Friday, November 28, 2014

Mayoral Candidate Provenza Interviewed on Improving Downtown and Walkability and Bikeability

Loren Demerath interviewed Shreveport Mayoral Candidate Victoria Provenza on both downtown and bike-ped.  Listen to the interview right here!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reports on State Bike-Ped Summit, Cross Bayou, and First Bike Co-op at Next Meeting!

Monday's meeting of ABetterShreveport should be plenty interesting. Lots of stuff to report on, including:

  • This week's state summit of bike-ped organizers in Baton Rouge last week, attended by Stephen Pederson and Loren Demerath
  • Shreveport's first bike co-op debuted at the Makers Fair, set up and manned by Stephen and Maurice Loridans
  • At our next meeting we'll discuss the exciting progress of planning to 
    develop the Cross Bayou Corridor with greenspaces and paths  
  • Cross Bayou Corridor design meeting at Shreve Memorial Library headed by David Wagonnerr and attended by Loren and his Urban Sociology class, JonSoul, Feico Kempff, and a graduate class in architecture from Louisiana Tech.
Plus, after the meeting I'll be interviewing mayoral candidate Victoria Provenza for broadcast on KSCL and posting online right there in the meeting room. I don't think she'd mind if people listened in, but we'll defer to her. (Still waiting to hear back on our interview request to Ollie Tyler's campaign, by the way; we'll keep trying!) 

So, Monday at 6:00 at the Wright Math Building at Centenary, all are welcome!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Red River Cleanup and "We Grow Together" Discussed at Earlier Meeting

I apologize for posting these notes so late, y’all!  I vow to be better—if a bit more abbreviated! 
- Loren

In attendance: George Gehrig, Adam Willard, Lisa Willard, Lani Duke, Maurice Loridans, Loren Demerath, Mary Dumars, Deborah Roberson.


We first discussed the appropriateness of the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society and ABetterShreveport hosting Victoria Provenza and agreed that it was an opportunity to hear someone speak to their interests from a point of expertise.  The group is not advocating people vote for any particular candidate, but recommend that voters attend to candidates’ knowledge on this kind of issue.


For the past few years the local Bayou Chapter of the greater regional Ozark Society has conducted a fairly large-scale “Red River Cleanup” using many volunteers in boats on a Saturday in the fall.  This year’s is coming up on Saturday, November 8th.

George said the Red River Valley Association has expressed no interest in supporting it, and neither has the Red River Waterway Commission.  But the Army Corps of Engineers and Gary Hanson of the Red River Watershed Management Institute have expressed interest.

Folks coming together in past years'
cleanups have made a big difference
The new Bossier Sam’s Club has donated 25 cases of water, and Jeff Wyatt of Diamond Reality has donated his services in towing a barge up and down the river where boaters can deposit trash they’ve picked up.  Cadets from the Camp Minden Louisiana Youth Challenge come and help too.  Jason’s Deli will provide free lunch; and Buffalo Wild Wings will donate something too, perhaps gift certificates--maybe for the weirdest trash find (they’ve found speakers, boxer shorts, even a meth lab)--and they’ve dressed up before.  The Power Squadron has come out and helped shuttle people up and down the river.

The biggest hurdle is getting funds for the t-shirts, banners, printing of fliers and waivers (people sign waivers and get a wrist band to show they’ve signed the waiver), a total of $2,500-$3,000 to hold it.

The Boardwalk hasn’t been a help in stopping the trash.  They were run back and forth from Boardwalk offices to Bass Pro, to the Corps, then back to Bass Pro.  Mary mentioned that Chris Jay with the Tourism Bureau might be of help.  Margaritaville has a look out that’s low enough that they might see the benefit since they’ve got the view.  Mary said the Lowes on Mansfield has been a big help building a garden from start to finish.

Adam said when he’s worked with the Tourism Bureau on cleanups, the concern was about enforcement.  There are fines for littering, but we don’t enforce them; the police officers themselves are among the culprits by throwing cigarette butts in the river.

George mentioned the possibility of student internships and service-learning.  Perhaps a student could organize a watershed cleanup, connecting to government agencies and organizations up and down the watershed to organize something much larger.  Loren said next year that would be a real possibility.


The group then discussed “We Grow Together” on the heels of Grace Peterson having presented here at ABS earlier.  They now have about 15 community gardens, and they’re teaching kids about where fruits and vegetables come from.  (Law enforcement may need some help too, given that one guy recently had his okra patch raided on suspicion of marijuana growing.)

“We Grow Together” pursues growing food regionally, though not necessarily organically because of regulations that go with that label.  They look to provide neighborhood hubs for: access to a central community setting, healthy food, exercise, nutrition education, volunteer/mentor training, regular health screenings and health education.

At the Valencia Park community garden they started with kids who’ve now grown into young adults and that garden sells produce now to the Wine Country restaurant.  They also host a “We Grow Together Garden Series” that teaches gardening.

A backbone to the program is bringing to fruition some of the goals in the Shreveport Caddo Master Plan, increasing access to food, providing green space, an active living option, and health education.  They’re voting on the ArkLaTex regional food system master plan on whether it’ll be viable as a means to achieving those goals.

“Greens on the Red” will be in March and they’re just planning that now.  They encourage people to champion a particular green of their choice!

ABetterShreveport has long loved Grace Peterson’s notion that the Shreveport-Bossier area is actually the greens capital of the world!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Williams and Provenza respond to bike-ped questions

Patrick Williams and Victoria Provenza responded to some questions I'd asked recently (much too recently, I'm afraid! my apologies! Also missed additional text Patrick Williams' team had sent the first time I published this.  Sorry! - Loren).
Questions from ABetterShreveport:
1. Many cities in the United States now have regular "Cyclovias," often on a weekend day. This is where an entire street, or one or two lanes of a street, is blocked from automobile use and reserved for pedestrians and cyclists. Could we look forward to enjoying Shreveport's first Cyclovia under your administration? And do you have any ideas on what street or streets might be good to use for the event?
2. Many cities have begun developing networks of multi-use paths that pedestrians, cyclists, and those using mobility aids can use for transportation, not just recreation. Paths have put alongside working railroads, drainage ditches, and atop levies. Would you be in favor of developing such a network using those kinds of resources in Shreveport? 
3. Assuming your answer above is yes, which of the following multi-use path opportunities would you want to see developed first, and why?
- connecting downtown to the north and the MLK neighborhood with a path along Cross Bayou
- connecting southwest Shreveport to LSUS and the retail areas in southeast Shreveport using combinations of paths beside drainage ditches and streets
- connecting the Southern Hills neighborhood to Cedar Grove and points north with a path along a drainage ditch
- connecting the Anderson Island and Shreve Island neighborhoods by Shreveport Barksdale Highway to the retail areas around 70th Street with a path along the "duck pond" bayou.
Alternatively, are there other paths you would develop first instead?
Patrick Williams:
In the interest of time, I want folks in Shreveport to know that I am committed to alternative modes of transportation wherever possible. Progressive, forward thinking cities and regions are looking to incorporate these plans into their overall transportation planning strategies. Sometimes that takes the form of paths and trailways and sometimes it is accomplished by building roads that are safe for pedestrians and cyclists. As someone who has walked all the way from Shreveport to Baton Rouge to promote awareness for childhood obesity and autism, I can speak firsthand to the need to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe. I also have a track record of promoting these types of plans having sponsored legislation in Baton Rouge called Safe Paths, Safe Streets in 2011 which ensured that cyclists and pedestrians had the right of way and were safer on the streets.

Some years ago a prominent Shreveporter had the idea and vision that the City eventually commissioned and developed called the “String of Pearls” project that would link the different parks across the City.  This project was never implemented and would have been good then and with recent enthusiasm for the healthcare and wellness benefits from walking and cycling would be great today.  As Mayor, this project will be taken off of the shelf, dusted off and updated. 

Our city has an Infrastructure Deficit and my goal is to get that backlog of projects from planning to construction.  We can incorporate the needs of pedestrians and cyclists when we build these projects and I will seek to work with community partners and other governmental bodies that make funds available for these types of projects.  With Louisiana’s national rankings for obesity, access to park space and mobility options, we ought to be poised for success in garnering these grants. By working with community partners in healthcare and other industries we can leverage their access to local funding to better compete for the national dollars that are available while offering these local companies the opportunity to sponsor an important resource for our citizens.

To be a true progressive city and move Shreveport forward, we must develop projects and have events that offer alternatives to our citizens.  Progress means working together for one goal and what is right for Shreveport.  A commitment to these types of projects will also assist us in economic development efforts as we work to recruit companies and employers from other parts of the country.  As Mayor, I will work with all groups to do what is right and build our economic status as a competitive City.
Victoria Provenza:
Yes, being that a sustainable and prosperous 21st Century city is the center stone of my platform I have already addressed this issue publically via the numerous forums and published questionnaires on various sites throughout the Internet. In the event you missed any of my walkable and bikable city talks, I suggest you visit my website at for more detailed information.

Centenary Students Interview Provenza

Not sure who to vote for tomorrow? Students in Centenary's Urban Sociology class, Tierra Range and Celia Sobleman interviewed Victoria Provenza, as well as political science professor Dr. Chris Parker, in the first episode of their new KSCL show, "Centenary Students with the Facts" 

You can listen here: