Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Correction: April Waren NOT moving to Baton Rouge

In a fuzz of information exchange, I mistakenly reported on this blog a while ago that April Waren would be moving to Baton Rouge, but she's not! Hooray for us! (One of our great idea people AND hard workers.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to help with the expenses of the Velo Dendro, a family-oriented tree-to-tree bike ride on Sat, Oct 23, 8:45 am

Notes by Steph Pedro in Loren's absence.

In attendence at the meeting of September 27, 2010: Robert Trudeau, April Waren, Carolyn Manning, Susan Fontaine, Garrett Johnson, Maurice Loridans, Stephanie Pedro, Hallie Dozier (via conference call)

Maurice thinks that we don’t need to get into the t-shirt bike ride business and acquire the LAB insurance for 2011. BRASS has LAB insurance that covered us last year and this year. Is there a cost per head for this year’s insurance?

Carolyn thinks it would be great to drop the food budget and support Columbia Café.

Stephanie and Susan think that if we don’t have a budget for t shirts, then we should not do it. Let’s just all wear a colored t-shirt. Susan does talk about the advertisement of tshirts and how great it is a year-round promoter of cycling.

If ABS has someone in the ranks ($250), then what will the money be spent on?

Conference call begins w/ Hallie @ 6:20.

Maurice knows of some elves that were in the works, but doesn’t know their roles.

Insurance is the reason BRASS is doing it again, b/c Shreveport Bicycle Club insurance was dropped.

The cost is $90 to insure 100 people; it works through a sign-in sheet waiver.

Food: because its a tree ride, the Ag Center will belly up some food; Matthew will cover food left over from Krewe party the night before (fig newtons, bananas, water). Voces Castellanas is having a Day of Dead Festival at Columbia Park later that day and food may be available there also.

The only problem now is tshirts. Hallie cannot spend money on tshirts w/ state $$. What she found last year w/ food and tshirts, the total is $1200. But Maurice doesn’t think we will have 100 riders. Last year’s charge per head was $10. Tshirts come in 100/shirt, or $9.50 per shirt.

Carolyn does math and we need $780 between insurance and tshirts.

--We need an answer on the logos by the end of the week--

We have 2 sponsors: BRASS and Columbia. Others: a Law Clinic, Robinson Rescue, and a vet at $250 each have been approached. Just need 2 more sponsors. Carolyn will pledge $150.

Hallie wants ABS to take the lead for 2011, and join with Shreveport Bike Club for insurance purposes.

Hallie says the roadies don’t want to mess around with urban rides, and Shreveport bike club is just roadies.

Hallie will be here next Monday for the radio show! She has great things to say about Shreveport, and loves leading the rides there.

Susan will ask Merrill Lynch and Akins tomorrow.

April will ask her broker tomorrow.

Maurice suggested a tree trimming company and will call.

Robert will email a sponsor proposal to Pratt Recycling.

Garrett made the point that Velo Dendro ride could become a fundraiser for ABS, but this year, any proceeds will be split between ABS and BRASS.

Robert announced a Celtic celebration - Sat, Oct 16, at Enoch’s in Monroe—the best bar in Monroe! Actually at Forsythe Park in Monroe.

Pet Walk in Fairfield Historic District starts at 10 am, 2121 Fairfield (Cynthia), on October 30. A 10 block tour and dress your pets.

Maker’s Fair is two weekends: October 30 and November 6. Do we want to make a brochure, or bring drums? We don’t think we need a table.

Garrett suggested that Robert put a large paperbag sheet somewhere like at SRAC’s Firefest.

April talked about the recruiting director at TelePerformance in Shreveport and has decided that together ABS and TelePerformance could promote their workers to use the bike racks and bus/bike. Hygiene issues: they will install a locker room, willing to install bike racks, willing to take ABS recommendations on bike racks, challenges include that the closest bus stop is at W.70th and Pines Rd, and then it’s 3 miles from the bus stop to the campus. There is no shoulder, 2 lanes, and shart curves, very rural, not well-lit. Stephanie will get this location worked into the Bike Master Plan. Staggered shifts half hours, 6:30am to 9pm. One account, 13 people that stay overnight and don’t need transportation. The alternative is 3.6 miles, but is safer at Mansfield and W. Bert Kouns. Stephanie has requested the Coordinated Human Services Plan from NLCOG to see if TelePerformance is included in that plan—if not, then get it added. We have the opportunity to pass bike info along to 1400 people!

April suggested we get extra paint to paint sharrows on those routes.

We need to find another sharrow paint donation!

Maurice saw 12 riders on his way to work around 9:30am. {Loren stopped at this point reading the notes, stunned. Really?! 12 riders?! Maybe we ARE becoming a bike commuting town! Let’s roll!}

Caddo Parish Commission has invested in a called the Caddo Sustainability Initiative which strives for public-private partnerships for green business/jobs. Maybe the call center improvements can qualify, suggested Robert.

Carolyn is frustrated about the dues, and is absolving herself about donations. The 501c3 says donors will be able to deduct for tax purposes.

Susan can be in charge of sending letters to ask for donations.

Cynthia announced that Louisiana State Parks will Offer Gift Cards for Sale and Use. or

Meeting adjourned 7:10.

We meet again next week, 6 to 7, Centenary Square as usual!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recycling, Zoning, Pratt Industries, the Velo Dendro

Meeting notes by Loren Demerath.

Before the regular meeting Loren met with Caroline Majors and Stephanie Pedro about the service learning projects for his Urban Sociology class. One project will be a class project, and there will also be different team projects.

Related to the interest on outlining a model for downtown building refurbishment, Caroline said her firm did the arranging for the Community Renewal building; they’ve done conceptual design; the project to abate the building; its on the EPA website as a model project.

Caroline said she’d be willing to meet with students about Downtown and the West Edge projects. Steph said she could meet with those working on the Greenways Projects.

Caroline also pitched the idea of doing a downtown parking study with the class, and Loren and Steph liked the idea. Loren later described it to the class and they were willing to adopt it as the class project.

In attendance: Loren Demerath, Caroline Majors, Robert Trudeau, Carolyn Manning, Cynthia Keith, Brian Lusk (opthamologist), Stephanie Lusk (real estate, finance), Will Lowe, Jon Soul, Susan Fontaine, Garrett Johnson, Stephanie Pedro, Maurice Loridans, Feico Kempff

Caroline and Steph had a detailed scope of services for the making the bike-ped plan but we didn’t go over it. Next week we can discuss it if both Caroline and Steph can be there.

In the course of making introductions for new attendees, Will noted that his wife, Amy Lowe is organizing the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival, and said she could offer us a table to publicize the group’s projects.

Jon said he wants to bring back the lightening bug. They used to be very plentiful in the area.

Robert mentioned Pratt Industries founded in Australia, and that is here recycling, could be a potential partner for us. They’re in all 50 American states. Robert tried to get a recycling bin at Magnet. He’s discovered they have more resources than we’ve been allowed to see. Maurice said when they first came to town the Ozark Society hosted his talk and questioned them. They’ve since discovered there’s no market for glass and plastic and they now take it to the land fill now. The news media hasn’t covered it. Matthew has invited them to track the trucks and record the trucks going straight to the landfill. Originally they were going to haul it to Texas, at some transportation cost. There is a market for metal and paper. Other places have outlawed plastic bags and styrofoam. Carolyn said she sometimes forgets her cloth bags, but carries the stuff anyway. Caroline mentioned you can incentivize not using plastic by charging more or giving a discount. Brookshires and Walmart. Robert said they might help fund our bike path; they might have grants. Jon said an alternative there’s Hughes Recycling in our area. It’s provided recycling for the last two bayou cleanups we did. Channel 6 does “ArkLaTex Green” and did a segment on Michael Hughes. He provides businesses with big cardboard bins; he’s on Linwood and you can take material to him. He’d be good to have on the show. He’s good on a grass roots level and is local. (The students could make a piece on it.)

Maurice noted the recent emails on the Velo-Dendro date; can we move the date? Ian pointed out its the biggest cycling date of the year; the tour de Good Will. Susan and Garrett mentioned they want to do both and that it seemed unfortunate that the two biggest biking events of the year would be happening on the same date.

Loren mentioned Hallie Dozier had signed us up as sponsors, know that we would have to fund raise somehow to raise money. Stephanie Lusk mentioned we might be able to offer in-kind donations for Velo-Dendro; such as promoting it on the radio show.

The group voted to change $5 “donations” to contributions. That will something to change in the by-laws. In addition, we need to officially vote on the by-laws.

In other housekeeping notes, we vowed to list board members on the web site, perhaps alongside capacities or offices or the “specialty” or interest of that person so they can be contact people for those interested in particular projects.

Cynthia said the Sheriff’s dept. and Patrick Williams are collecting old bicycles to send to the penetentiary, at 4910 N. Market the deadline for donating; we could partner with them.

Jon asked if we could post on the website when its an ozone action alert day. Could be a link people could click on; through the National Weather Service.

This last year when Shreveport moved into a non-attainment status, we’ve not been informed about that. Coal-fired power plants are the main culprit; gas-fired is much cleaner. SWEPCO is building a new plant in Arkansas that will be coal-fired. State of Colorado recently banned coal-fired power generation; causes problems in health for children and pregnant women, etc.

Caroline talked about the Ledbetter Heights / West Edge Opportunities Initiative that includes the West Edge, all of Ledbetter, and down to where the new Greyhound bus station will be. They’re partnering with TACA about convening interested parties. They’ll be finding the financing, getting some catalyst projects in the area. Caroline has talked to Ron Hardy, David Nelson, and others about what they want to do there. If everyone had funding it would all be redeveloped. The zoning doesn’t help, nor do the building codes--especially on Texas St. and downtown. There are different ways you can zone to make development possible. Rezoning comes about because of changes in property development. Now the zoing is blunt with B# over everything and doesn’t allow you to develop in specific places, such as allowing mixed use on particular blocks.

Maurice said to Caroline if you ever need our help, just ask, we’ll send a letter. The public has to vote in zoning changes. Some money is budgeted to go towards rezoning.

The meeting ended at 7:08. The next meeting will be Monday the 27th.

New Bike Rack at Sportran's City Bus Terminal!

Check it out! Progress in making Shreveport more bikeable! Thanks to Cynthia Keith for the picture, but especially to Gene Eddy and anyone else involved in making it happen!

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Coalition for Better Bus Stops" born of meetings with Sportran, SRAC, Shreveport Green, and ABS

Rough notes from this week's meeting:

In attendance: Stephanie Pedro, David Aubrey, Susan Fontaine, Garrett Johnson, April Waren, Jennette Ginsburg, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath

The group discussed making ABS letterhead for thank you cards, but decided just plain will work for now to send to the candidates involved in the forum.

Jennette Ginsburg and Stephanie Pedro reported on meetings with Pam Atchison of SRAC, Gene Eddy of Sportran, and Donna of Shreveport Green on the bus project. Jennette and Steph have had a series of meetings with Pam Atchison and Gene Eddy. Using the amenities funds from SGA that have to be spent on things like shelters, benches, etc. Eddy was willing to work with SRAC to design shelters. Pam was already working on a design competition for shelters. Gene didn’t want anything that would require high maintenance, though, and liked the concrete mosaic benches already around town. Using the festivals in festival plaza would be good where neighborhood associations can come and work on their benches. Jennette has talked with Donna Curtis (with whom she works at Shreveport Green) who has committed to planting 10-20 trees at stops in November. Pam said SRAC is proposing a landscaping ordinance to the city that includes public art. It was noted that it’s not clear how they’ll get the money if its not through a public bond issue; but Garrett said it’s part of SRAC’s money that it would receive from the city from the Riverfront Gaming Fund. The city is drafting a budget now and all those non-governmental functions like SRAC and the Sports Authority, etc., have submitted their requests on August 31st. The cost for the public art is 1.5% of the total money in the bond package for infrastructure projects.

David mentioned that we should get in on asking for projects. Pam needs letters of support of the ordinance.

Pam wants the benches to go through her design competition in conjunction with Moonbot at ArtSpace, and the public will invited to observe the process. We would like the benches to come out of the exhibit space and be used.

This is a collaboration between non-profits and neighborhood associations and other groups and individuals to contribute.

The group then brainstormed on a name for the project of collaborative design and construction

Artsy Greener Better Bus Stops
Coalition for Improved Transit Infrastructure
The group settled on: Coalition for Better Bus Stops

“Art in Transit” is the name of SRAC’s design competition.

We will now be able to approach other organizations, schools, churches, etc., and invite them to participate through donations or hands-on work; especially places along the line, e.g., Willis Knighton on the Linwood line. All the hospitals would be good candidates for that.

April is meeting with the recruitment director at U.S. Support Company at West Bert Kouns and Pines Road. They have 1,400 people on their employment roles and take low skill applicants and pay them better than minimum wage there. April wants Sportran to extend one of their routes to their. Their employees don’t have expensive cars and would often need public transit. They’re also planning a new expansion. David noted that’s good, since we have lost some jobs in customer service call centers, and those are good places to work when you’re going to school. In the past they’ve talked about building a fitness center, apartments on site, bringing in a caterer, etc.

Jennette and Steph asked about extending lines and Gene said they have binders full of research on extending lines, and they show that there’s a lot of bureaucracy and cost involved in extending lines. It sounded like they had looked into it thoroughly and rejected it.

Going to city leaders and asking them for more money to allow Sportran to extend its lines is what Gene would ask us to do. Feico mentioned you could get grant money for van pools or car pools just to/from the nearest bus stop. David said you’ll find 2 or 3 more employers that will move to West Shreveport real soon and Gene will have to address the demand.

At the forum all the city council candidates were for better stops, but didn’t say we should raise taxes to do it.

David said the city got between .5 and 1 million to do landscaping and make the interstate prettier; whatever that means, “landscaping” we can get in on the front side of that; David serves on the review board for landscapers/architects and engineers; they’re going to submit plans to spend that money. If there’s a group that’s interested in greenways, we can put in our two cents on how that money should be spent. Others said they thought the land around interstates was off-limits for greenway and bike path development.

Feico mentioned the head of the housing authority Richard Harrington, is one of 10 in the U.S. to go to South Africa to an international symposium on public housing, and he should be congratulated.

We videotaped the pub quiz, and before the battery ran out it’s 2 megabytes. Steph is trying to cut it up but will ask for Robert’s assistance.

Congratulations to all for the forum and ride/walk...

Jennette said to call Shreveport Green for hazardous waste drop off, such as paints and computer materials.

Also, people can drop off books at Cohabitat for the prisoner book drive.

At the Taylor town store there’s a world premiere screening of the Pork Belly Project about a belly dancing group; 7:00 Saturday the 18th.

The next meeting will be next Monday, as usual, 6:00 to 7:00 in Centenary Square.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

CoHabitat Shreveport: Pub Style Candidates Quiz

About 60 people Thursday night enjoyed food, drink, live music, and some very interesting responses to questions by City Council and Mayoral Candidates, wrote Loren Demerath of the Pub Quiz Style Forum produced by A Better Shreveport last week.

Questions were projected on a screen while candidates mingled in the crowd and music played. After each song, candidates went to the front of the room to take turns answering the question.

Thanks to Eagle Distributing for the beer, April Waren, for the wine and delicious, homemade "breads n' spreads," John Grindley, for the use of Cohabitat and other wine donations, and to Stephanie Pedro and everyone else in ABS for organizing it.

But thank you, most of all, to the candidates who participated: City Council candidates Jake Toloso of District C, Deanna Candler of District D, and Deborah Allen, Jeff Everson, and Craig Lee of District B; and, mayoral candidates Dana Bruhnke, David Cox, and Tim Goeders.

Read more detail in the Demerath summary below.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fun and Informing Night with Candidates Thursday!

What fun that was! About 60 people Thursday night enjoyed food, drink, live music, and some very interesting responses to questions by City Council and Mayoral Candidates. Questions were projected on a screen while candidates mingled in the crowd and music played. After each song, candidates went to the front of the room to take turns answering the question.

Thanks to Eagle Distributing for the beer, April Waren, for the wine and delicious, homemade "breads n' spreads," John Grindley, for the use of Cohabitat and other wine donations, and to Stephanie Pedro and everyone else in ABS for organizing it. But thank you, most of all, to the candidates who participated: City Council candidates Jake Toloso of District C, Deanna Candler of District D, and Deborah Allen, Jeff Everson, and Craig Lee of District B; and, mayoral candidates Dana Bruhnke, David Cox, and Tim Goeders.

What did we learn? Well, everyone is favor of the following:
  • allowing hens to be raised inside the city limits, as they now are in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Austin, and other cities (though Craig Lee and Deanna Candler wanted "further study").
  • bringing downtown buildings up to code so they can be sold and developed (though Tim Geoders was the candidate with the big idea on how--more on that here below).
  • supporting the Master-Plan's implementation by increasing the number and quality of partnerships within the community between government and neighborhood associations, businesses, religious organizations, etc.
  • creating a more bikable and walkable environment (though wanting further study about how auto traffic would be affected was Deanna Candler, and Craig Lee said his plans for growth in auto traffic would prevent "scaling back roads" [As Carolyn Manning later pointed out, though, the "complete streets" model recently adopted by the state DOTD does not increase auto traffic congestion, and in some cases actually reduces congestion.])
  • creating a fee for on-demand solid waste pick-up, while still having the quarterly free pick-up of large waste.
  • increasing education of the public on multiculturalism and the benefits of diversity in anticipation of our growing ethnic diversity in the city.
  • improving the public transit system by posting schedules and route maps, and providing more seating and shelter.
  • creating the city's first dog park, first looking to corporate donations for the relatively small amount of funding required before seeking funds from the city.
  • all were against having the city own and manage the Red River District -- as it does now, but instead (remembering to the best of my recollection): either selling it immediately to a private operator (Everson? Toloso? Candler), or first contracting with DDA co-manage it, then sell it (Lee?), have the city and DDA co-manage it (Allen?)
  • all were for developing a new funding formula for downtown cultural organizations that have been ravaged by budget cuts of up to 80% and were against simply holding the line on the budget cuts.
  • all were for finding a way to get buildings up to code downtown, with Everson and Goeders having the most specific ideas for how to do that. Many spoke of the importance of having a strong historic preservation ordinance.
Tim Goeders' idea was received especially well: each of the following mayor candidates said they liked the idea, and members of ABetterShreveport were buzzing about it after the meeting. Essentially, the idea is that the model used by Community Renewal International to renovate its downtown building be used for many similarly below-code properties. A holding company would be developed and labor from a job-training program be used to restore the properties up to code. Right now, property owners would rather demolish these historic buildings, to then sell or develop them as empty lots, rather than bring them up to code and sell them as buildings with historic facades. The consensus among ABetterShreveporters in the discussion after the questions seemed to be that regardless of what happens with Goeder's run for office, that idea should be pursued.

Overall, it was a great night. The atmosphere was fun, polite, civil, downright social. Heck, it was basically a cocktail party structured around purposeful civic participation. Ain't democracy grand?!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Wanna free drink? Wanna eat April Waren's homemade bread? Wanna hear Loren Demerath sing? Wanna hear city council candidates respond to pointed questions with yes or no answers? Wanna chat with friends about the answers over the food, drink, and live music?


Thursday, 6:30 p.m., at "Cohabitat" the new shared work space on 610 Commerce Street (between the Texas Street bridge and Festival Plaza) for ABetterShreveport's City Council Forum. All candidates from all districts have been invited!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Better Shreveport Candidates Bike Ride a signal success: over 50 people participated in event that focused on pedestrian as well as bicycle issues

by Robert Trudeau

An air of unlikely holiday prevailed at the Central Fire Station on Th, Sept 2, as candidates for mayor and city council gathered amidst a bevy of bikers.

It was a forum on wheels. The promise was that candidates would intro themselves and then pedal alongside their potential constituents. Additionally, part of the group would walk the distance.

The event was organized by A Better Shreveport's Stephanie Pedro, Carolyn Manning, April Waren and Robert Trudeau.

The cycle route wound around the Municipal Auditorium, past Aseana Gardens, and up Texas Ave to 846 Texas. There, at minicine?, the group gulped water and listened to arts producer David Nelson.

Tour leader was Garrett Johnson, who spoke about SRAC's plans for the Central Fire Station. At historic Municipal Auditorium the riders heard recent research findings from historian Chris 'Southern Maid Hot Donuts' Brown.

Pedaling toward the river, the group loitered outside Robinson Film Center and palavered with Chris Jay. The walking group tarried at Artspace and heard Pam Atchison introduce the blues band which wailed in the background.

Carolyn Manning kept the gang of walkers on pace despite telling stories about downtown street sculptures.

As the bikers rolled past Noble Savage, waiter Pete Fetterman and musicians from the Dirty Red Jam waved at the colorful stream of riders.

At the terminus,the Commerce St office co-op called CoHabitat, John Grindley invited the group to park and party in the schvingy space.

The bike ride was a prelude to next Thursday's Candidates Pub Quiz Forum, to be held at CoHabitat over drinks and snacks. It begins at 6 pm. Questions for the candidates have been solicited from across the city, said Pedro.