UHD Observes Earth Month & 50th Anniversary with Panel for Houston’s Sustainability

The University of Houston-Downtown observed Earth Month and their 50th Anniversary on Tuesday, April 23 at the College of Sciences and Technology with their “From Information to Action: Sustainability Across Houston” event featuring four panelists and two art exhibitions that were focused on sustainability across Houston. All registered guests were provided with lunch, refreshments, and a reusable water bottle decorated with UHD’s 50-year-anniversary logo. The sustainability experts on the panel included:

  • Ana Bueno, Environmental Reporter at Univision 45
  • Jaime González, Community & Equitable Conservation Programs Director at The Nature Conservancy in Texas
  • Naomi Kuo, Artist-in-Residence at Asia Society Texas Center
  • Steve Stelzer, Program Director at Green Building Resource Center and Houston Permitting Center

Unfortunately, Houston had one of its hottest summers of all time in 2023 and is currently one of the hottest cities in the country due to climate change. Each panelist gave their take on environmental issues, the biggest challenges we’re facing, and gave the audience advice about how to effectively target climate change.

Panelist Ana Bueno speaking at UHD. Photographer: Luz Castilla Hincapie.

The panel discussion kicked off with a conversation about how environmental injustice correlates to language justice. With nearly 2.3 million Houston residents identifying as Hispanics, journalist Ms. Bueno learned that there is a “lack of information in their own language.” She then gave an example of how organizations are making efforts to translate information about environmental injustice, but are not investing enough into proper translation services. These translation errors cause misinformation about environmental injustices for the Latino community in Houston.

The panel continued the discussion with ways that we can protect our ecosystem services in Houston. “We have exceptional biodiversity that’s under great threat,” Mr. González said  “You can’t have a healthy people with a sick environment.” He suggested that the community take small actions to help our local environment like volunteering to plant a tree, taking seed packets home, or growing a garden and prairie. “The faster you get started, even with small actions, the more empowered you’re going to be and you will become a model for other people to do things too,” he said.

Panelists Naomi Kuo and Jaime González at UHD. Photographer: Luz Castilla Hincapie.

The power of creating art for social change was highlighted as well. “How art can help move someone from information to action is to look at that learning process in a creative way too,” said Kuo. “A lot of the art that I do right now is honoring the wisdom that is within certain communities that are isolated from the mainstream.” She brought up how the pandemic sparked more people’s interest in growing plants and shared her experience of reaching out to previous generations of family members as a resource to learn more about growing her own plants. Her family taught her how connecting with nature can help connect you with the community by sharing your excess produce with others.

During the Q&A session, Mr. González emphasized how teaching children in the school system about sustainability can convince their parents to participate in targeting climate change as a family. “If a child is learning something in school, that can be a huge factor in convincing a parent to take that action,” he said. He suggested taking more positive approaches to educating the youth about sustainability. For example, focusing on pro-environmental stories and actions is ideal. He believed that kids should not be taught the “doom and gloom” before the fourth grade, because it’s disempowering and scary information for children to learn when they cannot take action yet. Lastly, he advocated for teaching children about Houston so they can know how to take better care of their city. “If you don’t know about where you live, you can’t be a good citizen of that place.”

The “Envisioning Water” exhibit featuring artworks by UHD students.

After the panel discussion, all guests were invited to visit the art exhibits featuring artworks created by UHD students. The “Envisioning Water” exhibit was a collaborative effort between Graphic Design Professor Natacha Poggio and Creative Writing Professor Laura Cesarco Eglin featuring illustrated poems by their design and creative writing students. “the bayou at y.our doorstep” featured artworks about Houston’s sustainability that were designed by UHD students under the direction of Natacha Poggio. This exhibit was sponsored by Houston Public Works and created for display at Discovery Green’s Earth Day festival.

“the bayou at y.our doorstep” featuring artwork by UHD students.

Overall, the event was highly informative, inspiring, and left the audience with hope that, together, we can make positive social change. This event was the third chapter of the UHD President’s Lecture Series and was presented in collaboration with the UHD Sustainability Council and the Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainability. For more information and to attend a future chapter of the series, visit the UHD website.


  • Sonia Sanchez

    Sonia Sanchez is a vibrant journalist with Mexican roots that has a penchant for spreading good news. Her journey into journalism began at The Dateline, the student-run newspaper for The University of Houston-Downtown. She has a Master of Science in Technical Communication and Bachelor of Science in Professional Writing. She is also a Latina in Tech that runs a technical writing business called Simply Write for clients such as HP, Inc. She enjoys taking Hip-Hop and Street Jazz dance classes around Houston for fun. Recognized for her contributions to journalism, Sonia received a scholarship from the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals. With a passion for cultural topics and a dedication to uplifting the Latino community, Sonia continues to make her mark as a journalist with heart and credibility. She is also passionate about the advancement of women, especially Latinas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *