Monday, February 24, 2014

Caddo Magnet HS social studies students ply Coates Bluff Trail,Shreveport

Some 250 Caddo Magnet HS students have trekked the Coates Bluff Trail in the past 2 weeks, says teacher Robert Trudeau. In addition to Trudeau, teachers Dionne Procell, Debbie Fish and Ken Lerchie are using the trail.

"Students know that use of the trail is for health by prevention, for riparian studies, for contemplation of the Bayou Pierre / Great Raft history, for exploration of the art of trail building," says Trudeau.

Teens learn the difference between sycamores, cottonwoods, hackberry trees and other fauna. "Soon we're going back to stalk the hard-to-identify Bois d'arc, a very important item to the bow-making Caddo people."

"Students know that if the willow tree gives the world the acetylsalicylic acid needed in making aspirin, that the number of medicinal agents waiting to be discovered in the roots, bark and berries of other plants is significant."

Care is being taken with the locally-famous Monte Carlo bridge. Patched in at least 4 places by trail maven Maurice Loridans, the aged Chevy remains a viable slough crossing. But it is a bridge that needs watchful attention, says Trudeau. "Teens are charmed to dickens by that auto bridge."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Little Free Libraries, Nature Trails Links to Riverscape, Passenger Trains for Shreveport Discussed at Last Meeting

In attendance: Lamont Pearson, Brittany Turner, Susan Perkins, Brian Salvatore, Maurice Loridans, Feico Kempff, Loren Demerath, Amanda Bertrand, Lydia McClanahan, Kathryn Brandle, Lani Duke, Chris Chandler

Lamont Pearson talked about the Little Free Library movement, and several of the group expressed their enthusiasm for them.  Lamont described how people are working to have them proliferate in the city.  There are requirements for their structure; they need to be water-tight, etc.  Lamont said there are a number of people who want to host them, but we need people build some, and the main need there is getting materials with which to build them.  There are building plans on the national web site for Little Free Libraries, but they aren’t optimal.  There are now at least three in Shreveport.  One in Broadmoor and two in South Highland.  

Brittany said the Shreveport Times has donated some old newspaper containers, but they’re intended to be temporary structures to try out the concept before you actually build something.

Shreve Memorial is purchasing two to donate and put in community gardens as part of celebrating the 90th anniversary of the library.  The plan is to have them look like the Shreve Memorial Library!

Lamont described how one can search on Instagram for Little Free Libraries; some people document a given library every day and you can see the turnover, what arrives, what leaves, etc.  

Locally, the one at Line and Monrovia has a lot of turnover.  Twine and Rhino are businesses that both expressed interest in having them.  Brian said the Norton Art Gallery might be a good spot.  Amanda asked if they can work in gated communities and Brittany said they can.  Brittany noted it works on the same model as spots that are set up to share excess garden produce, free artwork, used bicycles, etc.  

Loren noted that these kinds of things add value to a neighborhood; they evidence the outward, sharing nature of a neighborhood, and they show that people are just out and about, and that they’re communing through something as intellectually healthy as just reading.

Lamont noted that anyone who’s deconstructing old buildings can donate the materials to make it.  Loren mentioned how past ABS attendees, Steve Shelburne and Dan Marcalus, have both expressed interest in getting a non-profit architectural salvage center started in Shreveport. Such a center would, itself, be another instance of where sharing resources and would add to the positive energy and cooperativeness of a community.  

Brittany said they’ve talked to NORLA about getting materials from their deconstruction of shotgun houses.  

When Maurice asked about the Bike Depot, Loren said he hopes to get official approval by next Monday’s meeting.  In the meantime, designing the banner, and shopping for the place to make it for it is our next task.

Feico mentioned that Chris Chandler one of the people trying to bring trains to the city.  The talk is about connecting Dallas to Meridian, Mississippi, and from there, to Atlanta.  It would make for a route directly across the deep south region, and connect to the north-south route that goes from Miami to Montreal.  They’re trying to restore the passenger rail traffic from San Antonio to Chicago, as well, and the southerly route could help that.  

State Representative Roy Burrell has been the main “engine” pulling that “train” in Shreveport.  Loren noted he might be willing to talk about it on the radio show.  

{Later that week, Loren ran into Representative Burrell at Centenary’s Founders Day Convocation and talked with him about the radio show possibility.  He said he’d like to do it, and we’re working on the date.  He might even be able to attend an ABS meeting after the show as well, and we might be thinking about what agenda items he would be interested in discussing, such as inequality in education, economic development, jobs, the paths network, etc.}

Most of the meeting, though, was spent reporting and debriefing on the meeting several ABS members had with the leader of the Riverscape Development, David Alexander.  Last week, Dionne Purcell, Amanda Bertrand, Lydia McClanahan, Loren Demerath, and Robert Trudeau met with David Alexander to discuss what possibilities there might be for preserving the nature trails that already exist to the south of Riverscape, and for providing links to the trails from his development.  It was noted during the meeting that we want developments like Riverscape to succeed, for the good of the city, and that ABS sees the Coates Bluff nature trail as an amenity that would help the development.  David asked the group to put together a wish list for the kinds of things we’d like.  One thing on the list would be a gravel trail laid over the drainage culvert that will be installed, and that would connect Magnet High School at the northwest corner of the development to the nature trail at the southwest corner.

Jon Soul, Director of Montessori Outdoor Education, and Will Roufe a Centenary Sustainability Living Learning Community Member at Centenary College, walked the trail with David Alexander the day following the ABS meeting, and to deliver the wish list.  

For a report on how the walk went, as well as progress on other projects, and, who knows, maybe ideas for new ones, come to the next ABS meeting, Monday night, 6-7, in the Wright Math Building on Centenary’s campus.  All are welcome!

Monday, February 10, 2014

ABS Celebrates Dog Park, and Frets Over Coates Bluff by Magnet at Last Meeting

In attendance: Dione Procell, Loren Demerath, Lydia McClanahan, Cynthia Keith, Brian Salvatore, Lani Duke, Maurice Loridans, Stephen Pederson, Jon Soul, Susan Keith

In small talk at the beginning of the meeting, Brian Salvatore noted that he’s discovered that 1906 N. Market, which used to be a Holiday Inn where Sam Cooke was inspired to write “A Change is Gonna Come,” after he and his friends were denied rooms there because they were black.

Cynthia was happy to report that Mayor Glover did sign last next week to move the dog park ahead; the Red River Waterway Commission, and the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance were the other signatories.  After a cooperative resolution had been passed the site was shifted to Stoner Park.  The Dog Park Alliance is donating $28,000 which they’ve fundraised through dog washes, silent auctions, puptual nuptuals, etc., which will be put towards the design, planning, engineering and construction of the park.  It’s gonna happen y’all!  Won’t those playing pups be happy!

The main topic of that night (expected to be at tonight’s meeting as well), Dione Procell, (teacher of World History, Psychology and Sociology at Magnet) presented to the group on a proposal to reenvision Tract F of the Riverscape Development, including the possibility of saving the Coates Bluff Extension Plan.

Her colleagues at the meeting were Amanda Bertrand, mother of a senior at Magnet, and former PTA President, and Lydia McClanahan, a retired landscape architect for the city and MPC.

Dione spoke on how she had recently explored the forest on the other side of the bluff from Magnet High School where she now teaches.  She said discovering not only the beauty, despite the trash, but the history as well, was a revelation.  She got angry about the trash and had talked to Jon Soul about it, who recounted how he first felt and how he’d call Loren late at night and vent, and how he’s since founded Bayou to Bay and worked with ABS and others to create the trail.  

Dione showed Riverscape’s Plan and how Tract F--which is the section which goes north to south just behind Magnet and below a steep bluff is a forested pond, beautifully secluded.

A dotted line going through Riverscape’s plan shows the easement which they can’t build upon, and over which they have shown a meridian.  Maurice has read the legal document that covers the easement over the sewer line and says they can’t build over it.

Another Magnet teacher, Ginger Marks, called Oliver Jenkins about the burning, but it seemed to continue.  

Loren recounted how some years ago, when the plan first came out, he and Sharron Swanson, and Feico Kempff met with David Alexander to ask about the possibility of allowing the easement to be used for a trail.  The meeting ended with Mr. Alexander saying it was a possibility and that he would have to consult with the investors in the development, but we hadn’t heard anything about it since then.

Lydia asked if mightn’t it behoove the group to reapproach David Alexander.  She pointed out that those are deep lots along the back, bordering on that bayou.  Dionne said there were many, many ducks there, so it could be a wetlands issue.  Feico pointed out that developers can get credit for doing something to preserve wetland areas.  Dione heard from the U.L. Coleman company that she needed to talk to Debbie Hicks about it, but hasn’t been able to reach her yet.  Loren noted that Cole Guthrie spoke to the group about Coates Bluff apartments at one point a year ago or so.  Coleman may have bought the property behind Magnet on Tract F from Riverscape.  The concern of the group is that they’re now bulldozing it, and may be hurting the natural beauty that’s developed there.

Dionne is wondering if we can get somewhere by talking about this, or if there’s even a point to trying to make a trail or cleaning up the trash if developers are going to bulldoze it all.

It was noted that if any ABS members have contacts with Sequoia Construction, such as with Devid Pettiette, Cole Guthrie, Dennis Procell, Debbie Hicks, we could find out what the plan is.  Feico said, what they’ll want to know is what we want from them.  It was noted that we know what we want: a path to connect from Montessori School end to the Veteran’s Park end; it’s only the stretch directly behind Valencia Park and Magnet where there’s not a path yet, so we almost have a complete connecting trail.

Dione showed pictures of the area below Magnet, noted what a great outdoor education resource it is; it’s so close to Magnet with art, science, and nature lab possibilities, and is already being used by Montessori and Stoner Lab Elementary Schools.  There’s lots of trash in certain places right behind Magnet, and to clean it would be a massive undertaking on the scale of Jon’s Anderson Bayou Cleanups.  

When Feico asked what cashe is the concept of “outdoor classroom,” Loren noted it’s rising, particularly noting the success of people like Jon Soul, Outdoor Education Director at Montessori, at many sites around the country.  Amanda said it has great potential for grant writing whenever you can connect something to the classroom.

Amanda said we’re missing at Magnet a sense of neighborhood because so many students drive there.  Magnet’s contributing to the trail would help tie it into Valencia Community Center, and to the other schools in the area that also use the trail.

A year ago, ABS had tossed around the idea of getting Centenary to be the recipient of a conservation easement.  Maurice had wanted this to be more of a guerilla group that makes trails and if one doesn’t get used it’ll grow back and maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.  Maurice thinks the connecting link to the bike trail going to the east may be in doubt if it doesn’t get enough use.

The group agreed the Coates Bluff trail with it’s bayous and forest used as educational resources, alternative transportation link, is an important community resource worth trying to preserve.  Next week’s meeting is relative open for agenda items, so we can feature this one again.  Loren offered the meeting as site Dionne could offer to meet with David Alexander.

In the week since then, Dionne has set up a meeting with David Alexander for this Wednesday.  We’ll meet tonight to talk about what that meeting might offer, and other options that are before us for the area’s preservation.  Join us!

Strategizing on How to Preserve the Coates Bluff Trail Key Topic at Tonight's Meeting

A large tree being taken down near the Coates Bluff Trail
Lots of stuff on the agenda for our meeting this evening:

- Efforts to preserve to the Coates Bluff forest behind Magnet High

- The possibilities for a used bike depot

- Makers-spaces and bike coop possibilities

- Update on the bike-routes map

Join us at the Wright Math Building on Centenary's campus, 6-7 p.m.!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Artisanal Spaces and History Tours Discussed at Last Meeting

Notes from the Meeting of January 20th

In attendance: Feico Kempff, Brittany Turner, LeVette Fuller, Stephen Pederson, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath

In pre-meeting small talk, Maurice recounted how Stephen passed him the other day on a “fixie”; and he once climbed Mr. Driskill on one.

Biking on the parade route before the parade was a topic, and how it’s a natural Cyclovia.  {Loren later wrote about it for a column in the Heliopolis newspaper.} LeVette recalled the San Francisco Grand Prix bike race where people could ride the route before the race.  Maurice uses the Centaur and Gemini for his own Cyclovia.  Stephen recalled how this past weekend people did it the night before the Houston marathon.

Feico has sent a book notice about happy cities; about how the advent of cul de sacs and roadways that’s created a development system that’s really an “autopia” that keeps people from walking and biking and using your car to do everything.  An example is Coates Bluff apartments.  Part of it is a fear of crime and part of it, LeVette, noted is perhaps a bit of elitism.

Some To-Do’s for us on getting a used bike depot started:
Loren reported talking to Don Hooper about a space, and it could be that people would drop off the bikes near his office and we could collect them from there.  Don Hooper gave the o.k. to use a certain amount of space, and gave ideas about a storage design.  Loren later then talked with Chris Sampite about putting a bike donation bike rack along the eastern wall of Centenary Square on the southern corner, right across from the laundromat, at Woodlawn and Kings.  Looks like we’re likely to get approval.  
    The next step is making a sign, maybe one that might read:

Used Bike Depot
Take One or Leave One

(and in small type below:)
You can visit or {QR code} to learn how a new
bicycle cooperative will use your old bike to benefit those in bicycling need,
and how you can attend coop clinics to learn bike repair. 
Thanks for your donation and for facilitating fun and healthy transportation! 

For keeping our tools, placing a shipping container near the storage area might be useful. For downtown locations it was mentioned that under the Makers Fair location the DDA has been renting space that will soon come available, but at $400/month it’s too rich for our blood.

We discussed Feico’s idea forwarded the week before about developing a particular space to be used by artisanal entrepreneurs.  An artists and musicians cooperative is more specialized, but utilitarian craftspeople could be included, like tailors, shoemakers, quilters, weavers; and more utilitarian crafts like welding, glass blowing, pickle making; the list kept going! wool, candles, furniture, decorative arts, vodka making, chocolate making, pencil making!  Maurice noted that in Mexican towns they’re called “artesianas” where people can go to buy things from artisans.  LeVette noted that in Paducah, Kentucky, the city gave away a lot of downtown space to artisans. has used Ashville as a base.  One furniture maker some of know in town is Wade Easley; people like him might be interested. 

LeVette wondered if it might not make sense to offer an alternative to what SHRAC already has so much momentum on with the Shreveport Common.  Others pointed out that there’s an artist’s tour in Highland right now of people that aren’t incorporated into  SHRAC.  Dorothy Christy Hannah exhibits work in Highland, and one artist/craftsman has just built a workshop in the area.

In this particular location proposed by Feico, the current owner—the School Board—might continue to own it and get credit for it.  The Rescue Mission had made an offer but was only going to pay half of what they asked for it.

Feico also floated an idea of the old Rex Theatre, cum Don’s Seafood and Steak House, and now a possible funeral home, becoming a music venue supper club.  LeVette was skeptical the neighborhood would approve, but Feico’s vision wasn’t for a bar.  It was noted that neighborhood is continues to transition, as Styr has just closed.

There are other ideas that have been floated in recent years, like the Blue Goose District.  In Copenhagen there’s a neighborhood called Christiania that was made by people squatting there.  The hard part may be rounding up people that’d be interested.   Maybe the library makers-spaces could be incubators for developing those interests.

Maurice asked about the Red River District, Loren said Carolyn is representing ABS on the committee, and she's since reported that haven't met for a few months. They’re doing “Free Fridays Forever” under the bridge, starting at 9:00, but really it started more like 10:00; the Lackadaisies played there recently and were great.

History tours were also discussed.  Brittany Turner has posted an opportunity to partner with the library and the DDA on hidden history tour; photographing sites and loading them onto “Historypin” (a mapping site run by archivists and librarians; a wiki based site where folks can add things to a map; e.g., a picture of the Methodist Church without its steeple) and organizing them into different tours, music, crime, politics, etc.  April Dahm with Stephanie Pedro did a walking tour.  The difference here is that it’s live and you can supplement it.  As well as the usual suspects, Dan Garner and Brain Salvatore were mentioned as others interested in Shreveport history and as possible helpers in getting something like that going.

Our recommended bike routes map is almost ready to go.  We have a group of transportation cyclists on email to which Loren will send it out.  The group includes Garrett Johnson, Jon Soul, Robert Trudeau, Troy Messina, Ed and Beth Leuck, Chris Chiocetti, Ian Webb, Carolyn Manning, and the map’s primary authors: Maurice Loridans, Stephen Pederson.  We’ll ask for one more go-round of feedback, then get it ready to print and distribute!

Dog Park was asked about… Word is we need one more signature, the Mayor’s, and we can’t think of a reason he wouldn’t sign now.  Fingers are crossed!

Since that meeting: Loren sat in on a conference call with members of the advocacy group of the HGIO coalition pushing for a network of paths and trails.  The call was with Jennifer Ruley, a state expert on getting that kind of thing done.  It was a very useful call, and Loren will summarize it at the next meeting.

Other agenda items to come:
Coates Bluff Trail – Final Leg Ready to Be Completed!
Bicycle Depot and Cooperative – Might We Be Ready to Start?!
Bike Map Revisions and Final To-Do’s – Are We Ready to Print and Distribute?!
Canoes News  And a Springboard for a Centenary Outdoor Adventure Cooperative?
General Updates – Speaking of Finalities, Doggedly Reached!

To discuss those things, we’ll meet Monday evening, 6:00-7:00, in the Wright Math Building on Woodlawn, across the street from the Magale Library on Centenary’s Campus, two blocks up from the Gold Dome.