August 23-24, 2018

Event Overview

In our third annual speaking event, ReForm Shreveport hosted Cultivate! Collaborative, a group of several professionals that host workshops giving community leaders the tools to build healthy, sustainable communities. Kevin Shepherd of Verdunity and Matt Lewis of SimpleCity were our presenters, sharing examples from across the country that put these tools and principles into practice. A variety of leaders were in attendance including elected officials, city technical staff, implementers, city administrators, and local economic development.

This event was designed to build on the conversations and concepts we have introduced to Shreveport over the last two years through other ReForm keynotes and projects. We have been slowly, but assuredly, changing the conversation around the way we develop and grow our city. To continue this effort, we needed to move away from the conceptual and numbers-driven theory and focus on giving citizens and leaders the tools to put these ideas into practice. Cultivate! Collaborative fit this role perfectly.

Matt and Kevin gave a variety of presentations throughout the two days, including a “Community Chat” on the evening of Thursday, August 23rd, with a Q&A exploring how to apply their ideas to Shreveport, as well as a variety of workshop sessions on Friday, August 24th on the topics of Planning and Zoning, Infrastructure Funding, Economic Development, and Implementable Neighborhood Change.

What We Accomplished

Citizens, elected officials and city staff from many departments were presented with tools that they could use to improve the fiscal sustainability, livability, and social cohesiveness of Shreveport. Kevin presented examples and practical implementation models for financial analysis that can be used to analyze whether developments generate enough revenue to cover infrastructure and other costs, and Matt Lewis presented tools like code assessment that could make the review process easier on both developers and city staff. There have been follow up meetings with city staff exploring how to implement these ideas into Shreveport.

Citizens and community leaders were encouraged and allowed to share their ideas that they could implement to make their city better. The conversations generated throughout the event communicated to our city leaders what citizens were looking for in their communities, and feedback from city officials was very positive as many of the elements could be implemented in Shreveport for a low cost. The workshop inspired ReForm’s new members to take on the future task of visiting neighborhoods encouraging them to get involved, take on their own projects, and learn the tools to communicate well with their own civic officials responsible for their communities.

What’s Next?

We aim to encourage the city, parish, or other entity to commission a full study of Shreveport’s assets and liabilities regarding land, infrastructure, services, and tax base so that the tools that have been given to leaders can be used effectively. Without the data on our specific circumstance in Shreveport, we can’t be effective as a city at making difficult (or easy) decisions about the future of our community. Additionally, we will work to engage local engineering classes and others who can give their time and talents to create conceptual renderings of public spaces that can be created to spur local economic development in areas that need it the most.