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Houston Rises

Falling in love again with our city

Rania Mankarious
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HEART FOR HOUSTON

HEART FOR HOUSTON Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston, reflects on the strength that Houstonians showed during and after Harvey. (Illustration: www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/paulrommer)

Rania Mankarious is executive director of Crime Stoppers of Houston and a blogger for thebuzzmagazines.com.

The transition from August to September has always been one of my favorite times of the year. It packs some of the hope of New Year’s without the regret of unmet goals. Kids excitedly get ready for school, routines return to normal, everyone comes back to Houston and gets to work, a new season for fashion kicks off, and the pre-holiday festivities start filling our calendars. If we’re lucky, the weather even becomes more bearable.

This year, however, Hurricane Harvey swept through the Greater Houston area (nearly the same size as my hometown state of Massachusetts) and left a massive footprint. Harvey’s non-discriminatory flooding produced images that left the nation speechless. The historic storm, which smashed meteorological records in the U.S., left many billions of dollars of destruction.

All that said, Harvey’s mighty impact revealed our city’s mighty uniqueness. Its destruction brought us to our knees but revealed our ability to rise, arm-in-arm, with stubborn power. And now, weeks out, I continue to reflect on not just the strength Harvey showed us we have, but on the richness that makes us one of the greatest cities in the nation, and to celebrate Houston for:

Being an international community of one that represents a new and elevated society. Whether you look from the top down or bottom up, Houston is a community of people woven together who care about each other. Harvey showed that, but so did Hurricane Katrina. Houstonians jumped in to aid Katrina victims and evacuees, with arms open, willing to help. What an incredible characteristic this is for a thriving city. What we’re doing is right. I hope other major cities are watching and taking notes.

Being diverse down to its core. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in America, maybe the most. A recent study from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research and the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University found that of the 10 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, Houston had the most equitable distribution of the nation’s four major racial and ethnic groups. From our habits and culture to the people we elect, we have shown the world how to live together in a color-blind and bipartisan way. Regardless of political affiliation, color or creed, Houstonians are Houstonians first and everything else, second.

Being financially sound and philanthropically minded. Houston has an entrepreneurial spirit. We care about economic development, city growth, educational outlook and quality of life. We invest in ourselves and in each other and use the resources we have. The oil and gas sector, the Medical Center, and rising stars of entertainment, food and arts are just a few things that come to mind. At the same time, Houstonians give back. Until very recently, Charity Navigator had Houston listed as the most philanthropic city in America. Whether volunteering or supporting charity events, Houston is a city with sharp financial senses and a bursting philanthropic heart.

Growing. We just keep growing. Researchers estimate that our city grows in population by 20 percent every decade. I don’t blame those who flock to this city, eager to find a way to make it their own. Not only do we lead the nation in population growth, but we also lead when it comes to wind energy, job growth and GDP growth. A few years back, we even led the nation in department-store spending.

Public safety-minded people. Living with public safety at the forefront of my everyday life, I cannot tell you how many people tell me how they support law enforcement and other first responders and want to get involved in the effort to keep Houston safe.

Houston got pushed around by the storm and will be rebuilding for quite a while, but we are fortunate to be rising from a great foundation. Harvey may have trampled on my favorite time of year, but its footsteps left me thanking my lucky stars I live here. 

Editor’s Note: Every Sunday at thebuzzmagazines.com, Rania Mankarious shares safety tips and perspectives on what’s going on in the news at Sunday Mornings With Rania.

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