Ask the Expert: Dr. Loren Demerath

How do initiatives like urban greenways contribute to overall quality of life?

Some people might ask first, “Wait, what the heck is a greenway?” Well, they’re what some call “linear parks,” with all the associations that go with it: trails, paths, exercise equipment, swing sets, even jungle gyms; whatever you can fit onto a narrow strip of land. Often, greenways are just trails running through corridors of forest that follow creeks, or drainage water ways. What’s great about greenways is their long, thin shape. It means they can run throughout even the densest city, giving lots of folks access to nature and attractive pedestrian corridors between any kind of destination.

Having a network of greenways can have huge benefits for quality of life and health: research shows that if you live less than half a mile away from one you’re more likely to use it, and so you’re more likely to be healthier and happier than you would be otherwise. This is great news for those of us in Louisiana: our bayou topography has put drainage ditches and potential greenways everywhere you look. I’m hoping we’ve got a walk-in-the-park future!

Dr. Loren Demerath is the Chair of the Sociology Department and Associate Professor of Sociology at Centenary. He also serves as Executive Director of A Better Shreveport, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Shreveport.