What if we banded together to save a tiny corner of trashed Houston and brought it to natural beauty? The north shore of the ship channel might not be the first place you would think of, but then you would miss Japhet Creek, one of few remaining springs flowing right into Houston’s shipping heart.
When I last saw Japhet Creek from the end of Inman Street, it was clogged with trash. It was completely overgrown with the invasive reed, Phragmites australis. It was hardly a creek at all. Restoration seemed overwhelming. But that was not how the lovely little community on Inman just south of Clinton saw it. Now it is so restored there is a little tour of it. You can see on Google Maps how it winds from the 4700 block of Clinton Drive down past Inman and into the ship channel. It passes by an auto junk yard, a train yard, between two tiny sets of modest homes, past abandoned looking industrial yards, looking post-apocalyptic, land so damaged it is hard to imagine the green line of the creek and its banks would make much of a difference.
But if we can restore beauty to this tiny stretch, what can we not do? One of the delights of Japhet Creek is the teamwork that has gone into restoring it. Hundreds of volunteers have come to help, from Texas Exes to High School National Honor Society Students to Houston Breakthrough have helped. I like to think that as they restore our Japhet Creek, they also restore themselves. They lose a tiny bit of the cynical hopelessness about restoring nature and realize that it is something worth fighting for, wherever they go in life. After all, if industrial Houston can restore a tiny creek in such a scorched area, there is hope.
I’ve learned something about this harsh landscape and its homey possibilities from Jim Ohmart and Eileen Hatcher at their full moon bonfires. The Creek now has attracted some attention, here, for example. You can get involved and help, if you haven’t found your own little piece of Houston that needs saving.