top of page

OneRouge Community Check-In - Week 131



Week #130

Join us this Friday for OneRouge Week#131 at 8:30 AM via Zoom. The Driver ‘Lack of access to foods to sustain a healthy life' features speakers:

  • Dustin Lafont – Teacher, mentor, and youth empowerment advocate

  • Elizabeth Wattley – President and CEO of Forest Forward, community architect, and disruptor of education, food, housing, and healthcare inequities

  • Tina Ufford - Bike Baton Rouge board member, artist, and creator

The CDC tells us that a poor transportation system cuts off access to food for those who depend upon it. We know that municipal transportation can positively impact food security. A large part of the problem is that municipalities don’t plan well enough for their pedestrian populations to thrive. The gap contributes to obesity and affects people’s ability to maintain a healthy diet. This could all be remediated if stores could be accessible by walking or biking. Thank you for joining us on Friday.

Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!



Pepper Roussel: We are continuing our conversation of around the nine drivers of poverty, focusing on food and food access. And this morning we are bringing in a component that not everybody thinks about when we think about food access and food security, but transportation and what does it mean to be able to get to food and make sure that you have consistent access to food itself. Discussion includes transit. Part of that discussion is just walkable neighborhoods, walkable neighborhoods, and those that are bike accessible. And so we have three amazing guest speakers this morning.

Tina Ufford: So I am someone who's been biking in Baton Rouge for about 20 years and the gains that we've made over the 20 years that I've lived here are fantastic. We've done a lot. A lot has happened. In this particular vein of thinking, what comes to mind the most are the facilities for when you get there. And I know that there's a bunch of stuff that needs to happen before you get to somewhere on a bike, but it's one of the things I noticed, it's one of the things that I took and ran with when I first joined up with Bike Baton Rouge and a local artist, David Cono, to make bike racks that say bike BR on then have a little flare, a little personal, homemade flare that people would see and recognize and even if you walk or drive, when you get to a business and you see a bike rack, it's a positive thing because you know you're gonna be taken care of when you get there. There's nothing worse than riding your bike all day and thinking that you're, doing this great thing for yourself and for transportation and doing your sovereignty, getting yourself somewhere whenever you want, wherever you want, and then you get there and there's nowhere to lock your precious steed. And then you're immediately in a place of worry and what am I gonna do? And if you're by yourself, you don't have a friend to guard the horse for you. And as something as simple as a bike rack outside of a business just really changes things up. And it's it's been amazing to see bike racks appear at LSU and at BET-R, Mathern's and almost every place that we wanna go to get food has some kind of bike rack now, and that's spectacular. One of my calls to action here for everybody is whenever you see a place that you like to go, especially if there's food involved, whether it's a grocery store or a restaurant, look around for a bike rack, and if there isn't one and you have the time, ask the manager about why that is. And another thing that we've done recently is changed the thinking around places that have drive-throughs, formerly known as drive-through for cars only. And we've done a lot of work around getting that to include two- wheeled vehicles as well. If that is your only transportation and especially if the place doesn't have a bike rack or if like during covid if you weren't allowed to walk in the building, then suddenly we noticed this big gap of reasoning around why would a human being on two wheels, who is using transportation in this moment, not allowed to go through the drive through and be served? So that was a really nice gap that we crossed during Covid. Covid made us focus on this thing. And so another thing that I like to do when I see people on bikes is ask them where they biked from or where they live. Just for your own personal education purposes. It sometimes will surprise you where somebody just biked from, and then you can have your own reaction as to how did you make that happen, and just learning how people bike in this city is almost always enlightening. And then the third piece that I want to talk about last, but definitely not least, is Cranksgiving, which is something that Bike Baton Rouge has been doing for years. And not everybody finds out about it because we just do our best and put out the word as we can. And it's a drive for food and money for the Baton Rouge Food Bank. And the way we do it is make it a race a little bit, little bit of a competition. There's a family and then there's a racer, speed racer , and then there's a who can carry the most food on their bike. And we have seen people carry 30, 40, 50 pounds of food on their bikes. No motors, no batteries. Self-powered, lots of panier bags all over the place and backpacks carrying so much. And it is absolutely possible. I am here to tell you to ride your bike in Baton Rouge to a grocery store. Lock up your bike at the bike rack that they have provided. Buy all your food and put it in your bags and bike home. It is absolutely possible, and I'm so glad that I got invited to this today to say that to all.

Pepper Roussel: That is amazing. I'm so curious about the use of baskets in this moment in order to carry food, but yeah, but transitioning from from just biking to just livable spaces

Casey Phillips: So folks, there are there are several people on this call that are familiar with the national model around purpose-built communities. Our friends at the Wilson Foundation at center students of the game of this. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the future of Dallas, Elizabeth Watley. She has been entrenched in the South Dallas community. Doing this work for a long time, way before she was fundraising for this incredible project that she's doing. She's about the work. She's a practitioner. And that's why she's gotten the respect of both the neighborhood as well as city leadership in leading one of the most incredible reactivation projects that I've ever seen. I'm hitting the gloss on it. It's been hard. She is relentless. And she is kind and she is purposeful. And so it is my distinct pleasure to introduce you all to Elizabeth Watley today.

Elizabeth Wattley: My name is Elizabeth Watley and I am the president and CEO of Force Forward, and that is based in neighborhood revitalization. And so we do use the Purpose Built Communities model and through that work it says if you have these three key pathways, that's how you can bring healthy neighborhood revitalization to your community with minimal displacement. We always wanna preserve the character history and the residents of the community and neighborhood, and so that's where we lean a lot of our primary focus. And that your three pathways are bringing economic vitality, a cradle to college education pathway, and then mixed income housing. And as you look at different purpose built models across the country, you'll see this anchor resource that really sparks shop creation, economic development and does exactly what it says it'll do around economic vitality. And for us that anchor is restoring the Historic Forest Theater. If you are not a Dallasite, I like to anchor your mind, we're like the Apollo Theater of Dallas, if you will. We are rich in history and we're rich in Black history, specifically, in the community. And so the theater has suffered years and decades of up and down of opening closed but our goal is to open the theater for the final last time. It is never to close its doors again through our partnership with our Dallas Independent school district we have been able to create the newly transformed MLK Arts Academy, and that's a big deal for our work because this school was once a failing school and graded served from pre-K to fifth grade. Through our partnership with DISD, we've now been able to expand from pre-K to eighth grade, infused $20 million of bond money to support construction to support the New Arts Academy. So they will get a 2000 square foot dance studio, a 1600 square foot black box, a new piano lab, all of those tools that you would need in your hand to put those resources of arts in your day to day life. A lot of this work is about system change. And so that's where we prioritize. And we'll also be continuing our land acquisition to bring 150 units of mixed income housing that will certainly continue to go in with artist housing, but to support the school and the neighborhood, we concentrate poverty and diversify the socioeconomics. One thing that is not unique to our community, but it's certainly important is we are divided by a highway. And that is part of your textbook underserved neighborhood. And in South Dallas, the Force Feeder is not flanked by one highway, but we have two. So we have US 175 on one side of us, and then Interstate 45, that connects Dallas to Houston on the other side. And so US 175 is transitioning to a boulevard. We are so textbook of a neighborhood that has been impacted by highways, that we are part of a federal program called Highways to Boulevards. And they say if we change these highways, can we start suturing neighborhoods back together? So we're gonna go to 35 miles per hour, We will have traffic lights we will have bike trails, and even water features. I do not hold my breath on the water features, but we will see. But what this does is certainly contributes to the neighborhood revitalization effort. Although I didn't do it I like to take credit for it because it's certainly going to increase walkability in our neighborhood. And certainly increased access to food. And so one thing about the highways, I think as we're talking about food and transportation and accessibility, is really the impact highways and these barriers that they create on our communities. When decision makers are sitting in rooms, much like redlining and our segregation policies, they use these as the divisions. And so I'm watching these economic opportunities continue to pass us by because of this highway. So everything east of US 175, there's an opportunity zone, there's a tax tiff, there's our public improvement district, and we're like literally 20 feet on the other side. Do we need a moat? Like how can we start connecting these barriers? With this highway and a lot of screaming and working with the city leadership we're able to bring some of those economic opportunities over to the other side of the highway. So certainly neighborhood revitalization impacts walkability access to food, transportation, especially in a city like Dallas that is incredibly car reliant. We are working on our public transportation consistently. Lots of room for improvement but we are getting there for sure.

Casey Phillips: Thank you Elizabeth, for thank you for showing again, national issues and how they impact local on a neighborhood level and more importantly how to refuse to accept and to accept the the systematic intention. Way to be part of the resistance. And everyone if you have questions in the chat for Elizabeth or you'd like to connect with her.

Dustin LaFont: Thank you and good morning. So glad to be able to catch up and see you guys. I know I am always running around and missing this really great morning meeting and thankful to be present today. So if you're not familiar, I'm Dustin LaFont, the executive director of Front Yard Bikes, which is a youth workforce development program teaching kids six to 24. Cause they keep getting older, but they still need involvement and we teach bicycle mechanics, urban gardening, welding and cooking lessons, and a lot of that centered around living healthy and being healthy. But for the sake of this conversation about transportation, and especially as it depicts young people, a conversation that we had back in the Front Yard Bike days when we were just in the yard of my house was the kids all got bikes, but why did they want them? What was the goal of building their bike, earning it, putting their time and sweat equity into it for it to be their personal possession. And when you'd ask a child or student that they'd say, Oh, I got, I'm going officially with my friends over here at the lake. Oh, I'm going over here. There's a grocery store I like to go to a lot, or I like to go to this park or this spot to play basketball or football. I gotta get to Expressway. All the kids had ideas of what was in the 10 minute. And that was 12 years ago. They already knew what that was in their network and they had goals and desires for it. They didn't do everything. And so we started to think of our kids have a radius of opportunity when they have their two feet, the possibility of traveling by a car, bus or whatever it may be. And that opportunity becomes magnified when they have a bicycle because they have way more reach. 10 minutes biking is a lot different than 10 minutes walking. It's a big difference. And aside from that, they started to have a lot of connectivity developed in Baton Rouge. I got a question from Pepper that said, What if you could buy two X locations? And I said, Oh, we can and we do, because that's our culture, right? Baton Rouge doesn't always gone up to this idea that cycling sometimes is in despite of there being a bike rack at the grocery or the place you're trying to arrive to, but you go there anyway. You don't allow that to be the reasons. Just so many people have told me about, Oh, it doesn't look safe to ride, but when you see our Friday bike ride with 20 young people riding in the direction, it starts to change in your mind, the cultural expectation of what you'll see on a Friday traveling home from work. And I've seen a lot of people have said, I saw y'all on your rides and I just was so impressed that you had 20 young people riding somewhere. And that destination was public spaces, it was small businesses, it was somewhere that our students could learn about a new asset or a current asset that's paid for by taxes for them to access on a regular basis and they don't know it's there, not to any degree. And now it's within their radius of opportunity in their daily life. So to share more about that for air bikes does a bike ride every Friday to teach our kids the safe ways of transportation. Such as how to hand signal to traffic, how to communicate right side of the road, how to cross streets, the basic things you don't typically learn at a young age, unfortunately. And some of the things that you don't learn about road signage until you're in a car. But most of our kids are gonna need to travel without a car for a long time and need to know what those road signs mean. And we take our kids to different destinations so they can get experience, but also build relationships with those spaces so they can continue to go there again and again. It has been wonderful to be a part of that. It's been 12 years running. I got a not so humble brag to Samantha and Tina that it's the longest running community bike ride in Baton Rouge. Think y'all need to maybe check this out on one of these Fridays and ride with us again. , our young people have a different degree of power in this construct than other ideas as such as bike share, such as maybe other entities of transportation. They have complete control over their vehicle of choice of design and function, and they also have free maintenance and free labor because they're their own labor, and the parts are all recyclable bikes that have been donated that would otherwise be going to a trash. And they pull parts, recycle 'em, and put 'em back to be used free of charge. And we're taking care of keeping things outta the landfill while at the same time breaking down barriers for young people in accessibility. And that's all done by our youth directly. I am honored to be a face and a name to recognize the Front Yard Bike. But so to speak, I'm not the engine that does it. I would like to share one last thing. If you're curious what this really looks please go and check out CNN Heroes. We've got a great feature out there that was done last month, and it shows our students working with their hands, using their tools, and taking their bikes for transportation, and you can really get a close up look of what that's all about.

Pepper Roussel: I'm slow, but I'm sure I had no idea that this started in your front yard actually building bikes. And so the fact that I've just put this together, it makes me feel a little silly. But looking at some of these other phases, nobody knew that either. Okay. Thank you the three of you for sharing this information. I've got one question in the chat that I wanna ask before we move on to a couple of questions about built environment and accessibility. How can we access the free bikes? Are there any for adults? And questions about donating bikes how does that work for guessing that's just for you, Dustin.

Dustin LaFont: Yeah. Very quickly, the bikes that we have for kids ages six to 24, they come and they earn it by doing service hours. They select the bike that needs to be repaired. They repair it with their own hands, learning the tools and the way to do so they don't need us in the future if they can keep on fixing it. And for adults, we do have a Pay It Forward program here in our Mid City location. So we started a retail shop here on Government Street to sell some of our bikes, to generate revenue, to make jobs for our older students who still needed employment in a place to get experience. So the Pay It Forward program gets a referral opportunity from people potentially in groups of addiction or with housing needs or other major assistance, they can be referred that they're in a program and all they need is a bike and we provide that free of charge as long as they're within the program that's assisting them. Now anybody else who's an adult who wants to buy a bike for really cheap but still contribute to the program, you come to our shop on Government Street in Baton Rouge, purchase them and it'll help young people have jobs and continue this transportation model.

Pepper Roussel: Awesome. Question. This question is broad and it's there's a part in it for everybody. When we talk about cities and city planning and being very intentional about how it is that we can get to the services that we need, there are always folks who are pedestrian. Now whether that is that you have access to a bike on a regular basis so that it's not just this hard slog walking somewhere is debatable at times, but each of you has brought to the table this moment of we are changing the way that folks see and integrate how can we be more intentional when we are expanding cities to integrate different methods of transportation so that we can get the food. We all know that we don't have grocery stores in every neighborhood, but what do we need to do in order to ensure that as we build out that we are including as many people as possible?

Elizabeth Wattley: So I think that's a really tough question cuz it's really difficult to do. One thing that we've experienced a lot in our community is fatigue planning. South Dallas has gone through a series of city plans of community plans. I think full plans around 2000, 2010 that are saying we're going to have these same improvements over time. And it's taking those plans and transitioning them into action. And then ensuring that those people are actually included in the conversation. One thing particular about the same highway, I was looking at an article from 2010 where the community was saying, let us go down to four lanes instead of six so we can have reclaimed land that we can use to develop so we can have more accessibility around bike trails. So I'm like, Wow, people spoke up, people said what they wanted for their communities, and here I am looking at a six lane highway that's coming. Voices completely ignored through the study, through the work, but I wonder if those same conversations were happening if it would be the same results. I will say I do think the city is listening differently. I think there's different pressures to rise to the occasion of listening to the community voice. And so I say take advantage of that piece because that's where we're seeing a lot of movement and transition is people being heard as they scream from the rooftops and is different years ago that has been documented. So I think that's a tough question because that takes a lot of city participation to truly see results in. But it is possible, and I think especially now in today's age.

Pepper Roussel: Thank you for that answer, Elizabeth. So when I ask some of these questions I'm asking because I don't want people to think that we haven't done it because it's easy to do and somebody just needed to go and ask. This is really about understanding from our individual perspectives, how much work is there, right? And what is it that we can do in order to get to the end game the work that folks have been doing for. Around bike lanes, right? So something as simple as a bike lane and making sure that as you're riding your bike, that you're not, you deliberately in harm's way has been a slog. And, I'm not a huge bike rider. I tried riding a bike I wanna say three years ago when the pandemic started and I thought I was gonna die half a block in. I turned around and walked my bike back and just walked the rest of the way. But we've got a question from the audience.

Casey Phillips: Just real quick, Pepper. Tina, did you want to jump in?

Tina Ufford: I just wanna jump in for two seconds on that because one of the things that I've told a couple of legislature people whenever I have an ear, is there is an unseen army of people, many people that I have seen personally and gotten to know for a short amount of time that have come into this town and bounced right out of this town, because that infrastructure is not there. And so sometimes when we're having these conversations about which comes first, the chicken or the egg, build it and they will come or produce this army of people in Baton Rouge that are demanding safe bike transportation. I will tell you from direct knowledge and experience that that army of people has been here in Baton Rouge and a lot of them have moved on through. We have lost amazing people because of that lack of infrastructure. That is the truth.

Casey Phillips: True story. Marcella, Hey, good morning Marcella. Would you like to jump in?

Marcela Hernandez: Hi. Good morning. So for those who know I'm from Colombia, South America, specifically from Bogota City. And some of the initiatives that has been created in my city have been that there's two amazing things. One, they actually develop a whole bike ride avenue around all of the entire metropolitan city that is available for everyone to ride their bikes and especially trying to get down the traffic issue and environmental situations. But also on Sundays we have the bike day so people from all around they close some main avenues and some main streets and everybody goes and bike. It's Sundays from, I believe, six o'clock to two o'clock. And and I just wanted to bring this up because it is possible, and I'm just wondering if there has ever been an initiative like this. I've seen right here on Government the green area that has been allocated, but I don't think I've ever I've seen it in other places of the city. And I'm just wondering if there has ever been an initiative to do a maybe a one day at a month or at a year? The low car day or like the just the bike day. There have ever been something like this and it's, so are there any upcoming projects? How can we support.

Dustin LaFont: I could be happy to talk on that one. Years ago there was an event called Critical Mass, which was just a lot of people organizing, predominantly university students and many others, but it would match hundreds of people riding their bike all in the same direction. By means legal, but also by means, a protest that the road should be accessible and not need a hundred people on one street creating traffic because they don't have a bike lane, but it is the law you must ride in the street. And that's on Acadian. On Segan. For those of you don't know, that is the law on hurricanes. Wherever you are, you're supposed to be in the street and you're not allowed to be in the sidewalk. I know Bike Baton Rouge talks that a lot larger. But something I will say is it's fantastic Marcella, the culture of your community, and I have been privileged to go visit my sister in Calcutta, India. And I wanna say this to all of you, and I know I get people irritated when I say it, they don't have infrastructure. There's not painted lines. There's not a bunch of sidewalks. The road is just one that goes between the ground to the house and that's the road. But there is a culture of movement. There's an expectation and identification of how we travel. So though we push very hard for these infrastructure things to happen, the thing that we control right here and right now is to one, not quit on trying to ride and trying to do it in groups, trying to do it as a community and making events such as a bunch of kids in South Baton Rouge riding a bike every Friday, regardless of what the infrastructure allows. And that begins to have a cultural shift in a different expectation for our city to where they start to envision that and hopefully dream as so many people doing this, we need to maybe do more. Chuck would Geaux Ride downtown has done a fantastic job with making a business where he is riding.

Casey Phillips: I love bike riding and civil disobedience. I'll take that away in my heart today for that method. It hasn't occurred to me, but it's good to hear it again. Elizabeth. There was a comment chat from Chris who works at the chamber about the idea of the partnerships with the healthcare district and maybe healthcare providers. Innovative things that you've seen that happen either through the hospitals or the Medicaid providers. Would you like to speak on any of that?

Elizabeth Wattley: Sure. So I think there is some innovation happening throughout the city of how to bring digital healthcare to the community where people. Go to mobile units for healthcare accessibility. They've also worked to extend SNAP programs. So for example, SNAP is now accepted at the farmer's market. But it's still not enough. We need a lot of physical space, physical clinics in our communities and I think, that's a critical piece to our neighborhood revitalization and really enhancing the healthcare that's provided to, to. Through food accessibility and transportation as well. There is movement happening, but we still have more work to do.

Casey Phillips: Yeah. Amen. And Ms. Nickla Hallan just jumped off from EBR schools. I wanted to lift up that I'm seeing a very interesting movement with Parkland Hospital here in Dallas, which, is their community hospital much the way that the Baton Rouge general serves our community. But Parkland has done some really interesting, innovative things on opening physical health centers in community centers and in schools. And I think that there needs to be more. I keep coming back to schools were built with tax dollars, they're ours. Community centers were built with our tax dollars. Their ours, and the folks that are running schools and community centers are about the community. And they are some of the best partners in every neighborhood that we have. And I believe that a real push and movement towards mental and physical health centers inside of these facilities would make all the difference in the world, especially from an accessibility and transportation standpoint, because they are within a 10 minute walk or bike every day, all day, right?

Pepper Roussel: What I wanted to circle back to this whole idea of planning fatigue. There are a lot of us who are in these spaces who are doing a lot of work and we are tired, right? And so I wanna make sure to lift that up and to give a little hug to everybody who is on the call to let you know that we appreciate all the work that you do. How can we or what makes sense in so far as making food accessible through walking or biking or what have you. Is that advocating for more grocery stores? Is that urban farming? Is that container grow in your backyard? Is that bringing farmers markets? Everybody's got a different perspective, but I wanna hear yours. So how do we get food to folks divided by a highway or may live super far or maybe cannot carry 50 pounds of groceries on a bike.

Tina Ufford: I know the Red Shoes where I teach yoga a couple days a week at 8:00 AM, they have a community fridge now, and I've seen a couple more community fridges pop up recently and I feel depending on their location, they are a pretty good means of getting food directly to people who need it and know where the community Fridge is, and it seems at least with the Red Shoes crowd, a really easy thing to like grab hold of because a lot of people don't quite feel comfortable handing money or things out the window to a lot of the people that are asking for stuff on the streets and in the intersections. Conversely, I know some awesome children who demand that their parents make little goodie bag with a $5 bill and a coconut water and a protein bar or something in Ziploc bags in the back of the car so that they can hand somebody something clean, safe, easy, hand off, out the window. And so not that's impossible, but just that food needs to be refrigerated. If you're handing out cans of food, it needs to be opened and all the tiny little details of things that we just don't, those of us who have kitchens accessible 24 7, we just don't think of. If it is something that you are, it's in food that you're handing to someone, it needs to be able to be eaten right now. And it doesn't need a can. Of course canned food is awesome. Frozen food is even more awesome. And those fridges have a regular refrigerator, it has a fridge space and it has a freezer space. And if you've got the electricity available to do something like that. , I feel like that's a really, maybe not as perfect, of course, but it's a good, it's a good, another good little bridge on this gap.

Dustin LaFont: I'll share quickly. I think those ideas of community fridges and soup kitchens, a lot of these spaces have great intention, but you have to have relationships. Hunger isn't an invisible, faceless person. It's someone I know. I know their name. I see them daily. I know their family. I knowso much more about this individual and food is one thing and learning about their barriers and everything else has a lot of depth. So while I do agree that it's fantastic to have these resources without building relationships and having opportunity for community and to learn voice and learn need and greater depth, we won't necessarily see an ecosystem. I feel like Casey and you guys talk about this so much, developing an ecosystem where this is consistently taking place and has sustainability and it won't just be a forever dependence on food showing up in this way with an actual reliable process. Something that I learned so much about during the pandemic when we were getting food dropped off at our park, but we had informed the kids to stop coming and we felt the need to start delivering 200 meals a day to our kids at their doorstep to make sure they received it and it wasn't going to waste. And they just see the actual other circumstances of a mother of five with five plates to carry how many blocks to her house from the park. What if it rains? So many other elements that then began to educate us. But we were able to have those names and faces and relationships to build on and found out they didn't have wifi, didn't have so many other information. And so when you think about this and transportation and what's possible, there's a lot of wonderful ideas that could happen. I tried to sell Casey on us biking groceries, door to door for people. I said, that'd be a really cool after school job for some of my students to bike some farmer's market goods that have been assembled for a meal. But it's there, it's just a matter of building the ecosystem and being dedicated to build community so that one day everybody we're working with doesn't need us to find.

Casey Phillips: And Dustin we haven't had a chance to connect, but I resurrected your idea on Wednesday, and I believe that I have found someone who is very interested in your idea. So if you get a random phone call from a really enthusiastic human being that has the resources to actually make your idea into a reality, don't be surprised. This is how I work. Elizabeth, reach back to your days at City Square. I can tell you that the folks, most of the folks on this call, I don't think have a, they just don't have the frame of reference in understanding what City Square is. It's almost impossible to put into words until you actually physically see it. Yeah. And understand the people say wrap around services we have some magic wand and you just make magic happen. Wrap around Wraparound is probably one of the deepest and most difficult side of the social services. And it really builds on what dust just said, relationships, human beings.

Elizabeth Wattley: Sure. So I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but I would like to reach back even further to my days at Paul Point College. So Paul Quinn, the only historically black college in Dallas. And while I was there, I was able to transform the unused football field into an organic. And so we had two acres of fresh food. This was in response directly to food accessibility and not being able to get a grocery store in our neighborhood. We could not get a big box grocer to come. It's all about margins and sustainability. And so we had this beautiful farm. It certainly became this community anchor and hub, but over time I realized a big part of food accessibility is changing. And that is something that you have to find a different way to respond to, if that makes sense. Like people are consistently ingrained the way systems are set up of, I go to the grocery store to get food. There's no grocery store in my community. And then when you have a farm, no matter how big it is, it's still limited in options of what you can buy, right? Like we did tons of varieties of bets and a spinach and everything that you could imagine there on the farm, but it still had its limit. And then when I was continuing this work, I realized it then also had limits on the population of quantity that it gets served right? And then when you're growing you can only really have a harvest season for so long. So as I started to look at it, I think it's how Tina said, of having these different grassroot opportunities that are very systemized across our community and neighborhoods. And those certainly rely on relat. That are required. So I think about food often, and I think of a neighborhood revitalization work. Restoring a historic theater is hard, but food accessibility is specifically difficult in my mind because it has so many different layers and so many different fronts that have to be addressed that people don't. Fully taken a holistic approach cuz it's difficult. And if you were born and raised to go to the grocery store every single day, then that's just how it's gonna go. And now, you go to some food pantries or opportunities and they were say, Okay, we're gonna infuse help me food. And you got quinoa and Bo Choi that consider continues to get passed over because that's not a familiar food to people. People don't want to eat nor know how to cook quinoa. That's just a thing. So I think that this conversation is intriguing because it's such a hard thing that's embedded in history and equity and everything else to address. And then just then speak forward to my next gig at City Square wraparound Services, same thing, very difficult to provide Force Forward was to provide wraparound services to our school, MLK Arts Academy, and they're so vast. We try to put together systems, okay? We want food security to be addressed. We want healthcare to be addressed, and then we'll get a random call like we're gonna be evicted. Okay? So now we're addressing housing security. And so there's rock around. Service are so robust and what does that mean? And how do we start solving through partnership? Forestor does not look to recreate the will in this. So we do a lot of work through collab collaboration and how to bring people that are already doing the work well to our neighborhood and community to solve some of those issues.

Casey Phillips: Yeah. Thank you, Elizabeth. Been. Appreciate you. I put it in the chat earlier folks, I said there's a lot of, there's a lot of movement, not just movement. The magic's happening at the Lincoln Theater which is in some ways a sister project to the forest for in Old South Baton Rouge and. You have Anthony Kimball as an intentional developer with buy Black Baton Rouge with all the, from the housing standpoint for the business and job creation standpoint, the cultural asset redevelopment, the partnership with br, the partnerships with the schools, all of this stuff takes time in constant monitoring and changing and adjusting. And as, and then, folks, if you haven't revisited the Lincoln, Project in a while, it would be a really great time to check in with them because it's going to be paramount in the reactivation of Old South, in the middle of our city. And and Dustin obviously has a heart for Old South and and many of us on the call do so Elizabeth's a great path thought partner on that firm too. David, I saw you popped onto the camera. You you got something that you would like to lift up.

David Beach: I would like to lift up the whole darn call. I think you guys are really leading just a great conversation today and appreciating all the different shout outs and, I'm just, it's just triggering so many things about some stuff that, we said we wanted to do with Dustin and, I think this is a great conversation that's gonna move our community in a positive direction If we can capitalize on some of the topics that are being.

Casey Phillips: Awesome. Thank you David. And Tom, I see you're you're active in the chat. If there's if there's anything that you would like to to lift up or just stay, written, that's fine. I just wanna give you that space as well.

Thomas Donley: Good morning, everybody. Sorry I was fumbling for that mute button. Obviously this is something very close to my hearts, been fortunate enough to live without a car for six years, and knowing how that not only lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol and all the general health benefits, but also how you become a more patient person and every morning being able to hold your child's hand as you walk 'em to daycare instead of putting 'em in the back of a car. And yeah, just can, cannot under, don't under value the benefits of using your Chevro-legs and hopping on a bike every morning.

Casey Phillips: Chevro-legs for civil disobedience. Yes. Tina, we Tina needed a little boost of enthusiasm, I think today, and she just got it. I love that. Anybody else who would like to come that anybody would like to come off mute and maybe share any thoughts to this conversation before we move to community announce? Tina and Elizabeth and Dustin, y'all are amazing and we'd like to create that same space for you all to be able to say anything that you have gotten to say. That would be a good cue. Tina, Elizabeth, and Dustin, and y'all would like to jump in real quick and say anything that you haven't said and we'll respect the rest of your days and your time.

Elizabeth Wattley: Sure. I'd just like to say thanks absolutely for having me. I always enjoy having conversations. Move the ball forward and how we can work together to make real progress. And if you're ever in Dallas, I don't know who's in Dallas side or who's not on the call here but feel free to stop by sending South Dallas and come check us out at the Forest Theater. We are doing tours right now and hopefully we'll be not to be doing tours soon because we'll be in construction in 2023.

David: Having seen Elizabeth's work firsthand in the work of that community, it is phenomenal. And there's just so much potential and excitement around what they're doing in City Square. Like you said, Casey is an awesome organization that supported this effort from its get-go, but now they're independent and they're growing and they're doing wonderful things. Elizabeth, thank you for spending some of your time with us

Elizabeth Wattley: thanks. Thanks. Thanks for coming to visit us. Yeah, it's fun.

Tina Ufford: just a reminder that Cranksgiving is November 20th, and I would love to see anybody there that's interested in any way in any of those things. Grocery shopping on bikes, grocery shopping bikes, donating to. Food bank and you don't have to participate at all. You can just show up at the park, by the dog park on the 20th and come hang out, and continue these kind of conversations. The other cool part about the biking community, the bike BR community, the critical mass community, the Go ride community, the mountain biking community, the front yard bike community that ride, like all these, even within the bike world, there are all these different little communities and because I tend to be a party planner, I've tried to, get these communities together whenever I can with group rides and stuff like that, but, The cool part, one of the cool parts that weaves us all together is that we constantly are having these kind of conversations while on our bikes at these community rides. So if you are a person like Pepper, who wants to ride, but on your own, it's intimidating. Believe me, even having just five people with you makes it less intimidating. The more people, the less intimidating, and I love hearing about like when we learned what we know about how to ride, you know that, Is it legal or not on the sidewalks? Technically not legal. And do you ride with traffic or against traffic? You are traffic. You are transporting yourself. So you are traffic and you deserve to have your own space on the road. If it's not designated that bikes go right here. I encourage everybody to just show up. Just show up at front yard bikes. You don't need to, you don't need to want a bike or know how to fix a bike or wanna buy a bike. You can just show up and hang out and watch these kids amaze you with how stoked they are and how much they know about bikes and stuff, and community and all of that. All of these things just showing up to these places. I know that in the past people have been a little intimidated by something like critical. Or bike Baton Rouge or even just witnessing somebody who's got 50 pounds of groceries on their bike, feeling like they're not the same. That's not me. That's not the way I wanna ride. That's not how I can exist in this world. But we're more the same than we are different. And we all want our own sovereignty and we all wanna move ourselves around, and we all want to eat food. Surely a conversation can get started on one of those three points, anytime with any person that you encounter. And yeah, I love this. I love this community. I have always been completely overwhelmed by what is being talked about and how many of y'all show up for this call. I am so excited to have been invited and I'm going to just, this is like such a huge thing for my day, stuck in the hospital with a mom. Has a lot of dietary issues and we're here. This is day 11. And yeah, this has just been fantastic for me. So feel free to contact me about anything, anytime, and you know where I live, , and where I, what I do. And you know where I'm gonna be on November 20th. Love y'all so much.

Dustin LaFont: I would just say thanks. Thanks everybody. Tina thinking about you and lastly to know that there's a lot of kids and adults problem solving their daily needs on bikes and walking all the time. They have names and great stories, and they're very creative about how they figured it out. My favorite guy rides is weeder to yard and does his work on his bike and he deserves a whole cut out. A magazine to talk about how'd you do it? How'd you figure out your business on that bicycle? But he did. Learn these names and faces and people Teach us how we can better build our city.

Zoom Chat

08:30:19 From Helena Williams to Waiting Room Participants:

We’re are seconds from opening!

08:31:13 From Helena Williams to Everyone:

We got shirts @Flitcher!

08:37:48 From staci mitchell to Everyone:

Hello Everyone,

08:38:07 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Greetings Staci!

08:38:13 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:

Morning! Made it!

08:38:22 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Dr. Scales...welcome

08:38:37 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:

Thank you, sir!

08:40:18 From Marcela Hernandez. LMSW to Everyone:

Good morning! yes! I do that!

08:40:52 From Carl Motsenbocker to Everyone:

Thanks Tina!

08:41:05 From Alexis Phillips (she/her) to Everyone:

You are amazing Tina

08:41:10 From Marcela Hernandez. LMSW to Everyone:

Awesome topic!!

08:41:52 From Samantha Morgan to Everyone:

If you'd like to understand where the phrase "yeah bike" came from, here's a story I wrote about it:

08:43:01 From Tristi Charpentier | HAWF (she/her) to Everyone:

More information on Purpose Built Communities:

08:43:10 From Tina Ufford to Everyone:

CRANKSGIVING Is Nov. 20, City-Brooks community park 9:30-12:30.

08:43:31 From Tristi Charpentier | HAWF (she/her) to Everyone:

And Forest Forward:

08:43:45 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

BR peeps, think about the Lincoln Theatre in OSBR as the direct parallel to the Forest Theatre in So. Dallas

08:44:36 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

And happy 11/11/22 everyone…this is a magical day

08:45:01 From K M to Everyone:

All the 11/11/11 babies turn 11 today!

08:45:21 From One Rouge to Everyone:

^^^how fun!

08:45:41 From David Beach l Wilson Foundation to Everyone:

Hey Elizabeth! So excited for the wins you are earning!

08:48:26 From Alexis Phillips (she/her) to Everyone:

Thank you Elizabeth! Inspired by your work in my hometown

08:49:01 From Elizabeth Wattley - Forest Forward to Everyone:

Thanks, David! Glad to "see" you here -- we are making progress!

08:50:05 From Marcela Hernandez. LMSW to Everyone:

I'm having a hard time teaching my 4yold girl to bike! So much to learn from you guys!

08:50:12 From One Rouge to Everyone:

“radius of opportunity” i like that

08:53:24 From Carl Motsenbocker to Everyone:

Thanks Dustin. Great effort here in BTR!

08:53:25 From Marcela Hernandez. LMSW to Everyone:

How we can access thise free bikes? Are there any for adults?

08:54:11 From Summer Dann La STEM Reg II to Everyone:

You can donate bikes to FYB give kids an opportunity to fix and clean up and have their own bikes

08:54:22 From Alexis Phillips (she/her) to Everyone:

Thank you to the speakers, y’all are true leaders we are lucky to learn from.

08:55:28 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

08:55:48 From Marcela Hernandez. LMSW to Everyone:


09:00:10 From Chris Spalatin | BRAC to Everyone:

In Dallas, have you had any success working with healthcare providers when it comes to food insecurity? There are often policy conversations about using medicaid for food prescriptions or expanding SNAP

09:00:22 From Summer Dann La STEM Reg II to Everyone:

Its scary riding a bike around Baton Rouge! I have ended up riding on sidewalks…

09:02:10 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

09:02:30 From One Rouge to Everyone:

What is the rule on that? Are bikes supposed to ride on the street or on the sidewalk? Asking cause I really don’t know

09:03:17 From One Rouge to Everyone:

09:03:18 From Helena Williams to Everyone:

Urban sprawl also makes it difficult for biking to work

09:03:30 From Tina Ufford to Everyone:

Baton Rouge is represented in the Critical Mass 25th anniversary book

09:04:27 From Kim Mosby, Vera Institute of Justice to Everyone:

@Pepper In New Orleans, riding on the sidewalk is illegal. Not sure about BR.

09:04:31 From Thomas Donley to Everyone:

We lived in a large car-centric city that does a car-free Sunday twice a year. It was everybody’s favorite days of the year.

09:05:03 From Nichola Hall to Everyone:

great content! have to was a pleasure to hang with y'all :)

09:05:34 From One Rouge to Everyone:

Thanks, y’all When I was little, you were supposed to ride against traffic. But now I think it is supposed to be with traffic. I have seen folks on the sidewalk, but didn’t know whether that was something else that has changed.

09:06:13 From Flitcher R. Bell to Everyone:

Don't think BR has a direct statute or law against public sidewalks, but out of convenience and safety that is why more bike lanes are being created.

09:06:20 From One Rouge to Everyone:

09:07:49 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

In schools! Right? Everything Dustin is doing IN SCHOOLS!

09:08:01 From Dustin LaFont W/FYB to Everyone:

Ride where ever you can and being seen will encourage change/infrastructure. We teach our students the laws and then to ride where they feel SAFE. But don't stop riding.

09:08:12 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:

It's our money!

09:08:59 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:

Not just us. Our communities are tired

09:09:49 From One Rouge to Everyone:

^^^ Fair!

09:12:02 From Chelsea Johnson to Everyone:

that is so good Tina, did really think about that! Thank you

09:12:17 From Chelsea Johnson to Everyone:

typo didn't really think about that

09:14:58 From Erin White to Everyone:

We have the same issue with diapers, baby items needed in the community—OneBReath Project

09:16:02 From Erin White to Everyone:

WiFi hotspots are now available through the library

09:16:09 From Summer Dann La STEM Reg II to Everyone:


09:16:18 From One Rouge to Everyone:

that was YOU?!?!?!? OMG! I’ve had a crush on you FOREVER!

09:16:44 From Tristi Charpentier | HAWF (she/her) to Everyone:

@Erin - Junior League operates a Diaper Bank. Contact them about joining their partner agency list.

09:17:37 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

Indoor vertical farming is essential part of the food shed ecosystem -

09:18:07 From One Rouge to Everyone:

who is eating that?

09:18:10 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:

There's also a lot to be said for changing people's relationship with food, particularly when it comes from a scarcity mindset

09:19:31 From Thomas Donley to Everyone:

For an example on how NOT to do community gardens at public schools, look into Elon Musk’s brother’s massive failure in Denver Public Schools.

09:19:56 From Morgan Udoh (She/Her/They) to Everyone:

Solutions are going to have to be specific to each area/neighborhood to be effective. Large scale solutions tend to leave folks behind.

09:20:27 From Erin White to Everyone: is working to bring together resources for the Black community in BR

09:20:29 From Helena Williams to Everyone:

100% Morgan, street-by-street, neighborhood by neighborhood

09:20:58 From Dustin LaFont W/FYB to Everyone:

The Southside Casey! 4s forever!

09:22:01 From One Rouge to Everyone:


09:23:01 From to Everyone:

Thanks so much!!!

09:23:09 From Chelsea Johnson to Everyone:

Thanks to everyone!!

09:23:18 From Katrina Ward to Everyone:

This was such a good conversation to hear this morning… all the struggles we face daily moving towards our goals —- to hear all the good makes it worth it! Thank you!!

09:24:15 From Patrick Tuck to Everyone:

These bike ride calls always take me back to my Canadian childhood! Oh Canada! :-)

09:24:38 From Thomas Donley to Everyone:

Bike Polo community!

09:24:42 From Katrina Ward to Everyone:

Is there a flier for Cranksgiving?

09:27:27 From Alexis Phillips (she/her) to Everyone:

We love you Tina

09:28:55 From Alexis Phillips (she/her) to Everyone:

Thank you Elizabeth, Dustin, and Tina. So insightful.

09:29:02 From Chris Spalatin | BRAC to Everyone:

Awesome call today. Inspired to tackle the day!

09:29:14 From David Beach l Wilson Foundation to Everyone:

Happy Veteran's Day to everyone! 🇺🇲

09:29:18 From Lindi Rubin Spalatin to Everyone:

This was a wonderful conversation. See y'all next week. Off to another meeting.

Community Announments

Samantha Morgan: Since we're talking about bikes, it's not this weekend, but I would like to invite all of you to join me every Monday night at the Electric Depot. I host a weekly bike ride called the Downtown East Social Ride. The whole point of the ride is much to what we spoke to today. It's getting people comfortable riding on bikes. If you're not comfortable riding on a bike on the streets in baton, You're not alone. And there's a group of people that will ride with you and make you feel a lot safer. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll feel and you'll start to realize that it's not as scary as you thought it was. Right now, it's dark at night, so we're riding at night. So the only requirement is that you bring lights with you. That is the Louisiana law. So if you don't have a bike I know a dude that sells them for pretty cheap. I, What is it? What is it? Front yard bikes was the name, I think. Yeah. Yeah, you could go check that out. He'll get you all hooked up and suited up with a nice bike. There are also Gotcha bikes at Electric Depot but they're not always there, be warned. They may or may not be there, but yeah, we're there every Monday, six o'clock. We leave at six 15. That is the rule of bikes. You always leave 15 minutes late. No bike ride starts on time. .

13 views0 comments


bottom of page