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!

1 comment:

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