A Love Letter to Shreveport

Lola MagazineLola Shreveport, Megann McDaniel

I have noticed many times that people are harder on themselves than they are with friends, neighbors, and even strangers. To others we may offer grace and forgiveness at times that we don’t extend to ourselves. I encourage others (and need to hear it myself as well) to be just as kind, loving, patient, and accepting of ourselves as we are with others. I also feel many in our community should offer the same to Shreveport. I hear locals complain, insult, and state embarrassment of the town they live.

Those that know me know that I love my Shreveport community. However, my love is more like the love a parent has for their child, spouse, or close friend. We know those people are not perfect, yet we accept their flaws because they come with all their strengths and in the end, they are always worth it. I know Shreveport has areas that could be improved upon, but I also know with full conviction that it offers so many enviable (and often underappreciated) qualities.

I ask (maybe even beg) you to try to see and appreciate the good in our community. Maybe even ‘date your city’ by exploring new places, engaging with a variety of people with an open mind, and taking in all the flavor our town has to offer. The theme of this article is a Love Letter To Shreveport. But rather than a fairy tale love story it is one of the ‘slow burn’ type where you learn to appreciate it over time (sometimes after realizing the grass is not always greener other places) and where the love is lasting and passed down to other generations.

I sat down with a couple friends that have experienced the slow burn appreciation of Shreveport. Katie was a local that left for greener pastures and returned by choice. Linnae moved here for romantic love with no intention to stay but has learned to appreciate all our community has to offer.

Katie MacMurray

Katie is the Marketing and Business development coordinator for McDaniel Financial. In this role, she partners with Community Organizations to contribute to the growth and betterment of our beautiful city along with coordinating and executing company events and developing marketing strategies.

Katie earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University where she majored in Political Science with a minor in History. After college, she worked in Governmental Relations, where she served a diverse group of clients with varying interests. Katie then moved to Dallas where she entered the luxury furniture industry as a Sales Consultant to the Design Trade.

Katie is elated to be back in her hometown of Shreveport and enjoys spending time with family and friends. Katie loves to travel, is an avid runner, loves to cook and is a fanatic football fan.

You grew up in Shreveport, then moved around for work, and then recently moved back to Shreveport by choice. Can you tell me what you missed about Shreveport that made you move back?

I missed familiar faces. So many times, I would hear my friends and family complain that everywhere they went they saw someone they knew. This is the thing I missed the most, I never saw familiar faces who asked how my momma was doing.

It is so hard to make strong relationships as an adult, with work, kids, and all of life’s competing demands. Dallas was such a transient city that in the 10 years I lived there, I met few people born and raised locally. People were there because of jobs and chasing money. As soon as you met a friend, formed relationships, they were gone. They moved back to where they came from or were transferred. There is something special about the stability of Shreveport, people who have stayed and returned.

As with most things in life, we can sometimes take things/people for granted without even knowing it. What are some things people that live in this community may take for granted that is not the same in other communities you have visited, lived, or worked?

What really put things in perspective for me was when I broke my foot. I realized how important the support and the comfort of just knowing that friends and family are close when you are in need. When your car breaks down or you have a flat tire, you have someone to call that can be there in a minute. Shreveport has a strong community that supports each other in times of need but also celebrates others when their neighbors achieve great things.

Simple things like drivers not honking at you ALL of time, waving when someone lets you in, saying thank you and mam, or opening doors. Here it is easier to maintain relationships. With traffic and the rat race of larger cities, visits are scheduled. There is no spontaneity, there is no just dropping by to say hi. Shreveport is close to bigger cities offering the best of both worlds. Live here where you have the comfort of home and when there is an event or place, larger cities are close and great weekend getaway.

What are some things you have observed in other communities that we may be able to do help make Shreveport an even better place to live?

Through my experiences, I learned many of us don’t realize how great we have it, we are lucky and should be grateful. At the core, all people are essentially the same. Just trying to make it through this thing called life, loving our family, wanting more for our children than what you had and living your American dream. I feel our community has made progress but still has room for more acceptance of diversity. Through my work, living, and travel, I was exposed to so many people from different countries, backgrounds that looked and sounded different from me and from the people I grew up around. Exposure to different cultures, expanded my view of the world – I learned about religion, music, tradition. I find people and their stories fascinating. I was and continue to be curious to learn about other people’s lives and experiences, day to day life in places and how they ended up in this place at this time.

One thing that may help advance our community is to encourage people to take the time to have a genuine interest in learning about other cultures, backgrounds, and histories.

You are well traveled. When you tell people you are from Shreveport, Louisiana, what is their typical reaction/perception of Shreveport or Louisiana?

Hahaha, they think we’re all Cajun. I would tell people, I have never and have no idea how to cook gumbo, that’s south Louisiana. Louisiana is very diverse and also, we talk really slow. There is much more to Louisiana than Mardi Gras, gumbo, and hunting.

I have recently heard many people say that Shreveport has an identity crisis or a self esteem problem. I agree in many ways. How would you describe Shreveport to an outsider? What could/should we do to help our community improve their perception of Shreveport?

I am passionate about changing the narrative of Shreveport. It first starts with citizens acknowledging the good instead of the bad. When describing Shreveport, the first thing that comes to mind is FUN. The people are fun, full of personality, we laugh, we love, we dance. The people of Shreveport welcome you with open arms and it’s a come as you are community.

The grass is not always greener on the other side. Every place has good, bad, and ugly. My friends that live in other cities, states are talking about the same issues we are experiencing here. Just as I mentioned in a previous answer, if we took the time to learn from others that have lived in other cities, we may realize that many of our problems are global issues. They may also realize that Shreveport has their own problems, but it also has a lot to offer.

Tell me 5 underrated things, places in Shreveport?

1. The FOOD – we have fantastic locally owned restaurants. For 10 years I tried to find “Dallas’s Imperial Cathay” never found a restaurant even close and believe me I tried. And a muffaletta, where else would you be able to get this, nowhere.

2. Nature – easy access to lakes and hiking.

3. Events – festivals, live music, the arts community here is amazing. Shreveport has an Opera, a Symphony, Abby Singers, The Film Prize, The Strand Theater just to name a few.

4. Beauty of Norton Art Gallery

5. Highway System

Linnae Magyar

Linnae was born in Chicago and moved to Memphis when she was 10 years old. She got her undergraduate degree in Managerial Finance from the University of Mississippi (Go Rebs) and moved to Nashville to work for a financial planning firm. She then got the opportunity to work for a world renown speaker/bible teacher (Priscilla Shirer) and moved to Dallas to run her non-profit for 5+ years. She moved to Shreveport in 2014 to get married and worked in medical sales for several years. She currently works as the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator for the Shreveport Bar Foundation planning free legal education for Caddo and Bossier Parish. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and 2 children, volunteering with Young Life at CE Byrd, running, and playing music with her husband!

What brought you to Shreveport? What did you know about Shreveport prior to moving? What were some perceptions/expectations based on things people told you or things you read online?

I moved to Shreveport in 2014 to get married to my husband. At the time that I met him I was living in Dallas. My best friend, Margie Lott, from college at Ole Miss moved to Shreveport after we graduated and was on staff with Young Life here. My husband moved to Shreveport after Law School and got involved with Young Life and became good friends with Margie and her husband. Margie decided that Stephen and I needed to meet so I came to town one weekend from Dallas to meet him and hang out, and obviously we really liked each other =) I told Stephen that I would move to Shreveport, but he had 1 year to get me out and back to Texas. The only thing I really knew about Shreveport from visiting Margie a few times was that there are drive through daiquiri places and that every store/shop was packed into E 70th and Youree Drive. My perception of Shreveport was that it was a very small town with not a whole lot going on. I had met some really nice people, but I was convinced that we would be moving back to Texas since my husband is from Houston and I have always lived in large cities my whole life.

How has the reality been different or the same as the expectations of living in Shreveport?

While my expectations of “small town” living haven’t changed, my appreciation for Shreveport has grown over the years. We LOVE where we live in South Highlands, we LOVE that we drive basically 5-10 minutes to get everywhere we need to go, and we LOVE the people! While my best friends live in Nashville, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Austin etc., the cost of living is so much lower in Shreveport, and we can spend money on traveling to those places and more. We are never bored, there are always things to do, and the people here are wonderful! It has certainly been a place of peace for me after having lived in “busy” cities.

As with most things in life, we can sometimes take things/people for granted without even knowing it. What are some things that people that live in this community may take for granted that is not the same in other communities you have visited, lived, or worked?

For sure the community. Familiar faces everywhere you go. NO TRAFFIC. As a runner, there is ALWAYS someone to run with. It is rare that I run alone unless I want to. Living expenses are a lot less than bigger cities.

Tell me 5 underrated things, places in Shreveport?

Sportspectrum: quite possibly one of the largest running/outdoor stores I’ve ever been to.

Ki Mexico, Dahn’s Garden, Well Fed, East Ridge Country Club (sitting outside at the restaurant overlooking the golf course: it’s really quite a beautiful view). Also, the food court at Whole Foods is clutch!

You have been working with the youth at Byrd through Young Life for over 9 years now. How do you feel the youth perceive Shreveport? Are they proud to call it home, are they optimistic? If not, how could we help change their view/experience of living in Shreveport?

I think most of them feel like they need to get away and do not want to come back. A lot of them do not realize how many job opportunities are available. I feel like some of the local companies could improve their marketing and engagement with young professionals and recent graduates.

Also, for those that leave they sometimes do not want to return. Many of them say there is not enough going on that may allow them to find people they may want to date. We have a strong church community and plenty of bars, but we need other options for ways people can meet each other.

If we could create more things to do outside of the church and bar/nightlife scene they may consider staying or returning here.