Why You Should Donate to Save Buffalo Bayou

Nov. 30, 2021

Since everyone else is asking on Giving Tuesday, most likely you have already given. Maybe you’re annoyed. Maybe you already purchased a photograph or artwork at our recent benefit, Buffalo Bayou: River of Life. (If you’d still like to buy something, we’ll be posting remaining photos and art online for purchase. Stay tuned.)

Maybe you’re feeling the pressure, pressing some Donate buttons. Maybe you’ll decide to give to Save Buffalo Bayou now too.

Here are some reasons why:

Environmental Advocacy in the City

Nobody else is doing what we do. We are a small organization with a big punch. Environmental advocates doing journalism, investigating, listening, researching, explaining, asking hard questions about how we manage nature in the city.

Important questions like: Is the Harris County Flood Control District doing a good job? How do we know? Who’s monitoring the performance of the flood control district? Note that the district was founded in the 1930s when “controlling” flooding meant stripping trees, straightening streams, and covering them in concrete. Move as much stormwater as fast as possible.

That approach has long been discredited. Not only is it environmentally damaging, it also increases flooding! But the flood control district is still doing it, destroying our last remaining winding, wooded streams, wiping out forests, even though they are legally obligated to conserve our forests. (See page 1.)

Why? Because somebody makes money scraping and bulldozing and installing sheet pile and concrete rubble. Paid with public funds. And then paid to fix it when it fails.

Buffalo Bayou in Buffalo Bayou Park upstream (west) of downtown Houston before scraping by the Harris County Flood Control District. Photo by George O. Jackson in 2014.

Flood Committees

After Harvey, numerous committees and public officials are busy making plans to manage flood risk. Save Buffalo Bayou attends these meetings on your behalf, making comments, taking notes. (It’s a virtual world!)

Buffalo Bayou is the main artery of our natural drainage system in Houston. Yes, many people think it’s an artificial drainage ditch. But it’s a living river, filled with wildlife.

Big Drainage Pipes That Block Drainage

Stormwater outfall recently installed at right angle to bank, blocking flow in Buffalo Bayou, in violation of City, County, and federal regulations. Photo from north bank on Memorial Drive upstream of the Shepherd Bridge, Nov. 16, 2021, by SC

And here’s another report we’re working on: why does the City of Houston continue to install massive stormwater drainage pipes that violate their own regulations and block the flow of Buffalo Bayou (and other streams)? Do we not have a flooding problem?

We’ve written about this before. But questions remain unanswered. And we have one about this new project: just recently the City installed a massive new drainage pipe on the north bank of Buffalo Bayou just upstream of the Shepherd Bridge. It sticks straight out, shooting stormwater directly across the flow of the bayou and onto the opposite bank. This blocks the flow, acting like a dam, and pummeling the opposite bank. It’s a violation of the City’s own regulations. Violates flood control district guidelines too, as well as requirements of the Corps of Engineers.

How does this happen? Answers coming up.

But we need your help. Every donation helps, no matter how small.

Save Buffalo Bayou is a 501c3 nonprofit.

Please Donate Now.

Final Weekend “Buffalo Bayou: River of Life”

Last Chance to Buy Buffalo Bayou Art, Support Save Buffalo Bayou and Friends of Don Greene

Flatland Gallery and Café Brasil, Westheimer and Dunlavy, Houston

Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27 and 28, noon to 6 p.m.

Nov. 26, 2021

We’ve had great turnout for the fabulous show of art and photographs old and new curated by Geoff Winningham. But we still have amazing prints to sell. So come and buy this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and help support Save Buffalo Bayou and Friends of Don Greene.

All the work in the show focuses on Buffalo Bayou, from maps and postcards promoting the health benefits of 1836 Houston to recent photographs documenting flora and fauna.

Here is a link to the catalogue. Besides Winningham and 19th century photographers, the show also includes photography by Jim Olive and George O. Jackson, as well as artwork by Janice Freeman.

Gabriela Rodríguez (3rd Grade, Treasure Forest Elementary School), “Legend of the White Buffalo,” 2016. Signed, archival pigment print from an original monoprint.

Don’t forget to check out the lovely large-format photos and artwork on display in the café itself, 2604 Dunlavy. The bulk of the show is hung in the gallery, located next door at 1709 Westheimer, accessible through the café or through the gate on Westheimer.

“Baptism in Buffalo Bayou,” ca 1900-1914. Baptism on the South Bank of Buffalo Bayou, opposite Glenwood Cemetery. Anonymous photographer.

Interviews with Geoff Winningham

Winningham has been teaching at Rice University since 1969. He holds the Lynette S. Autrey Chair in the Humanities and is the author of numerous photography books, including Along Forgotten River, an exploration of Buffalo Bayou from the ship channel to its source in the Katy Prairie.

Winningham continues to run the Pozos Art Project, teaching photography and art to children in Mineral de Pozos, Mexico, and in Houston. His work with children resulted in the 2017 publication, In the Eyes of Our Children: Houston, An American City. Artwork and photographs by the children who participated are for sale in the show. Anyone who purchases a print receives a free copy of the book.

View of the installation, “Buffalo Bayou, River of Life,” in Flatland Gallery, 1709 Westheimer, Houston

Here are links to recent interviews with Winningham about the creation of the show:

Interview with Niven Saleh, “Geoff Winningham’s Buffalo Bayou,” for her excellent podcast series, Houston and Nature.

Interview with Lisa Gray for her new program, City Cast Houston.

Here is a transcript of Winningham’s discussion with Gray.

Looking for Fall on that Bend in the Bayou

Big Jim Back in Town

Nov. 26, 2021

It was a frosty morning on Buffalo Bayou. A white mist danced mysteriously above the stream.

We were standing just after sunrise on that high bank of the bayou in Memorial Park, waiting patiently for just the right angle of sunlight through the trees.

Well, not so patiently. The assistant wandered off as usual to check out the woods, the creek, mushrooms, wildlife, etc.

Jim Olive was back in town for the opening of our benefit photography and art sale. Jim has some great photographs in the show, titled “Buffalo Bayou: River of Life.” Come on down! Curated by Geoff Winningham, the beautiful exhibit of art and photography, old and new, all related to Buffalo Bayou, continues through Sunday, Nov. 28.

Early morning mist rising on the bend. Photo by Jim Olive on Nov. 12, 2021, showing a bit of fall color.

But in the meantime, always generous with his time and in support of our natural world, Jim wanted to return to that Bend in the River to see if we could get a more fall-like fall photo. Not an easy task since we don’t really have a colorful fall in Houston.

We’ve been documenting the seasons from the same high bank on Buffalo Bayou in Memorial Park since the spring of 2014. You can view the entire series here.

Jim’s last shot was taken a few days before the autumnal equinox, so technically it wasn’t really fall yet anyway. Tropical Storm Nicholas had just passed through, tossing trees and leaves around.

Emergency Guidelines in the Park

At the time Jim was just recovering from major surgery and was not his usual fit and vigorous self. In fact, on the way back, Jim faltered, and we had to ask staff of the Memorial Park Conservancy if he couldn’t have a ride in one of their carts, since the park gates were closed due to the recent storm and it was a long trek back to the car in the heat. They refused.

So we asked the Conservancy for clarification on their guidelines for what to do in case of an emergency in the park. Here is the response from Corri Pfeiffenberger, director of Park Operations:

While many Memorial Park Conservancy staff receive training on managing emergency situations and some of our ATVs have first aid kits and defibrillators, any Park user experiencing an emergency in the park (medical or otherwise) should call 911 immediately. 

That creek flowing into Buffalo Bayou, looking downstream, on a misty morning. Photo by SC on Nov. 12, 2021.

Looking upstream from that high bank in Memorial Park with concrete and metal “erosion control” installed by the River Oaks Country Club in the distance. Photo by SC, Nov. 12, 2021

Long Distance Trading by Indigenous Peoples of Texas and Beyond

Public Talk: Dan Worrall, Author of A Prehistory of Houston and Southeast Texas: Landscape and Culture

Nov. 16, 2021

Houston geologist, historian, musician, and author Dan Worrall will speak about the long distance trade routes among the ancient people through Texas and beyond.

The talk, titled “The Late Archaic Lower Brazos Culture and the Nature of Long Distance Exchange Networks,” is sponsored by the Houston Archeological Society.

Worrall will speak at the monthly (in person and virtual) meeting of the society on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7:00 p.m. He will bring a collection of artifacts from a site in west Fort Bend County for show and tell.

According to Worrall, people of the Late Archaic Lower Brazos Culture (4,000-2,000 years ago) lived along the lower parts of the Brazos and Colorado Rivers extending to the coast. Their territory was approximately equivalent to that of the Coco/Karankawa of the early Historic Period (500 years ago).

The meeting takes place at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Road in Houston, starting at 6:30 p.m. The program begins at 7. 

Here is more information about the talk.

The meeting will be offered virtually via Zoom and YouTube Livestream. The YouTube Livestream link is https://youtu.be/xfCvhInhBp4.

Buffalo Bayou, River of Life: The Show Goes On

Sale of Buffalo Bayou Art and Photography Continues through Nov. 28

Important Benefit for Save Buffalo Bayou and Friends of Don Greene!

Flatland Gallery, Café Brasil, 1709 Westheimer, Houston

Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m.

And By Appointment. Contact Us.

Watch This Short film: Photographer and Author Geoff Winningham Describes His Discovery of Buffalo Bayou

Nov. 16, 2021

So a lot of interesting people showed up for the public opening on Saturday, Nov.13, met friends old and new, and had a good time.

They didn’t buy everything. We still have fabulous photography, plans, maps and postcards, old and new, for sale. The photographs include work by Geoff Winningham, Jim Olive, George O. Jackson, Alfred Comey, Henry Stark, and unknown 19th century photographers.

In addition, and still available for purchase, are enchanting artworks by Janice Freeman and by Houston school children. The latter participated in a photography and art project developed by Winningham that focused on the city and the bayou. The project resulted in the 2017 publication of the book In the Eyes of Our Children: Houston, An American City. The book is offered for free to anyone who buys a print.

“The Original Bayou,” 2016. Reilley Jones (4th Grade, Mark Twain Elementary School). Signed, archival pigment print from an original monoprint.

All of the work in the show is about Buffalo Bayou. Here is a link to the catalogue.

The exhibition and sale of modern and historic photographs and art benefits two nonprofit organizations devoted to nature and rivers: Save Buffalo Bayou and Friends of Don Greene.

Though the main show is in Flatland Gallery adjacent to Café Brasil, there are large photographs and prints on view and for sale in the café itself, which is at 2604 Dunlavy at Westheimer.

The amazing show was researched, curated, and printed by Geoff Winningham, renowned photographer and professor at Rice University, who is the author of many photography books, including Along Forgotten River, about Buffalo Bayou.

Here is more information about the show and sale.

Geoff Winningham, Buffalo Bayou in Terry Hershey Park, 2000.

Celebrate Buffalo Bayou: River of Life

Public Reception, Saturday, Nov. 13, 5 to 7 p.m.

Great Deals on Rare Historic and Contemporary Photos and Art Inspired by Buffalo Bayou

A Benefit Exhibition and Sale

Performance of original music by Max Winningham, 5:30 pm

Plus Fascinating Talks about the Geology and History Buffalo Bayou

Flatland Gallery, Café Brasil, 1709 Westheimer, Houston

On View Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 pm, through Nov. 28

Nov. 2, 2021

Renowned Houston photographer Geoff Winningham has curated an unusual exhibition of rarely seen modern and historic photographs of Buffalo Bayou. The show, titled “Buffalo Bayou: River of Life,” also includes artwork and prints.

Winningham, whose widely-acclaimed book Along Forgotten River documented Buffalo Bayou over twenty years ago, has researched and reproduced historic etchings and photographs of the bayou, many created before 1900.

Watch This Short film: Photographer and Author Geoff Winningham Describes His Discovery of Buffalo Bayou

Digging Deep into Archives

Winningham, who holds the Lynette S. Autrey Chair in the Humanities at Rice University, dug deep into the archives of Harvard University, the University of Houston, and the Houston Metropolitan Research Center for the show. He discovered historical photographs, artwork, and artifacts relating to Buffalo Bayou going back to 1836.

The majority of these early photographs are by anonymous photographers, but a few, dated 1895-96, were taken by Henry Stark, a celebrated and published photographer of the time. Others, which Winningham located in the Loeb Library at Harvard, were taken by Alfred C. Comey, who was hired in 1912 to do a study of the landscape of the city and advise officials on the planning of future parks.

“At Magnolia Park on Buffalo Bayou,” ca 1890s. Anonymous photographer. Archival pigment print from a digital scan of the original print. Courtesy of Special Collections of the University of Houston Library.

Buffalo Bayou from Green Tree Road, by Geoff Winningham, 2003

Most Never Exhibited Before

There are 138 pieces for sale in the exhibition, including 32 historic photographs and prints, some 50 original landscape photographs by Winningham, as well as photographs of the bayou by Jim Olive and George O. Jackson. Most of the photos have never been exhibited before.

The work on sale also includes art by Janice Freeman and photographs and prints by Houston school children. The latter participated in a photography and art project created by Winningham in 2010 that focused on the city and the bayou. The project resulted in the 2017 publication of the book In the Eyes of Our Children: Houston, An American City.

The exhibition and sale of modern and historic photographs and art benefits two nonprofit organizations devoted to nature and rivers: Save Buffalo Bayou and Friends of Don Greene.

The public reception for the opening of the exhibition is Saturday, Nov. 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the gallery attached to Cafe Brasil, 1709 Westheimer in Houston.

At 5:30 p.m. during the reception Max Winningham will perform his original work, “River of Life,” a string bass composition inspired by Buffalo Bayou.

The Geology and Evolution of Buffalo Bayou: Talk at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14

Geologist, naturalist, and river guide Tom Helm will share his extensive knowledge of the evolution of Buffalo Bayou in a public lecture Sunday, Nov. 14, starting at 1 p.m. in the gallery.

Helm will provide a general overview of southeast Texas geology and how the various components of structure, salt movement, stratigraphy, and geologic history have resulted in the landscape observable today in the outcrops visible along Buffalo Bayou.

Historic Settlement on Buffalo Bayou: Talk at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14

Then at 2:30 p.m. Kirk Farris, founder of Art and Environmental Architecture, will speak about his work preserving and reviving a historic section of Buffalo Bayou east of downtown Houston. This historic neighborhood at the east edge of downtown includes the McKee Street Bridge, James Bute Park and Frost Town, also known as Germantown, an early settlement on the south bank of Buffalo Bayou just east of its confluence with White Oak Bayou.

RSVP for the talks.

Exhibition and Sale Continues through Nov. 28

The exhibition remains open Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., from Nov. 13 through Nov. 28, for further viewing and sales.

RSVP for the opening reception, Saturday, Nov. 13, 5 to 7 p.m.

Can’t come? DONATE!