Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
(Hmmm. Seems like a late meeting announcement too. Powers that be aren't trying to avoid public participation in the master plan, are they? Do they need to be reminded that democracy may be time-consuming and inefficient, but it's the only thing that separates us from the dark ages? Hope not. Could be just that wires got crossed somewhere along the way during the chain of communication.)
The following was sent by April Dahm:
IMPORTANT MEETING FOR ALL SHREVEPORT RESIDENTS
The following information was given to me today by Matthew Linn, Caddo Parish Commissioner. Please take this VERY seriously and make every attempt to attend.
The Shreveport City Council has called a meeting with the Caddo Parish Commission at 1p.m. this Monday August 31, 2009 at the Independence Stadium skybox. This meeting will be advertised in Fridays newspaper printed by The Times. This meeting will focus on a positive outcome for the Master Plan.
We've all heard a lot of discussion to why plans, studies, and projects have difficulty getting off the ground in Shreveport. WE ONLY CAN COUNT ON OURSELVES TO TO ADVOCATE FOR OUR VISION AND SEE THAT THERE IS ACTION.
We hope to see you on Monday! And thank you to Matthew Linn for keeping us informed!
PARK(ing) Day 2009 is Friday, September 18th!
Originally created by Rebar, San Francisco art and design collective, PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day, global event where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.
Anyone can participate in PARK(ing) Day, though it is strictly a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.
some park(ing) day videos: http://parkingdayla.com/
park(ing) day “how-to” guide: http://parkingdaynyc.org/help
here’s a park(ing) day in Cincinnati: http://www.
official website: http://www.parkingday.org/
map of cities participating: http://www.communitywalk.com/
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
By-Laws Approved at Monday's Meeting. Vote on Board Members and Officers Next Monday. Those Interested Asked to Submit Bio's.
In attendance: Jimmy Couvillon, Milton Hutchinson, Robert Trudeau, Feico Kempff, Maurice Loridans, Ryan Tew, April Dahm, Steve Godfrey, Susan Keith, David Aubrey, Matthew Linn, Cynthia Keith, Jon Soul, Sheri Kerr, Caroline Majors, Loren Demerath, Ian Webb. (Others? Please comment to this and let me know! Sorry I missed you! - LD)
Visioning forum discussed: people commented that it seemed to be a useful experience, particularly for starting conversations on important topics for planning the city.
Several more people paid their annual dues of $5 to become voting members of ABetterShreveport. (Feel free to bring yours to the next meeting and be eligible to vote for board members and officers!)
The by-laws were unanimously approved! Before the vote, there was some discussion of the by-laws on points related to the calendar year, voting procedures, and number of people on the board, officers, and whether the executive director need be a board member. Approved by-laws are posted for any to view.
PLEASE NOTE: Board members and officers are to be nominated and voted on at the next meeting. It was suggested that those interested might submit short bio's for to be posted. E-mail Loren at email@example.com if you'd like to do so.
The Coates Bluff Greenway was described and progress reported, including discussions held at the Visioning Forum. It was noted that a number of people at the forum were aware of the project.
Progress on the Bike Routes Project was described in terms of plans and discussions held with various people at the forum, including with Mike Strong of the D.O.S. Caroline Majors, a professional urban planner who has joined the group, noted that bike lanes on certain kinds of roads will do more to encourage non-cyclists to try cycling than would sharrows, but she also acknowledged that a mixture of both types would be useful.
The Downtown Group reported on their progress on planning a regular downtown lunch meeting, and on their goal of creating a coalition of property owners. It was also noted, though, that if the group were able to create a persuasive vision of what downtown development can be and what it would require of owners, owners can then be approached asking if they would participate in making the vision a reality.
I think all would agree it was quite a productive meeting. Guess that timed agenda works!
The next meeting will be Monday at 6:15 p.m., again at Centenary Square, room 206. (Across the street from George's Grill; enter from the back parking lot and you can't miss us!)
The agenda will be sent out soon. As usual, suggestions for items are welcome.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I don't think that anybody should attempt to describe what happened, but when the clickers failed to record the responses from the people the real test of working without the planned technology began. It's like a speaker depending on a powerpoint progam and finds him or herself having to perform alone. My guess is some three hundred people were present to take part.
My table had a good representation of the Shreveport area with one returning visitor from North Houston, Texas. He is Mr. Robert S Barnwell III, the descendent of the Barnwell Drilling Co and the family who built the Barnwell Center down on the river front. His remarks included pointing out that for a city of its size Shreveport has a lot of access routes and Clyde Faint Parkway and the riverfront are positives for Shreveport. Mr. Barnwell is a classic story of migration away from Shreveport. Moved to North Houston and started a new company called Texas Gas Utility Services Inc. and remains President of his firm today. He heard about the Master Plan Vision Forum and came home to participate in expressing his thoughts on opportunities and challenges for Shreveport.
A lady from Southern University came over and sat next to me and gave the most complete account for what is lacking in Shreveport. It was about lack of job opportunity and the middle-size housing shortage. She pointed out that young graduates, if they are not in the medical field or law profession, must leave town if they can't find a job other than working in government or educational institutions.
Billy Wayne and I met at the entrance so he brought me over to his table. Education and Arts related to After School Programs is Billy Wayne's bag of tricks. Good balance of opinion on all major issues and I sing the same song about lack of human capital and financial capital in our City for new business opportunities.
* Return of the Holiday In Dixie Parades kicking off the State Fair. I bought an old style bicycle so I would like a bike parade or tour on downtown shreets on Sunday afternoons.
* More kid art drawing contests held on the West end of Texas Ave around Artscape, Southern Museum and Robinson Film Center. That brings the parents with the kids to downtown.
* Free transportion from Sport-tran would improve job accessibility, access to library and schools to further education opportunities.Loren Demerath and Barnwell were talking across the table about downtown and how we needed to take the attitude that we could create a great downtown for more retail business , and residents and more parking space by removing old buildings that contribute nothing to downtown. A large retail store was mentioned, too, by Loren.
* We need a list of building owners of downtown properties. Loren said just think if we had our own Bossier BoardWalk on Texas Avenue. The return of storefront windows and an active place for people. That sounds like what the city look like when I went to work here in 1963.
* Barnwell point out that he opposed the late hours for the bars on the riverfront. I though our table was mainly interested in returning downtown to being a living city again and work for more jobs with opportunity for a better life.
* Our vision exercise of what Shreveport would look like in Twenty or Thirty years was cut short by the folks at the mic, but we passed our written thoughts to the facilitator, a great young lady from Southern University.How we get there is the next plateau and I wish we would have had more time to get to know each other better and work on solutions to address taking advantage of recognized opportunities and how to conquer our challenges. We had a lot of competition from the front of the room at the mic that was distracting to the table and many of our conversations were cut short as the speakers thought better by saying something in the mic.. When the announcement that the electronic clickers were not working they brought out the old sheet of paper and started explaining the questions and the check sheet at the same time. We lost "Mo" at this point but our table was able to proceed on with more conversation on the subjects already mentioned and I and a few others failed to mark on our sheet of paper while talking at the same time.After lunch the table changing started and folks decided what subjects presented were of interest and they moved on. I visited with Rose Wilson McCulloch and Lola May and was joined by Scott Hudges. Later Scott and I were joined by Craig Durrett and we enjoyed each other's company until the party was over.This, as I understand it, is the Shreveport Vision-only stage of the planning process. The next step is to continue the process in the neighborhoods of Shreveport. So, there is a chance to take what we have heard and determine what opportunities and challenges exist away from downtown. I suggest neighborhood leadership needs to come together and prepare for a good representation of neighborhood folks. I hope the distractions are few and people participating can build on each others ideas for a better Shreveport community quality of life.. The Technology went to hell. This is not the first time such has been used and it is certainly not new tech. They get an "F". What ever their names are, we need to remember them.Wish I had thought to copy the sign-in sheet for our table. I did see that it was being keyed into a laptop by another lady from Southern, so maybe it will be possible, to get a copy.I must say the association, "A Better Shreveport" were great contributors to the vision forum by having active members present to take part and aid in the vision process. MPC Staff and Commissioners did the heavy lifting of drinks, trash hauling and such.Was not a perfect process, but that is an over-used word anyway. It was cool or cold in there and the lights didn't go out.
Friday, August 21, 2009
There's a fact out there, supported by a lot of research, that should motivate us. It should motivate us to improve the quality of life in Shreveport, be it through the master planning will be doing tomorrow, or by participating in groups like ABetterShreveport.org, or any neighborhood association or local, non-profit, public-interest group. The fact is this:
IS NOT PREDETERMINED BY ITS LOCATION.
Instead, it's opportunities for good jobs, social interaction, exercise, and experiencing nature that more predictive of health and happiness. If you have a fulfilling job (paid or unpaid, thereby including homemakers) and an active social life, if you exercise regularly, and if you're outside relatively often, you're more likely to report a high level of physical health, and happiness, and satisfaction with your quality of life.
Those things can be affected by the way a city is built and amended over time. Transportation technologies affect our opportunities to socialize with each other, to exercise, or experience the outdoors. Retail and residential development patterns affect those things as well. They can also be affected by a city's governance is organized, such as our master planning process giving us a chance to feel empowered, hopefully. And these things are also influenced by the evolving identity of a city, partly a function of its past, but also a result of conscious reflection, which in turn can influence the programs and events it produces. Gotta love our festivals and our general southern appreciation for a good time, right? Would our Red River Revel be the same without it?
But all those aspects of cities are malleable, can be changed, and can even designed very intentionally to create predictable outcomes. The gist of all this is that we can make Shreveport a place where we're more likely to socialize, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors, and even create good jobs for ourselves by doing two things. First, by creating opportunities socialize in open spaces--in cafes, coffeeshops, or sidewalks of pedestrian-oriented downtowns. Socializing allows us to see what we have to offer each other which eventually leads to profitable ventures, and good jobs. Second, by creating opportunities to walk or bike from place to place can entice us to both exercise regularly, and experience the outdoors. Better living is there for the taking. We just have to carefully plan ahead to create it.
So, just because Shreveport isn't as beautiful or important as many other cities, doesn't mean it can't be a better place to live in than those more fashionable places. We can make Shreveport a place where people are generally happier and healthier than their counterparts elsewhere. Other cities have done it, and we can too.
So, take that, doubters! Think Shreveport's doomed to be at the bottom of any list of great places to live? Think again!
Or, more to the point, join us in the master planning effort, or in ABetterShreveport.org, or at your own neighborhood association, or any public interest non-profit group, like Shreveport Green, the Shreveport Historic Preservation Society, the Highland Restoration Association, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, SankofaVision.org, etc. There's a lot going on to be a part of, folks. So jump on in and join us! Do it!
This is a chance to be more than just a participant at Saturday's huge vision forum for the Shreveport Master Plan -- and it doesn't matter if you haven't registered yet. In case you don't know about it, this is a public meeting of Shreveport residents at the Convention Center to decide what we should do to improve our city. If you want better parks, more bike paths, a downtown with good retail shopping, or whatever, you don't want to miss this. They'll distribute handheld clickers so the audience can vote on various issues, just like on the game shows. It should be provocative, interesting, and fun. And they give you lunch, too.
Because it now looks like there will be close to the maximum of 800 people attending, they're short on people who will be the recorders at the individual tables. Laptop computers will be at each table, but they need more people who will volunteer to be the ones to type notes on the laptops that summarize what's being discussed.
The time commitments are:
4:30 Friday at the Convention Center - walk through and training
7:00 a.m. Saturday at the Convention Center for set up and testing - before folks start arrive at 8:00 a.m.
4:00 Saturday, event ends; a reception for volunteers on site immediately following!
O.K., yes, that says 7:00 a.m. But think of this as PATRIOTIC SERVICE TO YOUR CITY! ...and there's that reception afterward.
Plus, you'll be the most important person at your table! (Er, well, in a way.)
Please let me know if you're willing to volunteer. I have to give the director the names tonight or tomorrow.
Thanks for considering it, and please pass on the request to anyone you know who might be willing to help out.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
- These would be "expected" times at which to move on to the next agenda, and would make us aware of when time to address another issue is being taken away by the current discussion.
- The times shouldn't cause valuable discussion to stop. Robert's Rules of Order (here's a nice simplified version) say that as long as discussion is progressing, i.e., new points are made and it hasn't devolved into repetitive speech-making, discussion should be allowed to continue indefinately, at least until a motion is passed that the discussion stops and the group moves to a vote.
- 6:15 - Approval of minutes
- 6:20 - Receipt of payments by new voting members
- 6:25 - By-laws discussion and vote
- 6:35 - Coates Bluff report and discussion
- 6:50 - Bike routes street painting and signage report and discussion
- 7:05 - Review of letter to Mayor's Office requesting bike-ped commission
- 7:10 - Possible downtown proposals discussion
- 7:25 - New business
- 7:30 - Ajurn
I guess we should all come ready to speak efficiently! Well, why not?
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
COATES BLUFF UPDATE
Though we spent nearly whole meeting occupied with our primary task of discussing what by-laws our new non-profit organization should have, there was also a brief Coates Bluff Greenway update. We learned that state archeologist Jeff Gerrard may be helping us, that Tim Wachtel has begun discussing the plan with us over email, that David Alexander and others are aware of the project, and that we may take a walking tour of the site with various interested parites soon.
BY-LAWS ISSUES (latest draft of by-laws)
The group decided that Stewart's idea of having voting members pay membership dues of $5 per year was good one. We didn't list that amount in the by-laws though, to allow the board of directors the freedom to change it in the future. (In fact, everyone in attendance paid their own $5 at the end of the meeting, so we now have 13 voting members on our "rolls"! [Question: would it be a good idea to set up a Paypal button on our home page so people can do that online? I assume we want to be as accessible as possible for anyone that wants to contribute their voice and to support us, and it would help people do that. Just a thought.])
Who votes to change the by-laws:
We had an extensive discussion over the issue of who should vote to change by-laws. Ian felt the board should vote to change the by-laws, though the board should be larger than five people, while Stewart felt the membership should have to vote to change them.
Discussion touched several issues, including whether or not notifying all members of a vote and the issues involved would be difficult, and whether having the organization be responsive to its membership was as important as the group being able to maintain it's mission and cohesiveness. While some noted the ease and convenience of email, others pointed out people can stop reading e-mail from certain addresses once they lose interest.
In the end, the group seemed to favor having the board of directors be able to vote to change the by-laws.
- the number on the board was raised to seven
- the number of officers was reduced to four
- the number of days in advance an official board meeting needs to be called was increased to seven.
And on that note, we decided to bump up our regular meeting time to Monday evenings from 6:15 to 7:30 for a bit more convenience. Tea and coffee will be served, and feel free to brown bag.
Friday, August 14, 2009
So, this Monday night at 7:00 in Centenary Square, we'll start our new meeting time routine.
This meeting should be a special one too, since top on the list will be our by-laws. It shouldn't take long though, so hopefully we'd have time to click through some of our other issues. Here's a rough agenda:
- review our new by-laws ($5 yearly membership? no membership? five on board? just three?)
- review our letter to the mayor's office (ready to go?)
- review our recommended bike routes proposal (more to-do's? or is it ready also?)
- brainstorm about a downtown proposal (creating an owner-investor consortium? presenting said consortium with a general vision and a means of coordinating players needed to get there? [still sounds vague; specifics?])
- review Coates Bluff progress (promotional flier materials: photos, description, potential partner profiles; meetings with potential partners; to-do's)
Just before the meeting Feico gave copies of maps he'd acquired showing the sewer right of ways along the Coates Bluff route. The gist of the maps indicate that the part of the greenway by Anderson Bayou seems to lie on public land; it would therefore be a relatively simple task for the city to lease out the land to a land trust for the purpose of maintaining the greenway.
David Aubry, who is cochair of the Community Advisory Group for the Master Plan, and director of the Strategic Action Council, and who has been involved with the Riverscape development, talked about S.A.C., and it's goal of leveraging development for urban revitalization and addressing community needs. Jimmy Couvillion also talked about his background and interest in development in Shreveport. April mentioned how both David and Jimmy had attended the large downtown meeting she'd organized last week.
Both David and Jimmy noted how a group like this can use contacts with people who've come to meetings to mobilize them on planning and issues important to the community.
When we mentioned the need for investors in certain projects, David said there are many investors but not so many developers. He explained that developers often want to build straightforward Section 8 housing that's profitable for them but hasn't been thought through to be mixed-used or mixed-income and ends up hurting the community in the long run.
We discussed the Riverscape development and how the Coates Bluff Greenway could benefit not only Riverscape, but the students attending Magnet High School, Stoner Hill Elementary Lab School, and Montessori for Shreveport School, and the residents of Stoner Hill, Anderson Island, Highland, Broadmore, and indeed, the city as a whole. David expressed his support for bike paths in general, and others agreed, some noting that our city can easily do better in providing safe, attractive routes for biking. While greenways are one way of doing that, our recommended bike routes plan is another.
In shifting our discussion to the bike routes plan, Mark Goadrich raised the following question: Should we recommend low trafficked, residential streets for routes, or, should we use more direct higher trafficked roads, considering we would be painting sharrows, and in some cases bike lanes? We didn't answer that question with complete certainty, but we seemed to agree that cyclists would tend to prefer not being near motor vehicles, particularly this age of driving while using a cell-phone. We also agreed that different kinds of routes can recommended, perhaps ranging from "quiet" to "highly trafficked".
After the meeting, Mark helped Loren improve access to our web site and set up our new group membership that can allow people to subscribe and unsubscribe to the e-mail list. (Thanks Mark!)
The next meeting has been set for Monday night from 7:00 to 8:15 to discuss our new by-laws, and our on-going projects.
See you then!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
A Better Shreveport Luncheon: Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
Originally uploaded by Reans
Monday, August 10, 2009
Here is an opportunity to comment on the Jimmy Davis Hwy Red River Bridge. The 4 choices each include a bike path from Clyde Fant and Arthur Ray Teague.
Send comment to firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments are due no later than August 20, 2009.
Reference: State Project No. 700-08-0114
Stage 0 Feasibility Study and EI
Red River Bridge at Jimmy Davis Highway
If you have questions you can email Mr. McDowell and ask for the web page reference. There are currently 4 proposed bridge replacement/expansions and all include a bike path connecting to the bike trial on both sides of the river. The part on the bridge will have a barrier to keep cars and trash out of the bike lane.
Coates Bluff / Stoner Hill nature trail exploration
Originally uploaded by trudeau
Following this past Tuesday's ABS meeting, we will not have a Coates Bluff meeting on Thurs. Aug.6 as originally scheduled. We decided that further research to be conducted by Feico and April on property ownership needed to happen before proceeding. Also, Feico will hold a meeting with David Alexander to bring him up to speed before he jumps into a meeting with all of us.
I also asked Feico to schedule and facilitate the next meeting.
Rock N Roll,
Saturday, August 8, 2009
The next regular meeting of ABetterShreveport.org will be Tuesday the 11th at 8:20 in Centenary Square. We'll likely work the following:
- promotional materials for Coates Bluff
- letter to the mayor's office
- the Bike Routes Proposal
We'll review our final draft of the letter we'll be sending to the Mayor's Office that makes a specific request for implementing bike and pedestrian improvements to the city.
We'll review a rough draft of a specific proposal we'll be presenting to the Department of Operational Services for bike "sharrows" and bike route signage.
We're now officially a non-profit organization. We just received our certificate from the Secretary of State of Louisiana. We'll be setting up a meeting to establish our by-laws, likely next Monday or Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Those are also possibilities for our regular meeting time once school starts again, so feedback is most welcome on which of those times is preferrable.
Even if you're just curious to see what our meetings can be like, please join us!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Ms. Brown walked our group of about 70 people through the process of planning, drafting, and implementing the master plan. She stressed that her firm is known for it's "community participation." By using a variety of communication tools such as public opinion surveys, visioning forums, websites, and public workshops, a commitment to public information is is highly regarded according to Ms. Brown.
A vision based process is scheduled for August 22nd at the Shreveport Conventions Center. The goal of the workshop is for Goody and Clancy to get know our community as wel as learn about what Shreveporters would like to see change and what we want to stay. What do we feel is important? What are our values and aspirations for the future? How do we see our city in 20 years? Please consider participating in this workshop. There is room for up to 800 people to participate.
Registration can be done on-line by going to http://www.shreveportcaddomasterplan.com/
You should receive an e-mail confirmation letting you know your registration has been processed. If you are having trouble please e-mail me at downtownABS@gmail.com and I will try to help.
So how does the Downtown Development Authority fit into the master plan? Downtown Shreveport and the waterfront are considered to be a special focus area according to Brown. Don Shea of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) summed it up by saying that Shreveport has one the most poorly developed waterfronts in the U.S. The DDA is looking at developing Cross Bayou and developing public access to the waterfront.
Shea also spoke of area of focus, The West Edge which which is slowly emerging as a cultural and arts community. Shreveport Regional Arts Council's Artspace is located in the West Edge section of downtown as is the Robinson Film Center. http://www.shrevearts.org/
Mr. Shea discussed increasing residential and office spaces downtown as a vital step toward revitalization. Recreation areas that may include parks, bike lanes, and activities related to the waterfront should not be overlooked. Downtown activities and attractions need continuous support in order to keep growing.
Although the DDA is focusing in the areas mentioned above they are looking for input for those who share a vision of a thriving downtown. Both Brown and Shea agree that a thriving downtown community is everyone's community, regardless of what neighborhood we live in.
To me, one of the most striking comments made was by Larissa Brown. She urged, "let's not just react to change happening to us, let's be a part of that change."
April Dahm, A Better Shreveport
See photo highlights of the forum: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyreans/sets/72157621835020589/
Sunday, August 2, 2009
"The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) currently is conducting a feasibility study to widen of the Jimmie Davis Bridge. As a part of this study, LADOTD will hold a Public Information Meeting to solicit public comments regarding the proposed project. The meeting will take place on August 6, 2009 from 5pm to 8pm at the Barksdale Baptist Church located at 1714 Jimmie Davis Highway in Bossier City, LA."