Heart and soul
ON Media honored another season of Arts Heroes in Tucson. It’s always a pleasure to write profiles of the honorees. Soleste Lupu and Joey Rodgers, owners of Dancing in the Streets AZ, were among my favorites for the 2018-19 season. The husband-and-wife team teaches classical ballet in South Tucson.
Editor’s note: This article was written for LISC Phoenix and is posted on its website.
On a recent spring day in south Phoenix, nature served up a chilly wind and some sprinkles of rain as a reminder of its power to affect how people feel. A few dozen desert dwellers who had gathered at the Rio Salado Recreation Area for a conversation about the socioeconomic importance of place shivered and tried to brace themselves.
It was an appropriate metaphor for a day of reflection about the powerful, unnatural force of displacement. It’s chilling. Community development institutions and organizers, in Phoenix and throughout the United States, are hunkering down in their fight against it.
Displacement is the forced movement of people from places where they have deep connection to the land and typically where there is cultural relevance. When it moves low-income households out of their neighborhoods to make way for housing that only higher-income renters and buyers can afford, displacement ushers in gentrification.
David Greenberg, national director of research for LISC, sees the need for well-organized counter movements to displacement, particularly in the area of affordable housing.
“Through organizing, it’s often possible to expand upon what we think might otherwise be possible to support the affordable housing movement more broadly and bring together people to policy to shape place,” Greenberg said.
Winds of change
LISC Phoenix and its community development partners sponsored a forum on anti-displacement strategies. I wrote the article that wrapped up the half-day session on April 16 and a tour later that at the Rio Salado Recreation Area in South Phoenix.
ASU Watts College
ASU Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions assigned to me a project that made my heart sing. I wrote profiles of the six outstanding graduates for Spring semester 2019. Jennifer Harrison, Kelly Walsh, Josh Loescher, Aly Perkins, Katharine Leigh Brown and Joanna Williams are phenomenal students and exceptional human beings.