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Monday, Nov. 5, 2018

Who Are We And Where Are We Going?

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Time to figure this out, together.

“Where Louisiana dissolves into the piney woods of East Texas.”– John T. Edge, “True South.”

First and foremost, if you haven’t seen the Shreveport episode of “True South,” do yourself a favor. This was a line that stuck out after a rough weekend full of long nights of work and broken plumbing. And as my last event wrapped up early one morning, this sentiment just really had me fired up. Even from an outsider, the identity of Shreveport as part of Louisiana just doesn’t stick. We’re here, we follow its laws, pay its taxes and Napoleon-the-hell out of its Code. But you know what? They are right.

We aren’t part of the identity “they” created (in southern Louisiana). So it’s time for us to establish our (own unique) identity. Not a part of some bigger whole. Not wishing we were New Orleans or Dallas. Our home. I have fought for years to establish something bigger than myself in my hometown. And so many days I wake up and ask myself why I am doing this. I talk about what it would be like if we moved, or if we went somewhere and lived our lives differently.

I’m guilty of self-loathing this place. I’m the first to tell you this city is all talk. I’m the first to tell you it’s not worth it. I’m the first to shake an angry fist at Youree Drive “chain-land” after a slow week at the shop. Ultimately, I’m just wearing out – and I know so many other small business owners that feel this. But if this is the place we call home, then we have to fight for it with everything we’ve got.

I say all this on my little digital iPhone-shaped soapbox because I need your energy, too. I need us all to support one another and to have pride in each other if nothing else. No, I can’t excuse the crime problem, I can’t excuse the failing schools, I can’t excuse systemic corruption. These are all things that can only change by electing new and fresh faces.

But if you need hope, then find it in the friends we have left in this place, putting their hearts and wallets into businesses they dedicate their lives to. Paying salaries, buying local goods, putting on events and supporting the myriad of organizations that help those that can’t help themselves. No, don’t support local just because it’s local. Support comes in many forms, and being a customer is just one. If a local business is doing something right or wrong, kindly let them know in person, so they can keep it up or make a change.

The identity of this city is in its people. And sadly, our amazing people have been our greatest export. Let’s build our identity on the hard-working folks we have in our hometown. Let’s build something we can all have pride in and show the resilience of that disenfranchised corner the capital forgot. Here’s to you, Port City.

Blake Jackson is the owner and executive chef at Whisk Dessert Bar and Drake Catering. This piece is reprinted from his Facebook post with his permission.


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