Unprecedented political and social unrest, as well as an unrelenting series of natural disasters, beginning with Hurricane Harvey here in southeast Texas, knocked Americans for a loop in 2017. Despite the massive scale of trauma that has inundated our country, the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition not only withstood the sound and fury of the past 12 months, but emerged stronger, with a number of significant achievements.
Through the swirling winds of dissension over climate change and the pollution of our planet, the CEC remained a steadfast voice of reason, as evidenced by our annual events: the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour and the Greater Houston Environmental Summit.
The two-night January film fest drew 530 people, who viewed works on environmental subjects ranging from the local–the devastating dioxin contamination of the San Jacinto River–to the international–the founding, by an 11-year-old German boy, of an organization that has planted millions of trees to combat climate change.
In August, our Environmental Summit attracted its largest audience in recent history, with 150 spirited attendees. Featured at the event was a panel on climate change, hosted in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of EarthShare of Texas. Other speakers included Elizabeth Love of Houston Endowment, who presented valuable fund-raising tips for nonprofit groups, and Juan Parras, a fierce advocate for environmental justice who serves as director of the activist organization T.E.J.A.S.
Back in April, the CEC hosted another event, in celebration of Earth Day Houston: our “Stump the Treehugger” environmental trivia contest. Held at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, the challenge drew over 120 environmental sages, who competed in teams to answer a slew of thorny questions, many of which were provided by CEC member organizations.
Our Earth Day Houston activities will continue next year, when the CEC plans to partner with the Discovery Green Conservancy to host a much bigger extravaganza. Stay tuned to Houston Environmental News Update in 2018 for more information about this exciting event.
Speaking of the newsletter, Houston Environmental News Update reaches 4,900 subscribers like you each week with the latest articles on the environment; event listings; green job postings; and member-group announcements. As the only publication of its kind in the Gulf Coast region, our e-newsletter is truly unique.
We also keep readers informed about a multitude of environmental activities through the CEC website, which attracts 50,000 visits a year, as well as social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which have a combined CEC audience of 3,400 followers. We expect these figures to increase next year the closer we get to Earth Day.
And in the realm of print, the CEC was proud to have provided the feature article, “The Greening of Houston: How Your Family Can Help,” for the April edition of Houston Family Magazine. We were also called upon to serve as a key news source during the anguished days of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, providing background information, interviews, and referrals to reporters from KUHF, KPFT, the Houston Chronicle, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Mundo Hispanico Houston, Texas Climate News, the German newspaper Bild, Reuters, and Al Jazeera.
While 2017 proved to be one of the most challenging years in our city’s, and country’s, history, the CEC continued to thrive, thanks in large part to our members and friends. Over the past year, the number of attendees at CEC events increased by almost 60 percent, and over the past five years, donations to the CEC by individuals have increased by 100 percent.
We hope to continue success stories like these in 2018. Best wishes for the new year from all of us at the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition!