Friday, January 29, 2010

First "Jelly" at Cohabitat tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the first "jelly" at Shreveport's first shared work space, "Cohabitat," a non-profit organization run by Shreveporter John Grindley, and former Shreveport native and software developer Blake Burris.

The concept of behind places like Cohabitat is to increase the productivity of creative and collaborative work by increasing the connections between similarly and complementarily skilled people. Those connections are created and nurtured by giving them a space where they can work in proximity to one another, and regularly providing forums for presenting work and getting feedback and ideas.

It should be a terrific way to fertilize the ground for creative and collaborative work in Shreveport. Good luck, Cohabitat! We're rooting for you!

"CoHabitat is teaming up with the Columbia Cafe to bring you the area's first coworking "Jelly!" on January 30th @ 10 a.m.

As we're working diligently to get CoHabitat up and running in Shreveport-Bossier, we want to meet and find out a little bit more about you! Whether you're ready to settle down into a coworking community or you just want to learn more about the coworking concept, CoHabitat would like to invite you to come out for our first Jelly, January 30th at Columbia Cafe from 10 a.m. until noon or later.

On the agenda for our first meet up:

- We'll talk about the concept of coworking and the status of bringing the CoHabitat to life in Shreveport-Bossier.
- We'll give anyone who's interested a chance to talk about what what they're working on.
- We'll pick your brain a little bit about what you need from a coworking site.
- We'll finish up with some networking/coworking time, so feel free to bring your laptop and come ready to cowork!

This event is free to anyone who's interested, and the coffee is on CoHabitat!

We hope to make this a regular series of events, so don't miss your chance to be a part of the first!

Want to learn more about CoHabitat? Visit us online at and

What is Jelly?
"Jelly is a casual working event. It's taken place in over a hundred cities where people have come together (in a person's home, a coffee shop, or an office) to work for the day. We provide chairs and sofas, wireless internet, and interesting people to talk to, collaborate with, and bounce ideas off of.

You bring a laptop (or whatever you need to get your work done) and a friendly disposition." (courtesy of )

John Grindley
318-230-0157 - Mobile

Interested in coworking/shared workspace?

Below is are pictures of the future of home Cohabitat on Commerce St. It's a beautiful building inside, parking's easy, and it's near downtown businesses, restaurants, bars, and hip apartments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Green Streets and Stormwater Planters Articles via Tim Wachtel

The following is from Tim Wachtel, a planner for SPAR. Thanks Tim!

I thought that this article was timely. Entitled "Green Streets Pave the Way to Greener Communities" By Jason A. King, ASLA, and Shawn Kummer, it talks about two street projects in Portland and how "green" cuts across many areas of concern, it's not necessarily easy or quick, but it can respond to a wide variety of needs.
If you're not familiar with "stormwater planters," here's a description:
"Stormwater runoff flows downhill along the existing street curb until it reaches the first of four stormwater planters. A 12-inch curb cut channels the street runoff into the first stormwater planter. Once inside the planter, the water is allowed to collect until it reaches a depth of six inches. The landscape system within each planter allows the water to infiltrate in the soil at a rate of four inches per hour. If a rain event is intense enough, water will exit through the planter’s second curb cut, flow back out into the street and eventually enter the next downstream stormwater planter." And another article from Portland:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trail Blazed from Montessori to Valencia Park!

On Saturday morning Maurice Loridans, Charles Gerrard, Janine Demerath, Jeff Girrard, John Girrard, Feico Kempff, Loren Demerath, John Davenport and Cynthia Keith blazed a trail from Sevier St. by Montessori, through the forest along Anderson Bayou to Valencia Park.

It may be this trail that future generations of Magnet High School students use to bike or walk to school one day, and which many a Shreveporter may use to access the Clyde Fant bike path.

We felt quite productive and proud of ourselves, clearing the trail and marking the way. It may not end up being the exact route used by the greenway we're working towards, but it's a likely start. Next Saturday we plan to plot the route with GPS coordinates and use them to plot the route on a GIS map.

This spring, we will have our second annual Anderson Bayou / Coates Bluff clean up day, perhaps targetting "Tin Can Crossing" as Dr. John Davenport called it. The reason? There are probably several hundred of beer cans and other garbage not far from the bridge pictured here. Many hands will make light the work, as they did on a single day last spring when over 100 people contributed to removing over 3 tons of trash!

Much of the forest is not littered, though, and it is actually a picturesque stretch of woodland and bayou where we can experience nature's beauty in our own city. We plan to request that a gate be created in the fence of Valencia Park's southeastern corner to allow people access to the trail.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jon Soul and Larry Raymond walk the Coates Bluff area

Jon Soul, Director of Outdoor Education for the Montessori School for Shreveport and member of ABetterShreveport, walked with Larry Raymond, Director of Parks and Recreation for Caddo Parish, through the beautiful Anderson Bayou and Coates Bluff area last week.

Jon, Larry, and Loren Demerath previewed the route to be established as a trail going from Sevier Street to Valencia Park. Larry noted a wide range of bird species while hiking, as he used the time partly for taking the annual spring inventory.

Along the way, they hiked through the abandoned cemeteries of Coates Bluff, once one of the two primary settlements of what became Shreveport.

Shreveport Times story describes Coates Bluff

Saturday's Shreveport Times contained an article on Coates Bluff and mentioned how ABetterShreveport had been involved. Here's a link to the article by John Andew Prime, and here's an excerpt from it:

"Urban archaeologists trying to improve Shreveport's Red River vantage have stumbled upon interesting traces of the city's past.

Last fall, members of a Better Shreveport, which hopes to create walks and historic pathways through greenways, walked through a heavily wooded area west of the Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway and literally stumbled on crypts and masses of moldering and broken tombstones. The stone sentinels are scattered along gullies in a hilly area historically part of Coates Bluff.

"It's all the way up the hill and down the other side," Jameel Damlouji, president of the Northwes Louisiana Archaeological Society, said after a recent strenuous trek through the site. He is president of the local business Supply America and coordinates with A Better Shreveport. "We're walking through depression after depression after depression, each likely a grave. They're everywhere."

The cemetery fills the woods nestled between E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary Lab School and Caddo Parish Magnet High School.

"It is part of a larger complex of an older settlement, even older than Shreveport," said Gary Joiner, a cartographer and historian who is familiar with the property. "That cemetery sits on top of a bank that goes down to an old steamboat landing. My guess is that in addition to the graves that are marked, there are likely slave graves there that are unmarked."

According to records at the Caddo Assessor's Office, the tract belongs to Caddo Parish Schools and has been called Calvary Cemetery No. 2 and Hopewell Cemetery. City directories from 1925 through the 1950s list the cemetery and its known burials date from 1898 to 1959.

A history published by the Ark-La-Tex Genealogical Association says the cemetery began as a one-acre purchase by the Hopewell Baptist Church, then expanded over the years to more than two acres split into three sections. It was part of a 23-acre tract purchased by Caddo schools in 1949.

Caddo schools Superintendent Gerald Dawkins, who said he's relatively new to the area and isn't personally familiar with the Hopewell Cemetery, said the system started an inventory on its properties in December and hopes to have it ready by the summer."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Path making planned for Saturday!

It's time to get outside! But first, notes from last night:

In attendance at last night's meeting were Jeff Girard, Steve Godfrey, Robert Trudeau, Jon Soul, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath.

Maurice reported on the degree of bulldozing that had been done at the Riverscape site, and how the greenery that the greenway would've gone through on the last portion of the route has been eliminated. While he was scouting it he ran into Carolyn Manning and mentioned to her that a new route would be appropriate that goes along the school and city side of the fence from Coates Bluff to the north towards Magnet High School.

Jon has talked with Monty Walford about the Coastal Routes grant he is working on. The idea would be to plant native species in a particular area. The planting would take plance largely during a community service and educational day .

Jon is seeking formal permission from the city to use the property around the bayou for educational purposes. Mike Strong has told him to send a him a map of where he's asking about. The group agreed this could be part of getting a foot in the door of that corridor for the greenway.

We discussed two different routes that would be possible. Looking at the Riverscape plat we saw how close the southeastern corner comes to the bike path tunnel. One route could go due east along the back edge of the development, yet through the trees. We could get Riverscape to help us ask for the land to be donated from behind them to the south.

Cecile Coutret said we need to find money to buy the trail land from Riverscape. Or they could donate some and get safe routes to school credit, etc.

Jeff said Coates Bluff qualifies as an abandoned cemetery. It's plotted on the Sanborn Insurance maps (; back to 1910 or so. It was the center of a settlement that rivaled Shreve Town. Viking Drive used to be called Hopewell Drive, Jeff thinks. LA GIS has all the GIS data for the state. Very detailed; geo-referenced.

Larry Raymond is going to walk the site with Jon on Thursday at 1:30. Jon's trying to figure out how to break this into bite size pieces. This will help give us a language to use to talk about these things. We need to give Larry a way of talking and thinking about this that gives a way of preserving this. Jeff says it seems to be this would have to be wetlands. Development and what that means is significant; Jeff says it often has to do with "impacts". If there's federal involvement that's probably good in terms of minimizing forest and wetland loss and maximizing how it can benefit our community in terms of quality of life, education, alternative transportation and healthy lifestyles, etc. Jon's going to ask Larry to bring GPS.

The group concluded that we want to ask the city if our path can access Valencia Park, and, perhaps, to ask the parrish school district if the path can access school grounds such as the ball field adjacent to Stoner Hill Lab Elementary, and the track adjacent to Magnet High School. These would be improvements to an existing trail.

To further establish that trail going from Sevier St. north, the group decided that those who can would meet this Saturday morning and clear brush, while plotting the GPS coordinates up to the southeast corner of Valencia Park.

So, we appeal to all of those who'd like to help to meet at the Montessori School parking lot on Sevier St., this Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. If you can, bring something that could cut brush or sapplings, like loppers or machetes. On Thursday Jon and Loren will be going with Larry Raymond to preview the route.

Davenport lectures on urban morphology in Greenways class

Continuing a blog account of Dr. John Davenport's class, "Greenways, Mobility, and American Public Life," on this day, Dr. John lectured on urban morphology. Here are some notes:

"Accessibility to mobility" is exemplified by land values increasing as you get closer to the rail line, trolley or highway.
1970 to Present:
the satellite community and "jet" epoch

Use of resources increased exponentially, e.g.:
1914 - 14 tons of paper / 1000 people
1985 - 90 tons of paper / 1000 people

Satellite commuter zones with countryside inbetween city and 'burb; also realted to communities locating aside national forests and parks. (Not always good combo when residents complain about natural phenomena like forest fires, wolves, etc.)

(BTW, near rivers are often old "buffalo routes," or are otherwise migration routes for animals generally.)

Axiom of Historical Lumpiness: major change happens in chunks, e.g. invention of cement leading to other significant changes at the same time.

Axiom of Historical Lumpiness: people carry old cultural forms and styles rather than adopting new ones.

Fitting into urban morphology: why greenways now?

Fed Funding has emerged to combat:
congestion and low urban densities
high fuel prices
carbon emissions

Human Powered Transportation
1/2 of all trips in U.S. could be done in a 20 minute bike ride
1/4 in a 20 minute walk

But doesn't buying cars and building roads drive our economy?
The money would shift into a different industry.

From 1900-1974: a doubling of travel distance; 74-97 double again.

Gentrification is a negative impact for lower income residents.

Earliest greenways in the U.S., e.g., Brooklyn's Prospect Park by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, and provided access to city parks.

Olmstead designed Boston's Emeral Necklace to help drainage. Established multiple uses of greenways.

Benton MacKaye proposes "Open Ways" in early 1900's; (also proposed Appalachian Trail) drawing from network theory.

In 1960's ecology becomes prominent in planning and design. In '69 Ian McHarg publishes "Design with Nature" which incorporates ecological inventories, assessing a landscape, before designing.

An interest in wildlife corridors follows,

Greenways are linear: they are long and provide access for many: high ratio of edge to interior; extends range of animals as well; and humans for transportation.

It begins to be noted that nature is cities too, and something to be planned for, accommodated, and celebrated.

In the 1980's there was a rising popularity in outdoor recreation and interest in open-space conservation spurred many greenways projects.

In 1985 the President's Commission on American Outdoors proposed a national system of greenways: "We have a mission.... fingers of green...."

250 estimated greenways in U.S. in '89, and 3,000 today.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Highland, Stoner Hill, Anderson Island: East Shreveport

Lines in blue in upper middle of map indicate a potential route for a broad pedestrian-bike path to be called the Coates Bluff Greenway.

In the upper right is a corner of the Red River. Parallel to the river is Fant Parkway.

The major North-South highway is Youree Dr.

Stoner Ave at Fant Parkway: Riverscape development, Shreveport

From the Riverscape development site: a map showing the current plan for streets and lots.

Running diagonally to the right of the platte blocks is the Fant Parkway.

The hand on the map points to the tennis courts below the Caddo Magnet High complex.

At the top of this view is Stoner Ave.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Agenda for Monday's Greenways meeting

Continuing the every other Monday format of focusing on Greenways, we'll be Greenway focused at this upcoming Monday's meeting. Likely to be some students there from John's course, so let's all behave ourselves, right?

  • Projects for Davenport's students
  • GIS data
  • Beyond Coates Bluff: quick and easy greenway making behind Centenary
  • Publicizing Shreveport Greenways: public service announcements "story boarding"
  • Task list and deadlines

Notes from Monday's Meeting

In attendance: Matthew Linn, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Barbara Jerrell, Feico Kempff, Dan Marcalus, Carolyn Manning.

It was reported that Mayor Glover had talked with one of our members about the sharrows and it was suggested that we should decide where we want them and get with Mike Strong either to get clearence to do it ourselves or get his people to do it for us. Maurice reminded us we need to shore up what we've already got; we did longer intervals than we should have because of daylight fading. 40" from curb are where the center of the sharrow should be if there's no parking, and if it's a substandard lane, i.e., less than 14' wide.

Matthew brought a study containing the survey data for Pierre Bayou. This was used by the city to dig out Betty Virginia Park and was conducted by the city with the levee board; Arty Ceserio lives in Normandy Village and is the architect with information on the I49 money that would've been used to buy and transform those parcels. Feasibility Study 89-D009 has the data.

In regard to getting the information needed by Riverscape people, it was noted that we may need to meet with the Mayor about what we need from Shelly Raigle, since she works for him. [In a recent conversation with Sharron Swanson, though, she said GIS data would suffice and survey data is probably unnecessary for our purposes now.] Sharron and Kent are meeting and Feico will also be involved in that meeting. Ian and Feico are also planning on meeting with Paula Hickman about creating a Greenway Foundation that under IRS rules would allow land to be donated. The foundation would then lease the land to the city.

Name of "Family Ride on the Red" may be changed to "Family Day on the Greenway" to expand to other issues like the dog park, where leashed dogs are invited to come to publicize the possibilities of DP's. Also note that the DP is in the SPAR plan and budget. Bands, refreshments, games, etc.

Carolyn met a judge and real estate agent who have a 50 mile route they ride around the city. Could design rides around routes like that.

The group discussed again the need for greenways for biking instead of relying on streets. Many people, particularly women, elderly, and children, see street riding as unsafe. Even more pro-bike culture cities like New Orleans or even New York, Portland, etc., are not heavily biked relative to what they could be.

Discussed site of the collective work space, "Co-Habitat". Importance of parking for users was noted, and how that's a good site for that on Commerce, especially during the day. Would be zoned to stay open 'til 6 a.m. Loren said he'd report back on it after he and April Dahm met with Mark Hand, John Grindley, and Blake Burris about it.

Carolyn noted support of arts is good for the city, and one opportunity is buying tickets to the Magnet production of a show of Broadway scenes; all proceeds go to the Fringe competition in Scotland as well as something dedicated to the memory of Kari Denson.

Dan reported that the effort by the neighborhood orgs to stop the appeal for the shelter was successful. The clerk said it was the request was withdrawn and Monty Walford said he didn't think there would be a need for people to show up tomorrow and register their objections to the request.

The city should devise a plan for where these services could be in diverse locations around the community. Dispersion vs. concentration are the competing models. Is it just an economic concern where they can't find a big rambling house for a cheap price... NIMBY is a real factor.

Group discussed inability to bury power lines in Shreveport. Need to embrace them, and can even use them as means of decorating a neighborhood. Can use flags. They're not going to go away, so we might as well use them for something. Though the flags might clutter the view further. View of Centenary from Kings is attractive; reminecent of Georgetown University in D.C.; If the area had more of an identity could draw people in more.

Maurice noted that the Fairfield District streetsign toppers have worked well and look good.

Loren reminded all that Dr. John Davenport's greenways course starts Tuesday.

Urban Paths Conference February 25-26

Heard about this throug the Louisiana Safe Routes to School Alliance. It's run by the RailsToTrails folks. Anyone wanna car pool?:

Save the Date - February 25 and 26, 2010 for a Conference in New Orleans

Urban Pathways to Livable Communities:
Building Partnerships for Healthy Neighborhoods

Transportation, public health and urban planning professionals will gather in New Orleans for an exciting two-part conference. Along with local and national experts, you will explore key strategies for building effective partnerships to advance the development of healthy, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods to restore and rebuild communities.

Currently, participants from around the nation are registered. We especially welcome more participants from Louisiana. Go to for registration and more information.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day Two in Greenways Course: Service-Learning through making Shreveport Greenways!

While Day One was a syllabus and course orientation day, today is a presentation by the Asisstant Director of Centenary's Community Program, Sarah Thorne.

Among Sarah's points: unlike volunteerism, there is:
  • equal focus on service and learning
  • critical reflection
  • measured by learning that takes place
Goals of a service-learning experience would be either to:
  • deepen one's knowledge of the area of service
  • engage in person growth
Sarah also showed a breakdown of how one could get 30 service-learning hours by participating in projects related to the course.

Davenport then reviewed ways in which the students could do service-learning work as part of the course. Among the projects that John mentioned were helping to decide where the greenway should go applying geological knowledge, funding sources, caset study research, community organization meetings, applying infrastructure knowledge and doing field site work to go into the nuts and bolts of what makes greenways, artistic and conceptual design work

Two tentaive fireld project groups:
  1. Infrastructure Design and Implementation Group
  2. Community Awareness and Information Group
John also showed a slide entitled "Identifying Potential Funding Streams and Negotiating an Agreement" that could be researched by those more into politics and government.

Then showed children's educational signage, glass box showing depth of a marsh, a trash sculpture, and an 80 liter box showing artistically how little clean water people need and many don't have access to.

Four or five students decided to fill out the paperwork right there and sign up forthe service-learning component of the course.

Davenport then defined greenways, drawing from the syllabus, and then described "Urban Morphology." The first figure showed pre-automobile urban layout where development followed the trolly rail line.

The "Omni Bus" was developed at this time; which were trailers pulled by horses that carried people on their commutes. This developed the "riding habit". This is pre-sprawl and pre-zoning.

The bessemer steel process made steel less brittle and could use rails that were stronger and able to handle heavier loads. That led to steel rail lines going through cities.

JD showed Lexington and it's old trolly line and how upper income neighborhoods developed based on it's route.

Gustav Swift in 1878 invented refrigeration in box cars, and soon after home refrigeration which allows further sprawl.

More next time!

Greenways increase the mobility of community members... may dissolve socioeconomic boundaries...

JD said different views of nature translate into different uses of the environment.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Post from Dr. Davenport's Greenways Class

Feico Kempff and I are here for the first class in Davenport's "Sociology 396: Greenways, Mobility, and American Public Life".

Davenport is here on two year appointment through the Mellon Foundation to offer course work that wouldn't ordinarily be offered to help support our Environmental Studies program. John says he's mostly a geographer, but the course will also have a good deal of sociology.

As John described the different texts he'll b e drawing from for the class, he noted that one, "The Ecology of Place: planning for Environment, Economy, and Community," was recommended by Centenary College President David Rowe.

Here are excerpts from John's very thorough syllabus:
First, some great bike quotes:
Mankind has invested more than four million years of evolution in the attempt to avoid physical exertion. Now a group of backward-thinking atavists mounted on foot-powered pairs of Hula-Hoops would have us pumping our legs, gritting our teeth, and searing our lungs as though we were being chased across the Pleistocene savanna by saber-toothed tigers. Think of the hopes, the dreams, the effort, the brilliance, the pure force of will that, over the eons, has gone into the creation of the Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Bicycle riders would have us throw all this on the ash heap of history.” – P.J. O'Rourke

The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.” – Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity, 1974

“When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue-jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart.” – Diane Ackerman

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.” – Iris Murdoch, The Red and the Green

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” – H.G. Wells

Image (on left): Child Labor – a 10-year-old boy moves a burden of plastic waste by bicycle down a city street in India, an unfortunate validation of the observation that “the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. Bill Strickland, Quotable Cyclist

“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.” – Sloan Wilson

Course Description:

"The First Two-by-Four: A Meditation on the Humane Machine

"In the beginning, one wheel became two. The invention of the bicycle marked one of humankind’s most extraordinary technological achievements and the casting of a pair of historical bookends, of which the second one’s placement is only now being realized. The early velocipede, as with its close cousin the bicycle and distant relative the automobile, dramatically extended the range of mobility for a culture ordinarily limited by locomotion. As pounding-the-pavement gave way to pedaling, and pushing-the-pedals was supplanted by the normative act of pressing-the-pedal-to-the-metal, Joe(lle) Citizen went both farther and faster, if not higher, than ever before. Two wheels plus two became four. The term ‘peak-oil’ – more connotative then of a gusher, than a rapidly approaching road sign on the dim-lit highway to carbon non-neutrality – had yet to enter the American lexicon. So, Joe(lle) drove onward and outward. A decisive trend in urban morphology accompanied this development: the city’s edge extended beyond its former limit. As cities grew, so did Joe(lle)’s commute time amidst the continually receding bucolic scenery. Countryside became curbside; urban ate up rural. Turning back remained an option. Yet, the bifurcated city had gained an inner-, which promised to define its outer-. The specter of urban sprawl had already clothed itself in concrete and asphalt, making once fertile ground a paved over memory both vague to a sense of community and unfit for co-habitation. As energy consumption surged, Joe(lle)’s own metabolic rate decreased marking the triumph of human inefficiency over the long-term sustainability of ecological health. Her perceived ascendancy to the apex of the animal kingdom was astonishingly rapid, yet several nagging questions loomed large in his arboreal mind: Had his ingenious machines pushed the virtues of progress beyond their logical limit? Was the tide of technological innovation returning to its previous watermark: the bicycle? It seems the answer she sought could be found, all the while, right beneath her own two feet. Perhaps, four wheels divided by two was precisely the solution Joe(lle) Citizen needed to this ongoing architectural problem and the first two-by-four upon which the construction of a new urban framework could be re-joisted. Welcome back, Joe(lle), to the urbane jungle.

Today, at places around America and the world at large, fertile ground is being restored in the form of greenways, as a means of fostering inward-mobility and a re-enchantment between the cosmopolitanism of urban culture and the natural world upon which its growth makes a continual statement. We study the urban environment, in part, because it remains a locus of activity and relations between humans and planet Earth. Cities are teaming with nature! Albeit an often tightly restricted nature made up of linear corridors and greenways stretched-out along the arterial waterways and topographic features that connect the inner-city curbside with Joe(lle)’s proverbial shrinking countryside. Indeed, the planning of greenways and re-visioning of alternative strategies for urban development are burgeoning areas of professional opportunity and admirable intellectual endeavors. To this end, both greenways and mobility, or rather lack thereof, have emerged as central rubrics upon which the aforementioned projects often pivot. The bicycle is easy enough, two wheels not four, but what exactly is a greenway? GeoPlan, an organization at the University of Florida actively engaged in local sustainability issues, defines a ‘greenway’ as:

"a corridor of protected open space that is managed for conservation and/or recreation. The common characteristic of greenways is that they all go somewhere. Greenways follow natural land or water features, like ridges or rivers (or bayous), or human landscape features like abandoned railroad corridors or canals. They link natural reserves, parks, cultural and historic sites with each other and, in some cases, with populated areas. Greenways not only protect environmentally sensitive lands and wildlife, but also can provide people with access to outdoor recreation and enjoyment close to home" (University of Florida GeoPlan, (addition mine).

Enjoyment close to home is something, no doubt, most everyone can agree upon. However, where might all this enjoyment occur? The answer: hubs and sites, including wildlife reserves, regional parks and preserves, ecological sites, working landscapes, cultural/historical/recreational sites, and urban retail areas. Greenways may be broadly conceived as landscape linkages, allowing citizens to access the full array of nearby, natural and cultural amenities available on a convenient, cost efficient, and ecologically friendly basis. Greenways promise to elevate the quality of life enjoyed by community members. Yet, they are not without their detractors. Greenways do, at least, one other thing. They increase the mobility of all community members, which may dissolve socio-geographic boundaries and challenge the cultural norms erected upon them. The term mobility ordinarily relates to the relative freedom or prohibition of physical movement, but the metaphor of mobility extends deeper into social life, denoting the movement or “upward mobility” of one’s socio-economic status. As Grady Clay so poignantly relates in his seminal book, Up Close: How to Read the American City:

“Geographic mobility is a special American thing; a mode of learning and getting with it; a means of personal advance, a way of making it. It implies, without guaranteeing, social mobility. Most Americans see their histories as migrational success stories – movement from the old country to new beginnings. History, American style, is seen as a series of confrontations between explorers and raw nature, between white settlers and red Indians, between open-rangers and homesteaders, claim stakers and fence jumpers” (Clay 1975, 75).

In the context of Shreveport, one might add to the above list that of a congenial yet complicated encounter between bicyclist-and-motorist; two-wheels-and-four; city-and-country; inner-and-outer; resident-and-resident; Joe(lle) Citizen and ultimately one’s self. It is, in part, the vast potential of greenways to cultivate urban renewal and an alternative vision of ecologically-responsible sustainable living, here in Shreveport and in similar places abroad, that makes them an interesting and increasingly relevant topic of study. Will we someday arrive at the conclusion that the bicycle, a cultural artifact, has become just as important to the bayou as the bayou always was to the bicycle? What role could greenways play in helping restructure urban environments to support sustainable cities in the 21st Century? How might the development of greenways and increased use of human-powered transportation positively affect your community? In what ways could the confluence of these two ideas – the greenways movement and community cycling campaign – bring greater awareness to segments of society who stand to benefit from improved infrastructure for human-powered transportation (e.g. people with disabilities)? These are a few of the questions this course will attempt to address."

The syllabus also includes course requirements, such as exams and a research paper, but also a service-learning component.

The format of the course will be Davenport lecturing on Tuesdays, and class discussion of the readings on Thursday.

The required readings are drawn from the following:

Required Reading List:

Beatley, Timothy and Manning, Kristy. 1997. The Ecology of Place: Planning for Environment, Economy, and Community, Island Press: Washington D.C.

Erickson, Donna. 2006. MetroGreen: Connecting Open Space in North American Cities, Island Press: Washington D.C.

Little, Charles E. 1995. Greenways for America: Creating the North American Landscape, The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, Maryland.

Wray, J. Harry. 2008. Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life, Paradigm Publishers: Boulder, Colorado.

Recommended Reading List (Available on Reserve in Magale Library):

Hurst, Robert. 2009. The Cyclist's Manifesto: The Case for Riding on Two Wheels Instead of Four, The Globe Pequot Press: Guilford, Connecticut.

Warren, Roxanne. 1997. The Urban Oasis: Guideways and Greenways in the Human Environment, McGraw-Hill Professional: Dubuque, Iowa.

Mapes, Jeff. 2009. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities, Oregon State University Press: Corvallis, Oregon.

McHarg, Ian L. 1969. Design with Nature, The Natural History Press: Garden City, New York.

Suggested Readings:

Alexander, Leslee T. 1994. The Effect of Greenways on Property Values and Public Safety, Denver, CO: The Conservation Fund and Colorado State Parks State Trails Program.

Batterbury, S.P.J. 2003. Environmental activism and social networks: campaigning for bicycles and alternative transport in West London, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 590: 150-169.

Byrne, David. 2009. Bicycle Diaries, Viking Press: New York, NY.

Flink, Charles A. and Searns, Robert M. 1993. Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Development, Washington, DC: Island Press.

Gobster, Paul H. and Westphal, Lynne M. 2004. The human dimensions of urban greenways: planning for recreation and related experiences, in Landscape and Urban Planning, 68: 147-165.

Hellmund, Paul Cawood. 2006. Designing Greenways: Sustainable Landscapes for Nature and People, Island Press: Washington D.C.

Labaree, J. M. 1992 Second Edition. How Greenways Work: A Handbook on Ecology, Ipswich, MA: National Park Service and Atlantic Center for the Environment.

Lindsey, Greg. Spring 2003. Sustainability and urban greenways: Indicators in Indianapolis, in Journal of the American Planning Association, 69(2): 165-180.

Lindsey, Greg, et al. Fall 2004. Property Values, Recreation Values, and Urban Greenways, in Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 22(3): 69-90.

Minetti, Alberto E., et al. 2001. From Bipedalism to Bicyclism: Evolution in Energetics and Biomechanics of Historic Bicycles, in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 268: 1351-1360.

Moudon, Anne Vernez and Lee, Chanam. September/October 2003. Walking and Bicycling: An Evaluation of Environmental Audit Instruments, in American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(1): 21-37.

Murray, Ray, et al. 1995 Fourth Edition. Economic Impacts of Protecting Rivers, Trails and Greenway Corridors, San Francisco, CA: Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance, National Park Service, Western Region.

Pinsof, Suzan Anderson and Musser, Terri. October 1995. Bicycle Facility Planning, Planning Advisory Service Report #459. Chicago, IL: American Planning Association.

Pucher, John, et al. 1999. Bicycling renaissance in North America? Recent trends and alternative policies to promote bicycling, in Transportation Research Part A, 33 (7/8): 625-654.

Schiller, Andrew and Horn, Sally. 1997. Wildlife Conservation in Urban Greenways of the Mid-Southeastern United States, in Urban Ecosystems, 1: 103-116.

Suggested Electronic Resources:

I gotta pick up the kids now and leave early. Thursday will be my next post, for day two of this great, exciting, and important class!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Call for support of keeping Highland from being overburdened

Here's an update by Liz Swain, passed on by Dan Marcalus, which calls for support at the Tuesday meeting. The crux of this is to resist further overburdening a neighborhood with a shelter instead of distributing such burdens a bit more evenly.

"Here is the latest on the Tuesday, Jan. 12 City Council meeting, Government Plaza, 505 Travis Street. This meeting begins at 3 p.m.
At the moment, things are looking strongly in the favor of the Highland neighborhood. Joyce Bowman is the latest to say that she will vote on our behalf Tuesday. As you know if you are familiar with politics, though, it's only a done deal after the vote it taken.
It is still VERY IMPORTANT to have a strong showing on Tuesday, so please attend if you are able. Someone from each neighborhood association would be impressive. Tom would be a natural for HRA and should lead it off.

Avenues to push are that continued sheltering facilities/halfway houses are incompatible with the health and growth of our neighborhood, that we are facing very real problems from the density of those already here and that there needs to be an opportunity to stop and take stock of all that exist to determine placement in the future. We need to stress the neighborhood is working together to oppose this, all associations are on the same page, etc.
RESOLUTIONS from all three neighborhood associations if possible saying that the boards oppose the appeal.
I am doing the one for Highland Jazz and Blues.

Friday, January 8, 2010

April 3rd "Family Ride on the Red" discussed at last meeting

But first a reminder: first meeting of the year is Monday at 6:15. The professionals are meeting about Coates Bluff, and a meeting about the coming downtown shared work space will also be reported on.

In attendance at our last meeting way back on December 12th were Ian Webb, Cynthia Keith, Maurice Loridans, Dan Marcalus, and Loren Demerath.

Meeting Notes:

April 3rd will be day for holding our big "Family Ride on the Red". Ian's bike shop will fund the permits and the marketing; the radio remote will be part of the marketing. The event will basically say, this greenway is a gem, we should ride it, and it will showcase the possibilities of greenways; we could have a map there to show where other greenways could be; we'd also point out that they don't happen by themselves, and we give people the chance to sign on to help us; it will be part of building Shreveport Greenways, an organization that will promotes greenways in the city.

When Hallie did the tree ride, it was $10, but it's a $1.50 per person for insurance. Ian was thinking of not scaring off people with a fee, Loren mentioned people like stuff more they have to sacrifice for; Maurice gave the example of the Ozark Society canoe clinics that had higher attendance when there as a fee. But the Clyde Fant bike path is public; how would your require fees for access to a public resource? Maybe by preregistering for a t-shirt. If you say, hey, this is the day to do this... Even if it's just us, it's still an event that we can say we've done; Could have tune-up's, saftey talks... Celebrate Greenways Day; come on down with their kites or bikes or dogs;
How a dog park demonstration might work; renting a fence and inviting people to bring their dogs and show how a dog park would work. Could have a bunch of different things going on on the same day.

Dan mentioned that every weekend is a run up and down the Red. After they run they go down and have drinks. The bike club is sort of a model in terms of how habit forming a group can be. Tuesday Thursday and Saturday rides; another is Wednesday beer ride; another is Steve's Saturday group; another is the GRITS (Girls riding in the streets); they're also talking about having cruiser rides where they just ride around the neighborhood; can start a facebook page to get the names down.

A scavenger hunt is another possibility; where you look for clues or certain things and there are prizes at the end.
Poker runs are popular; if they want to buy a poker hand they can and that would be a fundraiser where we get a percentage of the pot.
A Byrd HS teacher assigned local architectural features like a treasure hunt.
Could be a picnic at the end with a concert.

Cynthia was asked about funding and planning for the dog park; she received extended time at the council meeting to speak on it; when she was going to sit down the Mayor asked her to "stop right there" and commended her for all the work she'd done working to on the master plan and promoting the dog park. In sum, though, she got nowhere but at least they listened to her and she's going to be a squeeky wheel. The group said she'll be squeekier with us to support her since the evidence is overwhelming that dog parks have positive influences on safety, quality of life, and property values, and that crime rates go down. Promoting ideas that have been shown to work elsewhere is part of ABS's mission, so we're on board with the dog park.

Feico mentioned that Don Shea had told him there was talk about getting advocate groups to follow ideas along and mentioned us. Maybe we'll be tapped for that sort of thing.

Maurice reported on SBCR's plans to buy the rest of the block by the Bachi Building and making it a large space with an atrium. Maurice's sister works for them and she said Maurice might be able to use the Bachi Building for his bicycle coop until SBCR needs it. It could also be a parking lot for bikes; In other cities there are places where for a subscription fee people park their bikes there, and can even shower before walking to work downtown. We also discussed the new ordinance in New York that prohibits building owners from prohibiting bikes in common areas. Right now bikes are prohibited from boardwalk--understandably--but when they are walked they shouldn't be, but are, Maurice reported.

Dan reported that the HRA HAP, the Fairfield Historic District, and the Crewe of Highland all spoke to the MPC requesting that the request to open up a treenage girls shelter on the 500 block of Jordon be denied. Those in favor spoke as well, but ultimately MPC decided to deny the request, and the main reason being that not in line with the MPC's stated vision in the master plan of returning old historic neighbordhoods to residential use, and the second being that Highland already has a high number of social service organizations. It was also mentioned in the course of the discussion that it would be nearby where a number of sex offenders are located in a group home; also, none of those speaking for the location lived in Highland. They also took off the agenda the issue of rezoning Highland because none of the small business owners were there to speak to change it and residents did speak to keep it as is.