‘Everybody Plays Over There:’ After West, Are More Texas Communities At Risk? | KERA News

‘Everybody Plays Over There:’ After West, Are More Texas Communities At Risk?

Apr 22, 2013

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas communities' proximity to danger, son of West Zac Crain shows us around his beloved hometown, a Situation (Room) at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and more.

Security and energy expert Thomas Homer-Dixon took a seat in our Think studio last Thursday as news from West’s search and rescue mission was coming down after the fertilizer plant explosion the night before. Homer-Dixon, the Ontario-based author The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, was an unassuming outsider in town to speak at an event. But he wondered as he looked at the facts before him: How could zoning in West put a middle school and a nursing home so close to a potentially dangerous fertilizer plant site?

Kelly Haragan, director of the Environmental Law Clinic at the UT-Austin law school, tells KUT's Terrence Henry this problem is common in Texas. Read more about why – and get a full backgrounder on the fertilizer plant in Henry’s story for StateImpact Texas.

  • Who Knows West? That’s the question people all over the world were asking each other – as if the town were a person. After last week’s explosion killed 14 and injured 200, Google searches and map sleuthing brings little in the quest to understand the character of the place. Enter the Dallas Observer writer and son of West, Zac Crain, who introduces us to the town where he grew up via an essay for NBC News:

“It's the kind of place where people not only don't lock their doors all the time, but sometimes leave the keys in the ignition of their truck. It has a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’-style town square and storefronts that haven't really changed in decades.”

  • Burgers – For Journalists? KERA’s Courtney Collins pulled on her rain jacket before the sun was up on Thursday and got to know the strong heart of West. She’s covered her share of natural disasters, and was so struck by the candidness and generosity of the town’s residents that she had to share what she found as a reporter (read: intrusive stranger by default) last week:

I’ve always found that in the wake of a tragedy, you’ll be able to coax someone into an interview about half the time. Some folks want to talk, others will tell you to buzz off. I’m used to both, but I always feel a little sick when I see the hurt in someone’s eyes as they shake their head "no." I hate being someone who causes a grieving soul even more pain. But Thursday morning in West was a first.

  • Stay In EcoStyle, Or Else: That place we all know and share – Earth – is getting some love en masse on Earth Day. (A slice: Celebrators in Seoul are recycling South Korean pop-star Psy’s ubiquitous hit “Gangnam Style” with a flash-mob homage to green living called “Eco-style.” See below.) There are quieter ways to take advantage of the day’s focus, from ecological footprint quizzes to History Channel retrospectives. The LA Times rounds up six of those ways.

  • Situation Coming: This week, all of the living presidents will descend on the SMU campus. The George W. Bush Presidential Center will be officially dedicated on Thursday, and KERA is diving into the opening with a series called "Inside The Bush Center." Lauren Silverman zooms in on the White House’s mysterious Situation Room, rebuilt for the museum. And in case you missed it amid the Boston and West coverage on Friday: Jerome Weeks profiles the 25-acre Bush Center and its “unequivocally eco-sensitive” make. (It’s got a rare platinum LEED certification.) And outside our hub, Dallas-based photographer Allison V. Smith stamps a first-look slideshow accompanying the NY Times preview.