Conservation Luncheon, Night of 58,000 Lives and more
NATURE: Tidbits collected at Conservation Luncheon. Always creative, the Nature Conservancy of Texas changed up its 50th anniversary lunch by adding a panel talk moderated by the always nimble-witted State Sen. Kirk Watson. The panelists — Laura Huffman, Julio Boccaletti, David Banks — focused separately on regional, national and international issues. Notes: The best way to keep water in Texas is to use less of it as we expect population to increase to 50 million. … Africa will have more than 3 billion people. People stress is its biggest problem … 86 percent of Texans live in big cities. Houston will double in size. … Austin’s efforts to protect Edward’s Aquifer are now a national model. … The Conservancy’s umbrella group is prioritizing really wild places and those with good governance in Sub-Saharan Africa. … Response to climate change includes natural infrastructure like oyster beds in Galveston Bay. … In Texas, use of surface water is in the public realm, but ground water is private. Yet it’s all the same water. How do you reconcile and protect? … 60 percent of water use in Texas goes to agriculture. 30 percent of that is lost due to irrigation methods. (Food for thought.)
CHARITY: A small group at Sway saved 58,000 lives tonight. It’s astounding. The measles vaccine has been around for decades. One dose costs $1. Yet, according to the World Health Organization, in 2012, there were 122,000 measles deaths globally.Why? Local resistance. Which is why the Red Cross/Red Crescent, with its 13 million local volunteers is so crucial to ending the scourge. They speak the language and know the culture. And they have signed up with other health groups to wipe out measles by 2020. Red Cross of Central Texas usually focuses on local or regional issues. But at Sway earlier this evening — for a dinner that consisted of super-spicy raw oysters, som tam, salt + pepper, green curry, son in law, miso-white chocolate semifreddo, all donated — the group that has developed its own distinct local identity raised that $58,000. (David Melzer, general council and chief international officer for Red Cross, who just escaped the snow storm on the East Coast, proved quite eloquent in his plea.)
TRAVEL: Time for Winter Reading Week 2014. As regular followers of this column know, for 21 years, our friends have met at Surfside on the Gulf coast every February for a long, cozy feast of books, magazines, movies, games, chat, walks, food and wine. This time, we expect about 30 friends to join us (some might get snuck in the northeastern storms). This grand tradition been complemented for almost 10 years by the Summer Reading Weeks. The next edition of that respite will take place over two weeks in July and August on remote Black Pond in Maine. Smaller group, same theme. In some ways, the Reading Weeks, inspired by an Iris Murdoch novel and duplicated elsewhere by guests who have visited in the past, is the essence of Out & About, and is echoed in our Wren Cottage Feasts here. It’s about people in a given place who share various threads of history and culture. What I do — and enjoy — for this news outlet every day is only intensified by the Reading Weeks. (No blogs or columns will be written at Surfside, but I’ll nod to our times by indulging in email and social media.)
CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this blog post gave the wrong number for annual measles deaths and reported an incomplete total for money raised for vaccine.