Last week, Fast Company named Houston as its Fast City of the Year for 2011. We are so proud of this accomplishment and of the downtown establishments that are the forefront of the reinvention of Houston’s image. Here’s a few of downtown shout outs featured in the articles written by Houston Press’ Margaret Downing and the interview from FastCo’s Jeff Chu with Mayor Annise Parker.
It's hard to underestimate the importance of Discovery Green, the park that opened in 2008, as a symbol of the new Houston. Discovery Green has 12 landscaped downtown acres, a lake, public art, and a weekly farmers' market. Each year, there are more than 400 public events -- mostly free -- from alfresco opera nights to last summer's big-screen World Cup viewings.
Attendance has exceeded all expectations, and Discovery Green program director Susanne Theis is thrilled by the composition of the crowds. One of her fondest memories is of a jazz concert last fall by Jason Moran, who grew up in Houston's Third Ward. Theis spent much of the evening watching a young couple. "They had a little baby. They brought their lawn chairs and their picnic," she says. "A couple like that, with a 2- or 3-month-old baby, probably wouldn't have gone to a club to hear Jason Moran. Here, they could make it a family experience."
Houston at its best doesn't just tolerate its mixed heritage; it's a full embrace, and you can even taste it. Food writer Robb Walsh leads a barbecue tour of Houston with local chef Chris Shepherd as part of a culinary project started by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We go to an African-American place," Walsh explains, "then a Hispanic place for barbacoa, then a place for Korean barbecue, and then Chinese barbecue."
It's so Houston. It's very egalitarian: Everybody waits in the same line -- politicians, lawyers, workers. It's idiosyncratic and entrepreneurial: Everybody talks about local, fresh ingredients and daily menus now, but Irma was doing it years ago. There's no menu: It's just fresh ingredients and whatever she wants to cook that day.
Read Jeff Chu's interview with Mayor Annise Parker, The Evangalist.
Read Margaret Downing's article, O Pioneers!
Discovery Green, Fast Company, GHCVB, Houston, Houston Press, Irmas, Jeff Chu, Margaret Downing, Mayor Annise Parker