Icicles form on the Littlefield Fountain at the University of Texas campus in Austin on the first day of Winter Storm Uri, on Feb. 14, 2021.

The Texas Timeline Project: An Update

Posted Mar. 10, 2021 by Alyssa Hiarker, Evan L’Roy & Grace Dickens

A month after our work on The Texas Timeline Project began, the North American Winter Storm of 2021 (also known as Winter Storm Uri) devastated the state of Texas.

Fighting to keep power and stay warm, our progress was delayed but fortunately our team was able to pass through the storm relatively unscathed and resume life as normal a week later. For many Texans, however, this was not the case.

The storm caused widespread water outages that lasted for weeks after the storm had passed. Others, who had fled their unpowered homes to seek warmth elsewhere, returned home to flooded rooms and burst pipes. The combined failings of the ERCOT power grid and the other pressures from the storm resulted in dozens of Texans dead and made this natural disaster one of the most expensive in the state’s history.

If this storm has shown us anything, it’s just how unprepared Texas is in the face of emergencies. Meanwhile, climate change — the most daunting environmental challenge of this century — looms just around the corner. As we sat with burst pipes in darkened rooms, berated by Northerners for “bringing this upon ourselves”, we were struck with how important it is to tell the stories of Texans.

That’s why we want to help teach others about the devastating consequences of Texas’ environmental decisions. It’s important Texans’ learn from our history to better prepare for our future. With this in mind, our project aims to establish the pattern that sent the state careening into darkness.

In the weeks since our introduction, we have been diving into our work, dividing up the six years we are interested in researching between the three of us. The closer we look, the more we can see a tangible narrative building around Texas policy as policies grant leniency to corporations that in turn cause environmental degradation that impacts the lives and bodies of the people living in the state.

We have also begun work on our host website, which is already looking great. After researching multiple possible locations, we have settled on a site and have begun tweaking the format to best suit our project’s needs. We hope to soon be able to show an example of what this will look like, in a tangible way.

Along with our research, we’ve been looking into our competitors to make sure we are building a product people can actually benefit from. We’re also planning to distribute surveys and hold focus groups to ensure that our project is usable, accessible, and meets the needs of those who will use it. We are currently working on garnering gift-card donations that will be raffled off to those who participate in our surveys and focus groups.

One of the most exciting parts of this project is the Texas perspective, and just this past week we pitched our first stories of the semester. From forest fires to the TCEQ, we’re planning on bringing you lots of interesting stories to keep you in the loop about Texas.

We will be promoting our surveys and focus groups through social media (@timelinetexas on Twitter) and by establishing relationships with current institutions that comprised our target audience. If you’re interested in getting involved with our surveys or focus groups, please reach out to thetexastimelineproject@gmail.com to and we’ll let you know how you can get involved.

Lastly, if you or someone you know has an experience to share about how they’ve been impacted by Trump-era environmental policies and events, please email us and share your stories. We’re looking forward to hearing about your experiences!



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