Thursday, November 29, 2012

Centenary Students Present Proposals to ABS as Part of Urban Sociology Class

In attendance at the last ABS meeting: Kathryn Brandl, Susan Keith, Carolyn Manning, Victoria Provenza, Loren Demerath Maurice Loridans, Feico Kempff, Leighton Wilson, Kelley Savage, Amanda Hock, Jacob Hooper-Shaffer, and Kelly Weeks.
This was the first of three ABS meetings where Centenary students in an Urban Sociology class are presenting proposals for making a better ShreveportDetails of all the proposals will be featured on the ABS web site at the end of the semester, but below are brief descriptions.

Kelley Savage (pictured presenting to the right) proposed a program aimed at obesity, particularly for the people that cannot afford personal trainers and the nutritional information that goes with it.  Kelley proposed that Shreveport adopt a program that has been implemented elsewhere, and for which there is funding support.  The program gives people tours of grocery stores featuring healthy diet information.  Kelley outlined the steps needed to establish a "Shopping Matters" program from the organization "Share Our Strengths," including the minimum number of people that need to be enrolled and the number of tours that must be given in order to receive funding.

Mariah Pitre described her proposal for an Outdoor Adventure Center The center would be located at Centenary, administered by Centenary students, and would offer rentals of canoes, camping equipment, and mountain bikes, as well as post maps showing local trails and sites, and information on upcoming trips, organization meetings, equipment for sale, etc.  Among the possible partners Mariah listed would be the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society, the local mountain biking organization "LOCO", and the Red River Wildlife Refuge.  Mariah also proposed that the Center be philanthropically oriented and donate procedes to organizations helping the homeless.

Jacob Hooper-Shaffer presented a proposal for an after-school music education program for elementary school-aged children.  The program would take place on Centenary's campus and feature affordable instrument rental and both private and group lessons conducted by college and high school students.  John noted that recitals and group performances would allow students and their families to increase their own social capital, reduce social isolation, as well as better imagine themselves on a college campus in the future.
Amanda Hock proposed a renovation and increased use of Centenary's inimitable "Band Shell."  Notably, the amphitheater sits--usually unused--in a prime site right in the middle of the campus.  Amanda proposed a number of options for making the seating more comfortable, such as replacing the concrete benches with a sloped grass lawn, or supplementing the benches with portable stadium seats, or, as Maurice Loridans suggested, coating the concrete with a new, smoother surface.  Among the new uses Amanda envisioned as possible would be using it for the music school's "recital hour," theater performances, having a "Live at 5" music hour, possibly broadcast over KSCL, and making it available to off-campus organizations, such as The Peter Pan Players.

After each presentation there was active discussion with comments and suggestions for the respective project.

Before the meeting's end, Loren delivered a check to the treasurer, Feico Kempff, from the Community Foundation, in support of the dog park.  Thank you Community Foundation!

The group also discussed it's support of Dara Sanders' application for a study of a downtown area through an EPA grant for brownfield development.

Next week, Dara Sanders will introduce herself to ABS.   Loren had an extensive conversation with her about the role of planning and is excited to have such a knowledgeable planner working for our city and parish.

Also next week, Loren will report on he and Ian Webb's trip to Baton Rouge to see Dr. Bruce Sharky's graduate class in landscape architecture at LSU present proposals for greenways in Shreveport that morning.

But highlighting next week's meeting will be four more student proposals for a better Shreveport:
  • a public art space using shipping containers
  • free exercise classes in city parks
  • an improved bus service
  • heightening awareness of obesity causes and solutions
As usual, we'll meet 6:00-7:00 at the Wright Math Building on Woodlawn, across from Magale Library.  Please join us! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monte Carlo bridge over old Bayou Pierre on Coates Bluff Trail, Shreveport, tests well with 30 Caddo Magnet HS students

"It was the first time I've ever taken a group on the new addition to Coates Bluff Trail, a segment that may be called Coates Bluff Link," said Caddo Magnet HS teacher Robert Trudeau.

30 students in Fine Arts Survey trekked back to Magnet via the new section. "I knew from photos that Maurice and Valerie Loridans had recently been working on that section of the trail. We saw orange paint on a lot of the trail's stobs. When we got to the ditched Monte Carlo, we saw the Loridans plank bridge. I knew it was time to test the work," added Trudeau.

Students enjoyed the crazy bridge. Only one student decided not to try the span.

"The addition of a second piece of trail adds variety to the journey. Not to mention the fabulosity of the Monte Carlo Bridge. The trail has become a better adventure than ever," said the teacher.

Clearing the Coates Bluff

Can you get to the Coate's Bluff Trail without using fossil fuel?

 Can you unblock the trail of fallen trees without using fossil fuel?

Oh, come on...

Give me a break!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Four Student Projects To Be Presented At Monday's Meeting

Monday's meeting will be the first of three that will feature student presentations from the fall semester's Urban Sociology class.

As always, the meetings will be open to the public, and folks are encourage to give their thoughts on the proposals.  The students would love the feedback!

This Monday:
  • An after-school music and performance program
  • Transforming Centenary's amphitheater into a more usable greenspace
  • An outdoor adventure sports equipment rental and information facility
  • Giving grocery store tours for nutritional information to combat obesity
As usual, we'll be meeting at the Wright Math Building, across from Magale Library at Woodlawn and E. Columbia, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.  Join us!

Bicycle Transportation, Bike Cooperative, LSUS Institute, Greenway Proposals Among Topics Discussed at Last Meeting

Garrett Johnson, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Feico Kempff, and Cynthia Keith met on Monday the 12th and discussed a range of topics.  The meeting began with talk of Garrett’s honeymoon in Boston and New York, where he and his bride Susan Fontaine used trains to get around.  The inimitable appeal of train travel was noted.  

Garrett asked for an update on the bike racks that Liz Swaine had asked about.  Previously Liz asked us to specify where bike racks should go and Maurice then specified the sites.  It has been turned over to SRAC who have since made the call to artists for designing the bike racks.  It seemed like it was a done deal at the time.  It was noted they’ve done the other improvements along Edwards street from the Convention Center to Milam that were in the Downtown 2010 plan, though they haven’t installed the benches yet.  The plan was to beautify streets leading into the Convention Center; not along Caddo St., though, because that’s a state highway (Rt. 173), and so can’t be amended like city streets.

The bike coop team of Garrett Johnson, Maurice Loridans, and John Gilliland has had several meetings outside of ABS.  (By the way, illustrating the unanticipatable benefits of social networking and community organization, John has just given Garrett a used tandem bicycle.  Those in Garrett’s network bold enough to ask to borrow it, take note!)  A number of options have been discussed, including using a shipping container to store tools in one of the empty lots on Texas Avenue.  Such lots could also be used as a bike-corale for Maker’s Fair.  Other possible locations for the coop were discussed, including Centenary’s campus, and a preference for a building was noted.  Also noted was the possibility of giving clinics at the Renzi Center during their summer camp.

Garrett is now working full-time as the project coordinator at the Institute for Human Services and Public Policy at LSUS.  Garrett described the institute as basically a non-profit administration research center; lately it’s been working on the Choice Neighborhoods project with Chloe Haygood, mainly designing, administering, and processing surveys for it; it’s also been working on developing promotion exams for the State Police.  Stacey Martino is the Executive Director o of the institute, and Dr. Helen Wise (a sociology professor at LSUS) is the research coordinator.   The institute has a student association that is interested in volunteerism; they’ll be going to to the American Humanics Non-Profit Leadership Association in Atlanta to get certified.

The group discussed how the students could potentially partner with ABS on projects.  Possibilities noted were painting sharrows for recommended bike routes on streets, or rake-and-rides for creating mountain bike trails, or trail cutting itself.  A study of the campus area’s problems and possibilities for biking and walking is also a possibility.  Garrett noted the LSUS campus is very difficult--if not impossible--to access and negotiate by bicycle.  

As an aside, Garrett said he’s become too busy to attend ABS meetings.  The group noted it appreciates his contributions in whatever form he can give them, including now as a leader at the LSUS institute, helping ABS partner with it.  It was also noted ABS has the custom of allowing board members to bow out gracefully when that’s the case.

Garrett said he’d like to make something more permanent based on the success of the Makers Fair.  TACA uses it to promote the stuff it’s doing, like the historical research it’s done and the app it’s developed.  The group echoed the value of the Makers Fair to the city and praised April Dahm and David Nelson for all their work on it, as well as all the volunteers they’ve been able to organize.  There seemed to be over well over 3,000 people who attended it last week.

Feico mentioned the Municipal Auditorium will be closed for about the next nine months because of renovations from the bond issue.  

Cynthia also noted that the Barnwell Center will also be renovated, but the only way to save the greenhouse is to redo the roof, so it appears they’ll have to do away with the geodesic dome.  (Billy the Exterminater was called to come in and take out animals that gotten in.)  It will be open air though with the girders that you can hang stuff from; purple martins have been a problem but they’re going to be trying to deal with that.  

Loren described the recent visit of Dr. Bruce Sharky, LSU professor of landscape architecture, and his four graduate students, all of whom specialize in designing greenways.  Loren gave them a tour of the city’s various opportunities for greenways, and Feico and he then met with them to discuss certain sites over a google map projected in a classroom.  Dr. Sharky has invited Loren go to LSU Baton Rouge on Monday the 3rd to see the students present their projects.  

Maurice wondered if there might be a way we could use the proposals as a way of getting a bike route extended out to LSUS.  They could also be included in what Matthew Linn is planning.  His first ground breaking will be north of the city.  He wants to connect from Walter B. Jacobs to other parts of the rim that would encircle the city.  Maurice has been talking to Chris Petro of NLCOG, and has noted that LSUMC is going to be an important node within the network.  On the recent ABS bike ride from Rhino’s to the Makers Fair, we rode by LSUMC and noted all the bicycle locks on the racks there, evidencing the heavy weekday use. The hub of the bike route network, technically, would be the Shreveport Commons.  

Garrett noted that he was glad that Maurice was part of the SRAC Commons transportation planning committee.

Cynthia was on the news again about the dog park.  She met with Jeff Everson and proposed that the work needed for the smaller costs be begun, since we’ve raised a bunch of money already.  Benches, etc., could be started.  It was noted that Shreveport Green is a source for the trees.  In a sense we can build it from the inside out and do the fence last.  Feico mentioned that Shreveport Green got several grants recently.  We don’t want a lot of trees, though, in a dog park; clumps yes, but they can break their necks running into them as they watch for a ball or frisbee that’s been thrown.  Nonetheless, we don’t want to spend our money until we know there’s support from the Mayor’s office.  The first spending could be the design, but we wouldn’t want to spend the money on anything there unless we see the Mayor willing to have the dog park.

Feico and Maurice discussed the necessity of a conservation easement, Maurice questioning whether insurance liability issues make it untenable.  It was agreed that the more people use it the more developers would see it as an asset they can use.

The three Monday meetings following Thanksgiving will feature Urban Sociology student presentations of proposals for our city.  Please come and give your thoughts on the projects!
As usual, we’ll meet in the Wright Math Building, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Monday, November 12, 2012

11 cyclists joined the A Better Shreveport ride to the Texas Ave Makers Fair

The artisanal cyclists route from Rhino coffee to Texas Ave and Common St, the Makers fair, was the careful work of cycle commuter Maurice Loridans.

There was a big-picture detour to the entrance of LSU HSC to view their well-used bike racks.

The tour went past Southern Ave sites, including Liz Swaine and Steve Culp's historic grocery-become-a-home and by the warehouse renovated by Allen and Erin Berry into a special events center.

To be sure, most Shreveporters - some 4000 attended the fair - arrived at the site via motorized vehicle.

But the endorphin-filled bikers of A Better Shreveport have initiated a tradition of a group ride. Please plan on joining us for the spring Makers Fair trek.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roll with us to the Makers Fair from Rhino's!

Maurice and Valerie Loridans at Mardi Gras

Real Shreveport in October!  Saturday at 10:00 a group of us will be riding together from Rhino's coffee house downtown to the Makers Fair, and most of us will be arriving earlier to enjoy some coffee before we leave.  You'll have a chance to ride alongside one of the foremost experts in bicycle transportation in our city, Maurice Loridans.  As we roll, hear his words of bicycling wisdom and tales from the road!  And the wonderous Makers Fair will await us, as we ride through our city on a beautiful fall day! Please join us!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Wine and Cheese Meeting at Cynthia's House Tonight!!

No time to clean up the notes yet; I'll just throw 'em at y'all unprocessed.  Coming out from under a pile of exams, so have sympathy.


Loren Demerath, Kathryn Brandl, Susan Keith, Carolyn Manning talked at last Monday’s meeting about a range of topics.

The group thought one meeting soon...  Added the live streaming tab to the ABS facebook page.
The Key Club or an IT club at a High School.

Can add people llike Misty Alexander, Grace Peterson, Matthew Linn, Michael Williams.
Can give them the option of unsubscribing at the bottom.  Could ask them to put unsubscribe in the subject heading.

Austin and Little Rock are examples near us.  Would be good if we could allow people to contribute from afar.

2063 Shadywood Lane (off Dixie Garden) BYO Finger Food (something to go with wine).


Most are owned or managed by non-profits, many times the city becomes involved in the longterm maintencen of them.  The Katy Trail in Dallas (which Carolyn helped raise funds for back in the day) is a huge trail, which the government owns most of; it was a railroad right of way.  The trail has transformed an area that was desolate and abandoned.  Shreveport has a donated abandoned railway bridge and a section that goes into the industrial area of north Shreveport.  

Loren described meeting Bruce Sharky and his students...

Low hanging fruit may be going from the Clyde Fant to LSUS via the levy and through Bickham Dickson, or a trail along the Duck Pond.  Going north would help MLK ; the McCain Creek Trail would be nice.  Also if the railroad could let them put a trail by Cross Lake between the lake and Blanchard Highway.  Matthew Linn talked about doing a trail to the north of the lake; but we need to connect these outer trails; near the damn of Cross Lake would be a good one.

Bruce is welcome to call Maurice and Chris Petro with NLCOG.  He mentioned federal money.  

A lot of money is coming to Louisiana for repairing our coastline; but if it relates to a raparian area, and water, it may be eligible.  Rumor is that the Corps of Engineers has lost 30% of their budget and will have to either stop dredging (which Maurice advocates) or stop manning the locks and dams 24 hours.  

Feico and Loren are working on the proposal for Centenary...

Jon has upcoming announcements...

Loren will be writing to the Community Foundation about be able to house the funds we’ve raised, which is about $40,000.  Locals Love Us gave the Dog Park $1000.
The Red River Waterway Commission has signed off on the changes, and they’ve asked for a letter from the Mayor if he doesn’t sign it as to why he is not going to sign it.  The group discussed what kinds of options there might be at that point.  It was mentioned that the a lot of people have come a long way on this.  We’re hoping the media stays behind us and the City Council keeps it as a priority. 

If we can get water to the park, which is alotted from the Commission $51,000 (of the $280,000), we could take that to the biking trail next to the large dog side; the Dog Park Allience will buy the fountain to serve the humans and dogs.  That at least be a step on the way to a dog park of some form or another.  The group sees this as a gesture of good will to the Mayor, who is of course under pressure from people who see a quality dog park to be needed here, seeing as they are standard in cities now.

Bayou to Bay final leg Benefit at Marilynn's Place on Tues, Nov 13, 6 to 8 pm

Jon Soul is canoeing the funky waterways of Louisiana from Shreveport to the Gulf of Mexico.

His purpose it to bring awareness of the watershed connection that exists over this 300 mile distance.

Wonder where trash thrown on the street in Shreveport might terminate? The ultimate receptacle for our detritus could be the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Caddo Magnet HS students introduced to classroom extension called Coates Bluff Trail, Shreveport

Trekking Coates Bluff Trail will definitely be enhanced by the advent of colder weather.

Regardless, the trail is marvelously appealing. It is serene, romantic and well-maintained.

Students returned with their first sycamore and cottonwood leaves and pasted them into notebooks. They also began a descriptive essay on the gorgeous woods.