The pandemic has affected all aspects of American life, disrupting everything from casual encounters to the entire education system. Yet, these shifts are not uniform and have varied across regions and at the community level within cities based on preexisting demographic and economic conditions, among other indicators. Located along the Red River in Northwest Louisiana, the twin cities of Shreveport and Bossier provide a look into the personal, societal, and political impact of COVID-19 on the Deep South. Join hosts Dorothy Jones-Davis of Nation of Makers and Dale Dougherty of Make: Community to talk with makers and community organizers from the Shreveport-Bossier area about how their city and region have responded to the pandemic and how they are continuing to support the diverse communities that reside there as school restarts and the economy is reshaped.

Date recorded: Thursday, August 20th, 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT

The Panel:

Demetrius Norman is Chairman of the Board of NWLA Makerspace, where he oversees daily operations and charts long term planning, and a Senior Technical Consultant with Apple. NWLA Makerspace, an all volunteer-run organization in Shreveport, Louisiana, has been making PPE in response to community needs during the pandemic. They also recycle and refurbish donated computers and parts to deliver fully functional computers to undeserved families, individuals, schools, and nonprofits.

Candice Battiste  is the North Louisiana organizer with the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice. She is an alum of Louisiana State University and earned her juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center. There, she served as President of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and was a recipient of the prestigious Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Fellowship. Upon graduation, Candice helped form the Family Law Unit of Legal Services of North Louisiana. She was the past Shreveport-Bossier Field organizer with the Unanimous Jury Coalition/Yes On 2 campaign, serves on the Citizen SHE Board of Directors, the ACLU of Louisiana Board of Directors, Board of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority and was selected as a United Nations Association Delegate.

Beonica Frazier is the Director of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeships at Bossier Parish Community College. Beonica Rutherford-Frazier is the Project Director for Work-Based Learning and
Apprenticeships at Bossier Parish Community College and serves as co-chair of the North Louisiana STEM Alliance. As a diplomat for the Bossier City Chamber of Commerce for five years, she interacts with local businesses to provide information and support and also is an independent childcare trainer through Louisiana Pathways and
Northwestern State University.

Keith Hanson was appointed as Shreveport’s first Chief Technology Officer in 2019. Previously the chief executive of a successful software development agency based in Shreveport, LA. Mayor Perkins appointed Keith to oversee all of the typical internal IT services the City provides, while also charging him with the task to bring Shreveport forward technologically. He and his staff are now pursuing Universal Broadband – affordable or free internet connections for all residents, as well as broad “Smart City” or “IoT” initiatives and actively developing multiple in-house prototypes using Raspberry Pis to create sensors and platforms that deploy quickly and cheaply, customized to Shreveport’s problems. At home, Keith is a maker, runs multiple Pi’s using open source and self hosted software, and believes Government can learn much from the maker movement and open source at large.