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Spencer and me, Christmas 2013
Spencer and me, Christmas 2013

Back in the fall of 2012, Spencer Teekell and I launched Heliopolis off of the heels of what some of you might remember as the Shreveport Catalyst.

Born out of Cohab in downtown Shreveport, the eight-page, full color newspaper had a simple yet hefty mission: to support and grow the local, alternative culture of Shreveport-Bossier.

Shreveport-Bossier, or “SBC” as we chose to call it, deserved it. When you visit cities near our corner of Louisiana, you find similar publications: The Austin Chronicle; Memphis Flyer; DigBR (Baton Rouge) and Gambit out of New Orleans, to name a few. We wanted something locals or tourists alike could pick up, read, and know what was going in town that was worth a damn.

And we did it. We did it well.

Spencer and myself, along with several hard working, talented volunteers successfully produced and distributed 35 biweekly papers to 60+ local businesses in our area. Like I said, volunteers.* These are local people of all ages and backgrounds who believed in what we were doing.

Our content covered news; features; profiles; reviews of music, wine, food; stories of inspiration; poetry; and what came to be my personal favorite, satire. (Oh, Captain Shreve, need I say more? #catpark #wholefoods)

Not only did we have consistent contributors, writers from different organizations and local businesses offered us content: Shreveport Bossier Animal Rescue, Bike ShreveportGreat Raft Brewing, SBC Visionaries, and ABetterShreveport.

Not to mention the artists. Wow, the artists. There is so much talent in our twin cities as many of you know. I’ll just say, if you contributed cover art to Heliopolis and let us profile you, thank you.

Garrett Johnson (right) during a REWIND event at the Robinson Film Center.
Garrett Johnson (right) during a REWIND event at the Robinson Film Center.

Outside of our contributors, community partners, and artists, we also hosted various events for the good people of SBC. Our Xmas at Da Shop was electrifying. Our Cards Against Humanity tournament held at Great Raft Brewing was hilarious. With the help of our friends at Moviesauce and Maccentric, the REWIND events at Robinson Film Center continue to be a smashing success.  

We’ve done a pretty damn good job at generating excitement among our residents to think local. We’re constantly tagged on Instagram (ahem, @heliopolis_sbc) by local bands with upcoming shows; we’ve got a growing social media following and when people are literally waiting at your drop-off spots to pick up the latest issue, you know you’re doing something right.

Of course, it hasn’t always been a breeze. With success comes misfires and learning. There were times we didn’t have the revenue to print an issue, and for me, there’s been lip service both given and received. These circumstances yielded stressful days and sleepless nights. (I worry a lot.) In fact, it got to the point where I thought the paper would fold, literally. (If you’ve noticed, there hasn’t been a print edition since May.) Long story of a few mishaps short, I thought it was over.

But Heliopolis is far from over.

After an immense amount of soul searching and countless meetings with people who saw money signs rather than the vision, I’ve found two people who I whole-heartedly believe will continue the mission of the project Spencer and I took on so many months ago.

Chris Lyon (left) and Landon Miller
Chris Lyon (left) and Landon Miller

Chris Lyon and Landon Miller have supported both the Catalyst and Heliopolis since day one. I can’t tell you how many thought-provoking conversations I’ve had with them individually and together that left me thinking, I am so lucky to know these two human beings. Their brains inspire me to an infinite degree, and both of them are completely on beat with SBC’s pulse. I am thrilled to announce that the two of them will be continuing Heliopolis, immediately online and maybe (my personal fingers and toes crossed), in print again. #printsnotdeaddamnit
Susan Fontaine, who I also admire in more ways than twenty, will continue as managing editor. [Thank you, Susan, for putting up with my crazy messages at all hours of the day and always taking the time to apply your editing expertise. It’s been a pleasure working with you.]

There are several contributors who will continue writing for Heliopolis, and they all kick ass. You know who you are, and again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I do have one request (outside of continuing to read and support Heliopolis, of course): please think local in everything you do. Our community is full of passionate, talented minds: from artists to business owners, musicians and students, teachers, mover and shakers… the list goes on. Consider supporting Great Raft, Red River, or Flying Heart before buying that Heineken; drop in at Highland Table instead of Cane’s; see a thought-provoking and wildly entertaining movie at the Robinson Film Center and catch the next blockbuster on Netflix; see Derick at Vessel Vintage for pieces you can’t find at Mall St. Vincent. Oh, and remember Sunshine Health Food Stores and Vitamins Plus when Whole Foods opens.

Thank you all for your support. Thank you Spencer, my family, and my friends. It’s been incredible helping to connect the many dots of SBC. I’ll be seeing you.

Caption for second: A first of many photos of our dedicated contributors/Photo by Robert E Trudeau
A first of many photos of our dedicated contributors/Photo by Robert E Trudeau

*Volunteer contributors who have made Heliopolis possible are as follows in no particular order: Garrett Johnson, Casey Habich, Chris DeRosia, Esther Kennedy, Robert E. Trudeau, Chris Lyon, Landon Miller, K. Anton Winder, Kelly McSwain, Jessica Coburn, Candice Gahan, Amy DeRosia, Regan Horn, Joseph Aurora, Chris Campisi, Brendan Carroll, Malari Coburn, Crissy Malone, Dacoda Montana, Jonathan Toups, Lindsey Johnson Nations, Reed Ebarb, Allen Wheless, Leeaux Leo, Kelsy Jones, Danielle Miller, Stephen “@Speederson” Pederson, Mike Sledge, Chris Schmoutz, Kemerton Hargrove, John Wesley Hampson, Jackie Morales, Robert Specian, Ben Riggs, Christine Bradley, Robyn Bradley, Eric Gardner, Chris Rebouche, Ryan Mustapha, Taryn Ferro, Sean Green, Shelby Blaise, Jerry Mitchell, Michelle Hardin, Malvya Chintakindi, Kei Thomas, Keith Abel, Aly Velasquez, Amjad Azzawe, David Maniccia, Derick Jones, Chadwick Young, Halley Rachal, Amy DeRosia, Heather Evans, Jasmine Green, John Jackson, Kristen Morgan, Laney Lenox, LeVette Fuller, Chris Brown, Stuart Jackson, Matt Haynes, Luke Lee, Nathan Pizar, Meaux Delarue, Michael Chreene, Liz Swaine, and some who wish to remain anonymous. 

Thank you to the local businesses who have and continue to support Heliopolis: Rhino Coffee, Bear’s on Fairfield, Shreveport Regional Arts Council, Cohab, Day Old Blues Records, Shreveport Downtown Development Authority, Great Raft Beer, Bike Shreveport, Holiday Lanes, Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, Shreve Memorial Library, and many, many more.