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As many of you know, I've been working on this community-building diary series, "Houston, Texas news you can use" for a couple of weeks now. I've been touting Houston as the 4th largest city in the nation. Have I been using old data? Does anyone even care? Are you still reading?

According to the Houston Chronicle today, Houston's Harris County leads nation's other counties in growth, and population gains put the Houston area in the Top 5.

The Houston metro area officially topped 6 million people last summer, surpassing Philadelphia to become the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area. The growth is part of a continued Texas juggernaut led by Harris County, which added more people than any county in the nation between April 1, 2010, and July 2011, according to census estimates released on Thursday. The estimates are an update to the official 2010 Census. One thing is clear: Texas remains a powerful draw.

School District Closures Rare, But Should They Be?
It's not often that the Texas Education Agency shutters an entire school district. But last summer, it marked two districts for closure. There's little research that indicates closing districts improves outcomes for students, but the alternative — letting chronically low-performing and financially mismanaged schools stay open — doesn't work either. It’s rare for the state to revoke the accreditation of an entire school district. Since 1995, it has only happened four times. The two districts marked for closure last summer, Premont ISD in South Texas and North Forest ISD in northeast Houston, challenged the decisions. And for the first time in TEA history, both of the districts, which are in the midst of sweeping reforms, have received one-year reprieves to make financial and academic turnarounds.

Texas’ first sex trafficking treatment center a ‘place of beginning again’
The rise of awareness of child sex trafficking in the U.S. began in the early 2000’s across the country, Tennant said, but it was Nikki Richnau, a local faith leader, that first told Tennant that Houston was a designated hub for trafficking, now the second largest illegal activity in the country. The idea for Freedom Place was born, Tennant said, with the help of volunteers, churches, and private donors.

Houston City Council votes to regulate feeding homeless with ordinance
Groups and individuals alike who wish to hand out food to hungry and homeless people in Houston will have have to get permission to do so starting July 1. The controversial new law, which passed 11-6 during a city council meeting Wednesday, would make it a misdemeanor to serve food without permission on both private and public property, which could carry a penalty of up to $500. Critics of the law say it provides an obstacle to feeding the homeless and will inhibit those wishing to serve.

Census Data Offers Look at Effects of Recession
The Census Bureau offered the first detailed picture of population shift in the United States since the end of the recession, releasing data that showed that population growth in outer suburbs — the fastest growing areas in the last decade — all but ground to a halt in 2010 and 2011, as the painful effects of the housing crisis lingered.

Houston region ranks high in industry, low in education, study says
The Houston region is strong in the nation when it comes to its industry and labor force, but it lags in education, income, wealth and poverty, the Gulf Coast Workforce Board's 2011 Workforce Report Card says. Houston earned an "A" grade in two categories: industry and employers, as well as labor force and knowledge jobs. The Gulf Coast region had the highest rate of job growth from 2004 to 2009, with 10.81 percent, which beat most of the seven cities by a large margin. Its 7.41 percent growth in business establishment between 2004 and 2009 was also the highest.

Houston Office Market Stays Robust In First Quarter
The Houston office market bucked the national trend in the first quarter of 2012. It registered robust sales and leasing activity, while growth in most other U.S. markets slowed. The Houston office market absorbed just over 900,000 square feet in the first three months of the year. Much of the activity reflected job growth in the energy sector. The largest transaction of the quarter was Noble Energy’s lease of the former HP headquarters in the Cypress area.

Hines takes on sprawling industrial complex
Houston-based Hines is taking on a major industrial project in hopes of capitalizing on the city's recovering economy. The commercial real estate developer, whose worldwide portfolio includes office, industrial, residential and mixed-use projects, is partnering with Pinto Realty Partners, a subsidiary of Cockrell Interests of Houston, to complete the development of the Pinto Business Park near Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Houston's IAH Upgrades To Satellite
The Federal Aviation Administration is changing the way we travel by air. Houston is one of 21 cities in the country that will be retooled with a system that will improve on-time flights and increase safety and fuel efficiency. NextGen is said to be the biggest upgrade to the country's air traffic control system since World War II. It is the next generation of controlling the way aircraft will travel across the country. This move to satellite technology brought top federal aviation officials to Bush Airport.

America's Magnet For Innovation, And Investments
Think of the most technologically innovative companies of the past 50 years, such as Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Each company has a Silicon Valley address — and each one got backing from venture capitalists. Over the past decade, more than 35 percent of the nation's venture capital has gone to Silicon Valley startups. High-tech and venture capital go hand and hand in the valley where technology and venture capital grew up together.

Food inflation back on agenda as prices rise
Global food prices rose in March for a third successive month, driven by gains in grains and vegetable oils, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday, putting food inflation firmly back on the economic agenda.

Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report: Twitter Presence Grows 81%, Other Key Findings
Despite limited budgets and staffing, nonprofits are finding value and fast growth in their social networks, according to a study out Tuesday. The 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, surveyed nonprofit professionals regarding external social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as internal social networking sites, housed on the nonprofit's own webpage.

Feds Crack Down on Workplace Charity Drives’ Spending (CFC)
The Office of Personnel Management has banned meal and entertainment spending by operators of Combined Federal Campaigns following an audit that identified more than $300,000 in questionable expenses by the group managing the Washington-area federal workers’ charity drive.

'Disproportionately Female And Rural'
How To Move 1.2 Billion People Out Of Extreme Poverty. A new report from the World Bank brings welcome news on the global poverty front. Despite the worldwide recession of the late 2000s, the total number of people living in extreme poverty has actually gone down in recent years -- so much, in fact, that we've reached the first of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals five years ahead of schedule, a startling achievement. The number living in "extreme poverty" decreased by 100 million between 2005 and 2008. As of four years ago, "only" 1.29 billion people lived below $1.25 a day. Preliminary data shows the trend continuing in 2010.

How Web-Enabled Protests Are Producing a New Breed of Leaders—Us
NPQ has been closely following the way that citizens are taking action online. It is a powerful medium where people with common will about a particular issue (and sometimes precious little else in common) can take highly effective action together but how does this kind of activism fit in social movements and current conceptions of civic leadership? And where do anonymous hacktivists fit?

Originally posted to fab 3 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 10:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

    by fab 3 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 10:17:11 AM PDT

  •  A metro area of 6+ million people (7+ / 0-)

    and yet Bud Selig treats it with overt and utter contempt.

    Houston has always been the neglected step-child of major media markets, I've never understood why.

    "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

    by Inventor on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 10:34:43 AM PDT

  •  Good wishes for building community in Houston (5+ / 0-)

    I was a resident years ago and still have family there.

    Houston really needs it. Don't be discouraged if the response is slow; it's Houston, after all.  Things are on their own stubborn pace in Houston.

    ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

    by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 10:41:01 AM PDT

  •  I grew up in a Houston (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cassandracarolina, fab 3, jayden

    where outside Loop 610 development was huge, and downtown was at its nadir.

    Then, Montrose started coming back to life. Later, the Urban Animals helped revived the night life downtown, particularly around Market Square. Then, slowly the moneyed interests started taking interest and now downtown Houston is vibrant.

    I lived for a time when I got out of college, in the 4th Ward when gunfire was a fairly common sound at night. Now, its "Mid-Town" and very stylish.

    The city today, is much better than the one I grew up in during the '60s and '70s.

    "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

    by Inventor on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 10:51:30 AM PDT

    •  Bellaire (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fab 3, Inventor, jayden

      class of '78

      things have really changed.

      I recall seeing some dirt roads in the 9th(?) ward back then. A neighborhood of shotgun houses with a view of the downtown skyline! It epitomized the Texas attitude to me. "roads? if they want roads they can build them on their own!"

      ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

      by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 11:12:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yikes! Westbury '77 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayden, themank

        That was probably the 4th Ward. There were four original Wards, then a 5th was added but no neighborhoods bore that designation after. There are only a few shotgun houses left in Freeman's Town in the 4th Ward.

        "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

        by Inventor on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 02:21:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oooh... Westbury... sorry to hear that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          - and I can't be seen talking to you anymore!


          familiar with The Fooshall? - the foosball/pool hall near Westbury?

          I worked at Westbury Square during those years. My coworker was from Westbury. We used to frequent the Fooshall (perhaps a bit too often) after work.

          Richard Linklater, the filmmaker, actually went to Bellaire ('78 or '79) , but the 'Emporium' scene in 'Dazed and Confused' was pure Westbury. I'm certain it's an homage to The Fooshall.

          I probably heard Dylan's 'Hurricane' many times there, too.

          ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

          by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 03:20:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ah, an even better clip! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Skip the first one. This is much higher resolution. I think the Fooshall was on Gasmer, around the corner from Westbury High school.

            For you Houstonians who weren't there, this is eerily close to reality.

            ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

            by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 03:47:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Westbury's on Gasmer (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I honestly don't remember the Fooshall. Odd, because it is the kind of place I frequented (actually, mostly we drove around in my buddy's Impala and drank beer) but I can attest that scene looks like pure Westbury in the '70s.

              "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel.

              by Inventor on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 03:53:09 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're probably right. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                It's a lot wiser to say that you spent your high school evenings driving around drinking beer, than admit anything about the Fooshall.

                Many people are unaware that it was legal to drink and drive in Texas back then. The drinking age was 18, but as I understand it, few places checked ID's. In hindsight, what a recipe for disaster.

                Besides, if you don't remember the fooshall, you were probably there.

                ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

                by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 04:34:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  ugh (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fab 3, fuzzyguy, pittie70, jayden

    We may have 6 million people now, but do we really need yet another strip mall full of the same 10 stores as the strip mall a mile up 45?

    That commercial real estate guy is nuts. We've got so much under-used and abandoned property all over the city, we don't need more. If anything, we need projects to restore the buildings we have.

    •  Density may be where it's at (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina wise.

      Unfortunately density is anathema to many (not just Texans), for reasons I fully understand. Perhaps this may be one of the stumbling blocks to community building in some areas. Not to mention that when a dense area 'clicks' and becomes desirable it can become very expensive.

      ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

      by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 12:20:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There is expensity to density, and I won't argue that, but it sure beats the hell out of the sprawl.

        Assuming you live in Houston, how far is your commute? How much do you spend on gas a week? I used to go from 45 South of the Beltway to 59 and the Beltway. I was filling up my fuel efficient Toyota twice a week. I was spending nearly as much on gas as I was on my mortgage.

        I can't even imagine what the people who live in Wallis or The Woodlands who commute to Downtown or The Galleria in their Suburbans or H2s spend.

        •  many of the people who come here for jobs (0+ / 0-)

          Work from home as much as they can. My 31 mile commute takes 53 minutes in the pre-dawn hour, and can be an hour and a half or more in rush hour.

          Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

          by cassandracarolina on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 05:54:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  moved away years ago (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fab 3

          but I still have family there.

          And I still have warm feelings for the place. More like the feelings a parent has for a wayward child, but warm nonetheless.

          Squidflakes - great name!

          And thanks, Fab3, for hosting this get together. I'll follow and watch for future posts.

          Let's remind liberals around the country that there is more to Texas than Austin!

          ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

          by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 08:14:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to TexKos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fab 3, jayden

    I moved to the Houston area 5 years ago, and have found that many Houstonians are - like me - transplants from other parts of the country (or in many cases, other countries). Many of us are "just passing through" for a job (or a spouse's job) and have plans to leave in a few years.

    We learn what we have to to get around, enjoy sports, the arts, or other diversions, and revel in the 10,000+ restaurants offering wonderfully diverse foods.

    This may explain resistence to community building.

    Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

    by cassandracarolina on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 11:04:58 AM PDT

  •  For the community minded drinkers in Houston (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Drinking Liberally is a nationwide organization with many chapters in various cities.

    here is the link to the Houston chapter.

    If that's too far away, start your own nearby.

    ...the train's got its brakes on and the whistle is screaming.

    by themank on Thu Apr 05, 2012 at 04:08:42 PM PDT

  •  I think (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fab 3

    Houston has been the 4th largest city in the country for quite some time.

    •  Yes, I believe the top four cities: (0+ / 0-)
      New York, NY
      Los Angeles, CA
      Chicago, IL
      Houston, TX
      I think the last time I looked, these 4 have held these same positions since at least 1990.

      No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

      by fab 3 on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 09:23:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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