Let’s face it, Shreveport: we’ve got a mess on our hands. The economy is plummeting, our residents are miserable... our pets’ heads are falling off! It seems most of the news we see regarding our hometown, both locally and nationally, is just sad and never positive.
It wasn’t always like this; there were once high hopes for Shreveport. “The Next Great City of the South” was previously (and technically still is) Shreveport’s motto. Once upon a time, Softdisk and Standard Oil were headquartered in town. In more recent memory, dozens of movies, thousands of automobiles, and thousands of other jobs were created right here.
Today, though, much of our city’s past triumphs, it seems, brightened our skies fleetingly only to quickly vanish, like lightning from one of our Spring thunderstorms. Even Wikipedia now recognizes “Ratchet City” as a more appropriate term for present-day Shreveport.
Blame is placed unevenly and copiously over the city like powdered sugar on a Revel funnel cake. Some claim Shreveport’s elected officials haven’t done enough to attract businesses or are so corrupt they would rather create success for themselves or friends rather than doing what’s best for the average citizen. Others argue that too many of Shreveport’s residents are and will always be poor and uneducated, thus the city will never be able to harness the success that is possible given its size. Granted, Shreveport does contain some hindrances that are extremely difficult or impossible to change (i.e.: humidity, corrupt politics, Barbara Norton’s decision making). But does that mean lasting success is out of reach?
Regardless of how far we’ve fallen, who our neighbors are, or what our leaders do (or don’t do), each of us can change Shreveport for the better by changing some of our consumption habits. Here are 5 really easy things every citizen can do to change Shreveport’s future for the better and make our area more attractive for businesses.
1. Turn off the TV.
The average Shreveporter watches 3 hours and 5 minutes of TV (wait for it) PER DAY. That’s 47 full days spent meaninglessly with the Kardashians and Honey Boo Boo each year! Statistics prove that areas where TV-watching is low, communities thrive. Thriving communities attract good people and better jobs.
2. Stop Smoking
According to the American Lung Association, smoking costs the average smoker $4,260 annually. Considering that Shreveport is home to over 50,000 smokers, having just 12,500 of our citizens quit would potentially inject $50,000,000 into the local economy instead of being mostly wasted to pay soaring, unnecessary insurance premiums and out-of-state tobacco companies. If you’re trying to quit (And what smoker isn’t!), please consider reading “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr. Think about it: if someone offered to give you $4260 to spend on whatever for every year you didn’t smoke, wouldn’t you take it?
3 & 4. Go outside and exercise.
Shreveport, as a whole, is seen as an unhealthy place with nothing for its unhealthy residents to do. Over half of our population is obese and, as stated previously, spend much of their waking hours at home parked in front of a TV. Unfortunately, tax dollars are going to be spent in a community based on that community’s habits. If you complain about there being “nothing to do” outside because our parks and other city-funded outdoor venues are awful, and you spend most of your free time watching “Family Guy” marathons, you have no one but to blame but yourself. Go to the park nearest you and invite your neighbors. Find a walking trail or bike route and use it. If you find these places in bad shape, call your city representatives. For everyone who does this, two things, at the very least, will occur: They’ll become a little healthier (and almost certainly happier), and they’ll potentially catch the attention of elected officials who (let’s hope) will want to please their voters. So, as was the rule when I was a kid, if it’s daylight, go outside.
5. Support more local businesses.
For about every 200 Shreveport residents, there is one national-chain restaurant in town. That’s one of the highest rates in the US. While one may think, “Hey, people have to work at those places, too” you also have to think about where the bulk of the profits for those businesses go: outside our local economy. Spending more time and money at local restaurants, retail stores, boutiques, and other places will benefit you and your community in the long run. Instead of Wendy’s for lunch one day, try Strawn’s. If you usually buy men’s dress shirts at Dillard’s, give John Pickens Clothiers a shot. These are easy adjustments, and – contrary to belief – the upfront cost is not much different. The long-term benefits, though, will be astounding.
Changing our wonderful city for the better isn’t rocket science, and these 5 changes in our habits aren’t revolutionary. They will simply get us on par with what the average, thriving American city does. A wise man once said, “If you want to be successful, you must first act the part.” Our city will thrive again once we start acting the part.