Stephen Klineberg, superstar

I want to see this.

Dr. Stephen Klineberg

David Thompson and his colleagues at ttweak are best-known for their work on the quirky “Houston – It’s Worth It” campaign, paying homage to the yawning potholes, soul-sapping humidity and all the other things that help to define the sprawling city.

But they may have found the quintessential symbol of Houston in the star of their new film, “Interesting Times: Tracking Houston’s Transformations Through 30 Years of Surveys.”

Since 1982, Rice University sociologist Stephen Klineberg has followed the city’s economic fortunes, changing demographics and enduring belief that Houston is a better place to live than almost anywhere else.

His basic pitch after decades of study: “We are the most ethnically diverse city in the nation, a city reinventing itself for the 21st Century.”

He argues that Houston’s future depends upon raising the education levels of its growing Latino population, as well as improving parks and other urban amenities to attract knowledge workers and innovators who could live anywhere.

The film premiered earlier this week at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It’s a 30-minute sweep of skyline, streetscapes, archival footage and bits of data from the surveys.

Mostly, it shows the 71-year-old Klineberg, alone on stage in an empty auditorium at Rice, barely containing his enthusiasm as he talks about his life’s work.

I can’t find anything on this on the MFAH films page, but this will be shown at Discovery Green on April 27 after the 2012 Houston Area Survey is released. In light of recent news, I hope they’ve asked questions about attitudes towards marriage equality. No matter the case, the HAS is another great thing about Houston, and Klineberg deserves the accolades.

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