Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Capacity Building, and Upcoming Meetings on Shreveport Common and Coates Bluff Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Loren Demerath, Murray Lloyd, Maurice Loridans, Brian Salvatore, David Young, Stephanie Pedro, Jennette Ginsberg, Cynthia Keith, Garrett Johnson, Feico Kempff, Jack Waterman

ABS' summer agenda was the theme of the meeting.


The group first discussed the theme of the next meeting that will center on downtown. Carolyn Manning will update the group on property ownership changes she as learned of from Liz Swaine. The bulk of the meeting will likely focus on the Shreveport Common proposal being developed through a grant being administered by SRAC. It was noted that while some people may not be happy with the lack of urban planning involved, or with some of the details of the proposal, ABS should contribute as mush as it can to the planning process, and is obligated to speak up if it sees problems. It was noted that project may be able to be shaped such it can improve public transit for the city generally, and such that it can help in the redevelopment of the historic Texas Avenue area. It is a design competition for one a bus shelter, maybe it could be distributed across different shelters, or other routes. The proposal talks about artist-architect design teams and having someone vet the designs. Lots have been bought in that area and they are going to be redeveloped. It may not bring revenue but it may. Encompassing that same area but also addressing the larger Ledbetter and Allendale neighborhoods is a larger parallel planning effort that is looking at economic impact and involves bigger dollars from HUD.


The continuation of community planning for the preservation of, and improved access to the Coates Bluff Nature Trail was discussed.

On a practical issue, Maurice mentioned needing a truck to haul supplies he will be using to construct his “stairway to Stoner” path. Several people volunteered trucks.

Jon Soul has said the trail is not ready for prime time because some of the trail sections are incomplete, there's a section where the trash enters, the poison ivy needs to be controlled, and we need a chain saw to finish cutting some things.

Kim noted there were a number of working groups that came out of that big public meeting at Centenary last month. We need to bring each group to the table to convene them. One action item that has had an outcome was the education group meeting, and we need to hear from them. That's one out of 5 or 6 groups, a number of which are critical, such as the group focusing on governance and property ownership.

It was said it should be o.k. to send out the whole .pdf with the contact information and phone numbers included; permission to circulate that information is presumed to be given when one signs the sheet.

It was decided that we would pick the Monday of the 30th to discuss the convening and organization of all the teams. Loren won't be there, or at the next five meetings, but Steph Pedro will take over the duties of convening ABS meetings during that time. Loren has talked with Jon who will be able to be at that meeting on the 30th as well. The focus of the meeting will be organizational; establishing a decision-making group that takes charge between meetings. It will be within the context of a regular ABS meeting, but all those who attended the community meeting at Centenary last month will be invited.

The invitation to the community members can be made via a google group structure where we can post documents and have discussions. That first invitation to the next meeting on the 30th should trigger some information flow and communication so by the time of the meeting we'll have additional things to talk about.

Kim noted that it would be good if each working group created a document that could be that group's strategic plan. What we're trying to do is convert discussion into action.


Jennette talked about her project of building the capacity of ABS that count for credit as part of her masters degree in non-profit administration. Jennette and Loren met earlier in the day with Jennette's supervising professor, Helen Wise, a sociologist at LSUS. Jennette noted that the organization has outgrown its initial structure; it can be hard to follow the email conversations on a specific topic, for example, scrolling through the messages. She'll be administering a survey to assess what the group needs and what initial levels of satisfaction are with various aspects of the website and organization. Among the results of the project can be posting on the website templates for processes of community organization and means of making productive social connections.

Among the challenges are to discover what people are comfortable with in terms of the information they provide to facilitate connections and ways not to do it; the survey may get at what kinds of information people are comfortable with; for example, it may be that email is o.k., but phone numbers are not.

Another issue that can be taken up is how to make the group more diverse. The community gardeners have members all over town. The issues of concern can also be different, though. Education and jobs are often the more salient issues in lower income areas.


A dog park update will be coming. Unfortunately the land that SPAR has drawn up to be included as a dog park is now underwater, which suggests it may not be an optimal site. The pond, though, needn't be included, and is now; that could be changed. Jeff Everson is supposed to call a meeting. There are still parts of land in that general area that are not underwater, but they weren't drawn to be part of the dog park.


An update from the Better Bus Stops Coalition (of which ABS is a part) and a strategic discussion for how our bus system can be improved is scheduled for mid-June or July. It would be most appropriate at that time to discuss the need for shade; waiting for the bus in mid summer makes the issue salient.

Jennette said a visibility campaign might be valuable. We could bring more awareness to the issue through some lighthearted events, like holding umbrellas for people waiting, or passing out lemonade to people waiting. Carolyn's daughter takes the bus daily but a common complaint is that there are no schedules on the bus stops; you can only get them online. We could laminate schedules and tie them with twisties on the poles.

It was noted that cyclists are using buses as their emergency breakdown option; it's now known, that you just carry bus fare with you and you'll be able to get home with your bike on the bus.

Feico said Jeff Everson has mentioned that large employers (Caddo Parish, etc.) could give an annual bus pass as part of their compensation package; or it could be offered at a reduced rate. Students now can get a student rate which is half-price.


Next week's meeting will feature a discussion of the Shreveport Common proposal SRAC has developed, along with other downtown issues.


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