* Liz’s Column Appeared in the Shreveport Times Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018

Photo by Josh Brittian/JB Photography

When I give talks to different groups, I inevitably get a question about the changes we are seeing in downtown Shreveport…the historic buildings that are being re-imagined, the influx of residential options and those who are moving in, the new businesses and restaurants that are spurring pedestrian activity, the sidewalk cafes that are giving our streets the feel of that downtown we want ours to be. It’s a good question and I love to answer it. Often, it turns out to be just a prelude to comments about a special downtown memory; a recollection of a great experience.

The building rehabs and new residential are a good barometer of how downtown is doing, but I think buy-in on a gut level is just as important.

Courtesy Shreveport Times

It’s efforts by people like Katy Larsen of The Agora Borealis who puts on a yearly French marketplace in the 400 block of Lake Street complete with live music and artists and invites the community to experience her little slice of downtown.

It’s Beaux Hays at Parish Taceaux who decides all the restaurants on his side of downtown need to celebrate fall, so he herds the cats for a Fall Crawl.

It’s Devin White Rachels and Derick Stevens-Jones and others who do a mountain of work on a first-ever Shreveport/ Bossier Fashion Week (and put three of the fabulously fashionista events downtown).

Courtesy Shreveport Times

Downtown will not continue to improve without the cool living spaces, neat shops and wonderful restaurants, but our real spark lies in the many people who are spending time, energy and money to share their downtown vision with others. The phrase ‘it takes a village’ has been brutally overused, so let’s just say that we’re sunk without you. I’m not asking you to rehab a building (although we can sure help you if have a hankering to) or put on an event. What I am asking is that you support those who have or are. You’ll have fun, you’ll learn stuff, and like in that funny Saturday Night Live skit that mocks the Broadway show ‘Cats’, you’ll want to return again and again. Where do you start? Thank you for asking, I have some great suggestions.

September 26-29, downtown is going to be Fashion Central, courtesy of SB Magazine. Come to Project Broadway at artspace on Thursday night and meet ten up-and-coming local designers who will be showing outfits themed for Christmas in the Sky. On Friday, Robinson Film Center jumps in with The September Issue, the documentary that puts you in Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour’s elegant shoes. On Saturday, 601 Spring is the location for the Main Event and Marketplace, a night of fashion and entertainment.

Saturday, September 29 is also the opening night of the venerable Red River Revel, now in its 42 year of music, art, food and family fun. Wednesday, October 3 is a double dip as the Downtown Artwalk strolls the eastern part of the city center through shops, hotels, galleries and museums to end up at the Revel. Artwalkers will encounter serious foodies at the Remington Suite Hotel, site of the gastronomic delights of the Food Prize Experience event. That week is chock full of fun- the Louisiana Music Prize is Thursday night in the 500 block of Texas Street. Come down to cheer on one of the five bands competing for fame, fortune and funds. Competition for the coveted Food Prize Golden Fork Award and the first Downtown Food Crawl follow on Friday, Oct. 5. The Louisiana Film Prize, 20 great short films and one $50,000 award, will be happening at multiple downtown locations Friday and Saturday and the giant check will be presented to a single winner in one life-changing ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 7.  So much to do and it’s just one week in downtown. Multiply that times 52 weeks times all manner of folks who believe that downtown is where their hopes and dreams will take root and grow. I encourage you to come and be the water, the mulch or even the fertilizer, just don’t be missing!