Listening to America in Houston

The Huffington Post’s “Listen to America” Bus Tour made its way through Texas from Odessa to Houston, marking the 24th stop on the 25-city bus tour across the United States to listen to the stories of Americans and to hear about their hopes and dreams for themselves, the nation, and the future.

For someone who didn’t know better, the effects of the Hurricane Harvey – the flooding, devastation, and destruction – were not evident. As we drove on the freeway into the city, and then into the local streets, it was hard not to ask myself, “Was this one of the areas hit by the storm?” The city looked so beautiful: an aesthetic skyline with dreamy American neighborhoods, amazing restaurants and shopping, fantastic weather. It was hard to imagine being in this same city just a month or two before.

The bus set up the interview stations at a local park in Midtown. Residents from the Houston area came by throughout the day to tell us their stories. Naturally, the hurricane was a topic of great discussion. Many people expressed how proud they were of their city for their response to the tragedy. In the wake of an emergency like this, partisan politics was the last thing on everyone’s mind. People were exhibiting compassion and helping others regardless of their socioeconomic class, race, religion, or political beliefs. In reality, people from all backgrounds came and worked together for a common goal. These stories were both heartbreaking and inspiring.

The city of Houston now has something very important to keep their spirits bright, something that will continue to bond the city and give them something to look forward to. The Houston Astros are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Even better, we happened to be in Houston during Game 3, where the Astros played at home. We went to a restaurant after the event in Midtown, and watched the game on a large projector screen surrounded by hundreds of Houston fans.

After hearing firsthand everything that the city of Houston has been through and listening to the accounts of people who were here during the hurricane, I can unequivocally say that I am rooting for the Houston Astros to bring the World Series trophy back to their hometown.

Go ‘Stros

The National Institute for Civil Discourse, housed within The University of Arizona College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, and Huffington Post are partnering to do a bus tour of 25 cities to Listen to America. At the height of fake news, distrust in the media, political polarization, and demonization of those with different viewpoints, it’s time for the media to listen to America, and it’s time for Americans to listen to each other.

Twitter: @NICDInstitute, @HuffPost, #ListentoAmerica, #ReviveCivility