Inaugural People + Nature Conference to Re-Envision Greener City

| October 1, 2015

People+Nature field trip participants can see urban pocket prairies, such as this in the Texas Medical Center.

People+Nature field trip participants can see urban pocket prairies, such as this in the Texas Medical Center.

Houston Tomorrow, the Katy Prairie Conservancy and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension team up for singular event, Oct. 20-22

The first-ever People+Nature Conf­erence will bring together diverse stakeholders to examine how conservationists, urban quality-of-life advocates and others can work together to create communities that are more walkable, compact, transit-friendly and green. Creating such cities and towns where people want to stay, play and live, is key to slowing the sprawl that threatens our diminishing wildlife habitats and farms and to preserving biodiversity. The conference, set for Oct. 20-22, is hosted by Houston Tomorrow, the Katy Prairie Conservancy and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Houston has made significant strides in becoming a smarter, more sustainable city in many areas. The People + Nature Conference will build upon this, with innovative ideas and solutions put forth by great minds in urbanism and conservation.

“All of the top cities are well-connected, walkable, bikeable places with plentiful green spaces designed for human connectivity,” says Jay Crossley, executive director of Houston Tomorrow. “They are also rich with nature, wildlife and local food. Ideally, we envision a city that seamlessly fuses these elements to create better human habitat for all. We’re already off to a great start in Houston with the Bayou Greenways plan, abundant parks, a light rail system and
pockets of wild nature in the urban core.”

Topics and work sessions at the conference are designed for urban planners, biologists, landscape architects, children and parks advocates, health professionals, conservationists and businesspeople. Speakers are still being finalized but will include keynoter Andrés Duany, noted architect, urban planner and a founder of the Congress for New Urbanism, presenting “Garden Cities.”

The People+Nature Conference begins Oct. 20 with the unique opportunity for participants to attend one of four outdoor field trips, including:

The Big Transect — The Katy Prairie Conservancy will lead a bus trip beginning in the urban core, proceeding to the suburban ring, and finishing in the countryside.

Urban Bright Spots — Join Houston Tomorrow by rail and bicycle to see work being done by local food advocates and conservationists to establish urban agriculture and wildlife habitat in the heart of the city.

Into the Wild — Explore the wonders of Cypress Creek by canoe with the experts at Bayou Preservation Association. This event will highlight the many economic, cultural and water quality connections between Cypress Creek and our region.

Bird City USA — City safari by Houston Audubon and Houston Parks & Recreation Department to find birds all over Houston’s parks.

The conference officially kicks off Oct. 21 at Rice University’s BioScience Research Collaborative, 6500 Main St., (adjacent to the Texas Medical Center) and continues through Oct. 22. Each day begins at 8:30 a.m., with breakfast and lunch provided and sessions in the mornings and afternoons.

“This conference will illustrate how Houstonians are disconnected from their habitat and how that can be changed by becoming a smart city which conserves our natural treasures and promotes connectivity via hike and bike trails, transportation and locally-sourced foods,” says Jaime González, conservation education director for the Katy Prairie Conservancy. “Additionally, saving our forests, prairies, bays, wetlands and farmland requires us to reduce our footprints and live more sustainable lifestyles.”

González notes that 100 percent of the proceeds raised from the People + Nature Conference will benefit the new Houston Children in Nature Collaborative. “We hope companies and individuals will support this conference and our work to make Houston a greener, healthier and better connected city for our children and grandchildren,” he says.

Sponsorships are available for the conference, beginning at $500. In addition to the presenting sponsors, underwriters are the Rice University Shell Center for Sustainability, Whole Earth Provision Company and the Garden Club of Houston. Advance registration is required. Participants can attend one, two or all three days. A one-day pass is $125, a two-day pass is $225, and any single field trip costs $50.

For more information, contact González at or 713-523-6135 or Crossley at


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