Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monroe's on the Bike Trail too!

Ribbon Cutting set for November 6 on bike trails...

Staff report • • October 29, 2009

    • A Friday ribbon-cutting event to mark the official opening of two bicycle paths in Monroe has been postponed until 11 a.m. Nov. 6 at Forsythe Park because of the threat of bad weather.

      The bike trails are the result of over a year of cooperative efforts between the city of Monroe, Monroe Advocates for Safe Streets and the Rotary Club of Monroe.

      Mayor Jamie Mayo and other city officials will join representatives from MASS and local students for an inaugural bike ride immediately following the ribbon cutting.

      Each of the two bike paths begin in Forsythe Park. One route goes to the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, while the other path goes to the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Thanks to David Aubry for passing this on!

Halloween Community Garden Events

Surely a better Shreveport is one that includes more opportunities to come together and grow healthy delicious food. There are two events that allow us to do that this Saturday.

One is in Ceder Grove. At Line and 73rd St., from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., there'll be a celebration and activities featuring live music and games.

The other is on Tulane Ave. off of Linwood. Here's that information, from the director, Leia Lewis, who always puts on great events.

Dear Friend,
You are welcome to join the Sankofa Gardens Fall Planting of GREENS and STRAWBERRIES!
This Saturday, October 31st
12:30 to 3:30 PM
Sankofa Gardens
1651 Tulane
This is a FREE, family event.
Please bring a friend and share this message/flyer.
Wear work clothes and bring your gloves and tools, too!
For information, call:
Leia Lewis
(318) 230-2892

Monday, October 26, 2009

No meeting today; good lunch meeting at Valencia Park earlier

No meeting tonight, since a number of us have already met earlier today.

Those of us on the Coates Bluff team had a very good lunch meeting today at Valencia Park with Councilman Monty Walford, Head of Caddo Parrish Department of Parks and Recreation Larry Reynolds, School District 4 representative Charlotte Crawley, and Stoner Hill Neighborhood representatives Bessie Smith and Howard Allen.

Thanks Jon Soul for making salad, Ian Webb for coming through with the s-video cable, John Davenport for his crime and property value write up, Robert Trudeau for his pictures, Feico Kempff for his research on ownership and easements, and Carolyn Manning for her great graphics and framing work on both the powerpoint and the flier.

Can't wait to share with everyone what we learned at our next meeting, but suffice it to say that it was step forward today, and we learned a lot about what we next need to do.

In the meantime, we were told at the meeting today that if you're able to go to the masterplan meetings tonight or tomorrow night, talk up greenways and bike paths!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why we're all green at heart, and should resist our own intolerances

This is a great 30 second video on green politics from

Anyone who disagrees with it should be exiled to Venus.

Lovingly, of course.

(But surely there'd be no exiles, right?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Upcoming Master Plan Workshops

From Goody-Clancy, the firm in charge of creating the Master Plan for the city:

"The Shreveport-Caddo 2030 Master Plan team wants to hear about your neighborhood’s assets and issues in eight meetings set next week. The neighborhood workshops are taking place across four major districts, and will be followed by two November workshops, one discussing downtown and the waterfront, and one focused on strategies for revitalization, wherever it is needed in the Shreveport-Caddo planning area.

“We’ve heard from nearly 2,000 residents about the future of Shreveport-Caddo as a whole,” said Larissa Brown, Chief Planner for Goody Clancy, the firm hired to drive the master planning process. “Now, it’s time to find out what residents and business owners identify as the top priorities are for improvements in neighborhoods.” These priorities will inform the Master Plan’s approach to neighborhoods and specific topics, such as housing policy, transportation, and parks.

We encourage you to help us in promoting these workshops by emailing the attached flyer to your email contacts. You can also join in the neighborhood effort by distributing flyers this weekend. These meetings next week will focus on neighborhoods, so it’s a great time for people to come out to talk about what’s important to them for their specific areas!

Hit the streets this weekend to make sure your neighborhood is represented! ALL LIBRARIES WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS are participating in the “Neighbors Telling Neighbors Team” – this Saturday morning (10/24), volunteers are welcome to stop by any library to collect master plan neighborhood workshop flyers to distribute in their neighborhoods this weekend. Workshops include:


Monday, Oct. 26


Captain Shreve High School, 6115 East Kings Highway

Wednesday, Oct. 28


LSUS University Center, One University Place, 2nd Floor, Caddo Bossier Room


Tuesday, Oct. 27


C.E. Byrd High School, 3201 Line Avenue

Tuesday, Oct. 27


Caddo Career and Technology Center, 5950 Union


Monday, October 26


Southern Hills Business Association Conference Center, 9701 Baird Road

Wednesday, Oct. 28


Huntington High School, 6801 Rasberry Lane


Thursday, Oct. 29


Green Oaks High School, 2550 Thomas E. Howard Drive

Thursday, Oct. 29


Louisiana Technical College Shreveport-Bossier Campus, 2010 North Market Street


These workshops will discuss opportunities for revitalization in areas throughout the city, as well as possibilities for downtown, Cross Bayou and the waterfront.

Downtown/Waterfront Workshop:

Tuesday, November 17


Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, 400 Edwards Street

Revitalization Strategies Workshop:

Thursday, November 19


Willis-Knighton Community Center, 2401 Bessie Street

The City of Shreveport, Caddo Parish and the Metropolitan Planning Commission are the official sponsors and funders of the Master Plan process. All three agencies are fully committed to a transparent, open planning process with extensive public participation. The Metropolitan Planning Commission hired the firm of Goody Clancy to direct the planning process. Additional public workshops will be conducted to gather input into the plan itself, and in Summer, 2010 the citizen-infused emerging draft Master Plan will be given to the Metropolitan Planning Commission of Shreveport – Caddo Parish to review and forward to the City Council and Parish Commission for formal adoption.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another recent convert to daily biking: Pete Haas, Shreveport, modified Trek

Bass cellist Pete Haas spends summers in Chautauqua, NY, performing classical music in an idyllic community. "Almost all my commuting in Chautauqua is by bike," said Haas. On his return to Louisiana this year he decided on a commuter bike for basic travel in East Shreveport.

He got advice from bike advocate / Red River Cycling owner Ian Webb, who recommended this modified Trek. Haas says his sister-in-law in California rides on a similar extended cargo bike.

See more below.

What do women want?

Thanks for Tim Wachtel and Jeff Wellborn for bringing this to our attention. (Ain't it helpful to have nerdy, science-reading friends?! Gotta love 'em!)

From Scientific American magazine:

How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road

To boost urban bicycling, figure out what women want

By Linda Baker

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jonesboro getting $1.7M grant to build greenway

From the Associated Press - October 10, 2009 9:14 PM ET

JONESBORO, Ark.. (AP) - The city of Jonesboro is receiving a $1.7 million federal grant that will be used to help build a greenway through the northeastern Arkansas town.

The grant is part of $35 million being disbursed among 125 scenic byways across the nation.

The 29-mile-long Jonesboro Greenway would wind its way through the city. A greenway is a linear park that accommodates pathways mostly used for foot or bicycle traffic.

The idea for the trail came about seven years ago after a local survey. The trail will be built in three phases and is being designed so that it is similar to the Arkansas River Trail.

Jonesboro Parks and Recreation Director Jason Wilkie says the greenway eventually could become part of the Mississippi River Trail, which is about 3,000 miles long and winds through 10 states.

Ever thought about biking to the south of town out into the country? Did you know that there's a levee that goes from Shreveport all the way to Alexandria? Did you know they've got levee top bike paths in Alexandria? Not to mention Bossier? We're just sayin'!....

Cultural Arts District Topics on the Table!

From Feico Kempff:
The Shreveport Cultural District has been designated to allow artists to sell their work without sales tax. Our group networks and brainstorms ideas to make the downtown area a "livable" neighborhood. Our vision is to revitalize our downtown and redevelop Texas Ave. as an artist and craft related working and living area. The group meets Mondays (like tomorrow) at 6:15PM at Centenary and the downtown focus group meets at Artspace, usually Wednesdays around lunchtime 11:30 to 1PM although a set time hasn't been confirmed.
We want you to stay in touch!! follow the website for events and news.
Feico Kempff,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Other notes from last meeting

On potential partners, in particular we noted from the school board, Dawkins would be great; reads own email; Charlotte Crawley is school board member for this district;
Bessie Smith from Stoner hill; Howard Allen as well, and President Willie Pratt, and Deborrah Coleman of the community garden (which looks fantastic!) at Valencia. Mike Strong of DOS, Shelly Raigle and Tim Wachtel of SPAR; Monty Walford, Dawkins and Vinet in particular perhaps for this meeting.

David Aubry noted that we need to be succint, know what we want; have action items; don't want have more meetings. Be efficient with organized, quick, effective ways to make it happen.

We'll provide food for the lunch meeting. Would be October 19th.

In construction students of all types could help, from Centenary to Magnet.
The national guard oughta' be able to help; they do trail building and civil engineering projects; could cut costs that way; boy scouts another resource; national guard has equipment...

It was noted that when we consider the final plan, not all planners have experience with greenways; at some point we have to decide on the money we're gonna raise; in Roanoke the greenways board put the package together; we'd raise money privately and... we create a linear park and turn it over to parks and rec. department; would sharron write an initial conceptual plan that would cost estimate the actual plan; that could be contracted out to a planner with experience.

don't let them leave before asking them for: 8 feet of access that ties in stoner; dream of what we wnat and ask for partners; we've to other people on board, make some feel guilty if they're not on board

if sharron would draw on the map the trail and let people see it; can sell it;
kind of like to have dr. leuck go through and work the trail around certain large trees;

can get flagging tape with knot on the side of the trail.

NLCOG has money for safe routes to school; Dan Marcalus noted his father's work in Iowa; grants for transportation; Safety-lu; federal highway money; has to be some local match;

New Mayoral Committee on Energy Efficiency, Meeting with Potential Partners for Greenway, Design Discussed at Last Meeting

Summary of Last Meeting, 10/5/9, 6:15-7:30
In attendance: Dylan Breithaupt, Robert Trudeau, Ian Webb, Jon Soul, Loren Demerath, Sheri Kerr, Caroline Manning, David Aubry, Feico Kempff, Susan Keith, Cynthia Kieth, Jon Soul, Dan Marcalus

The meeting started with Ian Webb describing a committee on energy efficiency and conservation block grant programing that has been appointed by the mayor. The committee has nine members--including Ian and Jeanne Hamming--three consultants--including Kim Mitchel and Bruce Hoffman, and also has Wes Wyche, Tim Wachtel, Mike Strong serving as technical advisers.

The committee will be charged with developing strategies for using stimulus monies intended to fund improvements in our city's energy use efficiency. Hopefully, the proposals will be for implementing changes that will produce long-term improvements in energy efficiency, and may complement other needs too, such as health improvements that can come about by facilitating more walking and biking.

The committee will be coming up with strategies and identifying stakeholders; 8-10 different cities have received money and each city can build on each others' strategies; the feds want to see that happen: to give 2 million and have it turn it into 20; this isn't a rubber stamping committee; they'll make decisions and the mayor may modify them, but they're charged with developing strategies.

The U.S. Department of Energy would review proposals and suggest amendments.

The committee will be meeting once a week on Thursday evenings for the next six weeks.

The meeting then turned to the Coates Bluff Greenway proposal. Loren and Feico described their meeting with David Alexander last week with Sharron Swanson. One of the pressing needs we identified is to draw a preliminary plan, and find funding for a full plan. Then Alexander and other partners will know what specifically we'll need from them, such as the width of the easement.

The group learned that Sharron Swanson was drawing up some preliminary plans, pro bono, and it was suggested that might ask for similar donations of labor from Robert Vinet, a Magnet High alumnus who works for Burk-Klienpeter on the Concordia Place development.

It was also noted Jeff Girard said Coates Bluff could become an archeological conservancy; land owners would still own it; could still have a corridor for the greenway; Jeff is going to come back and register the graves and cemeteries; a private owner and a church own it currently, though the city may really own it if it's adjudicated.

It was said the strongest bet may be to have the greenway built, owned and maintained through public private partnership. It might be built with private funds, then leased to the city to maintain. It was noted that private developers often build roads then give them to the city to maintain.

Caroline told story of Katy bike path, and how it first ran through a blighted area that is now gentrified with very high property valued residences; people apparently want to live right on the bike path. Ian noted there is good info at on that kind of thing; Dan noted how city could use stimulus money, block grant money to construct and maintain it. It was noted that we need to get a political figure like Monty to champion it.

Accordingly, the group decided it was time to get key partners on board and to introduce the proposal to them. Chief among these partners is Monty Walford, the councilman in whose district would be the greenway. Other partners include the Caddo Parish School Board, the V.A. Hospital, Caddo Magnet High School, the Stoner Hill Lab Elementary School, the Montessori School for Shreveport, and the Stoner Hill Neighborhood Association. Caroline said she'd be willing to develop a flier to market the idea and the group was grateful for the offer.

Other things discussed:
Lack of doctoral programs in the city; In Ruston?; driving distance; Need for engineering, social work, business programs, etc. in Shreveport; Virginia has a system of combining programs; continuing ed programs for people not looking for student life; 4 separate systems here; budget cuts are forcing people to the table to consolidate and merge. LSUS merging with Tech a possibility.

Caroline asked if we had tree regulations in the city preventing people from cutting down large trees. It was thought we did not. Some noted the area cleared for the new development near Magnet appeared to have had many large trees. Those on bikes saw it is now completely clear during our Coates Bluff tour on Saturday.

It was noted that the dog park has not been approved and may have been put off until after elections. It appears people opposed to dog parks are ill-informed as to what they are how they work. Most communities that have them value them.

The next meeting is set for Monday the 12th from 6:15-7:30, where we'll largely plan the meeting of partners.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mission statement and objectives for the Downtown Group

This was sent to the list from Caroline Majors in regard to the Downtown group:

I have come across a few related publications that I'd love to add to our discussion about street improvements/bike infrastructure downtown.

The second link takes some time to download... but it's worth a look!

Also, in terms of discussing our mission, I would like to offer that there is a difference between a mission/vision statement that defines our purpose, our values -- and a set of principles, goals, or objectives that help us achieve our mission. I think both are valuable and work together. But ideally principles come from the overarching mission.

Also, all four of the values we discussed for our mission statement (Economic Prosperity, Environmental Sustainability, Cultural Vitality, Social Equity) are measurable. Attached is one brief example discussing the measurement of social equity. I think that, particularly in our community, social equity is a crucial value to consider in anything we pursue.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jon Soul lead the Coates Bluff Greenway exploration through bamboo, briars, mosquitoes and poison ivy to see and feel the path's pleasures and potential

Jon Soul speaks to part of the group: L to r - Robin Jenkins, Maurice "Machete" Loridans, Sherry Kerr, Tom Giles and Charles Goldthwaite.

Next A Better meeting: Mon, Oct 5, Centenary Square, 6:15 pm.
More photos here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Historical Sites Signage, City Tours, and Getting Inside Downtown Homes among the topics at last ABS meeting

To briefly summarize the last ABetterShreveport meeting, Kern Courtney raised the idea of having signs posted around the city that would describe the importance of a particular site in terms of such things as historical events, notable architecture, or natural features such as rare flowers or state champion trees (see posts on this blog about the Velo Dendro tree tour of the city coming this fall--yes we've got at least one champ in our midst!).

Though there are currently historical marker signs, one improvement might be organize them and display that organization effectively. One could post signs of their locations on a posted map of the city, perhaps at central locations like City Hall, the Visitor's Bureau, the City Bus terminal, etc.


One wrinkle to the idea was to have a "mashup" of maps online, and where one could click on "tree tour" "historical tour" or "architectural tour" and see the sites posted on a city map with a recommended route one would take for follow the tour by bike.

It was also suggested that each location could have number posted on its respective sign. That number could be an extension of a phone number people could call on their cell phones. They would then hear a prerecorded lecturette (perhaps with background music, who knows?) on the site.


Hmm. Is there any stimulus money available for that? You hear that a lot these days, but it's an appropriate question for another idea of Kern Courtney's, that we ask that our city park restrooms be rennovated to include some of the ammenities that other more modern ones have. Those include no-water urinals (cleaner, and less maintaince as well being more eco-friendly--Centenary's got 'em thanks to Jeanne Hamming's Go Green initiative at the college) and ventilated toilets that are used at parks elsewhere.

It was noted that the amount of resources a city invests in its parks is a sign to business and "creative class" skilled-laborers that Shreveport is a place that cares about its quality of life, and is a good place to live and locate.


Speaking of good places to live... downtown? Are you nuts? Well, Cynthia Keith gave a testimony to the knock your socks off beauty and luxury that some people have achieved in downtown living spaces. Cynthia described what she saw on the homes of downtown tour sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority a few years ago.

With the talk of the new cultural district providing incentives to people to live downtown, is it possible to display images on a forum such as this of spaces like Cynthia saw? Could one do it without violating the privacy of the homeowners? Perhaps by not posting the owners name and address if so desired by the owner, and not showing window shots that would give the location away? It could inspire people to move downtown.

...Especially if we can get a Target downtown! (uh-oh. just lost some of you, and I didn't even use the "W" word.) Or a Trader Joe's and a Borders. (there. are we good again?)

Next meeting: Monday, October 5th, 6:15-7:30

Join us!

Positive Meeting Held with David Alexander of Vintage Realty for Coates Bluff Greenway; Itinerary Set for Saturday's Walking Tour

Yesterday, Feico Kempff, Sharron Swanson, and Loren Demerath had a good meeting with David Alexander of Vintage Realty. He's the main person behind the Riverscape Development that will be breaking ground soon at the southeast "corner" of Stoner Avenue and Clyde Fant Parkway. We talked about the possibility of a Coates Bluff Greenway skirting the edge of his development behind Magnet High School on its way between Savoir St. and Stoner.

David said Vintage is the kind of firm that is pro-walkability and bikability is open to the idea of a greenway. Loren talked about the current trends in people looking for housing on or near bike paths, and how it could add value to the development. Sharron talked about how the current street design of Riverscape might have to be altered to accommodate the path. Feico noted that none of us have an "interest" in the path, but would just like to see it happen for the city. Feico also mentioned the support we're getting from the National Park Service in promoting the plan, and we described the grant we won through their Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program to plan for a system of greenways throughout the city, with the Coates Bluff project as the first pilot project. David said he would talk to his partners about the project.

One of our next steps will be to find funding for planning and implementing the greenway. We discussed funding possibilities from ISTEA, Saftey-Lu, in terms of transportation, and other sources may range from those seeking to promote health, education, or history.

More immediately, our next step is literally a number of steps! There'll be a walking tour of the Coates Bluff Greenway site this Saturday morning at 9:00. Although neither David nor Sharron will be able to make it, other notables will, such as state archeologist Jeff Girard, local historian Gary Joiner, and outdoor educator Jon Soul. We'll meet at the Montessori parking lot on Sevier St.

Jon Soul just sent out the following itinerary:

9AM The Montessori School for Shreveport (front parking lot)

9:10 Overview of Coates Bluff history & Greenway project (maps/handouts provided)

9:30 Walking tour of existing bayou trail

10:00 Drive to Valencia Rec Center picnic shelter (refreshments/restrooms provided)

10:15 Walking tour of Coates Bluff

11:15 Return to shelter – discuss next steps & further information sharing

1l:30 Leave as needed

See details in a post below about the walk if you'd like more info. Please join us if you're inclined.