In late August and early September 2017, Stephan heads to Southeast Texas immediately following Hurricane Harvey to help with relief efforts. While there he works on a music video to bring the country together called “I Believe In America,” and works with Operation BBQ Relief, a self-organized community of barbecue pitmasters and volunteers that began in response to the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes, has grown to serve every major disaster. In Texas, OBR goes on to serve over 370,000 meals in 11 days following the unprecedented category 4 hurricane and flooding.
Stephan then goes into Houston’s hardest-hit, poorest neighborhood, the Northeast, where he catches up with young hip-hop generation Pastor Joshua Dillard at the Free Indeed Church in Homestead. In Stephan’s conversation with Josh, featured above, Josh spares nothing as he describes how he and his community are stepping up in the face of inequality, disenfranchisement, and marginalization. The interview is a must watch.
In his work and travels, Stephan meets everyone from Mayor’s office staff and local Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to several people who were displaced residents from New Orlean’s 9th ward who lost everything in hurricane Katrina, relocated to Houston, and now have lost everything again. Through it all he finds resilience, unity, and a strength of spirit the country and world need today. His op-ed on Houston with his reflection is here, “If We Can Unite In Disasters, We Can Do It Every Day.” Stephan finds that at the front lines of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, or Mexico’s massive earthquake, the flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and India, or in war swept Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the refugee camps and more, no one has time for political divisiveness anymore. The real heroes are too busy making a more equal world to waste time blame others or lining up behind political banners.