Sunday, December 27, 2009
The Times calls on Demerath for end-of-year quality of life outlook for Shreveport
Loren Demerath, a Centenary College professor, has been active in A Better Shreveport (abettershreveport.blogspot.com/), a nonprofit organization working to improve our quality of life. The group's interests have ranged from connecting the city's green spaces to establishing bicycle lanes.
Q: From your group's quality of life perspective, what is our greatest challenge as a community?
A: The greatest challenge is two-fold: an infrastructure centered around automobiles that has created suburban sprawl, and a culture of thinking about our city as undeserving of radical change.
As for the first challenge, we have to overcome our tendency to build certain kinds of streets, neighborhoods, and retail districts that discourage walking and biking. If we don't do that, we will continue to live lives in Shreveport that are not as healthy and happy as they would otherwise be.
We also face the challenge of overcoming an acceptance of those conditions. Many believe Shreveport does not have the resources of more popular, growing cities to counter those conditions. They believe we can't afford to build bike paths and greenways, or to provide incentives for retailers to locate downtown on Texas Street, and to generally create a city where people would prefer to live over any other city. But as any business person knows, if you don't invest in your product, it won't sell; further, there are always ways of improving your product and increasing your share of the market.
Q: What is your organization's primary goal for the coming year?
A: The goal of our downtown group is to revitalize the Texas Avenue corridor running from Common Street to Murphy Street, in part by creating a cultural district for resident-artists. The transportation group seeks to hold city bike tours, and to develop bike lanes, sharrows, and signage throughout the city that will encourage biking for transportation. The goal of the greenways group is to begin construction of a Coates Bluff Greenway between East Washington and Stoner Avenue running behind Caddo Magnet High School. As well as closing the gap between the Clyde Fant bike path and our residential neighborhoods of Highland, South Highland, and Broadmoor, it would provide an example of how beautiful and enriching greenways can be in Shreveport, and would stimulate demand similar greenways throughout our city.
Q: How can the community assist you in your group's mission?
A: Anyone with ideas about how to improve Shreveport's quality of life is invited to join our group. Our meetings are regularly Monday nights (less regularly over school breaks) and are open to anyone who is interested. People can read our blog at abettershreveport.blogspot.com to see what we've discussed, what we're working on, or what's on the agendas of upcoming meetings. Our next meeting will be 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11, in room 216 of Centenary Square, across the street from George's Grill.
Posted by Robert Trudeau at 1:40 PM