Shreveport’ s Pride
‘Shape of Shreveport’ exposes more history to pinpoint cultural identifier
Episodes 5-8 of “The Shape of Shreveport” dig deeper into the city’s history, shining a spotlight on significant moments. This includes digging into the local past of legends like folk and blues musician Huddie “Lead Belly” Leadbetter, places like Barksdale Air Force Base and historical battles like the Civil War.
Brothers Will and Jim Broyles are part of the team that created the series and plan to release the next four episodes for a showing 7 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Historic Strand Theatre.
“We were a city that wasn’t burnt like the rest of the South,” Will said. “Why are we so unique?” Overall, though, the series continues to build on what Shreveport is and where the city and its residents are going.
For Will, the city and region is stalled, and it needs people and their energy to grow it.
But how? “If you’re going to drive from ‘A’ to ‘B,’ you have to know where to start. We don’t even know where ‘A’ is,” Will said.
Will and Jim didn’t set out to chronicle Shreveport’s history. The brothers stumbled upon the idea after the death of their grandfather. And what began as a search for family identity turned into a spotlight on a community and region.
“There’s a dark side you find out about ... a resilient side. It’s intriguing,” Will said about the discoveries made in researching “The Shape of Shreveport” series.
Then there are the discoveries that personally impacted or surprised the brothers Broyles as well as their collaborators, Chris Lyon (producer) and Chris Charles Scott (director).
Will: “I was surprised to learn about our early history.
From the Caddo Tribe to Henry Shreve, we started as innovators in this area. A few places down the road we continued that, but after the crash of oil and gas in the ’80s we flatly stopped innovating.
“I hope our history inspires us to get back to the roots we have that were good and we should learn from.”
Jim: “The eagerness of the people of Shreveport to learn about the city’s history really caught me off guard. More than wanting to watch local films, Shreveport’s residents are devouring them and then asking for more.
“The people we meet are almost saying, ‘We’ve been waiting for this and are ready for more.’ People are also going beyond the film, beyond the history, and now thinking about creating their own mark on the city, a change of expectations for the city.
“That change can be a monumental task and requires short-, mid- and long-range vision. Shreveport is extremely competitive with other cities in the area with a charming character and a low cost of living, but it has not reached its potential yet – what has surprised me the most is that the critical mass of people wanting to reach that potential is most certainly here.”
Lyon: “What surprised me most was the level to which everything is impacted by one another.
“We see very clearly in this next set of films how different aspects of society push and pull on one another. Understanding relationships and causality is extremely important when looking to build a better city.”
Scott: “I have learned that Shreveport is the embodiment of the adage that ... It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent but the ones most responsive to change. The town can adapt.
“During every significant phase of America’s economic peaks, Shreveport has played a contributing role. When our country’s economy was primarily agrarian and rural, Shreveport was a booming economic farming and cotton hub.
“During the oil boom era, Shreveport was the epicenter for domestic drilling. Post WWII, the economy shifted to an industrial, manufacturing-based economy, Shreveport adapted and attracted major factories to town.
“Within every era, Shreveport uniquely found a way to play a role and be a significant hub of commerce during that particular time.
“Will Shreveport be able to do the same during this new knowledge-based and technologically driven era? I don’t know. But it has shown evidence that it can adapt to the time.”
Ultimately, for Will, the goal is to “keep people culturally identified.”
It’s a cultural education he thinks will help Shreveport’s younger generation step up and lead.
“The excitement is there and there are a lot more people who want to see change,” Will said.
Uncovering that cultural identity appeals to Lindsay Nations. She enjoyed the first four episodes and was struck by “how much more there is for me to learn about my hometown.”
And Nations is not just a hometown girl. She, along with her husband, Andrew Nations, founded Great Raft Brewing, a brewery that is now selling its product across the state.
As a business person, Lindsay admitted, “There’s nothing about Shreveport that makes it seem like a great place to start a business.”
But, she continued, Shreveport is her hometown and the place where she wanted to start.
When the brewery owners began shaping their business, they ran into a lot of “red tape.” This was mainly due to the city’s unfamiliarity with laws and regulations surrounding breweries.
But, the couple did not give up on Shreveport, they worked with city leaders and succeeded. Now the 2-year-old brewery is listed as Louisiana’s best brewery by Thrillist Media Group.
“We had to do a lot of education [and] heavy lifting,” Lindsay said, about Great Raft’s early beginnings.
Lindsay said she appreciated the “heavy lifting” of Will and his crew to bring Shreveport’s good and bad into the mainstream.
“It’s not all rainbows,” she said of the city’s past. “ ... But having the big picture is super important in order to get the lay of the land.”
As for her interest for the next installment, Lindsay said, “We will be there ... For this one, we’ll be taking out the entire staff.
“I look forward to learning all the different histories.”
For more information on ‘The Shape of Shreveport’, go to www.shapeofshreveport.com.