Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Civic Pride

My time as a Shreveport resident bookends a five or six year period spent living in two other cities--Austin, Texas and Chicago, Illinois.  In many ways, these two places could not be more different.  Austin's average January temperature is probably close to Chicago's average June, and Austin's average June is probably close to the Sahara.  Austin has rolling hills, Chicago has highway overpasses.  Chicago has a towering cluster of a skyline, Austin has a couple of random, spread out highrises.  However, one thing the two places do have in common is civic pride.  Residents of each are quick to claim their city.

Shreveport residents, on the whole, are quite different.  Among any group of Shreveport 20-somethings, you aren't likely to find a person speaking highly of Shreveport.  In fact, you've almost certainly heard it called "Shit-port," the most widely used of many derogatory nicknames.  It's unfortunate, because there actually are a number of reasons to not just enjoy living here but to actually take pride.  Unfortunately, I think it takes getting out and living in other cities to recognize this.

This blog has thus far focused a lot on the parts of the city that need work.  I haven't really dealt Shreveport a fair hand.  Here are some random reasons to love it here:

  • Colleges.  I don't know of too many other cities of this size, or even several times larger, with easier access to [affordable] higher education.
  • Caddo Lake.  The scenery of the swampy backwaters of Caddo Lake is as picturesque as anywhere else in the country, at least in its own special way.
  • Weather.  The weather here is actually great, much as we like to complain.  Mild winters, not too much rain, and early springs/late falls more than make up for 3ish months of hot and humid summers.
  • Affordability.  Life here is cheap.
Shreveporters need to take on the shared responsibility of improving our civic pride.  With civic pride come all sorts of benefits, such as:  lower crime, less litter, increased beautification, resident retention, avoiding the youth brain drain, and more.  To help with this, I'm working on creating some artwork to help residents show their civic pride.  Sort of like:

One thing that proud cities--Chicago and Austin especially--have in common is that the homes of the residents are decorated with artwork reflecting that pride.  In Shreveport homes, you'll notice a lot of paintings reflecting pride in the state of Louisiana (and its sports), but nothing city specific.  The poster above is a sample of what I'm talking about.  If you want one, let me know by comment or e-mail.