Braille Monitor               April 2023

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Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem

by Norma Crosby

From the Editor: Norma Crosby requires little introduction given she is the treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind and the president of our Texas Affiliate. If you had any doubts about whether there are things to see and do in Houston in addition to our annual convention, read on:

H-Town and Space City are just two of the names you’ll hear used for Houston. This dynamic city may be a little different from what you imagine. Do people wear hats and boots? Well, some do. Do we all ride horses? Mostly during the trail rides associated with the world’s biggest rodeo. Oh, and some of our police officers in the downtown area ride them as well, but most people drive cars or take the bus or train. Do we all speak with a Texas drawl? Not really. Lots of folks from other parts of the country and around the world move to Houston every day, and about 145 languages are spoken here. So, some of us sound like we were born here, but what Houston sounds like is changing.

Houston is a city with a world-class symphony, ballet, opera, and theater scene. It is the epitome of southern cool, with a food scene that is the envy of most American cities. It is a mix of old and new, oil barons and tech geniuses. It boasts the world’s largest medical center, and best of all, it is host to the 2023 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

As every Braille Monitor reader knows, the Hilton Americas is the headquarters hotel for the convention, and it sits just across the street from the twelve-acre Discovery Green Park. Discovery Green is a mix of beautiful gardens, art installations, and family-friendly fun. It plays host to free musical events, yoga classes, and a playground for the kids. There is a scent garden, the listening vessels, weekly jazz concerts, and more. There are two restaurants in the park. They are The Grove and The Lake House. This oasis in the middle of downtown is not to be missed, and you can walk to everything it has to offer from either the Hilton or the Marriott Marquis, our overflow hotel. For more information, go to discoverygreen.com.

Of course, Houston’s 665 square miles offers much more than Discovery Green, and I’ll tell you a little more about some attractions you might want to visit while in town. Some of what I’ll describe will be nearby, and, fair warning, some won’t. We have a saying here, and hearing it might help you understand what traveling around Houston is like. We say, “It takes an hour to get to Houston from Houston.” That means it is a spread-out city, y’all. With that in mind, here are some things to know about visiting Houston.

Space Center Houston is a main attraction in Space City. It sits approximately twenty-five miles south of downtown and has daily tours. Our affiliate is working to develop a scheduled tour with transportation to and from the Center. For more information, check our website at nfbtx.org, after May 1.

Galveston isn’t inside the vast area that is Houston. In fact, it is about fifty miles South, but I am mentioning it here because we know some of our members use convention time as vacation time. Galveston is Houston’s playground, and it is a great place to visit if you love the beach, waterparks, shopping, rides, and more. We aren’t likely to be able to arrange a tour because, even though it’s close, you’ll probably want to spend more than one day there. We recommend that you look at Galveston.com to decide what you want to do while you are there. You can also call our office at 281-968-7733 for suggestions about Galveston. We go every chance we get.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) is working with our affiliate to make sure visitors have a great time when they visit. We are planning to provide a tour on Saturday, July 1, and other activities associated with the museum may happen throughout the week. The museum’s King Tut exhibit includes an accessible 3-D piece built by John Olson and his team at 3-D Photo Works, and that exhibit will be available during our tour. The staff at HMNS wants to make our members feel welcome just as our affiliate does. So we hope you’ll join us for the tour we have planned. You’ll be able to learn more about registering and paying for your tour on our website, nfbtx.org, after May 1.

The Children’s Museum of Houston has been rated the number one children’s museum in the nation by Parents magazine. With over 90,000 feet of interactive exhibit space, kids twelve and under are welcome to explore all the museum has to offer, and their parents are welcome too.

The world champion Houston Astros play baseball less than a half mile from our hotel, and while I’m not encouraging you to miss the great evening activities and meetings, I will say that the Astros will be home on the weekend following our convention. We are currently exploring the possibility of getting a group together for the game versus the Seattle Mariners scheduled for July 7. If you’re interested, let me hear from you. Just send a quick email to [email protected], with the subject line “I want to see a great baseball game.” You can write beautiful prose about your love for the Astros in the body of the email, and I’ll touch base with you if there is enough interest to get a group together. A decision will be made by May 15, so respond soon.

I’ve told you some about what you can do while you are here, but let me give a short bit of advice for getting here. Houston has two airports. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is north of the city. It is approximately twenty-two miles from our hotel. William P. Hobby Airport, commonly called Hobby, is less than ten miles from the hotel. If you are flying, you’ll save cab or rideshare fares by flying into Hobby if you can. If you live close enough to ride a bus or a train, both the Greyhound station and the train station are located downtown. In fact, the Greyhound station is so close that your driver may not be super happy about the one-mile trip.

President Riccobono and our team at the national office, the Texas affiliate, and everyone who is planning a meeting or seminar are all working hard to make certain you leave the convention with a renewed spirit and a desire to go and build the Federation. The City of Houston is determined to welcome our members with open arms, and we promise you’ll leave town reinvigorated for the coming year.

Come back next month for more information about what to expect at NFB 2023, and go to nfbtx.org after May 1 for tour information. Feel free to call our office with questions before the convention. We can’t wait to see all of you in Houston, and we will enjoy hearing from you before you get here.

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