NATCHITOCHES TRUSTFed designation for historic town Natchitoches’ standing as the oldest permanent settlement in the expanse of the Louisiana Purchase territory has drawn the attention of the National Trust. Recently named “One of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2005,” it is the first Louisiana city, town or village to make the listing. “As area partners, we have been working in collaboration for a long time,” says Nancy Morgan, director of the 116,000-acre Cane River National Heritage Area. Contained within the heritage area are the Natchitoches downtown and Cane River Creole National Historical Park. The French were the first to establish Natchitoches in 1714. It is older than New Orleans, which was founded in 1718. The Spanish came in 1721 and made Natchitoches the endpoint of the El Camino Real de los Tejas trade route from Mexico City. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Americans built Fort Jesup as an outpost of the Western frontier. Today there remains a representation of the peoples that inhabited the area during various periods – native American, Creole, French and Spanish. Public support is tremendous, says Courtney Hornsby, Main Street manager for the city of Natchitoches. “For us to be included in this listing makes us feel like we’re kind of playing with the big boys. It’s kind of impressive.” Laura Gates, superintendent of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, which is about 65 acres, is the guardian of Oakland Plantation and the outbuildings at Magnolia Plantation. The Hertzog family, who still live there after 200 years, privately owns the Magnolia Plantation house. “We consider ourselves the anchors,” Gates says. “We are the permanent federal presence in a dynamic community within the heritage area.” “This recognition from the National Trust is wonderful for all of us,” she adds. “It gives us outside confirmation that we’re going in the right direction.” There are 72 dozen distinctive destinations located in 36 states. A complete listing can be found on the Web at: www.nationaltrust.org. –J.C.
HELPING MUSIC GROWTipitina’s co-op expands Tipitina’s, the New Orleans music club, is on a mission to help turn dreams into paying realities. On April 18, the club’s nonprofit foundation opened a music co-op office in Shreveport, where artists living and working in the northwest corner of the state can receive business assistance. Members pay a $10 monthly fee, which entitles them to technology, software support, training, production assistance and business mentoring. The office is stocked with computers with Internet access. Members can also use phones, faxes, printers, copiers, and CD and DVD burners. The co-op is modeled on one operating in New Orleans since 2003, which now has more than 300 members and claims a 30 percent earnings increase for members utilizing co-op services. By the end of 2006, The Tipitina’s Foundation plans to have a co-op office opened in every major city in the state; Alexandria is next. “There are a lot of folks who are just starting to get ideas. We can help them make sure they have their copyrights covered and get with publishing organizations. Here we have the tools and contacts to steer them in different directions,” says Dan Garner, a musician and now the Shreveport office manager. While the co-op does not offer recording – “We are not a studio” – it offers plenty in the way of technology, Garner says. “They can come here and work on their bios and press packages. They can gain entry to their Web sites and work on their CD covers.” The Shreveport office even offers members a chance to earn college credit through Southern University’s music technology program. “The beauty of this is if you are a member you are a member in New Orleans and [if] you are on the road, you have access to the same technology in Shreveport,” Garner says. Todd Souvignier, head of the foundation’s special operations, adds that memberships have no time minimum, so members stay as long as they need to. “We think it’s a good program in that it’s cheap and brings in returns. It’s really a pretty easy sell,” he says. –J.C.