Houston urban coastal prairie restoration pilot park
Esteban Park is a small urban Coastal Prairie restoration park in southeast Houston. It is being created on land donated by Pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus of St. John’s Downtown United Methodist Church. Esteban Park is designed as another springboard for Ecological Health practices and principles, and is where Restoration Not Incarceration™ was born. In the future, Esteban Park can also connect to miles of linear prairie restoration lands along Sims Bayou, offering Ecological Health, open space, prairie education and temporary work opportunities to many neighborhoods.
Esteban Park is named after Esteban the Moor. In 1528, the Spaniards Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Dorantes, a few other surviving conquistadors, and the Moroccan slave Esteban the Moor washed ashore on Galveston Island into a coastal prairie wilderness of abundance and life that stretched along the entire Texas coast for millions of acres. Local tribes like the Karankawa (now extinct) thrived. For 8 years, Indian, Spaniard and Black learned to live with each other and the prairie. It was a moment in the sun, an example of how civilization might proceed in empathy and co-existence. But society traveled a different road, leaving humanity fractured and disconnected from one another and the natural world. Today, for example, there is less than 1% left of the original native coastal prairie. However, in the new millennium, we have a chance to rebuild health through restoration of the land and ourselves.
Esteban Park then serves as not only a place-based ecological preserve in an underserved urban area, but also an informative partner to landscape-level prairie restoration efforts and climate change resilience on the Texas Gulf Coast and across the Southern Plains.