Monday, May 19, 2014

Visits to Neighborhood Groups and a Green Bicycle Tour Discussed

The following is an account of last Monday's meeting.

In attendance: Regan Horn, Feico Kempff, Stephen Pederson, Josh Fast, Loren Demerath, Katherine Brandl, Cynthia Keith, Maurice Loridans.

Byrd High School Concerns
Concerns were discussed about a change in policy at Byrd High School turning away ESL students.  A number of ideas were discussed including the “Minority to Majority Transfer” rule, and the resources of the Catholic Charities on 72nd St. in Cedar Grove.

Velo Dendro Evolves
How to make this year’s tree tour of the city “Velo Dendro” happen as good or better than before was discussed.  It was noted that it takes a lot of promotion, and ABS never ended up with the email list that Matthew Linn and Haley Dozier developed.  A to-do will be to try to get that. 

A "Cyclo Verde" could provide a chance to spread
the seed of MPC's big idea for nominating trail sites
One improvement to the tour might be to include other forms of notable plant growth, such as community gardens or wildflowers.  

(I write this I’m now recalling that the MPC’s exciting wildflower trailblazing project should be happening just around that time--early November---and this would be a great opportunity to prod people’s thinking about it and to invite their participation.)

An improvement might be to change the name. It was noted “Velo Dendro” doesn’t communicate the nature of the event as well as it could.  As the group brainstormed, the following names were developed as possibilities:

  • Tour de Greaux
  • Velo Verde The Green Cycle Tour
  • Cyclo Verde
The group thought we might post those options on facebook and ask for feedback or other suggestions.

Speaking of Cycling...
In hosting two Baltimore cyclists who were touring through town, Maurice recalled how one of them blew through a traffic light and he pointed out to them that a problem here is that auto drivers aren’t used to cyclists and we need to behave in predictable ways.  As people noted that various responses they’ve gotten from drivers around town when biking, Maurice noted that folks tend to be very accepting on the east side of town, but on the west, the car’s still a status symbol.

Speaking of Tours...
Several noted they attended edible wild plant walks: one on Clyde Fant, another in Highland and third in Bossier.  Josh noted that Pam Warhorst gives a ted talk on how we can design our landscapes to be eaten, as well as to educate children and raise awareness of gardening possibilities.  Planting key areas can lead to veggie eco-tourism.  Year ‘round, especially in our ArkLaTex part, there’s stuff to be eaten.  Noting the time of the “Tour de Greaux” (or whatever it might be called), Josh noted there’s persimon, peach, kale, and other greens that would be ready for picking then.
The range of veggie-tourism sights that could
be created is endless, all healthy n' tasty!

Monthly Neighborhood Visits
The group continued to discuss the idea of having a monthly visit to some neighborhood in Shreveport. The goal would be to empower Shreveport as a whole and that neighborhood in particular, by connecting it's concerns to other neighborhoods and the city overall. One group's concerns are often another group's too, and connecting ourselves to each other empowers us.

The purpose of the visits, then, would be to gather a neighborhood association's concerns, visions, and hopes, and to share ABS' simple model for advancing them: have meetings on public issues and publish the notes of those meetings.

It was noted that there may be some projects that would be especially appealing to lower income areas. For example, ABS has periodically held meetings on education inequality which have been very well-attended. Other frequent ABS concerns, like the city's walkability, are relevant too: there have been a many pedestrian
deaths due to crossing North Market St. in MLK area; there's a beauty shop that regularly sees them.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Stephen noted that one skateboarder rode the whole 5 miles on his skateboard with the Sunday Cyclo Femme ride that Stephen organized to celebrate Mothers Day. (Maurice noted that Stephen’s doing a great job of bringing local cycling awareness to his generation.)

The Red River District pub crawl is being held to promote pop-up businesses; each business will be judged by its success in two weeks; it's for a small business that has an idea in place; the space across from Cohab is used; the concept is like stalls in the middle of a mall; the idea is to have them at the riverfront.

Caddo Common Design Team is apparently in reference to the Shreveport Common art zone that has been renamed because of the parish’s new involvement.

Speaking of the common, a bicycle cooperative could be situated there; could even be run out of a shipping container; all one needs is the ability to secure the tools under lock and key.

The next meeting is tonight! Join us!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Summer Plans Shaping Up to Engage More of Shreveport in Civic Engagement

The last two open board meetings of ABS have been energizing.  An idea starting with Chris Chandler's thoughts has been developing steam.  It's that we'd have a summer team that would visit neighborhood associations and other groups to hear their concerns, share visions, connections, etc., with the goals being to increase the city's overall civic engagement, and to connect concerned citizens to each other.

It's an election year, so the timing is good.

Speaking of which we also discussed the hope that we can have another candidate forum, as we did four years ago downtown at Cohabitat.  We had live music and light refreshments during a mix and mingle period, then we pitched questions to the candidates that had been submitted by organizations and citizens.  It was the brainchild of our former strategic director Steph Pedro, and it seemed to work well as a way of focusing attention on certain issues and allowing voters to get to know the candidates.
our first two "Velo Dendros" have been fun!

On another front, Robert Trudeau dropped by last week to say he's willing to head up another Velo Dendro biking tour of the city's trees come November.  He'll need helpers, so stay tuned to this space if you're willing.

And a new topic that'll likely be discussed tonight is an apparent change in the policy of Byrd High School for receiving ESL students.  It may be a matter of confusion that could yet be resolved, but, there's concern.

We'll continue discussions on all these topics at our last two meetings before our summer hiatus, tonight and next Monday, May 19th.  As usual, all are welcome, and we meet in the Wright Math Building on Centenary's campus, on Woodlawn Ave., two blocks up from the Gold Dome.