Monday, January 21, 2013

Thanks Sent to School of Landscape Architecture, and Thoughts of Racism on Martin Luther King Holiday

Thought I would share this note of thanks below that I just sent to Landscape Architecture Professor Bruce Sharky.  (I hope ABS Board Members don't feel I overstated things.)  

As I wrote the last lines on this MLK Holiday, I wondered, is the racial inequality and subconscious racism endemic in all us an obstacle to fully embracing greenways for a better Shreveport?  I'll talk about that on the radio show today on 91.3 at 5:00 p.m.  Feel free to text me at 840-9703 if you have any comments or questions I could mention on the air.

Dear Dr. Bruce Sharky,

As you know, I am the Executive Director of, a non-profit organization dedicated to discussing quality of life improvements for Shreveport.  I am writing to express my organization's deepest gratitude to you and the members of your graduate-level class in greenway design, for their work on proposals for Shreveport.  Those five students produced a remarkable quantity and quality of work that our organization is now using in our city to further the dialog for creating and implementing a plan of a network of greenways.

We have posted the proposals on our blog, and have also held a meeting dedicated to discussing them.  We plan on developing our home web page to include links to these proposals that will serve as more permanent homes for the projects.  We also plan to use the proposals as a basis for presentations to the City Council, the Parish Commission, and the Metropolitan Planning Commission with the goal of obtaining the support of those bodies for developing a greenway network plan.

My trip from Shreveport to Baton Rouge with fellow board member Ian Webb to view the proposal presentations was, we both agreed, well worth it.  We were inspired, and our awareness of the potential of greenways for our city was vividly enhanced.  I have reiterated to my organization in meetings, and to the wider community of our blog readers, your message of Shreveport's unique opportunity to transform itself.  When I tell them an internationally recognized expert in greenway design told me he has never seen any city with drainage canals as amenable to conversion into greenways as Shreveport, and how that will reduce the cost of the project by an order of magnitude, they are duly impressed!  And, as people are made aware of the benefits of greenways' nature trails and bicycle paths to health, recreation, economic development, and general quality of life, and they see how your own designs have already transformed places like Anchorage, Alaska, they tend to want to change Shreveport in the same way.

As part of our gratitude for the work you and your students have conducted, including your own 9 hour round-trip drive to Shreveport from Baton Rouge with the students, we promise we will do our best to leverage these proposals into generating support for a greenway network plan and its implementation, for the good of our city, our region, and our state.

Again, thank you so very much!

Dr. Loren Demerath
Executive Director

2911 Centenary Blvd.
Shreveport, LA 71104
office: (318) 869-5161
fax: (318) 869-5795

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