Thank You, Houston has turned into How Can We Help You, Houston?
The original Thank You, Houston event put together by the Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston documentation project was canceled because of, woops, Hurricane Ike. The festival has been rescheduled and restructured a bit, too.
“The original Thank You, Houston project indicated what a big part of surviving Katrina and Rita Houston had been,” says Pat Jasper, co-founder of the Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston project. “The generosity of Houston was undeniable and acknowledging that, giving the survivors of Rita and Katrina the opportunity to share their words was our first plan. But Ike really showed in an up-close-and-personal manner the way the city comes together for each other. After Ike, it’s very clear that everyone has a hurricane story.”
“One of the roles of our project is to introduce neighbors to neighbors. With Ike, what we saw in media reports and in personal experiences was that neighbors who didn’t even know each other were now barbecuing together and helping to chain-saw limbs off of each other’s roofs. I think it’s still about generosity given without condition, and often, stranger to stranger because Houston is that kind of a city," Jasper says.
Music for Thank You, Houston will still include performances by Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, and there’s still going to be plenty of New Orleans food. And, as previously planned, a video version of the photo/audio exhibition “Who We Are” will be playing in the park’s Houston Public Library Express, and visitors can listen to podcasts of Katrina and Rita survivors' stories of thanks.
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“But it is a somewhat reconstituted event,” says Jasper. “We’ve also invited service and relief organizations and organizations seeking volunteers to help with hurricane clean-up to come out to the event. KPFT will be coming out to record people’s Ike stories.”
And Jasper expects lots and lots of heroic Ike stories. “Helping Katrina and Rita survivors or helping Ike survivors, Houston has had the same open-arms, ‘What can we do? What do you need?’ attitude that is unique to the city,” says Jasper. (Yeah, you right!) “No one has given up the ghost. Everyone just hunkered down and now they’ve just powered out to rebuild the city.”
Thank You, Houston is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 26, at Discovery Green (across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center where thousands of Katrina survivors were sheltered in September 2005 and where hundreds of first responders organized for Ike last week). 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit www.discoverygreen.com.
-- Olivia Flores Alvarez