There is one bracing, inspiring, beautiful thing about Houston that makes me most proud of our constituents: their openness to each other.
After the wallop we took from Hurricane Harvey, Houston is bouncing back, in no small part due to the helping hands we extended to each other in the middle of a crisis. After being tossed around in past decades on an economic boom and bust rollercoaster, Houston has diversified its economics and become much less vulnerable to single-sector job upheaval. After playing second fiddle to the great cities of the United States and the world, the nation’s fourth largest city is now its most diverse and on the leading edge.
Houston is bouncing back, in no small part due to the helping hands we extended to each other in the middle of a crisis.
One of every four Houstonians was born in another country. We are a magnet for refugees, other immigrants, mom-and-pop entrepreneurs and job-seekers of every background. We are the future of America.
To get here, immigrants and other opportunity-seekers had to be resilient first. Often they had to reach out to each other for help. Fortunately they brought to Houston not only the spirit of hard work, but also a stunning array of traditions, cuisine, languages, religions and culture pursuits. We are a tolerant city that builds bridges, not walls. The new arrivals have become us and we have become them. Resiliency is our code.
As a relatively new city with a relatively young population, we are less set in our ways than other cities, less prone to stick with our own kind. This attitude opens up all kinds of opportunities for Houstonians old and new to explore what is truly means to support each other.
When the hurricane brought cataclysmic flooding to Houston, death and destruction were the first story lines coming out of our city. But the narrative was quickly replaced by brighter truths. Houstonians leaped to the task of rescuing each other, sheltering each other, comforting each other. We were seen accurately as a place where volunteers spring forward to meet the newest needs.
Houstonians leaped to the task of rescuing each other, sheltering each other, comforting each other.
We had practice. The nation watched in admiration in 2005 as Houston welcomed and resettled tens of thousands of evacuees from New Orleans after it was smashed by Hurricane Katrina. As we build new traditions in Houston, our ready volunteerism is a beacon.
The Port of Houston is one of the busiest on the globe. As the Energy Capital of the World, our expertise is in demand across hemispheres. With the Texas Medical Center, the largest of its kind, attracting patients from across the nation and abroad, Houston’s helping hands provide health care to wide spectrum of people. These, too, are factors that make Houston a place where doing and helping is what we are.
I trust that these truths will come through as HuffPost’s “Listen To America” project visits Houston.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.