Right now, all over America, cities are installing contraptions both ingenious and attractive, namely data-collecting devices which the Environmental Protection Agency has cleverly disguised as ordinary park benches. You can find them in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and elsewhere, but you can’t find them here, as KUHF’s Dave Fehling reported back in May. 

It’s not through lack of trying. Air Alliance Houston, in an effort to participate in the EPA program, which is known as the Village Green Project, has actively sought to bring just such a bench to town since last year. So why don’t we have one? “The application that was submitted by the City of Houston required participation from the state agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” Air Alliance’s Adrian Shelley told Fehling. “The state declined to commit those resources.”

That’s right. The state whose industries are responsible for much of the world’s air pollution did not feel it necessary to back a program that would monitor air quality levels in a city that possesses some of the country’s dirtiest air.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and it won’t if Houstonia’s crowdsourcing campaign, The Bench is Back, is successful. How much does one of these benches cost, you ask? $30,000. That’s right, just $30,000 is all it would take to have real-time, publicly accessible data on the air you and your children breathe every day. 

This is an issue of great importance to us, which is why Houstonia is starting things off by contributing $5,000—on fundraising website GoFundMe—toward a Village Green pollution monitoring station. Won’t you please join us (look deep within your heart, as Sally Struthers would have it) in bringing one of these benches to the city of Houston, and, not incidentally, shame the state of Texas for its lack of effort on our behalf?

Curious to hear more? Want to contribute? Wondering if we’re serious? Oh, we’re serious, all right. Just visit gofundme.com/houston-air-bench and see.

A Village Green bench in action at Kid’s Farm exhibit area inside the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Show Comments