Harvey’s impact on Houston - one of the nation’s largest petrochemical complexes - is still felt one year later.
This weekend, local environmental and social justice organizations will gather with Houston residents for a People’s Tribunal at Texas Southern University to draw attention to Harvey’s lasting impact on Houston. The two-day event will unpack how the housing, immigration, labor, and environmental crises facing the city are part of global climate change trends already impacting the city’s most vulnerable populations.
The Tribunal will serve as a grassroots reckoning of government and corporate neglect that caused Harvey’s flooding to disproportionately impact low-income and vulnerable communities in the Gulf region. Through the testimony of residents, community leaders, and experts, the People’s Tribunal will also engage attendees in imagining creative, people-first solutions.
Opening Ceremony & Presentation on Changing Climates
Friday August 24th 6 - 9PM
Houston has seen a number of extreme weather events that have become more frequent, more costly and more unpredictable leading to environmental and public health concerns; housing shortages and unsafe living conditions; wage theft, dangerous working conditions and other forms of exploitation of labor; continued criminalization and marginalization of our diverse immigrant population; from drought to floods, hurricanes to forest fires, it is these vulnerable populations that stand to suffer the most and who contribute the least to the overall climate changing emissions that have continued unabated.
Harris County ranks number one in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to other counties across the nation. The county is home to the largest concentration of petrochemical facilities, storage tanks and infrastructure in the world and continues to expand, increase production and build new export facilities. Houston continues to lead the nation in promoting fossil fuel production across the globe despite being hit with back to back floods from unprecedented amounts of rain, increased hits from hurricanes and recurrent drought conditions.
Track One: Housing
Saturday, August 25, 9:30 - 10:20AM
Harvey left over 40,000 apartment uninhabitable and damaged thousands of homes. The most vulnerable Houstonians are still struggling to get the correct assistance and many may never recover. Witnesses will share personal and neighborhood stories of recovering from the storm amid rising housing costs, low housing stock, and intensifying gentrification. (Photo: Ernesto Leon)
Track Two: Environmental Justice
Saturday, August 25, 10:25 - 11:25AM
Houston is the home of the oil industry and has a checkered history of environmental injustice. During this track, residents from fenceline communities will share the impact of the storm (and the release of dangerous chemicals that went with it) on their lives. (Photo: Bryan Parras)
Track Three: Immigration and Harvey
Saturday, August 25, 12:30 - 1:30PM
Hurricane Harvey hit just as SB4 was passed, making it even more difficult for undocumented Houstonians to recover with dignity. During this track, we'll learn how migrant communities responded to the dual threats posed by the storm and recent immigration policy. (Photo: Bryan Parras)
Track Four: Labor and Harvey
Saturday, August 25, 1:30- 2:30PM
With a Harvey-sized disaster comes the need for massive rebuilding and large numbers of workers across trades. We'll hear from those getting our city back on its feet about their experience with wage theft and dangerous conditions since Harvey. (Photo: Liana Lopez)
Launching in Houston, the first stop of the Stories of Survival Tour - which spans from the Gulf South to Puerto Rico, coinciding with observances of the devastating disasters during hurricane season - will bring people together to learn, deepen connections, and share stories about community-centered solutions and strategies for survival in the face of climate change. The evening will include solar-powered “Cine Solar” film screenings, a community cena with free food, community storytelling, collective visioning, and unique artistic and cultural offerings.
The People's Tribunal on Harvey Recovery is sponsored by the Houston Organzing Movement for Equity (HOME) Coalition - which includes Texas Housers, Texas Organizing Project, SEIU, AFL-CIO, Workers Defense Project, West Street Recovery, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service (tejas) and more local organizations - and the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School for Public Affair at Texas Southern University, with support from partner organizations including the Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Father of Environmental Justice" Dr. Robert Bullard and Juan Parras of tejas will serve as Tribunal co-chairs.
(If you can't attend in person, RSVP to follow along on the live stream. We'll send you a link once we go live.)