Sunday, November 21, 2010

Meetings with NLCOG, Sportran discussed; next meeting at Cohabitat on 29th

In attendance: Caroline Majors, Jon Soul, David Aubry, Cynthia Keith, Deidre Hewitt, Stacye Palmer, Loren Demerath, Steph Pedro, Feico Kempff, Dan Marcalus, Robert Currie


Caroline Majors described the earlier meeting that took place between Loren, Steph, herself and Deidre Hewitt and Stacye Palmer of the National Park Service. They developed the following expectations for what would happen: 1: get a list from NPS on what they can help us with (a scope of services); 2: get a handout (half-page or so) of marketing pieces that help describe Coates Bluff and bike-ped plan respectively; 3: relying on volunteer time has kept us back in putting out promotional pieces, but Stacye will come up and help us give the presentations; her doing that, in addition to Ian (solicited earlier for that purpose) and any others who are willing to promote, will help us reach more people. Stacye’s involvement will add more legitimacy, since she represents the National Park Service; 4: brainstorm on best practices on Coates Bluff trail and how to make it sustainable.

PEDRO MEETS WITH NLCOG AND KENT ROGERS – May help find funding for bike-ped plan. ABS to have cheerleader and public communication role.

Steph described her latest meetings with Kent Rogers, Director of NLCOG (North Louisiana Council of Governments) which is our region’s official Metropolitan Planning Organization (every region’s “MPO” is responsible for developing long-term transportation plans). Her meetings have yielded a good relationship with NLCOG where Kent sees possibilities for support for the bike-ped plan, both through governmental funding, and partnerships and private support. Hope and optimism were expressed that Kent Rogers and NLCOG will help find funding for the plan.

It was noted that our role at ABS can be to publicize the value of a bike-plan. As we all know, making our city more bike-able and walkable will enhance the quality of life here, and thus also increase the likelihood of businesses locating here. (This is particularly true of any industries such as technology or entertainment that employ many members of “the creative class” (Richard Florida, 2002) who are more likely to know about and adopt progressive, innovative lifestyle patterns that have succeeded elsewhere.) Suffice it to say that the benefits of planning for human powered transportation in a city are strong and diverse. Health, environmental responsibility, economic development, and more can be improved by making a city more bike-able and walkable, and a bicycle-pedestrian plan is an essential first step. Shreveport’s never had one!

It was noted that ABS can serve a vital role in the process by serving as a cheerleader and a communicator to the public of the plan’s importance. And not, it was noted, with a negative griping tone (“gotcha journalism” and “throw the bums out”) can be self-defeating, making people feel like success isn’t likely or possible. There are always things to do. When we emphasize what’s possible, and the steps to take, people feel empowered, take action, and positive things happen!

Aside from our hopes of assistance in finding funding from NLCOG, though, it was noted that ABS has not developed a fundraising strategy. NPS could help us with that as well.


Steph Pedro described her recent meeting with administrators of Sportran, and recounted Gene Eddy’s positive responses to our group’s concerns and willingness to help. The gist of the meeting is that Sportran now sees us as an ally in helping improvements happen. Here, again, one of ABS’s roles can be as a cheerleader in increasing awareness of how our area’s public transit system can be better, and how it would help things like, yes, again, quality of life, health, environmental responsibility, economic development, etc.

Steph noted we may also be able to help collect data for Sportran on what riders would like for improvements. Although we were previously asked not to conduct a survey, we now may be asked to help.

Gene Eddy hasn’t spent certain monies yet. So, he’s going to have a public input process to find out what people want. Would be a public open meeting. Could be surveying people as well?

This week 14 CNG buses are being put into service (out of how many total for the fleet?). This is out of the ammenities fund. 40 stop improvements are going be constructed at some point. (It’s on the web site.) Gene said he liked how ABS is promoting public transit improvements on the radio show and the blog. He didn’t agree to be on the show but would consider it. He talked about the extended routes into nighttime (Night Owl Routes); Sharron Swanson worked with the interfaith group to get that implemented; Reconnecting with that group would be good, headed by Barbara Jerrell. CM: one fo the major issues is that it’s very narrow market that its serving only them only partially well; in places where it works it’s better invested and works better; it needs to be broaded; Feico said they could be given college student passes; the schools could support it; if they committed to a certain number of cards, the buses would follow. It would be a coordinating exercise that would constitute a strategic approach. Gene said he wanted surveys at the bus stops themselves rather than on the buses; e.g. students or ABS people. We could do it next semester.


Involving city and other partners early helps; otherwise they feel imposed upon.

David Aubry reported they have worked on the 70th to Automall bike path.


Dan Marcalus: “A Taste of Highland” in May with food and music on Robinson and Thornhill. Meant to show off Highland and the restaurants within it. The plan is to do it every other year.

Robert Curry said in the first week in March they’ll have “Everything Crafty” lining up with a ten-bus load tour of the country. At the Little Shanty pavillion on Line and 71st. It’ll be a southern/Louisiana fair. Planning a commercial arts center to link art and business together; existing artists will recieve instruction on how to market and brand their work; property donations in progress--may be in Cedar Grove; working with ARTnews to put in 25 local artists who have to have their own web sites to increase exposure of local artists and connect them to ecommerce web sites. Caroline may know of other sites.

It was suggested that ABS have a meeting at Little Shanty someday. Cynthia asked and Robert said we could talk about it for sure.

The model of the convention center would work for the Makers Fair for how people might reserve tables and pay for them in advance. That said, the digital divide is prevelant.

John Grindley has invited us to come down and have meetings at Cohabitat.

So next meeting at Cohab! Would be the 29th. Won’t have meeting next Monday due to Thanksgiving break.

Because of faculty meetings, Loren is considering polling the email list about moving meetings to a different night. (Not Thursday, people say; others say Monday is best.)

GROUP CONVINCED DOG PARK SHOULD BE PUSHED FORWARD – People wonder, “what’s the hold-up?”

Cynthia is confused about the dog park. We wanted to put Tim Wachtel on the radio as the SPAR planner. One woman who has a fundraising degree contacted Tim about how to help with the dog park. Tim said it was on hold due to funding and site selection. But Cynthia had just heard that we were green light on the dog park and that it would be at Hammel’s Park. Shelly had told Cynthia that she’d like to have all the amenities there that they now have at Veteran’s Park; it would be something the city would be proud to have. The Mayor has told Cynthia that she will not have to wait forever. But she hasn’t heard from him since writing him just today. Cynthia talked to one influential person who said the Mayor rules but also Tim Wachtel knows what he’s talking about. No clear if the city council votes on this. Steph said we should get the city council to author it, then only 4 people have to vote for it. Jenkins is the new councilperson in that district. He might be hesitant but it would be a feather to bring the first one to the city.

It was agreed that we should set up a meeting with Jenkins. Should be a focused meeting. 5:15 at Cohab the Monday we meet at Cohab.

Cynthia reported that Liz Swain wants to do a downtown homes tour and also wants to take people through buildings.

Cynthia described how homeless people get in the Johnson building through a certain way. Liz agrees that we need to save those buildings.

Next meeting is Monday the 29th. For the first time, we’ll meeting downtown at Cohabitat! 6:00-7:00, as usual.

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