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Highway Fonts and Convict Leasing: Wednesday’s Show (March 23, 2016)

Highway signs are carefully regulated. They have to be a certain height and color. Most importantly, of course, they have to be as legible as possible, and that’s why there are standard rules for lettering. Back in 2004, Texas and some other states opted to use a new, independently designed font called Clearview instead of the […]

Highway Sign Font Comparison

Highway signs are carefully regulated. They have to be a certain height and color. Most importantly, of course, they have to be as legible as possible, and that’s why there are standard rules for lettering.

Back in 2004, Texas and some other states opted to use a new, independently designed font called Clearview instead of the longstanding font called Standard Highway Alphabet. The Federal Highway Administration approved the font — and the switch — as a sort of experiment. Now it appears the experiment is over. The FHWA in January announced it wants new signs to once again use the Standard Highway Alphabet. But the Texas Department of Transportation wants the federal agency to reconsider.

Why the dust-up over a font? If they’re both readable, does it really matter? And what say does Texas ultimately have over something like highway signs? On this edition of Houston Matters, we learn more about the fight over fonts from News 88.7 transportation reporter Gail Delaughter.

Drug Enforcement Policies

Also this hour: Rice University’s Baker Institute recently hosted a conversation about drug enforcement policies in Harris County. Elected officials and drug policy specialists with a background in law enforcement participated in the discussion, moderated by Katharine Neill, a postdoctoral fellow in drug policy at the Baker Institute. She shares with us what was discussed.

Going From Classmates to Fellow Activists

Then: Over the last year, there have been a number of high-profile protests on American college campuses, fueled by racially charged incidents and broader questions about access and inclusion in higher education. The Black Lives Matter movement has also added to the changing climate. Two area college students discuss race, activism and identity in the latest edition of Inside the Classroom from News 88.7 education reporter Laura Isensee.

Legacy of Prison Labor

And: Rice University recently displayed a small exhibit on a subject of Texas history you might not know much about: convict leasing. Maggie Martin reports on the history and legacy of the convict lease system in Texas.

Art in Row Houses

Plus: Project Row Houses is known for combining community activism with art. Its non-traditional exhibition spaces – located not in the tony Museum District but in Third Ward row houses – allow artists and curators to play with themes you might not see in a gallery. Its newest exhibition turns seven row houses into seven separate installation spaces. Some will display art; others will serve as hubs for community activism. The exhibit is called Round 44: Shattering the Concrete. Paige Phelps will tell us more.

(Photo: Derek Stokely; Illustration: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media)

Houston Matters offers a free daily, downloadable podcast here, on iTunes, Stitcher and various other podcasting apps.

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