Changing Who I Will Be

I grew up in the deep south: Lake Charles, Louisiana (LA) to be exact, which is about a 50 minute drive to the Gulf of Mexico. I never thought much about race or racism, because for no other reason than I was a child. I knew of tension between white and black folks, but I didn’t really concern myself because I wasn’t “racist” . . . because I was nice to everyone. I honestly believed that.

At 18, I moved with my parents to Shreveport, LA which was approximately 3 hours due north and which seemed like a world away. The next year Shreveport became a racially charged hot spot. Between August and December 1988, three black Northwest Louisiana men had been killed by white people. 17 year old Darren Martin was shot in the parking lot of a Shreveport restaurant in August by a 19 year old white man. In September, David McKinney was shot by a 17 year old white girl looking to purchase drugs in Cedar Grove which sparked a riot in the neighborhood for two days. Buildings were burned, rocks were thrown and the police cordoned off the neighborhood. In December, Loyal Garner, Jr (a Florien man) was beaten to death during an arrest for drunk driving in Hemphill, TX. Three law officers were charged, but later found innocent. I tell you about these events because as a 19 year old, I was terrified. I didn’t really follow the stories at the time to understand that white people had been killing black people. All I saw when I watched the news was angry black people burning and looting things in the city that I lived. I didn’t understand or feel compelled to understand. My whiteness allowed that. I was scared of the actions of the black people. I didn’t educate myself to see what was happening. I just thought I had moved to the scariest place in Louisiana, but, I didn’t think I was racist. I locked my car doors if I was alone and a black man walked by. I clutched my purse tighter when a black man was walking towards me. I wasn’t racist, I was just being cautious. UGH, so wrong!

Over the years, I lived in my bubble of unknown/unacknowledged, white privilege. Heck, I didn’t even know the words “white privilege”. I still lived under the assumption that I was a nice person because I was nice to everyone. I couldn’t be racist, because I had black friends. It wasn’t until my late 40’s that I started to acknowledge that things weren’t quite right. I started reading and educating myself about race issues. A book by Catrice Jackson, “Antagonist, Advocates and Allies: The Wake Up Call Guide for White Women Who Want to Become Allies with Black Womenโ€, helped open my eyes to the unintentional racism that I, as a white woman, had been perpetuating. It was a start. In 2016, I was attending the Shreveport Mayor’s Women’s Commission Style Show Luncheon when a friend of mine Krystle Beauchamp started having a conversation about race. I had mentioned that I recently learned that it wasn’t appropriate to ask black people to teach me. Krystle, being Krystle, said I could always ask her anything. I still remember that to this day, but try to respect that I need to educate myself. She then told me about a 6-week Dialogue on Race class given by the YWCA. She thought that I might benefit from attending. I signed up that week to attend. In early 2017 I attended my first Dialogue on Race session and my lie fwas forever changed. I have come to realize unintentionality is no excuse for my actions. I can not change who I was, but I can change who I will be. The silence and inactions of my life are dangerous to people of color and have to change if I am to help stop the continuance of racism. Racism is only going to change if white people take a stand. We must learn to listen, and listen to learn.

This past week, George Floyd was murdered by police officers who ignored his pleas to breathe. I can never unsee and unhear Mr. Floyd plead for his life and call out for his mom. Now more than ever I want to change who I will be when it comes to showing up for people of color. Here are things that I am committed to doing:

  • Be uncomfortable: I will not let discomfort get in the way of having honest discussions/dialogues about race. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned. I have to allow discomfort in order to grow.
  • Be authentic: I can not change who I was, but I can change who I will be. This only works if I am honest and transparent. I will always have more work to do. I have not eliminated all of the bias and prejudice in my life, but I truly want to change that.
  • Educate myself: I will never be done learning. Everyday search for information on ways that I can help. I will challenge myself to to think beyond my current understanding of issues.
  • Understand: I will continue learning to understand the differences between bias, prejudice, discrimination and racism and how they affect our world.
  • Do not invalidate: I will listen to my Friends of Color and will not tell them they are wrong or try to insert my experience.
  • Speak up: When I see or hear an injustice, I will speak up. This is a particularly difficult one for me because my brain doesn’t work very fast when it comes to speaking. I can write all day, but my words don’t come when I’m speaking. No excuses though!
  • Check on my friends: People of color have trauma y’all. Check on your friends. Let them know you are concerned. Ask if they need anything. Help when you can.
  • Be wrong: I will be willing to be wrong. If someone calls me out, I will listen and not give excuses.
  • Don’t be afraid: I will work to eliminate the irrational fear that I have built over the years. I have found that when you reach out and connect with people, fear can be eliminated if you are coming from a place of authenticity.
  • I’m gonna make mistakes: I will make mistakes. I will be embarrassed. I will learn from those mistakes.

I know there is so much more to do and I hope you will join me in making change. We can change who we will be by speaking up and showing up for our friends of color.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams

On a side note: The YWCA Dialogue on Race was a sort of jumping point for me. It impacted me on such a deep level. I want to help more people be able to attend. The cost to attend the 6-week session is $25. Paying for one person would be cool, but paying for many people would be great. So, I designed a t-shirt to sell and the entire profits will be donated to assist in paying the attendee fee for participants wishing to attend the Northwest Louisiana YWCA Dialogue on Race. If you would like to wear this shirt as a commitment to end bias, prejudice, discrimination and racism, order one now.

Wear this shirt as a commitment to end bias, prejudice, discrimination and racism.
Video

Super Salads with no cides at Cotton Street Farms!

Michael Billings grew up in Shreveport, LA and after high school left to travel the world. He came back to town to be a dad and he wasn’t finding opportunities that fit his interests. His dad suggested that he make his own opportunity. That’s exactly what he did when he founded the hydroponic Cotton Street Farms.

Michael Billings

Michael Billings cutting herbs at Cotton Street Farm

Michael Billings making Salad from Cotton Street Farm

packaging a salad from Cotton Street Farm

Michael Billings making Salad from Cotton Street Farm

Hydroponic plants at Cotton Street Farms

Hydroponic plants at Cotton Street Farms

Michael Billings

Michael Billings making Salad from Cotton Street Farm

Michael’s family was involved in alternative farming for 20 years. His dad taught him how to take something traditional and make it benefit and useful to himself. Mike said that it is not always practical to grow plants indoors commercially. But, he says if you have a business model that caters to your community, and you have interesting quality products, he is showing that you can grow food indoors in the middle of the city, even in a depressed city. You could go to the big chain grocery store or you could go to Cotton Street Farms, spend the same amount of money and leave with a way more tasty product. It’s the best smelling, tasting, cleanest produce that you can find within hundreds of miles. He says his system uses clean water, organic fertilizers, no pesticides, no fungicides, no herbicides . . . no cides! It will blow you mind walking in the door. Cotton Street Farms control the atmosphere, humidity and lighting frequency. Everything done is for the highest benefit of the plant and it just grows big, strong, colorful, and tasty.

Micheal is working to develop a local educational program, that businesses can sponsor, to help bring grow kits to schools and teach children about growing their own food with no cost to the school. In fact, Michael says that if anyone wants to help, there are many volunteer opportunities at the farm. He said he can always use help.

Michael says he has been growing in the current location for about 9 months. The day Ed and I stopped by, there were rows of beautiful green leafy foods. Kale, Swiss Chard, multiple types of Basil, Bok Choy, Dill and Cilantro. Michael said “Let me make you a salad” and we said “heck yeah!”, he then proceeded in putting together an absolutely beautiful array of greens AND flowers to top it off. I’ve never been much for eating flowers, but he gave me a taste of a light purple flower called a borage. It had the most wonderfully light, cucumber-y flavor. I was instantly a fan. Michael said he is working on a new section of a variety of edible flowers. I’m intrigued and am excited to try new (to me) tastes. In addition to leafy greens, Cotton Street Farm has jalapeรฑo peppers, fruits and berries on the way. I encourage you to stop by and pick up your own super salad with no cides.

Cotton Street Farms is located at 406 Cotton Street, in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana. Follow Cotton Street Farms on all their channels:

Website
Facebook
Instagram

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Robin Williams

Louisiana State Park Road Trip Planning

Louisiana State Parks: 21 reasons to love the Bayou State

Louisiana State Park RoadtripI was scrolling through emails one hot and steamy June 2018 afternoon. You know how it is, thumbing through endless email subject lines that you have no idea came to be in your inbox. (Side note: When did I sign up for so many food and animal rescue email subscriptions?) I landed on an email that I actually open and enjoy each time that I receive it. The LouisianaTravel.com Ambassadors: Bayou Krewe Newsletter is fun to read about what’s going on in Louisiana from other people who love the state as much as I do. In this particular email, there was a “June Challenge” which suggested making a quick road trip or an entire weekend camping with friends at any one of the 21 State Parks. “21 State Parks? Hmmm . . . I want to see them all!” was the thought that went through my head that Friday evening. Louisiana State Park Road Trip PlanningSo, I went to my desk and started plotting out my “21 State Park, One-weekend Road-trip” that I thought I was planning to take in a few weeks. 29 hours and 32 minutes were all I needed to cover the 1456 miles. I went to bed thinking that I may wake up in the morning to start my adventure. That’s exactly what I did.

Starting out Saturday morning, my plan was to hit every State Park in Louisiana by Sunday evening. It was mid-afternoon on Saturday when I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Oh well, I decided to see what I could and start again the next weekend. Hereย  are the 21 reasons to love the Bayou State of Louisiana, in the order for which I visited:

Reason #1:ย North Toledo Bend State Park

Reason #2:ย South Toledo Bend State Park

Reason #3:ย Sam Houston Jones State Park

Reason #4:ย Palmetto Island State Park

Reason #5:ย Cypermore Point State Park

Reason #6:ย Lake Fausse Pointe State Park

Reason #7:ย Grand Isle State Park

Reason #8:ย Bayou Segnette State Park

Reason #9:ย St. Bernard State Park

Reason #10:ย Fountainebleau State Park

Reason #11:ย Fairview-Riverside State Park

Reason #12:ย Bogue Chitto State Park

Reason #13:ย Tickfaw State Park

Tickfaw State Park

Reason #14:ย Chicot State Park

Reason #15:ย Lake Bistineau State Park

Reason #16:ย Jimmie Davis State Park

Reason #17:ย Lake Bruin State Park

Reason #18:ย Poverty Point Reservoir State Park

Reason #19:ย Chemin-A-Haut State Park

Reason #20:ย Lake D’arbonne State Park

Reason #21:ย Lake Claiborne State Park

I’ve had many people ask me which was my favorite, and honestly, I can not pick a favorite. I was so stunned by the beauty of each and every park. The care that has been taken to keep our State Parks in good shape was surprising to me. The other reason that I can’t pick a favorite is that two-weekend road trips are not near enough time to find the real gems in the pack. I’m making it a priority to go back and spend more time at each park.

Robin Williams - member of the Bayou KreweIf you are looking for a quick road trip, visiting a Louisiana State Park is an inexpensive way to go. Entry fee is only $3 per person. Camping fees vary in ranges, so make sure you check out the website for each park.ย When you go, here’s what to remember:

  • Bring fishing gear
  • Pack a Lunch
  • Wear appropriate shoes
  • Sunblock!
  • Create a travel journal to make notes & add photos (paper or electronic)
  • Tag your visits on social media using #OnlyLouisiana and #BayouKrewe (sign up to be a Bayou Krewe Ambassador)

Thank you for visiting Louisiana State Parks

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams

You like Quesadillas? Head over to Dillas in Shreveport!

Pete John of Dillas Primo QuesadillasIf you know Pete John, you know he has his finger on the pulse of all that’s cool in the fast-casual food world. Dillas Prima Quesadillas is his latest venture. Pete celebrated with a joint ribbon cutting between the Bossier Chamber of Commerce and the Shreveport Chamber of Commerceย on Dec 14, 2018.

Dillas was founded by Kyle Gordon in Dallas, TX, sparked by his love of Quesadillas and a dream to open his own restaurant. Pete John and his wife had been looking for a fun and cool new restaurant to bring to the Shreveport-Bossier area. Dillas fit the bill.

 

Pete has always shown great interest in community involvement and he continues that tradition with Dillas. The goal at Dillas is to be YOUR community restaurant, not just a restaurant in the community. When Dillas becomes part of a community, they look to elevate the community pillars and impact the neighbors in a positive way.

If you like Quesadillas, then you definitely need to head over to Dillas Primo Quesadillas, located 855 Pierremont Rd, Ste 135, Shreveport, LA. Their hours are from 10:30 am – 10:00 pm every day, except holidays. Catering services are available.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams

Dillas Primo Quesadillas Ribbon Cutting

Joint Bossier Chamber and Shreveport Chamber Ribbon Cutting

Dillas Quesadillas in Shreveportย ย Dillas Menuย ย Fun at the Dillas Ribbon Cutting

Dillas Prima Quesadillas Shreveport, LA Ribbon Cutting

All Yโ€™all is on Spotify

Chris Jay and Sara Hebert, creators of All Y'all PodcastThe dynamic duo/Louisiana couple that is Sara Hebert and Chris Jay has been perpetuating Southern stories on the All Y’all podcast since 2013, and now they are on Spotify!

The amazing thing about Chris and Sara is that they really have a knack for finding people who have something to say but may have never thought about sharing. The All Y’all podcast begins as a live storytelling event where people are asked to tell their story, without any notes, on stage in front of anywhere from 150-300 people in the audience. If you’ve never been to one of these events in the Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana area, I highly recommend that you put it on your list of things to do. It’s such an electrifying experience that includes stories, music and great snacks at intermission. (Homemade Tobacco brownies by Judy Williams – ummm, yes please!)

I suggest you listen to every single episode, and while you’re at it, be on alert that I was the storyteller for episode 19 in 2015 (click photo below to link)

These podcasts are great for “on the way to work” or “road tripping” listening. AND 3, 2, 1, Go >>>

Sara and Robin at Highland Mardi Gras

Chris and RobinEpisode 19 of All Y'all Podcast

 

Let me know your favorite episode (It doesn’t have to be mine!) Oh, hey, donโ€™t forget to follow All Y’all on all their channels:

Blog
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Itunes
Soundcloud
Spotify
GooglePlay

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Robin Williams

#Eat318 – 318 Restaurant Week Begins Tuesday, March 13 in Shreveport-Bossier

318 Restaurant Week318 Restaurant Week is upon us and I can’t wait to see my social media feeds fill up with delicious foodstuff. Tejas Kitchen Bar Patio in Shreveport helped kick off the week long event with a media preview. I was lucky enough to attend.

If you’re like me, I love to try new restaurants and find out which are sourcing food from local farms. This week gives a chance to try something new with affordable specials that make it a bit easier on the pocketbook.

Menu listings More than 35 local restaurants have cooked up lunch and dinner specials for 318 Restaurant Week. My advice is to preview the list and make a game plan of your “must do” events. Many evening dinner specials are almost sold-out, so if you want to attend, stop reading this and go make your reservation.

Thanks so much to the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and all of the spectacular sponsors who made this week possible. I don’t want to hear anyone say there’s nothing to do in SB!

Chris Jay

Let me know what you intend to try and tell me how it turns out for ya! Oh, hey, don’t forget to follow the 318 Restaurant Week Facebook Page.

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Robin Williams

Get Fresh!!

Benton residents, Greg and Jessica Bennett, are getting fresh! Their new restaurant, Get Fresh Deli & Frozen Yogurt, had a Bossier Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting to celebrate their grand opening today, July 7, 2017. Get Fresh is a locally family owned deli, with an awesome menu. Greg says the Turkey, Avocado BLT is a favorite. Twelve flavors of frozen yogurt, sandwiches, wraps, salads and pizza round out the deliciousness. Catering is available and Greg is looking forward to connecting with the community.

Get Fresh Deli & Frozen Yogurt is located in the Bella Terra shopping center at 187 Burt Blvd in Benton, LA. Stop by soon and let them know I sent ya.

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Robin Williams

Art In Perspective: Fragelina at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery

I was super honored to be asked to give my perspective on Attilio Piccirilli’s Fragelina at the RW Norton Art Gallery. Take a listen:

If you live in or near Shreveport, Louisiana, let me strongly encourage you to visit the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. You will be blown away by the collections held in this exceptional museum.

Follow R.W. Norton:

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Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

Sometimes a Tesla just happens

Recently I was attending a bowling conference in Charleston, SC. While I was scanning the big conference schedule sign to find which ballroom to go to, I noticed a smaller sign with an arrow in the opposite direction that said “Tesla Test Drives”. I pointed the sign out to my friend and our curiosity was sparked. We headed down the hallway and found that the sign was meant for anyone interested in a test drive. My friend was interested and so we scheduled an appointment to drive that baby. When I was asked if I wanted a drive, I said “no, I’m fine”. I almost missed my shot at driving a Tesla – one of the most awesomely fast cars ever made, all because I didn’t think I should take advantage of an opportunity when I had no intentions of buying a car. (Working on eliminating the feelings of unworthiness but that’s another story) So I just rode in the backseat. It was super cool, but I began to regret my decision. The next morning I went back to get my test drive. There was really no point to this video, but I wanted to share the experience with you anyway.

Just some info about Tesla:

Tesla is a company that makes zero emissions electric cars, energy storage and solar roofs. While a Tesla is definitely in the category of high-end, luxury, expensive cars, there are currently Federal Tax Credits available in the amount of $7500 and Louisiana credits between $8000-$9000 depending on the battery size of the model that you purchase.

According to their website, a Tesla can be charged anywhere. The most common way to charge is at home. Plug in when you arrive and your Tesla will be charged by morning. If you take a trip, Superchargers are conveniently located along well-traveled routes. (I noticed Supercharges at Mall St. Vincent in Shreveport.) Tesla charging stations can be found at hotels and restaurants nationwide as part of their expanding Destination Charging program. Check out their website for a really cool charging estimator for range and comparison of price per mile.

Follow Tesla:

After test driving the Tesla, I realized that perhaps I CAN have a Tesla. I have a habit of thinking that I am unable to get things that are out of my current financial range, or that I don’t deserve it. It will take some responsible planning, but I think setting a goal of purchasing a Tesla (or another luxury car) is reachable in 10 years.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

What will Whole Foods Do for Us?

img_0815Whole Foods Market will open it’s doors to the public on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. I was fortunate to get a sneak peak of what’s to come. Employees were busy stocking shelves, setting up displays and getting trained.

I’ve only been to Whole Foods once while I was visiting Overland Park, KS, so I was looking forward to seeing what we would be getting in Shrossier. In particular, I was interested in what Whole Foods would do for us. I found out that the commitment to our community is absolutely phenomenal.

Whole Foods Shreveport-Bossierย hasย hired 141 local peopleย and only brought in six from other regions for training purposes. img_0829Local artist Ann Gassen has been hired as “The Chalk Designer” to decorate all of the signs around the store. They currently have approximately 50 local vendors, with more in the process. The store has used reclaimed wood throughout the building, most notable is the “Joskes wood” on the walls and soffits, reclaimed from a San Antonio department store built in 1888 called Joskes. That wood originally came from forests around my hometown of Lake Charles, LA in Calcasieu Parish. Electric vehicle charging stations, aย bike rack to support the cycling community and energy efficiency throughout the store.

In addition, Whole Foods Market Shreveport will host five community giving days over the next five weeks as part of their commitment to supporting the local community, and to celebrate the opening of their first Shreveport store. One percent of net sales on designated community giving days will benefit the following Shreveport-Bossier area nonprofit organizations: Community Renewal International, The Fuller Center for Housing, Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, Shreveport Green, and The Gingerbread House.

Now, about those services! There are so many fabulous services that are provided in the Shreveport store. Too many to list here, so here are the services that I found of value:

  • The butchers will custom cut, season, steam, fillet or portion your order for FREE just by asking!
  • Full-service seafood shop with experienced Fishmongers ready to help prepare your fish any way you would like it. They fillet, butterfly, debone whole fish, peel and devein shrimp, season, and grill or steam your fish for FREE! In store Seafood Smokehouse with custom smoking available.
  • Have a favorite? They will special order any item by the case with a 10% case discount
  • Free ice to protect your items on the ride home
  • Want to taste fruits or veggies before you buy them? Just ask and they will cut them right there for ya.
  • 500 wines in-house! Get 10% discount when you purchase wine by the case.
  • Expanded grass-fed dairy options including milk, butter, and yogurt and over 2,600 Non-GMO and Organic items!
    A floral area that will include more than 40 cut flowers, potted plants and arrangements in addition to seasonal items such as Christmas trees. For each tree sold, Whole Foods will replant a tree through American Forests.
  • 2000 items on sale every week and an extensive line of 365 Everyday Valueยฎย products
  • Louisiana proud! They feature a great selection of Louisiana products. (See list below)

LOUISIANA PROUD VENDORS IN THE SHREVEPORT WHOLE FOODS:

In addition to this list, there are several vendors in the process of finalizing paperwork, so there will be more to come.ย If you have a product that you’d like to get into Whole Foods, you may submit atย Rangeme.com/wholefoodsย 

Abita Brewery
Acalli Chocolate
Bayou Soap
Bayou Teche
Bee Hippie (uses Hummer and Son beeswax)
Big Easy Bucha
Cafรฉ du Monde
Cake Face Soaping
Camellia Beans
Chafunkta Brewing Co.
Community
Cool Brew
Covington Brewhouse
Crystal
Daveyโ€™s Treasures
Delightful Palate
Dirty Potato Chips
Doodley Deeโ€™s Farm
Edwardoโ€™s Secret Salsa
Evamor
Flying Heart Brewing
French Market
French Truck (beans and cold brew)
Good Granoly
Great Raft Brewing
Gulf Coast seafood
Hanleyโ€™s Dressing
Hummer and Son (packaged and in bulk)
Inglewood Farm Pecan Oil
Jennings Apiaries
KenChaux Rice
Kinloch Plantation Pecan Oil
Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce
Magounโ€™s Kitchen<
onjuniโ€™s
New Orleans Brewing Company
Nuccioโ€™s Olive Salad
Parish Brewing
Red River Brewery
Reve (coffee beans)
Rhino Coffee (beans and cold brew)
River Road Coffee
Southern Art
Star Nursery
Sucre
Swamp Pop
Tabasco
Taylormade Kale Chips
Three Brothers Farm Cane Syrup and Cane Sugar
Tin Roof Brewing Co.

Whole Foods Shreveport Photo Gallery:

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There will be a sneak peak on Monday, November 14 from 4-7 pm. Find info on their Facebook Event. Also, if you are interested in attending the Bread Breaking Ceremony (ribbon cutting), it will be held at 7:30 am on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. The first 200 people who arrive for the grand opening ceremony will receive a Whole Foods Market gift card with a mystery amount up to $100.00.

Follow Whole Foods Shreveport-Bossier:

In terms of community, I believe Whole Foods will do lots for us.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes