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Rewrite: What is a City? (Syllabus)

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Deep in The Heart of Texas -Syllabus


As you walk into this class, you all hold knowledge as to what a city is, a town of significant size. But what and who really make the city? This class will focus mainly on perception and interpretation as we venture through Houston and explore several aspects of what makes Houston, deep in the heart of Texas. As a class, we will analyze what terms like diversity, culture, immigration, and relationships mean to us individually through our experiences of Houston. And with each trip we will discuss how each place manages to keep Houston growing and strong.

Our class is a total of twelve and will take a total of seven trips into the city. Each will be different and will focus on a new aspect of Houston. There will be a van that will take us to each of our destinations. Your trips all paid for thanks to The Brown Foundation. Caminen con esperanza!


Discovery Green

Parks are structured to fit people’s needs. Parks close to schools and family orientated neighborhoods, if not all, most, have a playground for children to enjoy.  Whereas in a part of the city where there’s more commuting and far more exposed, the welcoming factor tends to wane and the importance of appearance is far more critical. 

Discovery Green Park challenges Houston as a city and its citizens. It has a dog-friendly area for man and their bestfriend, a small library with literature’s best collections for when it gets a little too hot outside, a small lake to canoe through, free yoga classes every Saturday morning, and much more. And the thing is, it’s all located in the heart of downtown. Discovery Green is a push for individuals to think of downtown of not only as a busy city hustle, but also as an enjoyable and welcoming part of the city that incorporates both work and play.

This is a great first trip into the city, because not only will you walk around downtown and explore the skyscrapers and the business formal part of the city, but also play by letting yourself go and have a good time in the park all within the same space, Houston’s Downtown.


Flea Market

Chapters are meant to divide parts of books so that each has something different to express, but ultimately all the chapters together make a whole book. We all live through distinct chapters in our lives, but in the end each experience in every chapter play into effect of who we are. Our life experiences are mosaics in the making, the people we surround ourselves with, the experiences, they all make a whole of fragments.

For your second trip, you’ll be walking through one of Houston’s Flea Markets, Cole’s Antique Village. It originally began as a small air conditioned shop filled with antiques to sell, but little by little more people came along and started to sell things of their own, old or new. What started of as a small shop with only 10 tables has now turned into a Flea Market of about 1,300 tables.

It’s taking the shopping experience to another level. You’ll find all sorts of vendors selling each different things like religious sculptures to the new working diets. You’ll see a lot of bargaining and culture interaction. Each table holds a different selling item unique to the vendor. You’ll observe how all the vendors come together and make a whole of their businesses to provide an overwhelming shopping experience quite different than any other you’d have before.


Houston Arboretum

Our third trip will focus more on a different intake of Houston as a city. So far we’ve explored the inner loop part of Houston. The inner loop part of Houston is known to be the cosmopolitan style of life. Keep in mind, Houston is a large city, in fact the fourth largest in the country. While outside the loop each district stands alone to cater to the type of individuals living in those designated districts also known as wards in Houston.

Once you walk through the Houston Arboretum, it might seem like you’ve stepped into a bubble within the city in which you find yourself in the outdoors. Houston has an experience for each type of person and they do a good job of preserving Houston’s prairies and other nature qualities while at the same time sharing space to grow Houston as a developed city.

You’ll walk with a notebook and pen through the nature trails and explore the park for about an hour. Your cellphones and watches will be taken away while you’re out and about in order for you to really experience the Houston Arboretum without any technological distractions. In a way, like the Houston Arboretum, you’ll be making your own bubble.


Rothko Chapel/ Montrose Neighborhood

You’re on to your 4th venture into the city and by now you’ve started to form your own ideas of Houston as a city. You’re starting to put all the perceptions together and coming up with something clever, but you can’t just yet. You’re forgetting to interpret Houston through a different lens. Perceptions allow us to analyze and interpret but why not step out and try seeing things through a different lens, perspective every once in while…

On your 4th venture through the city, you’ll visit the Rothko Chapel, which is located in one of Houston’s most liberal neighborhoods, The Montrose Area. The Montrose area is a home to many communities and it’s known to be the leader in Houston’s growth process as a welcoming and accepting city to diverse groups. Walk around and look at it all through the lens of a certain individual who would feel more comfortable in the Montrose area rather than in the heart of the city.

As for the Rothko Chapel, come in and perceive it with the same lens. The Rothko Chapel is a place of meditation for all types of beliefs opened everyday for everyone. The mural canvases by Mark Rothko are set up on the walls of the chapel to create a peaceful environment “The mission of the Rothko Chapel is to inspire people to action through art and contemplation, to nurture reverence for the highest aspirations of humanity, and to provide a forum for global concerns ” as found in their About Chapel section. 


Gulfton Neighborhood

Ya’ll have explored within and out of the loop of Houston, but have you become part of people’s loops? The fifth trip is about really immersing yourself with the culture and challenging your comfort level to step out and interact with diversity.

We will start by walking in the Fiesta Mart Supermarket. We will spend an hour walking around and look into what’s available for the customers. What types of customers are walking in? How is this supermarket any different from any other supermarket? Within the hour of walking around the Supermarket, you have to meet and have a conversation with two people. They can either work there or shop there, but you have to try and become part of the loop.

The Gulfton community is home to many immigrants in Houston. It’s often referred as The Ellis Island of Current Time. It’s a community that welcomes diversity to connect globally but also locally. You’ll drive down the streets and it’s filled with several little shops and rich delicious food where you’ll find no where else in the city as genuine as in the Gulfton community.



The Journey is almost to an end! How would you express your experiences thus far without words? What if you lost the ability to speak? How would you then share with the class your journey?

Art is an important form of expression and it presents itself in many forms. Whether it is through musical beats and rhythm, paintings, graffiti, or even photographs. Art is not only expressive, but also personal. On your 6th journey, I’d like you to forget your perceptions on museums. You’ll be headed to Fotofest, “a combination of museum-quality art with important social and aesthetic ideas, ” as About Fotofest expresses.

You’ll explore the concept of Literacy through Photography and use it to express your experiences of Houston.


Restaurant Hunt

Congratulations! You’ve explored outside and inside the loop! You’ve challenged yourself and immersed yourself with different communities and explored the importance of relationships within them. What is a city? I’d hope you’d answer more than a significant population size and skyscrapers.

For your last trip, you’ll be exploring different restaurants in Houston all within different parts of the city. You’ll break into groups of four and there will be a total of three groups going to three different restaurants. Houston is big on the food scene and with so many cultures immersed in one large city, there’s a lot to try. 

  • Pappa’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant
    • In 1967, two greek brothers opened the first Pappa’s Restaurant and now there’s currently eight different Pappa’s Restaurants all in Houston.
  • Tel-Wink Restaurant
    • Two Chicago citizens opened a successful restaurant in southeast Houston, despite the area, it’s been successful with friendly service.
  • The Flying Saucer
    • Oldest pie shop in Houston
    • Family owned and operated and every pie is made from scratch, they never sell frozen pies.

Works Cited

"History of Discovery Green." - Discovery Green, Houston, Texas. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <>.

Gregoire, Carolyn. "Best City Parks In The U.S.: 10 Relaxing Green Spaces For A Little Urban Zen." The Huffington Post., 3 May 2013. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Best Thrift Stores & Flea Markets In Houston « CBS Houston." CBS Houston. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Home." Cole's Antique Village. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Montrose, Houston." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <,_Houston>.

"The Rothko Chapel will be closed on August 15 and August 16 for building maintenance.." Rothko Chapel. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Gulfton, Houston." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <,_Hou

"Fiesta Mart." Foursquare. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Houston Museum District Association."Houston Museum District. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.

"ABOUT FOTOFEST." FotoFest. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.

"Pappas Restaurants." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.

""WELCOME HOME!"." Tel-Wink Restaurant & Grill. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.

"About the Flying Saucer Pie Company."Flying Saucer Pie Company Fresh Homemade Pies in Houston Texas RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2013. <>.


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