped and screwed” music, and is therefore the creator of the culture.
Chopped & Screwed music refers to a technique of remixing hip hop music which developed in the Houston hip hop scene in the 1990’s. Preceding the early 1990’s, most Southern hip hop was upbeat and fast, like Miami bass, pioneered by Uncle Luke. But it was DJ Screw, which some say happened onto his style on accident while partaking in his favorite vice of “sippin drank,” that started making everything slow down. Enjoying the new sound, and how it fit well with the laid back lifestyle of the Southside of Houston, between 1986 and 1994 went from playing around with the sound privately amongst friends to selling “screw tapes/gray tapes” for $10 out the trunk of his car by the case load. By the time DJ Screw made 1995’s “3 ‘n the Mornin’ pt. 2,” what many believed to be an odd fad in hip hop became one of the first major sub-genres of the then fairly young hip hop musical genre. I’m not going to sit here and say that Codeine/Promethazine is the reason for the Culture’s surge in popularity, and I won’t say that it wasn’t a factor either. What I will say is that people love the sound and the culture whether they partake in any form of recreational drugs or not. And now the Screw Culture is loved and appreciated across the globe, as we can see it’s influences in artists like Drake, A$AP Rocky and many other artists from outside of the Lone Star State. But no one can deny that it’s a product of Houston, TX, and it is something we can all appreciate and be proud of…
I’m sure ever native Houstonian has noticed the influx of out of town and out of state people moving into our amazing city and I am sure you want to know why. It’s simple; our economics here are beating out ever other major city in the US. Houston has ranked among the top 5 consistently with some of the cheapest housing.
Basically when it comes to buying a house or any property (commercial or residential) the costs here are way cheaper than anywhere else in the country. That alone will bring people. But add on the fact that the unemployment rate is lower in Houston than the National average. To sum it up, cost of living is cheaper and we have more job opportunities. Houston is slowly becoming the American Dream all by ourselves. We’re winning and no one wants to take L’s so they are relocating. As beautiful as that is and as great as that is for the Houston economy that’s making traffic way more cumbersome than it already is. So as you prepare to travel wherever you are within the city “May the [traffic] odds ever be in your favor.”