Sunday, April 29, 2012

Group discusses trail improvements, bike-ped concerns, and more at last meeting

In attendance: Susan Keith, Katherine Brandl, Loren Demerath, Maurice Loridans, Feico Kempff, Elizabeth Rosselli, Cynthia Keith, John Settle.

Coates Bluff
The meeting began with discussion of the Coates Bluff trail system. Last Saturday, several members, with the assistance of LA Tech Art Department faculty member Kevin Kennedy , cut the 200 yards of trail on the south Bossier end of the system. The group cleared the trails without the use of fossil fuels, but the last 100 yards might necessitate the use of chainsaws to cut through fallen trees. The passages should be wide enough for the passage of bikes, but not 4-wheelers. Loren wants to finish this project before he leaves for Ecuador. The group believes the project would only take a day with a two-man cross saw. This fall a large group could cut a parallel trail on the northside clearing.

The group mentioned the need for signage. Maurice made a sign labeling the path to Stoner Hill Elementary with a magic marker, a plank of wood (approximately 1x6feet), and a spare inter-tube tire. Users might find navigating the trail system difficult, so the trail might need maps or signs. Loren mentioned that groups put little signs to show that they care, such as the Apple Tree Hole on a golf course. The group might think about posting fun signs. A car hood has also been recycled as a bridge over the culvert's earth dam. The trash dumped in Greenwood Cemetery presents an additional challenge. Jon complained in the past about citizens dumping trash in the cemetery. Because of the high fine charged, threatening to report the city unless the trash is cleaned up might solve the problem.

Maurice's new sign for Stoner Hill Elementary
Bike-ped concerns
The rejection of a school zone for the local Montessori School was also discussed. Jon and some school administrators want to create a school zone at East Washington. A letter was sent to the city, but the city rejected the request. The city conducted its traffic study during the wettest and coldest weeks of the year, so few were cycling or walking. The city traffic engineer said the area has a low accident percentage and pointed out negative side effects of school zones. School zones makes turning motions difficult and increases traffic congestion, especially at schools where large numbers of students are driven by their parents. Loren mentioned this event to a friend working in transportation issues at the national level. The friend offered to speak with Shreveport's traffic engineer once a proposal for the school zone is drafted. Safe Routes to Schools could fund the construction of a school zone because the city enjoys receiving funds and looking good.

Pedestrian concerns downtown were also mentioned. The downtown pedestrian crosswalks have buttons that allow persons to cross on-demand. This is what Montessori wants because it would only slow/stop drivers if there were pedestrians. The technology has never been activated, so persons just push in vein. The placement of crosswalks is another challenge. Persons wanting to cross from Lee Dry Goods Apartments to Festival Plaza are supposed to walk to Crockett and Market to legally cross.

The crosswalks represent an important concern with urban planning decisions. From the city's point of view, people should not cross at certain points because they are dangerous. The group believes people are crossing at these points, so the city planners should do something to improve crossing conditions. The city only takes action to improve crossing safety after deadly accidents. Shreveport's civil engineers were educated to expedite the flow of automobile traffic, including interstates. Today's students learn the best practices for bike-pedestrians. The city needs improved civil engineering, but improvements are unlikely. 

Why so little progress?
As such, the group discussed reasons why traffic concerns remain. Some suggested Shreveport operates as a fiefdom rather than in a managerial fashion. In the current structure, cities rely upon a few key officials, and these officials make decisions based upon the size of their workloads. The group thus mentioned how to fix these policy issues. Citizens must advocate rather than use lawsuits to affect change because the city has a legal department precisely to mitigate the necessity to change its policies.

Officials from the city and Montessori reduce their liabilities by advocating against usage. The school director suggested Loren and his children wear high visibility vests when walking, but should pedestrians need special clothing to walk around. The school director warned about the risks and thus cannot be sued if anyone is injured. The public beach at Jimmy Davis is another example. Individuals who cannot swim and boaters have both drowned. ABS and the city cannot advocate usage because of liability concerns. Mayor Glover did not even want to put warning signs because it could open the door for later liability lawsuits. The city of Shreveport will not advocate the use of trails on the other side of Clyde Fant because doing so would allow potential liability.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This trash collection contraption may be something worth considering for tributaries entering Cross Lake, our city's drinking water supply, and for Coates Bluff, our city's urban nature trail.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Distinctive City

The Distinctive City: Cities are seeking the recipe for economic success in a rapidly changing global marketplace and, in the process, often overlook a critical asset: community distinctiveness. Special places, characteristics and customs have value, and they can increase a city’s competitive edge.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Group discusses local events, future Coates Bluff planning and funding, local advocacy, and more at 4/16 meeting

In attendance: Susan Keith, Cynthia Keith, Maurice Loridans, Katherine Brandl, Loren Demerath, Elizabeth Rosselli, John 

Weekend Events
The group began by discussing local events happening next weekend. Chimp Haven is having an event Saturday, April 21 where the Dog Park Alliance will be represented. There will be two workdays on the Coates Bluff trail system this weekend. The group expressed concerns that Jon’s Saturday cleanup would tax the potential volunteers for Sunday’s trail clearing, but some thought Jon would draw his volunteers from elsewhere. The group will ask Jon if he needs additional help, but the Sunday afternoon work session stays at its scheduled time for now. In addition to these activities, there will be an Afro-centric childcare program on Sunday.
The group talked about the goals for Sunday. The parallel bike trail portion must be cleared while the weather cooperates. Centenary’s Math Department cut the trail from Valencia Park to the clearing several weeks ago, but this week the volunteers will clear the Clyde Fant portion of the trail. Some expressed concerns about the ability to find the clearing portion of the trail after a few months, but Katherine believes users will easily find the trail because much of it runs along an old road. The group hopes that the trail will connect to the tunnel under Clyde Fant after. The group estimates that this trail will be 1 ½ mile long when finished. 

Future Coates Bluff goals 
The group planned for the completion of the mountain biking trail. Maurice explained the layout of this new trail would begin at the culver at the top of the loop, from which one can see the River Oaks neighborhood. The group mentioned the possibility of handing over the trail to the local mountain bike riders, so riders obtain the desired narrow single track trail. John explained the 100 Miles to Nowhere event as an option to finish the mountain biking trail. These Livestrong-sponsored charity events have participants ride a small course for 100 miles; such an event could be used by bikers to set the course of the new trail.  John said he would discuss this idea with Ian.

Example of a 100 Miles to Nowhere course in Manasses, VA
The group wants to requisition the surrounding terrain to enhance users’ trail experience. The group also talked about requisitioning an old car sitting along the trail; the possibility of building a bridge over the car rather than removing it was mentioned. Concerns about the challenges logs in the nature trail’s path were presented, but Maurice stated that a couple logs, especially near the beginning and end of the trail, prevent 4-wheelers from requisitioning the trail. On the bike path, Maurice suggested that planning a few narrow passes between trees would discourage 4-wheeler usage.

Because of upcoming deadlines for the group’s grants, funding matters were discussed. Loren spoke with a representative from Senator Landrieu’s Washington, D.C. office about local trail possibilities. Landrieu is interested in funding for Louisiana waterways, but budget cuts made the office suggest agencies and grants for funding. The Landrieu office suggested private funding options.
The group debated a potential marketing pitch Loren created to entice Wal-mart’s corporate sponsorship of trails. The company could give private funds to match public, government funding. Wal-mart is close to the trails, and many shoppers do not have cars. Though Wal-mart is promoting a greener image, the company will likely turn the proposal down, but pitching the idea cannot hurt. Others suggested that Wal-mart place bike racks at their stores, while others preferred using the Garden Center’s railing.

Events from last week brought discussion of the group’s advocacy goals and objectives. Maurice left the Makers Fair last weekend to attend Frances Kelly’s spring training event for the Occupy movement at the Highland Community Center. Unions and teachers were the most widely represented groups at the meeting. The attendees have picked an issue to protest at one local politician’s office. Interested individuals can contact Valerie Loridans for further details.
One strength of local organizing is that individuals have common goals but want to accomplish them in different ways. One such issue, the closure of public libraries, is becoming a national trend. The group is proud that ABS does things positively and does not go negative in their tactics. If the group needs volunteers, it can network and build loose alliances when it needs to. Loren suggested encouraged citizen-activists, and several members reiterated that just being around often helps get things done. Finally, the group wishes to remind citizens that the vote for the new member of the Metropolitan Planning Commission is May 3. One of the group’s own is running and would like our support in his quest to implement the Master Plan.

ABS discusses Earth Day Clean-up, Bike Routes, Waterways, and future Dog Park Alliance events

In attendance: Katherine Brandl, Carolyn Manning, Susan Keith, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Elizabeth Rosselli, Cynthia Keith, Feico Kempff.


The group talked about the need for a workday in the coming weeks, while the weather remains cool. Other upcoming events: Makers Fair (April 14), Chimp Haven (April 21), and Downtown Clean-up Day (April 28) were discussed to best schedule the workday. The Clean-up Day is necessary to clean the vicinity after the Makers Fair because people leave trash as they walk to their cars. Because numerous members plan to attend the event at Chimp Haven, the group decided to meet Sunday, April 22 in the afternoon.

The April 22 workday will clean the portion of the trail left unfinished from Centenary’s Big Event. The volunteers will meet at the Montessori parking lot at 2:00 and cut through the woods on the northern side of the right-of-way with loppers. This represents the Bossier Parish bike route of the Coates Bluff trail system. The Earth Day event will focus on the trail. In addition, Maurice suggested that the group GPS the trail, and put the route online for individual download. The results would allow the group to show landowners our efforts. The group would need to find the appropriate “app” to use because under tree canopy satellites can only guess where the user is.


Maurice offered suggestions for potential bike routes to the Makers Fair, but the route depends upon one’s starting point. Texas Avenue is a good bike route because it was built before cars, and road conditions favor mules. If coming from the east side of town, one rides along Marshall, and the north side has Hawn Avenue and Grimmett Drive. The west end of town has Lakeshore Drive and Ford Street. While Milam Street is hilly, it is a good route. For those arriving from outside of Shreveport, Highway 80 remains a good path. Lastly, bike users near the lake can take the trails.

The group delayed discussing the fall tree tour because John Robert and Garrett were not present and the local bayous until Jon visits.


Loren told the group about a bicycle Ian Webb told him about, the Wave Bike. The bicycle is meant to propel a boat. Ian knew the designer, a man who wanted to build a bike-boat. The device is the length of a canoe but looks like a kayak. The device utilizes a propeller for mobility and a keel to maintain balance on the water. The device uses the racing position on a bike because it’s believed to be the most efficient. A Louisiana Tech art professor explained how such a bike could be built. The device beat the eight-men rowing crews, some of the fastest man-made devices on the water, when tested at a regatta.

Some suggested these bike-boats as options for local water tourism. Wave bikes would be manufactured and available for rent. The practicality of the device for local use was debated. Underwater topography makes paddlewheels rather than propeller a better option. The inventor has stopped manufacturing Wave Bikes, so the potential for these bikes is limited.


Members described their recent experiences on the local waterways. Maurice and Jon recently saw a bald eagle near the Isle of Capri, and there has been a mating pair on Cross Lake for decades. Jon debriefed Maurice on his recent trip down Bayou Pierre. The salvenium blooms on Bayou Pierre cannot be completely eradicated, and the phenomenon began as a single strand on someone’s equipment. The group discussed possible solutions for these problems. The group wants the waterways to remain boat-able.

The group talked about future plans for Valencia Park. Feico attended the Valencia meeting where the city’s bond money was discussed. The maintenance and liability coverage on the pool at Valencia Park uses half of the budget, so the pool is permanently closing. The pool could become a water feature or be torn down and the pool house used for storage. The closure of the pool saddens some members concerned about children’s access to swimming pools, especially during summer. The group thinks tearing down the building would be a waste and several alternative solutions were suggested. Feico suggested the building be used as a senior center. As Valencia Park has the largest community garden in the area, the pool house could be used to sell the garden’s products. The thick walls would be good for a cheese cave. The building could also be used as an interpretative center for Coates Bluff usage.

The group concluded by updating on the Dog Park Alliance. The Dog Wash at Marilynn’s was a success. The Dog Park Alliance will host a 5K-Dog Jog on May 26 at 8am. The two runs will start at the dog park. The 5K starts at Hamil Memorial Park along the river, and the event is looking for a sponsor. After the runs, there will be a Sniff out the Dog Park party after with vodka-freeze machines and live music. Cynthia expressed the need for volunteers to hand out water along the course and assist the event. Cynthia explained the changed address for the organization, one donated by the Shreve-city UPS store. Future correspondence can be sent to:
            Box #151
            1214 Shreveport-Barksdale Highway
            Shreveport, LA 71105

Several miscellaneous items were lastly discussed. Several issues concerning Centenary led to discussion. The group discussed upcoming changes to Centenary’s residency policy that will require undergraduates to live on-campus. These changes will need discussion moving forward. One member recounted her recent experience helping a female student access her dormitory; the school has some A.D.A. problems. Cynthia reminded the group of the Cross Lake Flotilla on June 2 at the American Legion on South Lakeshore Drive. Some suggested a similar event on the Red River, but this move would be time-taxing for Cynthia. Because fewer people live along the river, attendance and planning would be harder.

(notes compiled by ABS intern, Elizabeth Rosselli)

ABS discussed plans for the future of the Coates Bluff trail system at the last meeting (April 2).

In attendance: Ken Hawkins, Loren Demerath, Caroline Major, Susan Keith, Cynthia Keith, Elizabeth Rosselli, Garrett Johnson, and Susan Fontaine.

The group began by handling past business and discussing last week's events. As part of the group's continuing fundraising efforts, Loren promised to scan the IRS nonprofit letter for PayPal. This should enable PayPal fundraising soon. The group also discussed last Monday's TEDx talk at BPCC, which took the place of the regular meeting. The event showed the best of the past year's events, as well as some local speakers. Many did not attend, stating they were unaware of the event until afterwards. The group might need better communication with organizers.

Loren told the group about last activity on the Coates Bluff Trail last Saturday. As part of Centenary's Big Event, twenty-four students and faculty helped clear the trail. One team of five students went from Valencia along a grassy patch of the pipeline right-of-way. This patch consists of a 100-300 foot stretch north of Montessori, but concerns about its maintenance were raised. The possibility of Centenary consistently mowing was raised, but Maurice believes an open-air trail will require frequent maintenance. Caroline said regular heavy usage should keep inhibit excessive grass heights. These trail maintenance issues could be minimized by altering the trail to pass through the woods instead, and the wooded design would protect against extreme summer heat.

Some raised concerns about the legality of the alteration because the wooded areas are privately owned. The group's legal minds explained how issues of trespassing could be circumvented by of the rights of passage and servitude. Louisiana legal code encourages the usage of private, not government, lands that lack posted signage. The group could establish a trail with well-documented public usage, i.e. access to Veterans' Hospital. After ten years the property owners cannot stop public usage anymore. In the event Riverscape is developed, the trail may be rerouted, but the trails would still be provided. This issue should be explored further in future meetings.

In addition to the above mentioned segment of trail, the group discussed an additional trail parallel to the current Nature Trail. As part of Centenary's Big Event, various crews began clearing a parallel trail for mountain bikers. The idea of a rake & ride solution for trail layout would enable the riders to obtain a desirable system. Maurice pointed out that BMX riders would create unnecessary turns to build challenges, so rack and ride might present future problems.
As part of continuing discussions of the trails system, conversations shifted to the grants. The lack of progress with the grant money from the parish and Wildlife is seen because of the term "conservation easement" in the grants' language. The group is awaiting the parish's call about the grant money, so we will know how to proceed. The group also looked beyond local governmental organizations for support, and several organizations were pitched as possible partners for the maintenance and expansion of the trails. The group never received definitive rejection from the national offices of the Nature Conservancy, so the Louisiana chapter of the Nature Conservancy should be spoken to.

Ducks Unlimited seems a good potential partner for the group's projects. Ducks Unlimited is probably the largest conservancy in the country, working on wetlands. The placement of wooden ducks and sorghum would prevent duck hunting on the group's trails. Ken showed a map of all Ducks Unlimited projects in Louisiana. Ducks Unlimited already has one 900-acre project restoring Bayou Pierre in Red River Parish. Ducks Unlimited has spent on average $5 million per year on Louisiana projects over the last five years.

Jon's ideas for the local waterways were transmitted to the group. These canals run throughout the state, and the availability of canoe rentals could encourage tourism. The new route for 3132 presents a problem for Bayou Pierre's future. The proposed new route would wreck Bayou Pierre but will never get done because of the property's value. The push for the 3132 completion arises out of the inability to access businesses along the Port. Caroline believes the Port is a valuable asset for Shreveport, but businesses do not locate in Shreveport because semi-trucks and roads infrastructure.

The meeting concluded with the group talking about outreaching to surrounding communities and organizations that want to create trails. The progress on Coates Bluff stands a potential model for other interested parties to begin trails projects. The group could help these parties establish trails if they were open to the public and the system of interconnected trails throughout the region would be closer to fruition. The group expressed the possibility of scheduling a work day before spring is over.

Lead UL Coleman Developer Cole Guthrie Describes Plans for New Coates Bluff Development at ABS Meeting

In attendance: Loren Demerath, Kathryn Brandl, Caroline Manning, Susan Keith, Feico Kempff, John Settle, Maurice, Robert Trudeau, Elizabeth Rosselli, and Cole Guthrie.

Cole Guthrie
The group met with a representative of UL Coleman about Coleman's planned development along Coates Bluff. UL Coleman is utilizing real estate near the Coates Bluff trail. The development manager, Cole Guthrie, explained that Wright Island development plans to preserve the area's natural beauty by building on the backend of the plot. The community was master-planned 25 years ago with multi-family homes and commercial facilities. Homes will be featured in the $275-300,000 price range with concierge-services.

Guthrie’s presentation led to lively discussion of Shreveport’s real estate needs. Manning pointed out that many local residents move to North Bossier when shopping for a single family home because they want newer homes. Many would prefer to live in Shreveport but not in Highland. The possibility of single family homes in the development was suggested. UL Coleman deals in commercial real estate and does not sell property, so the construction of single family homes is not an option.

In addition to the concierge services for residents, UL Coleman desires to outreach to the surrounding community with programming. Ideas like cooking demonstrations, photography classes, and concerts in the parks were pitched. The facilities will include a 12,000 square foot community center that will host events open to the public and rent meeting spaces to local organizations. UL Coleman thinks the dedicated right-of-way along Coates Bluff is not well-maintained. UL Coleman wants widened concrete pathways to accommodate lighting and other safety needs on its trails.

The group discussed the possibility of constructing a system of nature and bike trails connected to the development. ABS desires a system of trails, similar to the systems in Dallas and Houston. Houston's Katy Trail built trails along bayous rather than drainage ditches. UL Coleman plans 6-feet wide trails within their property, but the paths will not be open to the public due to liability issues for non-residents, if someone were to be injured at the development. However, the trials along Old Willow Apartments will expand to meet this development’s proposed community center; this would be open to the public.

Guthrie explained that the connection of their trails to our public trails system is not a feasible legal option for UL Coleman. The group discussed possible solutions to UL Coleman’s concerns. Maurice suggested the usage of coded access point where the trail would meet, but Guthrie disagrees. Research shows that gated properties are broken into more, and the developers want interconnectivity. This interconnectivity provided to residents cannot currently be met by directly connecting the trails on UL Coleman’s land, but Guthrie proposed an alternative.

The representative offered an important suggestion for the expansion of our trails system. The state owns a 112-feet strip of land from UL Coleman's property line because of its history as the old Red River. UL Coleman holds an expansion right-of-way into this space for a proposed water feature. Though the land is owned by the state, one could lease the right-of-way. One cannot build any vertical improvements on state land or the petroleum line, so the trails would be a viable option for this land. The group would need to discuss the matter with the landowners on the west bank to understand their planning for land usage. UL Coleman wants to see trails going north and believes the state would the use of the north side of the right-of-way (property line). The group would need to speak with the property owners on the north side to assess their plans for the land.

The discussion repeatedly moved to the subject of "Riverscape." UL Coleman has been looking at the land for years, but the current owners, out of Southern California, oppose the idea. The owners want low-income, multiuse housing, but half of the land is designated wetlands. The land thus remains undeveloped. Riverscape is rich with history, and UL Coleman wants to place local historical artifacts in their community center. Both organizations would keep the natural beauty in their plans.

The group explained its past accomplishments to Guthrie. The current Coates Bluff trail layout was explained, but the group wants the trail to eventually branch east and to the Red River (through Riverscape). The group discussed the usage of water channels in the past as a pilot program for how to implement trails elsewhere. The group wants the trail to branch east and to the river through Riverscape eventually.

UL Coleman’s representative asked several questions about how ABS operates and its future goals. The group explained the usage of grants and the quest for community partners for easement maintenance. The group described the beneficial effects of the Coates Bluff’s trail. In addition to the recreational advantages, the trail serves practical purposes for travel, enables bird-watching, provides educational opportunities, and has significant historical and architectural significance.

ABS Discusses Dog Park Fencing, Dog Wash Fundraiser Success, Bike Paths, and Coates Bluff Nature Trail Future at Last Meeting

Apologies for the delay in the postings of these meeting summaries.Below is the summary for the March 12 meeting.

In attendance: Kathryn Brandl, Loren Demerath, Robert Trudeau, Susan Keith, Maurice Loridans, Feico Kempff, and Elizabeth Rosselli.

The group discussed the upcoming Dog Day Afternoon Dog Wash. The event will be held Sunday, March 25 from 2:30-6pm at Marilynn's Place. The event needs volunteers, possibly provided by Brandl and Demerath's classes. Several members took posters from Susan and plan to distribute them. The Dog Park Alliance’s 101 Donation fundraising campaign will commence shortly.

Dog Park at New Orleans' City Park- Happy people, low-cost fencing
General discussion of progress on the dog park followed. The possibility of a grad entry with a pergola and rod iron fencing was debated. Some worry the costs of the entryway would take away from the completion of the project's fundamental goals. Proper fencing remains a point of tension, as it properly confine dogs while meeting the city’s requirements. While large and small dogs will remain on separate parts of the park, the large dog half lacks sufficient shade for hot summer months.

Public advocacy for the dog park presents an additional challenge for ABS. ABS acknowledges the benefits of dog park stretch beyond the realm of dog owners. Those whom dislike dogs benefit by having dogs apart from their recreational needs. The court of public opinion might be the best route to maintaining popular support.

The group discussed the availability of funding for bike-pedestrian paths in Shreveport. The parish states that funding for this type of project is unavailable, and Matthew Lin suggests the usage of a bond initiative. Steph is currently unable to attend meetings, but she expressed her opinions by proxy of Loren.

The group discussed the process of city planning. Shreveport’s city planning has historically lacked proper implementation. Good planning incorporates some implementation in their outlooks. Urban planning is commissioned by the city, and the city decides whether to move forward with the projects. The group understands that it might have to take the money it can get and move forward from there.

The group also talked about the spring maintenance of Coates Bluff. Maurice suggested that users of the trail carry hand loppers to groom the trial as one goes. The users can trim items that present risks when using the trail after-hours (items that brush one’s legs and/or dangling at or above hand level). Maurice also suggested utilizing the fallen branches near the Loop, 30 feet towards Montessori, to outline the trail.

The group received encouraging news from Maurice about usage of Coates Bluff. Maurice recently saw teens using the trail to travel to Papa’s Grocery with BMX bikes. The trail cannot be used for roundtrips from Valencia Park because of the terrain. The group has received positive feedback on the tire amphitheater built last fall.

The group spent the end of the meeting updating on the conservation easement project. Members of the group have been discussing the possibility of obtaining community partners for the conservation easement. The group offered suggestions about potential educational institutions to ally with ABS in protecting the Coates Bluff land from development. Bonnie Lewis, professor of Sociology at SELU, expressed the difficulty in establishing a land trust.

Some concern about the adjacent development by UL Coleman was expressed in the meeting. It was noted that building a relationship with the developers may be prudent.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Greetings ABS Community,

The following dates are opportunities for viewing slides (and some video) taken on the first 90 mile leg of the Bayou to Bay project. This leg, leaving from the Ockley bridge in South Highlands-Shreveport to the Red River in Natchitoches, took six glorious days on Bayou Pierre.

If you are not familiar, the two groups hosting these slide shows do a tremendous amount in our area towards education, conservation, and helping people enjoy our great-local outdoors. Please contact me if you would like to help arrange a slide show for a group you are a member of.

Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge -- Monday, April 23, 6:30 p.m. 
The meeting will be held in the (new, amazing, and conveniently located) Environmental Education Center at the Red River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 150 Eagle Bend Point (at the end of Sunflower Road), Bossier City, LA 71112. For detailed directions, go to

The Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society -- Tuesday, May 15, 6:30 p.m.

The meeting will be in Mickle Hall in the Carlisle Auditorium on Centenary Campus on the first floor. For detailed directions, go to

Also, presentations for student audiences involving more "props" and video are in the works. We will let you know when they are ready to be scheduled.

See you on the bayou,

Jon Soul & Dan Furst
Bayou to Bay -- Exploring Louisiana's Watersheds

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Don't forget to vote!

Don't forget to vote today, by the way. If we don't vote to continue our rate of property taxing, all our branch libraries could be shut down.

And when times are tight, we have to make tough decisions about spending.  What costs are worthy investments, and what are needless expenses?  How about libraries?  Could we do without them?  What would happen if we did?  Or, if we chose to invest in them more heavily, would that be a smart investment, paying off with interest over time? is a non-profit organization devoted to externalizing conversations about how the quality of life in our city might be improved.  One of the things we talk about in our meetings, or on our radio show, or on our blog, is about how much the beautiful system Shreve Memorial libraries adds to our quality of life in Shreveport.

Here are some of the things people have mentioned:

Trusted, secure, public space:  in a time when downtowns are less often filled with a mixture of residents and workers, and suburban living and shopping have spread us out from city centers, there are fewer places these days where one can be surrounded by fellow citizens who are not shopping.  Libraries are places where we can share resources and enjoy a pleasant solitude amongst others, an unusual and civilizing thing; many of us feel that libraries teach us civility.

Improving Literacy and School Readiness:  library reading programs, reading resources, reading role models, reading environments!

Building Workforce Participation:  providing employment information and developing technology skills

Small Business Support: support services and online resources for an increasingly competitive small business environment; one where one often has to compete globally and locally at the same time

Community Organizing: e.g., ABS!  meeting spaces at a neutral, community supported site.  (book stores aren't the same; neither is Centenary, private college. Without public facilities the public isn’t empowered to connect, organize and develop.

Sense of place: a nice library can anchor a neighborhood and that a part of town sense of location.  Other shops and facilities often spring up around it and are stabilized by the flow of people that the library helps to establish.

All that said, vote however you like, but do vote!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Your Mother is Calling You!

Two good work/service opportunities this weekend:

Maurice and Loren are cutting the last segment of the new Coates Bluff mountain bike trail trail Sunday at 2 (meeting at Montessori), and would love any help they can get.

Plus, Jon is organizing another cleanup on Saturday morning.

Love your mother!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TEDx RedRiver Videos Featuring Robert Trudeau, Leia Lewis, Judy Williams, and John Grindley

TEDxRedRiver ~ John Grindley ~ Unplugging to Connect HD

John Grindley is the Executive Director of Cohabitat Foundation and as a person who has been available to everyone for the past few years, he wanted to take a moment to talk about how we need to disconnect from technology and reconnect with people.

TEDxRedRiver ~ Judy Williams ~ Unplugging to Connect

From our March Event, Judy Williams talked about finding your inner self by letting the world go away, and just being quiet with nature.

Community Building - January 2012 @ Cohab!

TEDxRedRiver ~ Robert Trudeau

Robert Trudeau is a multi-media artist, blogger, teacher, music maven and author of How To Mardi Gras. Mr. Trudeau presented "Currying an Alternative Carnival: the Story of Blanc et Noir Marching Society" detailing his work with Shreveport-Bossier's exceedingly diverse group, representing several of Shreveport's communities in Mardi Gras celebrations such as the Highland Parade.

TEDxRedRiver - Leia Lewis

From our January 2012 event, Leia Lewis came to share her motivating story of the Sankofa Foundation in Shreveport LA.

See our videos from our previous events here (see the playlist at the bottom of the window):

And be sure to follow us online at to stay up to date on all our events.

Our next upcoming event will be exploring local artists at Minicine? Swampland on May 22, 2012.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How would one bike to the Makers Fair and other questions at today's meeting

Multiple topics on the table for today's meeting, including, would a social ride to the fair be appropriate? What would be the route we could recommend to folks southern residential neighborhoods?

Other topics:
  • How could the tree tour be improved next fall?
  • How could Bayou Pierre and other bayous become stronger assets for our community?
  • When should we finish the clearing stage of the north-south leg of the new mountain bike trial, and who's in?
  • Fund raising for the dog park has continued and progress is being made steadily, but are there any particularly pressing needs of the dog park coalition that the broader ABS membership can help with?
We meet 6:00-7:00 tonight, at the Wright Math Building on the Centenary campus. All are welcome, as always!