2011 Annual Report

2011 Annual Report

Another year of growth for ABetterShreveport.org, as the organization received official non-profit status from the IRS, and new projects and ideas were promoted, old routines were continued, and established progress progressed.  


The Dog Park Coalition, led by Cynthia Keith, gained ground in fundraising, through a silent auction and wine tasting, and a dog wash, as well as a successfully drawing donations at a range of public events.

First partnering with Centenary College students during their "Big Event," and later on other weekends, ABS members established a new nature trail, paralleling the Coates Bluff nature trail, and hopefully serving mountain bikers in the future.

The Coates Bluff nature trail was enhanced as members of ABS  partnered the Outdoor Education Program Director Jon Soul of the Montessori School for Shreveport to improve the trail.  The trail is used increasingly by two other schools in addition to Montessori, Stoner Lab Elementary, and Caddo Magnet High School, as well as by members of the general public.

Executive Director of ABetterShreveport, Loren Demerath, gave a TEDx talk, on how ABS seeks to follow principles of "organizational energy."  Demerath described how organizational practices that allow the sharing of thoughts and feelings on a topic in alternatively homogeneous and diverse settings creates energy and value for participants and the community at large.

The blog provides the details, but as you'll see from the summary below, much, much more, happened in the course of 2011! 


  • Establishing a land trust as a way of preserving the Coates Bluff resource was discussed, as well as the idea of people donating the rights to the easement, and the concept of a conservation easement.  ABS discusses possibilities with Paula Hickman of the Community Foundation.
  • The past and future of architectural salvage operations in Shreveport was discussed.  The gist of these operations is that one person's junk doing demolition, is another person's treasure who's building, and is a best practice established in many cities similar to our own.
  • ABS discusses how to encourage Shreveport's own improvized "Cyclovia" will again take place just before the Mardi Gras parades this year, as cyclists, roller bladers, etc., take advantage of the blocked off streets in the hours just before and after the parades roll.  Some members dress in costume and decorate their bikes for the occasions.
  • The origin, purpose, and maintenance of the trails at Veterans Park was discussed, noting some danger from tripping on roots or encountering poison ivy, snakes, etc. is part of the experience nature trails are supposed to provide.
  • Liz Swaine, head of the Citizens Bond Study Committee, spoke to ABS on the need for sewage system repair.
  • Dog parks, food coops, and bicycle-pedestrian master plans were the main best practices discussed that have been established in other cities and are so far lacking in Shreveport.
  • City Councilman Michael Corbin, and Scott Hughes, of Hughes Recycling were interviewed on city recycling, it's future, and the question of weather local glass is or can be practically recycled.

  • Property standards and issues associated with adjudicated property were discussed; interviewed on the radio show were Malcolm Stadtlander, Property Management Administrator for the city; Bonnie Moore, Director of Community Development for the city; and Monty Walford, a former city councilman, with much experience in the difficulties with handling adjudicated properties.
  • Publicized information from Mayor Glover clarifying the bond issue and the city's standing in terms of debt.
  • Discussed and posted on the advantages and disadvantages of taxes vs. fees as ways of funding city services
  • Discussed and posted on the issues surrounding new schools and school board requirements with Theron Jackson, who was also interviewed on the radio show on inequality in education.
  • Centenary College President David Rowe co-hosts with ABS a community meeting of over 30 people from the neighborhood surrounding Centenary about enhancing and preserving the future of the nearby Coates Bluff Nature Trail.
  • ABS establishes an alliance with the FitCities program that works to educate and facilitate healthy diet and exercise.  
  • ABS participates in Sustainapalooza at SciPort, describing its mission of promoting best practices in quality of life, community health, and development.
  • ABS hosts a "stake, role, and whine" meeting of about 20 people on the proposal of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council for a "Shreveport Common" on Texas Avenue.
  • Downtown Development Authority Director Liz Swaine speaks to ABS on progress being made in bringing residential space and retail to downtown.
  • Red River District, "Highland Experience," "Makers Fair," and problems for multiculturalism at the Aseana Festival were among the discussion topics.
  • ABS members tour the new green building the Port of Shreveport Regional Conference Center, publicize the advantages of LEED certification and green design.
  • Stimulus package monies meant to encourage bike-commuting described. 
  • ABS interviews City Council Chair Oliver Jenkins on the radio show, the hosts noting how impressed they were with his thorough explanation of the city bond.
  • Tulane architecture student Jack Waterman, serving as design intern for ABS, designs a new ABS logo, and sketches possibilities for a bicycle-pedestrian bride over the bayou behind Centenary.
  • Proposed renovation of a major intersection was discussed and strategies for improving the plan for bike-ped needs was forwarded to the city.
  • Local historian Gary Joiner informs group of details of Hamels Memorial Park, proposed site of the dog park.
  • Online discussion facilitated and posted on whether to fund bike-ped improvements with tax revenues, through private fundraising, or some public-private partnership.  
  • Founder of "Right to Play," Dr. Karen Gordon was interviewed about the non-profit organization devoted to increasing access to playgrounds for children with disabilities.
  • Discussed issues involved with conservation easements
  • Extensive strategy proposed to protect, conserve and replenish Coates Bluff.
  • Interviewed Nancy Larned on energy audits.
  • A design for bicycle/pedestrian bridge was proposed using recycled materials.
  • Strategic plan developed for Dog Park fundraising.
  • ABS Board Member Robert Trudeau posted a letter to Mayor Glover in appreciation of the city forum, but also offering suggestions for how future forums could be improved.
  • Supported and publicized environmentalist Daniel Gerhig's Duck Pond clean-up.
  • Helped develop partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for enhancing Coates Bluff trail; helped with annual Anderson Bayou clean-up.
  • Interviewed Dr. Annie Blazer on the radio show on the documentary "Home" about the migration of African Americans
  • ABS Board Members were invited to speak to the local Bird Study Group about how the Coates Bluff Nature Trail was developed, and prospects for developing other trails throughout the city.
  • Discussed issues involved with adjudicated properties
  • As part of using Jennette Ginsberg's report for building ABS capacity a new format was decided, featuring a social event at the beginning of each month, and an advocacy event at each month's end.
  • With Rivercities bike shop owner Ian Webb, ABS discussed how it can contribute to developing self-guided bicycle tours, while it planned the route for a Halloween decoration tour bike ride.
  • The advocacy event for the month, though, was "Velo Dendro 2011," the third annual city tree tour bike ride.  This year ABS members Robert Trudeau and Garrett Johnson were the chief organizers, though LSU-Baton Rouge Forestry Professor Hallie Dozzier was again the expert guide.
  • Morgan Thomas of KTAL Channel 6 did a profile on ABS members working on the Coates Bluff connector trail to Stoner Lab Elementary, ABS' advocacy event for the month.
  • ABS Strategic Director Steph Pedro posted a helpful link to the city government budgets, encouraging citizens to help officials make wise choices with regard to implementing the new Master Plan. 
  • ABS pushed for LADOTD crash data to be released to Centenary student Trevor Stine, publicized the Coates Bluff trail opening, the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival, the Texas Avenue Makers' Fair, encouraged citizens to vote, and mourned another bicycle fatality.
  • ABS discussed I-49 at length, and publicized the meetings open to the public hosted by government officials.
  • Among the guests on the radio show that month, Angie White discussed the slow food movement, and how it's being manifested in Shreveport.
  • ABS held its second annual Holiday Lights Bike Ride for the month's advocacy event.  Temperatures were chilly, but the good cheer was warming.

     All said and done, it was a good year for ABetterShreveport.org 
     And here's to our just getting better at doing what we do: 
                                                  sharing ideas for a better community!


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