By Joan Frances
Our society can be stupid. Abusing nature by polluting the air and water around us; we should be ashamed. Years ago, there was no regard for the harm in smog and air pollution. When allergies and asthma became a growing social concern, the government began to take a closer look at the air we breathe. Some said the damage is done, and the cities will always have this problem; and some sought to change it.
In June 1988, a group of people gathered to form the Galveston – Houston association for Smog Prevention. They became a non-profit organization in 1992 and later incorporated Mothers for Clean Air. In April 2010 Air Alliance Houston began in an effort to combine forces with the community to clear the air of smog in the Houston area. Their goal is to protect the health of residents and to improve the quality of life. They develop community programs to address environmental justice issues and to educate children and adults in local communities about air quality issues and prevention of exposure.
On Saturday, April 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Air Alliance Houston will present Earth Day Houston Festival at Discovery Green in downtown Houston. This event began four years ago; it is free of charge and open to the public, with an expected draw of over 15,000 people. Attendees will walk through the Eco Landscape Zone, Farmers Market, and a Kids Energy Zone. Earth Zone, an interactive environmental awareness display, highlights land, air and water. Recycled art projects and live musical entertainment will round out the day plus many more activities.
Air Alliance has partnered with Green Bank to challenge students from all over the Houston area, grades 3 through 8 to compete in an art contest to express their environmental visions. This year, forty six Houston area schools participated, submitting 1,500 works of art. Of the winners chosen, a Fort Bend ISD seventh grade student at Olympia Middle School won. Samuel Melvin’s picture of the world with a large tree growing out of it and two large hands holding it up backed by a recycling symbol was just the right message.
This year, for the first time, Green Bank enlisted the People’s Choice Awards to involve the community even more. This voting website is set up so the public may vote for the best picture. Mike Barone, Vice President of Green Bank, is thrilled at the response this project has received. “This is the largest turn out for art submissions ever,” he said, “and with the People’s Choice Awards everyone can be involved.” The winners will be announced on April 5th at City Hall in Houston. From April 5 to the 25 an on-line auction will be held to sell the pictures with proceeds going to support continued research and progress for Air Alliance. Green Bank will award Savings Bonds to the first and second place winners and a percentage back to the winning schools.
Our children will inherit our world as it is, good or bad. The first step is awareness through education and community involvement. Earth Day is a great way to honor our planet, but we must work at improving the air and land every day of the year. One step at a time, we can correct the mistakes made in the past.