Monday, July 31, 2017

Meeting Monday, July 31st!

Anyone who would like to can join us for an ABetterShreveport meeting Monday night. This will be our first one in a while. We start monthly meetings again, if there’s interest. 
We'll be meeting this Monday, July 31st, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., at the Wright Math Building at Centenary College, on Woodlawn Ave. We've got a number of juicy issues to discuss. We'll be brief, moving through them all within an hour, and people can mix and mingle after. I'll post notes of the meeting on this group page by the next day:
  • Dog Park success! Any issues to work through?
  • Bike Lanes exist! Issues there? Future locales for lanes & sharrows?
  • How about a "Cyclovia" for Shreveport? Say on a Sunday, when half of a big, long road is cordoned off for bike/ped?
  • Does the Youree-Kings intersection need pedestrian advocacy? Will there be enough crosswalks?
  • What is the future of the Coates-Bluff trail? How can this gem be preserved?

Post something here if there are other issues you'd like to see on the agenda, at least at some point.
Hope to see some newcomers Monday night! All are welcome!
- Dr. Loren Demerath, Director, ABetterShreveport
p.s. Gotta decide if we need this blog anymore. That Facebook page sure is active.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Yes, there's still a beautiful nature trail there!

Coates Bluff
Community Trail
Saturday, December 5
10 AM – 2PM
(anytime in between)
Trail Map & Historical Info Available 
Hot Dogs & Lemonade Provided 
food & parking at
The Montessori School for Shreveport  -- 2605 CE Galloway Blvd.
park and/or walk from the
Valencia Community Recreation Center -- 1800 Viking Dr.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is I-49 Discourse Biased and Unfair?


This Monday the group will discuss the new charter high school that is to be built off Clyde Fant near Magnet High School, as well as review the progress and plans for the dog park.


In attendance: Kim Mitchell, John Perkins, Charlotte Crawley, Jennifer Hill, Maurice Loridans, Murray Lloyd, Feico Kempff, Lani Duke, Matthew Linn, Loren Demerath, Brain Salvatore, Alan Dyson, Kathryn Brandl

This past week our meeting was devoted to discussing plans for I-49 cutting through the city via a parkway/boulevard, or an interstate.  It was noted that while urban planning of fifty years ago was pro-interste, the current state of the art favors a more permeable city layout.  Cities such as Oklahoma City and Chattanooga are now dismantling interstates that cut through their centers, or as Boston has done, putting them underground.  The idea is that downtowns and inner city neighborhoods are better served by more permeable, multi-use routes such as boulevards and parkways.  The areas of Shreveport around Herby-K’s or Fertitta’s Delicatessen are examples of how once vibrant areas can be destroyed by an interstate
The once vibrant area by Fertitta's

It was also noted that every city is unique, and what works well in one site wouldn’t in another.  (There’ll be no “Big Dig” in Shreveport copying what Boston did, for example; not with the height of our water table.)  To best fit a city’s unique situation, community meetings are supposed to guide the planning process.  

There was dismay expressed that what were supposed to be meetings for community input may have “therapeutic” sessions meant make citizens feel as their desires have been considered more than they were.  This is a common problem in urban development, as Arnstein’s class “Ladder of Participation” shows.  Following urban planning research, it’s been noted at ABetterShreveport meetings in the past that the strongest changes to city structure are those that have the support of the people, and that happens when they’re most involved.

There was also the concern expressed in the meeting that people are personally biased towards certain routes and may not be holding the interests of the city as the priority.  That can go both ways, of course, and several of the attendees at this meeting acknowledged they’re emotionally invested in not cutting through Allendale with an interstate because of the relationships they’ve made with people there as they’ve tried to rebuild the area with the Fuller Center.  But being invested in rebuilding communities that have suffered and helping disadvantaged populations within Shreveport would seem to be preferable to being financially invested for personal profit.  It appears there are those who have bought up property on the speculation that the interstate will go through there, after which they will be able to sell their land at a profit.  
A recent Allendale house built by the Fuller Center

But regardless of if one is socially or personally invested, one would think fair play should be the rule, and the interests of the city as a whole should the criteria for honestly assessing ideas.  The charge was made during the meeting, for example, that one of the web pages devoted to discussing I-49, (the one first called “Through the Heart,” then later changed to, “I-49 Through the City”), has taken down comments critical of the interstate cut-through model.  It was also charged that the main sponsor of that page, who works for a P.R. firm, had not provided the source of a study he’d cited in favor of it of the interstate model.  As an alternative, the facebook page “LOOP It I-49” has been formed.  That group sees it self as a “learning community,” and encourages anyone to join them.

Next week, on Monday, October 26th, we’ll meet again from 6:00 to 7:00 on the new high school being built by the Magnolia charter school, and get an update on the dog park, as well get briefings on the I-49 topic and anything else folks might bring to the table.  We meet at the Wright Math Building on Centenary’s campus at 2907 Woodlawn, 71104.  All are welcome!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Last Meeting Before Summer Hiatus Monday May 4th

This documentary premiere shown below will be a topic for discussion at
our meeting on Monday.  

This will be our last meeting before summer break.  All are welcome!

6:00-7:00 at the Wright Math Building on Centenary's campus on Woodlawn Ave.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Meet Shreveport's Bicycle Planner at the Makers Fair this Saturday!

Bud Melton, one of the main bicycle transportation planners in country, has been hired by Caddo Parish and the city of Shreveport to draft a bicycle component to the transportation plan that's being developed.  Bud will be at a table at the Makers Fair and he'd love to meet with people and hear their points of view on what Shreveport needs to make our city more bike-able.

So drop by and meet Bud, y'all!  Tell him what you think!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Craft brewing and all local and small adding to our unique value!

Lani Duke just sent me this:

Here's a New Yorker article discussing swell of small breweries.

And there was an AP article recently covering how fast food chains are moving to smaller, "craft" specialty restaurants that do not carry their corporate logo.

Shreveport has retained many small, unique businesses who thrive on their ties to the community, in spite of the  clamor of corporate identities along the Youree Drive commerce zone. 

Urban planners have been recognizing a desire to return to a less centralized, village -centered gathering place/marketplace lifestyle, probably an over-idealized one but one that is heavily impacted by modern communications that enable forming of interlinked "communities" that may be widely geographically dispersed. This is an interesting time in which to live.

Indeed it is!  Thanks Lani!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bike-Ped Components of Transportation Master Plan on the Agenda for Monday's Meeting

Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn will be stopping by our meeting on Monday, March 2nd, to describe the upcoming opportunities to shape the bike-ped component of the new transportation plan for our area being done by NLCOG (Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments).

We'll meet at the Wright Math Building on Woodlawn Ave. on Centenary's campus, just up from the Gold Dome, starting at 6:00 p.m.

Want multi-use paths?  Want bike lanes?  Want sharrows and bike-ped boulevards?  We do too!  Join us!

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!