Sunday, September 30, 2012

Would you bike more frequently if you didn't feel you had to strap on a helmet?

Bicycle classic from Lake St by trudeau
Bicycle classic from Lake St, a photo by trudeau on Flickr.

“Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.” The European Cyclists’ Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled.

Thoughtful opinion piece at NYTimes called
To Encourage Biking, Cities Lose the Helmets.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Peanuts, Valencia Park Community Garden, Shreveport

Peanuts were planted in the Valencia Park Community Garden last spring by 4 geography students at Caddo Magnet HS. Subsequently, Valencia gardeners added many more seed peanuts to the patch.

In October the peanut patch will be harvested.

See a photo series on a recent work session at Valencia by clicking on the photo above.

LSU Ag Center's Grace Peterson wants to build a city-wide program that will result in steady growth of locally-grown produce.

Above: unidentified student, Shalon Lewis, manager of the Valencia Park Center and Dr. Peterson.

First Monday of the Month House-Social Scheduled for Kathryn Brandl's House on October 1st. Join us!

We discussed several topics at our first official meeting of year:

Next week--on October 1st--we’ll kick off our new homemade version of the first Monday social meetings at home of board member Kathryn Brandl: 323 Washington.  Bring a beverage and a social attitude.  We’ll be chatting about what we could do for the month of October, and for the year!

Centenary student Tia Landrum will likely be at the October 15th meeting (stay tuned) to share her vision of what her non-profit can be and tell a bit of her remarkable story, saving the life of a woman in Africa.  She’ll be a guest on “Time for ABetterShreveport” the previous week on October 8th.

Wendy Benscotter will come to the meeting on October 8th to update the group on the Shreveport Common plan.

Feico Kempff reports that he’s heard Caddo Parish would be willing to consider a new application for support for establishing a land trust (or conservation easement).  ABS met with the obstacle last year of not being able to find a party who hold the land, but now may have found it in Centenary College.  Loren has talked to the Vice-President of Advancement, Scott Rawls, and will be following up on that with Feico.  The signs are positive.  ABS will also contact Matthew Linn to get his council.

Feico noted that the trust would benefit Centenary, increasing their endowment, and being a positive gain for fundraising.  Any liability would be on the non-profit to operate and maintain it.  Centenary has already contributed to it, hosting a community meeting, and on “The Big Event” contributing about thirty people to cutting trails.

Loren reported meeting with Captain Shreve Social Studies teacher and Key Club faculty advisor, Ned Leffingwell.  Ned says a number of students would be likely enthusiastic about helping ABS with such things as trail cutting.  Their counterparts at Magnet High are also likely participants.

Loren reported on the “NODE” the living learning community at Centenary that is exploring social change through technology.  Mark Goadrich is a computer science professor who’s been working on an “augmented reality game” you can play on a smart phone (here’s the wikipedia article on that kind of thing).  Loren explained how it might work, and how playing the game could end up connecting people, educating them, and empowering them.

Feico suggest that donation trucks from a place like the Salvation Army be used at the end of the spring semester.  He’s noted that lots of good stuff is thrown away as students move out for summer.  (Loren admitted he remembers doing that himself!)

Loren reported how the service-learning dimension of his Urban Sociology class is asking students to research and advocate some proposal or each student’s choice that would help our community.  Among the projects are proposals for are a public city art locale for graffiti, a city-wide composting program, a redesign of the Centenary amphitheater, a “grocery store tour” for nutritional information for food stamp recipients (normally an add-on to an advanced personal training program), and a proposal for helping the local homeless population, and another for helping downtown development.

ABS will have the chance to view the webpages and hear students give brief presentations on them in late November.

Feico noted that Centenary has recently tried to make the college more outward and community focused.  They’re also looking to increase the college’s revenue by offering their facilities for rent to other groups, such as having the chapel available for weddings.  It was noted the amphitheater could be used better; a grassy hillside would be more comfortable than the current concrete benches; a “movies and moonbeams” program could be shown on a screen; a movie festival; midnight shows of rocky horror, etc; could have a music festival.

Cynthia shared some recent successes in fundraising, including receiving a $1,000 check from “Locals Love Us”, while completing a wonderful silent auction and arts and crafts fair at Karpeles Manuscript Library on Saturday the 22nd (total earned from that not yet known).  She also described working with one potential donor, and how there are different levels of sponsorship, such as naming the entrance, but naming the park isn’t one of them because of the existing Hammel name.  

As it happens, the day after this meeting, the City Council put the dog park on the agenda.  Cynthia, Susan, and Loren were on hand, as well as other member of the Dog Park Coalition.  Loren spoke to the council on how having a dog park has become an accepted best practice in cities, and how people have come to expect that as an amenity as a standard quality of life feature.  The Council unanimously voted in favor of using funds supplied by the Red River Waterway Commission for that purpose and that have to be used along the riverfront.  The Mayor opposed it though, arguing instead for public restrooms to be built closer to the splash fountains than the ones currently across the street.

The group agreed we should offer to help man the phones during the upcoming fund drive for Red River Radio.  Having good public radio has become another established best practice in enhancing a city’s quality of life.

The group looks forward to our first “First Monday of the Month House-Social” from 6:00 to 7:00 at Kathryn’s house at 323 Washington.  BYOB or not, but DO join us!

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Meeting of the Year, Monday the 24th
We'll be meeting to discuss possible monthly themes for the year, service projects, and agenda items for upcoming meetings.  As always, the meeting will be from 6:00 to 7:00 at the Wright Math Building, across from Magale Library on Woodlawn, just up from the Gold Dome. Join us! 

Valencia Park Community Garden Work Day is Saturday, Sept 29
9 am. Tentatively visitors will be invited to view the garden at 9 (pending permission from Valencia Park manager Shalon Lewis).  
9:15 - Jon Soul will speak about the Coates bluff Trail near the Valencia Park entrance to the trail.  
9:30 - 10:15 a Coates Bluff trek.
A pre-Work Day trail grooming walk will be held Fri afternoon, time TBA.    

Precautions, thanks to reminders by Meaux Loridans: West Nile-carrying mosquitoes are active until the first cold weather. Long sleeves, long pants and bug spray are recommended. Loridans explained that he does not fear mosquito bites as long as he's walking. What he warns against is stopping and working in the woods. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Because it's Centenary's big beginning of the year faculty meeting and party on Monday, and some of us wouldn't be able to attend the ABS meeting, we'll wait one more week for Monday the 24th, to really get started for the year.  (Some of us did meet last Monday, though, on how summer travels gave us ideas for our own fair city--notes to posted soon.)

HOWEVER, as you may know, we do have a BIG, FUN, fundraiser for the Dog Park coming up at the Karpeles Manuscript Library (formerly the Christian Science Church on Centenary Blvd.) this Saturday.  Let all the dog owners you know, know about this!  Plus, some might be happy to volunteer too, so feel free to forward this plea from Cynthia:

The Shreveport Dog Park Alliance is a very active bunch right now and we are definitely in the limelight.  We bring with us our parent group, A Better Shreveport.
We really want to make a good showing at our upcoming fund raiser, "Wine & Whine, a Dog Park Art Affair", Saturday-Sept 22 from 4-7pm at the Karpeles Museum (Centenary Blvd @ Atkins, behind Brothers Hair Design, 1 block across from the campus).  See our flier, attached.

We need people helping in shifts of 2+ hours between 3-8pm (earlier too if you can make it).  It would be mostly manning tables, selling drinks/art/entrance wristbands and need a few rovers that can be troubleshooters.
If you can help with any of these jobs let us know, it's our last minute call our for help!
Let us know by email if you'd like to help us!
Cynthia Keith
Shreveport Dog Park Alliance

Saturday, September 15, 2012