(Editor’s note: This blog is part of a LISC Phoenix monthly series, Communities on the Line. The illustration is an artist rendering of Mesa Artspace Lofts.)
In July 2015, business leaders, community development experts, arts advocates and city officials took a bus tour of a downtown Mesa area transformed by creative placemaking and transit-oriented development. John C. Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Mesa Mayor John Giles was among them.
Tour stops highlighted strengths and challenges. Just south of Main Street, Giles pointed to a large, vacant lot where he hoped to see an affordable housing project built by Artspace, a nationally known developer of projects that support artists. “It has potential,” Williams quipped, as if assessing a fixer-upper. “Yes, it has good bones,” Giles replied, not missing a beat.
Mesa Artspace Lofts, a 50-unit, live-work apartment complex built especially for artists, had a ceremonial groundbreaking today (May 24). The permanent affordable housing complex at 155 S. Hibbert St. will have good bones. It’s also a transit-oriented development that will strengthen the beating heart of a disconnected neighborhood near the Valley Metro light-rail corridor.
Note: This blog is an installment of the LISC Phoenix monthly series, “Communities on the Line.”
The area near the Park-n-Ride lot at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road is one of the most ethnically rich, culturally diverse parts of Phoenix. It has been for decades, largely because of a large concentration of immigrants, including refugees who are part of resettlement programs.
It is one thing to find shelter. It is another thing for refugees and immigrants far removed from the life and culture they knew to earn a living that affords the coveted American dream.
But that, too, is happening in neighborhoods near the Park-n-Ride at the Valley Metro light-rail stop at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road. Organizations like the International Rescue Committee and Local First Arizona support a growing microenterprise business community among Phoenix immigrants and refugees. Many of the small businesses in the area — restaurants, a deli, barber shops, a clothing store — are owned by refugees who became U.S. citizens.
See for yourself what’s happening in the neighborhood. On May 6, the third World Bazaar and Phoenix Community Market at the Park-n-Ride lot will offer food, crafts and entertainment that reflect the cultures hidden in plain view in Phoenix. The free, family-friendly event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(Note: This blog is an installment of the LISC Phoenix monthly series, “Communities on the Line.”)
On a sunny March afternoon in downtown Mesa, a rooster’s call is louder than a light-rail train’s toots, a retiree tends a plot of an urban garden wrapped in local artists’ murals, and a party of four repeat customers talks shop during a meal at a restaurant with Mesa roots running deeper than the business planted there four years ago.
Welcome to LISC-style economic development. The nonprofit’s focus on small business, transit-oriented development and creative placemaking to help build community are on full display at the Southside Heights commercial corner that is home to the popular República Empanada restaurant and the Mesa Urban Garden.
The northeast corner of First Avenue and Hibbert Street, just south of Main Street, is also an example of an effective “survive and thrive” community development strategy to help neighborhoods through the disruption of Valley Metro light-rail construction.
“Community development is community building,” said Terry Benelli, executive director of LISC Phoenix. “You accomplish that by building trust with residents and businesses of the neighborhood. I’m really proud of how things happened.”
(Note: This blog is part of ongoing work on behalf of LISC Phoenix to underscore the importance of comprehensive community development strategies.)
South Phoenix is “ground zero” for a comprehensive community development strategy that makes art and social justice important parts of neighborhood revitalization. What that means in theory and practice depends on how the table is set and who is seated there, according to a panel of community organizers and urban planning experts.
The panelists at the LISC Phoenix-sponsored event generally agreed that reaping broad-based benefits from arts and justice initiatives requires a commitment to collaboration and a willingness among community development professionals and neighbors to do things differently.
It’s a good day when references to Sisyphus, Machiavelli and John Adams pop up in perfect moments during a short interview. What a departure from the unavoidable social media poison accepted as civic engagement and productive discourse.
Thoughtfulness and community spirit can sprout and grow in the harshest political and social landscapes. Phoenix, in many respects, is such a place. But here’s a riff that warms my heart. It’s by a Valley business leader, who would be considered a conservative in another time and place, discussing one challenge of making Phoenix the healthy, inclusive, resilient place it should be:
“I’m very passionate about a legacy for this community, for my children and my grandchildren to have a cultural economy that feeds the soul of the community but also attracts and retains the kinds of businesses that we need for economic development. It’s critical to our success. And while people will say that with platitude and with words, there is not a lot of action. I’m one of the lone rangers out there just beating the drum. I think I’m like John Adams: I’m obnoxious and disliked about this, but, nonetheless, it’s important. In my world, no is just the beginning of the conversation.”
Word. Right on. Amen.
Getting to “yes” on healthy societal changes requires a long view, steadfastness and commitment.
The resistance language spoken so loudly today in the public square means nothing without persistence. Resistance movements are often spirited are difficult to sustain.
Persistence infused with insistence endures. The most effective change agents have led righteous persistence movements.
Establishing an American society where human values are self-evident is a work in progress. It always has been. The best work on universal goals always has been at the local level — by city block, neighborhood and zip code and by school, city council and legislative districts. An insistence on doing the right thing changes the world around you.
That principled work is harder in some moments than in others. “No” can sound emphatic, and it’s dispiriting. We’re in one of those moments. Persistence pushes us forward on the path to “Yes!”
A new monthly series for LISC
In 2015, LISC Phoenix added an economic development component to its strategic plan to revitalize neighborhoods. In 2016, the nonprofit identified four corridors along the Valley Metro light rail line that could benefit from LISC-style comprehensive economic development efforts. In 2017, LISC Phoenix, with the help of JDD Specialties, will highlight the challenges, opportunities and successes of those corridors through a monthly series, Communities on the Line.
January: LISC push on economic development strikes a chord
February: Long-awaited redevelopment heating up in Apache Blvd. corridor
March: Creative economic development efforts grow success in downtown Mesa
April: Bazaar days make a world of difference at 19th Ave. and Camelback
May: Mesa Artspace Lofts will have good bones
It’s Friday the 13th and I’m thinking about my incredibly lucky start to what will be one of the most challenging years of our lives. Worries about my nation are allayed by dozens of people who were part of my world during the first weeks of 2017.
A mix of serendipity and intentionality put me in contact with people who understand that strengthening the place where we live helps build a more perfect union. Some of them are adding to their proud legacies. Others are hard workers who are committed to finishing important work they’ve started. Some are just getting started.
Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we will. Sí, se puede. Indeed.
The New Year begins with calls to address the fallout of what can fairly be described as the great political earthquake of 2016. Yes, let’s do act with newfound determination to make things better, but let’s also make an investment of time and effort to think before we act.
Next week, there are two fantastic opportunities to immerse in thoughtfulness that informs efforts to create the kind of healthy, productive society we want in the Valley. On Tuesday, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust will host an installment of its Thought Leaders Series with a focus on “Advancing Resilience in Arts and Culture: The Value of Cross-Sector Partnerships.” The forum at the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix is open to the public.
As a Piper Trust thought leader, Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle in Cleveland, an innovative square mile of urban development that features universities, hospitals, museums, parks, restaurants and residential spaces, will share lessons learned about creating a resilient community that has become a destination point for living, working and playing.
On Thursday at South Mountain Community College, the Arizona Community Foundation, the Center for the Future of Arizona and the Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council will host a conversation with Robert Putnam, author of the fantastic book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, which dug deeply into the perils of the growing opportunity gap among young people in the United States. The book published in 2015 speaks to the dangers of unequal opportunity, and it proved to be a fascinating precursor to some of what transpired in the national election.
While we ramp up resolve in 2017 to fix what clearly is broken and to protect programs and values we fear are under assault, let’s embrace fundamental change in our approaches to building up society. Let’s listen and learn before we act.
I’ve been floating in the center space that William A. Galston and William Kristol write about for a long time. Those who occupy center left and center right are often accused by those on the far left and far right as being fence-sitters, of having no core values. That’s offensively dismissive.
Those in the center can fairly be accused of sitting on the sidelines while the partisan left and the right duke it out. That’s been a mistake and we see the lack of good governance that results.
I love this in the duo’s Viewpoints column:
“The basic institutions and principles of liberal democracy are under assault. Many of us who are defenders of this distinctive form of self-government have tended to take for granted widespread agreement on these principles; we have had confidence in the strength of these institutions. This is a complacency we can no longer afford. …
Opportunity, security, accountability, ingenuity — these are the pillars of a New Center. We do not know what policies a New Center will yield. Nor can we predict what institutional form or even party alignment it will take.
But the alternative to a coherent and effective New Center is a degree of public discontent that could end by undermining democratic self-government itself. ”
The photo with the Business Insider article, “A small town in Ohio holds clues to Trump victory,” shows the North and Main street sign. I had a wonderful childhood on North Street where Mom and Dad built a home more than 60 years ago.
The small town’s history has interesting twists and turns. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Quakers had a lot to do with that.
In Mom’s youth, there was a movie theater. It was segregated. Blacks had to sit in the balcony. Decades later her brother would become mayor.
Mom tells of the time some of her kin and their friends crashed a Klan rally. Whatever happened that night made it so my generation didn’t have to deal with that, at least not until I was in high school and some out-of-towner grand wizard threatened to hold a rally. My friends, mostly white, told me not to worry about it. The rally never happened.
There were several churches back in the day when the town was booming at about 1,000 people. Dad championed ecumenical services. Pastors delivered sermons at our church. Dad took the pulpit in theirs.
The town is surrounded by beautiful farmland. Fathers’ hard work in steel mills and coal mines put a lot of kids through college.
It’s a different place today. It has taken a turn for the worse. I’m so sorry about that.
JDD Specialities has skills honed in a long career in daily journalism to produce content quickly. This article about a client’s major event was delivered in less than 24 hours.
I like to think the late Monsignor Ed Ryle would have been an intellectual voice of reason, compassion and greater good in this awful excuse for a presidential campaign. I would have loved to have heard his take on the minimum wage proposition on the Arizona ballot and the campaign for Maricopa County sheriff.
I flatter myself by thinking he would have invited me to lunch (or to “break bread,” as someone reminded me he was fond of saying) to share thoughts about politics and policy. On election night, he might have been spotted sipping a glass of wine with other political junkies.
He is so missed.
A few of his friends and those who have had long respected Monsignor Ryle’s work for social justice in Arizona have been trying to keep his memory alive. The Monsignor Edward J. Ryle Fund was established to promote intelligent discourse in the public square. We think he’d be proud of the work done in his name.
I like to think he’d get a kick out of the way we help pay for annual programs. We sell a lovely Sonoma County pinot noir labeled in his honor, called The Monsignor.
We’re taking orders for full and half cases now. It will be available for pickup on Dec. 6. Contact me for details.
Brief profiles of excellence
The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust gave JDD Specialities LLC the honor of writing short profiles of the 2016 awardees of Encore Prizes for Exceptional Organizations. The 2017 award will go to an exceptional individual.
Supporting a national campaign
The Be Kind People Project, a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization, launched its national Be Kind America campaign in October 2016. JDD Specialties provided communication support and helped implement the initiative.
JDD Specialties is a subcontractor in a Mary Jo Waits & Associates consulting project to help a city of Phoenix steering committee develop a strategy for a downtown innovation district. The incomparable Waits was the principal consultant for some of the most notable studies and effective strategic plans at the state and local levels, including “Five Shoes Waiting to Drop on Arizona’s Future,” “Which Way Scottsdale?” and “Downtown Phoenix: A Strategic Vision and Blueprint for the Future.”
(Image courtesy of Pixabay.)
The city of Phoenix has contracted with Mary Jo Waits & Associates to facilitate the work of the Innovation District Steering Committee, a group of forward-thinking business and civic leaders, and to develop a strategic plan to drive innovation and further invigorate the downtown area. JDD Specialties is thrilled to be a subcontractor on the year-long project.
“To be persuasive, you have to get the facts right — a no-brainer for you. Details and integrity are the spokes in your wheel. Now you just need to give those facts an emotionally compelling context and you’ll be set. — Horoscope, Aug. 25, 2016
Reading my daily horoscope is a guilty pleasure. A couple of times a year it’s exactly right. Like today.
A dumbbell spoke at my morning workout at the gym.
A young personal trainer dispensed all sorts of social and business advice to his young client during warm-up on the elliptical. The trainer looks like a short, buff Ken doll. The equally buff client is, shall we say, swarthy. Dark and handsome.
Their conversation about women and business is what you might hear at a young bucks’ happy hour or the 19th hole or maybe the break room near the executive suites. Ken doll is schooling Dark-and-handsome on the dangers of having a serious relationship while trying to be a successful entrepreneur. There’s no time for the kind of commitment a girlfriend wants when you’re trying to get ahead, he said.
Valley Metro Rail’s South Central Extension is like no other for its potential to create healthy, vibrant communities in a corridor long suffering from neglect and disinvestment. It’s heartening three years before construction to see concerted effort to not blow it.
The 5.5-mile extension will connect a south Phoenix population that’s highly dependent on public transportation to the larger region. And as the original light-rail route and subsequent extensions have shown, the $700 million South Central Extension will spark incredible transit-oriented development projects.
Albert Santana, light-rail administrator for the city of Phoenix, said other extensions of the light-rail systems were like rubber bands. They stretched the original route to the east and to the northwest. The Southwest Extension is like a spoke. It is connecting the light-rail system to an entirely new part of town, he said.
There are many stories to be told about the 5.5 mile South Central Extension of the Valley Metro light-rail system. An article about a Ford Foundation workshop on equitable transit-oriented development (eTOD) for the underserved South Central corridor is the first of many articles JDD Specialties will write about the $700 million public transportation infrastructure project and its impact on residents and businesses.
How John McCain can condemn Donald Trump for outrageous statements, such as those leveled at the Gold Star Khan family, but still endorse the Republican nominee for president is a fair question that’s easy to answer. It’s because he’s walked in Trump’s shoes and lived triumphantly as a politician to benefit from it.
Arizona’s senior senator and the 2008 Republican nominee for president knows a thing or two about saying stupid, incredibly cruel things, often about people who deserve better. McCain also knows it doesn’t take much for voters, especially political party faithful, to forgive, forget and elect. McCain has benefitted from Arizona voter magnanimity for 34 years as a U.S. representative and senator.
“Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.”
— Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
Cynicism as a scourge of civic engagement is a familiar theme of Cory Booker’s speeches. The highly quoted riff in his speech Monday at the Democratic convention is particularly on point in this long, bitter, depressing political season.
“Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.” Booker is right. But Tom Wolfe’s words in The Bonfire of the Vanities also speak directly to 2016 American democracy when he described cynicism as “a cowardly form of superiority.”
My list of things I wish I had said grew a lot this week — a week that from start to finish was full of highlights of a world seemingly gone mad. Relief from despair comes from hearing and reading words that struck a chord.
George W. Bush, David Brooks, Charles Cooke and Bryan Stevenson were on point with these gems that make sense and give hope.
Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown is a profile in courage. He is so grounded in reality. I’ve enjoyed watching him lead. What he said about the impossible demands placed on police officers as quoted in the New York Times is truth in boldface. We have so much work to do.
“Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem. Let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, give it to the cops. Seventy percent of the African-American community is being raised by single women. Let’s give it to the cops to solve that as well.”
“Policing was never meant to solve all those problems,” he said.
I think Mom’s cardiologist nearly had heart attack during her checkup.
Mom and Doc always chitchat during visits, usually about his growing up in Detroit in the ’60s and their shared appreciation of Sam Cooke.
But then Donald Trump’s name came up and I chimed in. I challenged his assertion that “there’s no way, NO WAY” Trump wins the election. When I mentioned “Brexit” and the populist similarities in U.S. politics, the usually laid-back jazz-lover got flushed and started scooting his little wheeled doctor’s stool in a back-and-forth motion.
“It’s not going to happen. Never. NEVER,” Doc said. “I’ll get you any bottle of wine you want if he wins.”
There snoozes, Auggie, my hyperactive grandpup. When he’s not channeling his inner greyhound doing laps around the house, he catnaps. The space between my mom’s socked feet is his new go-to spot for some shut eye. Mom doesn’t notice because she’s napping, too, a frequent habit with the lower energy level of the last few weeks.
Community paramedicine could revolutionize the business of healthcare delivery in Arizona. Several Arizona communities have launched fire service-based community paramedicine programs. Mesa has the largest, most developed program and is tackling thorny issues that address the viability of community paramedicine.
This recent Arizona Republic article explains the billing and reimbursement issues that are key to program financial sustainability.
A Vitalyst Health Foundation policy primer, written by JDD Specialties, provides an overview of the community paramedicine component of mobile integrated healthcare in Arizona and highlights six fire-service based programs. Vitalyst will profile at least six additional community paramedicine programs this year.
New thinking on community redevelopment
There’s more to arts and culture in community redevelopment than meets the eye. Arts and culture can be an anchor in economic development strategies and a significant component of urban revitalization.
(Written for LISC Phoenix. Photo is art adorning the Mesa Arts Center. )
The arts and culture component in comprehensive community development is more than a pop of color in a housing project or a hint of traditional neighborhood vibe. Individual and group stability, civic leadership, creative problem-solving, and hope all spring from intentional efforts to instill arts and culture in community revitalization.
The considered opinion of a panel of experts discussing creative placemaking at an April 6 event in Mesa made clear there is more to arts and culture in community development than meets the eye.
“If you’re not willing to stand up for what you care about, others will control the agenda.”
– Rusty Foley, executive director, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, in a Phoenix New Times article about the absence of arts funding in the state budget
But Rusty’s call for civic engagement applies to so much more than arts funding.
(Written by JDD Specialties for Terry Benelli, executive director of LISC Phoenix.)
Eskwel uma angkyahkya LISC.
“Thank you, it’s good you all came here today to the LISC event,” White Spider Girl said in Hopi language. What followed her greeting at a March 22 gathering of LISC executive directors in downtown Phoenix was a brief, compelling account in English of the 99-year history of the Phoenix Indian School site three miles away.
At the end of the boarding school story of tragedy and triumph, White Spider Girl, also known as Patty Talahongva, community development manager at Native American Connections, smiled and said she wished she had a drum roll for the exciting news she would share publicly for the first time: City-financed construction begins immediately to restore the historic Phoenix Indian School music building. Native culture will activate the public space in the spring of 2017.
Expect drumming and so much more.
Call to action
In 2016, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust joined the list of satisfied JDD Specialties’ clients. The trust uses JDD Specialties as an independent contractor for writing, including news releases and guest columns.
Two great passages from David Brooks’ “Not Trump, Not Ever” column.
“Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how (Republican voters) would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.”
“Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.”
Presidential elections give voters an opportunity to have their say. Their choice in leaders says a lot, and it’s tradition to respect the message. This year is no different. Primary election voters are who they say they are. In 2016, we’re struggling to respect the clear message that rejects any notion of appealing to what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature.”
Advancing public discussions
Policy primers and briefing papers produced by Vitalyst, formerly St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, contribute to public discussions about improving Arizona’s health-care infrastructure. JDD Specialties provided writing and editing services that led to publication of “Fired Up: Community Paramedicine Models Blaze a Trail for Healthcare Delivery Reform,” “Community, Health, Savings: The Power of Community Health Workers in an Evolving Healthcare System” and “Connecting the Dots: A Healthy Community Leader’s Guide to Understanding Hospital Community Benefit Requirements.”
Championing a cause
JDD Specialties helped the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust with a multipronged effort to promote public support for the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center whose 22-year existence is threatened by a new neighbor’s complaints. Preserving endangered Mexican gray wolves is among the accredited sanctuary’s noble deeds. JDD Specialties wrote the Pulliam Trust news release that informed media coverage of the issue; a guest column that provided some inspiration for an editorial and an “advertorial” that encouraged donations to the center.(Photo by Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.)
Promoting cultural connections
LISC Phoenix was among the early supporters of a plan to turn the historic music building at Steele Indian School Park into a Native American cultural center. LISC Phoenix executive director Terry Benelli said the renovated center could be one of the region’s best examples of creative placemaking with cultural emphasis.
Reporting on public policy
JDD Specialties applies journalism skills to help clients explain complex issues, such as this Vitalyst Health Foundation policy primer on the community paramedicine component of mobile integrated healthcare. The February 2016 report required interviews with several leaders of Arizona fire departments and districts. Additional profiles on Arizona fire-service based community paramedicine programs will be posted on the Vitalyst website.
Writing extended profiles, news releases
JDD Specialities was honored to write the profile of Russ Perlich, the 2015 Piper Trust Career Prize awardee. Perlich, a graduate of the University of Arizona and a retired CEO of Phoenix-based Quadna, is the co-founder of Act One. He received the $50,000 Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust prize for his post-career work in ensuring students from underserved public schools experience the arts.
JDD Specialties also wrote the news release announcing the prize awardee.
Advancing important conversations
JDD Specialties founder Jennifer Dokes was a critical reader for the Center for the Future of Arizona’s October 2015 report, “Vision 2025: Arizona Comes of Age.”
Facilitating conversations with thought leaders
Transformative organizations like LISC Phoenix look for ways to explain their impact on the community. JDD Specialities helped facilitate publication of an article about transit-oriented development in Green Living Magazine.
Graham was the featured guest at the recent annual LISC Phoenix Annual Breakfast and Community Awards. Here’s my recap of the breakfast:
LISC Phoenix 2015 Annual Breakfast and Community Awards Recap
LISC Phoenix 2015 Annual Breakfast and Community Awards Recap
Longtime business leader John Graham developed a compulsive interest in urban infill development on opening day of the Phoenix area’s light-rail system in 2008. At that time, sprawling, greenfield suburban projects highlighted his real-estate company’s portfolio.
“What I noticed during that one ride was how much available land there is,” Graham said at the 2015 LISC Phoenix Annual Breakfast and Community Awards celebration. “As a developer, pathologically, it makes me drool a little bit figuring out what to do with it.”
Credit? State Capitol leaders want credit for what they do to public education? Please.
Fixing a budget policy mistake that jeopardized the highly successful and intensely popular career and technical-education programs is the right thing to do. But the action deserves no high fives or back slaps, and it certainly shouldn’t qualify for election-year campaign bragging rights.
Stimulating dialogue in the public square
Jennifer Dokes joined the board of the Monsignor Edward J. Ryle Fund in January 2016. The fund, established in memory of a legendary Arizona scholar and advocate for social justice, promotes intelligent discourse in the public square.
I thank Bobbie O’Boyle, executive director of the Arizona Educational Foundation, for including my list of 2016 inspired leaders in her newsletter. The list includes teacher of the year Christine Marsh.
Leading public discussions
JDD Specialties facilitates discussions of key issues of the day. For example, founder Jennifer Dokes was the moderator for an Arizona School Boards Association discussion with thought leaders about the nexus between education equity and Arizona’s future.
Editorial services subcontractor
Coleman Strategies LLC, based in Washington, D.C., hired JDD Specialties as an editorial services subcontractor for the first annual report of New America, a nonprofit civic enterprise.
The Arizona Republic editorial board recently published its showcase of interesting or influential people to watch in the new year. It’s a fun exercise and an annual conversation/argument starter.
I understand the selections for the 16 Arizonans to watch in 2016. They make sense from an editorial board perspective. But as an Arizonan looking for clear-eyed, innovative leaders, I felt uninspired and a bit despondent after reading the list.
I searched for something better from my perspective, not the editorial board’s perspective, and came up with a list of people I believe will make 2016 interesting for a lot of right reasons. Here are the Arizonans I’m watching in 2016:
The three-panel photo in the Sunday obits caught my eye, but it was the name associated with it that touched my heart: Frank Hooper. Although we never met, I knew him as Frank Hooper, Sun Lakes.
For many years as a member of The Arizona Republic editorial board, I read and selected letters to the editor for publication. At one point, that was about 500 letters a week. I loved it for the insight into the minds of people who are intellectually or emotionally engaged in the news of the day.
Frank Hooper was a regular letter writer. I felt like I knew him well. His contributions to public discourse were thoughtful, respectful and concise. He obviously was comfortable with the written word and was confident enough to sign his name to his opinion and tell you where he lived. An anonymous Internet troll, he was not.
Frank had something to say about a lot of things, and although I often didn’t agree with him, I certainly appreciated his ability and desire to share his point of view in the marketplace of ideas that is the Opinions page. I found some of his letters on azcentral about Obamacare, Ferguson, inflation. One of his most recent ones published in June was about water conservation.
Frank, his wife and two of his children died in a horrible, head-on collision shortly after Thanksgiving. Speed and alcohol were likely factors. The other driver, who also died in the crash, had two DUI convictions.
If this had happened to another family and if Frank had seen the obit, I’m certain he would have had something to say. And it would have been worth printing.
Retired CEO Russ Perlich deserves more attention in the business community for receiving the Piper Trust Encore Career Prize. The arts and education communities should be focusing a spotlight on him, too. There are probably a million reasons his story should resonate in the Valley.
Unfortunately, Arizona, for all its gifts, assets and opportunities, is stuck in a dreary place of inertia and woe. We talk a lot the lack of business and political leadership with no interest in long-term vision and no patience for long-term goals. We lament there being so few Arizonans in places high and low doing the right things to address foundational cracks in the state. It’s difficult these days for bright lights like Perlich to pierce the darkness.
My dad enlisted in the Navy in the early 1950s. He chose to serve a country that at the time still allowed Jim Crow to thrive. It was before Brown v. Board of Education and before the civil rights movement forced the nation by law to live up to its founding ideals for all citizens.
We never talked much about his Navy days, but I suspect he believed he served a country that, while deeply and tragically flawed, was the best in the world. I share that belief today.
Thank you, veterans, for stepping up and standing firm, even in days of doubt, struggle, disappointment and disrespect.
LISC Phoenix executive director Terry Benelli is determined to spread the news about the nonprofit’s work in revitalizing underserved neighborhoods. I like helping her do that.
This article in the new issue of Green Living Magazine ( http://bit.ly/1kJiByS ) tees up the LISC Phoenix annual celebration and awards breakfast on Nov. 18 at the Phoenix Art Museum. John Graham, president and CEO of Sunbelt Holdings, is the featured guest. http://bit.ly/1Y1ViyW
Shaun McKinnon of The Arizona Republic wrote a beautiful story about how the $2 million Isle of the Tiger project at the Phoenix Zoo came to be. I heard another beautiful zoo story on Thursday, the night of the grand opening celebration of the exhibit.
Here’s a passage from Lisa Shover’s speech to about 450 people. (Lisa represented the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, a major donor:
Kathleen’s telling of the Jack Pfister story is a lesson plan for civic, business and political leaders on how to focus on what’s important in Arizona and how to accomplish visionary goals. Remember those days? I do. Generally speaking, leaders in power today are far removed from the spirit and purpose of the Jack Pfister days. And we have a messes everywhere that show it.
Former legendary lawmaker Art Hamilton, and former ASU president Lattie Coor, two fine gentlemen who led by example, will be among the panelists with Kathleen discussing the life and influence of Jack Pfister. (Kathleen teed up the book and the event with this Viewpoints column.
Tommy Espinoza makes the most of things, whether it’s investing capital or seizing moments. The Valley is better for it.
The Arizona native packed a lot into the five minutes he had Friday to wrap up the big announcement that Raza Development Fund and LISC Phoenix boosted their equal partnership in the Sustainable Communities Transit-Oriented Development Fund by $30 million. In 2011, the partnership put an initial $20 million into the transit-oriented development fund.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other dignitaries were on hand to hear Espinoza, president and CEO of Raza Development Fund, speak from the heart about Phoenix, the Latino community and low-income families. He was on point when he said, “Community development is about building up families, not building up buildings.” His riff on social, business and political leadership included a play on the highly charged words “anchor babies.” (Yep, he went there.)
I’m sure fine speeches were delivered Saturday at the opening of the light-rail extension in to downtown Mesa. But the candid, cute comments Mesa Mayor John Giles gave Friday at the announcement that LISC Phoenix and Raza Development Fund will add $30 million dollars to a transit-oriented development fund for projects along the Valley Metro light-rail route are worth sharing for their insights about downtown Mesa’s history and the success of light rail.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton also delivered remarks at the announcement, which kicked off a flurry of transit-related activities in the Valley over a few days. The three-mile extension of light-rail through downtown Mesa opened Saturday. On Tuesday, Phoenix voters will decide the fate of the Proposition 104 transit tax, which in part, expands the light-rail system.
Here are excerpts from Giles’ comments:
“I’m very excited to be in Arizona because it’s where strong women can get things done.”
I like this partial quote from The Arizona Republic’s Q&A with Sheila Healy, the new executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party. It’s true. Women always have had a strong showing in Arizona politics.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will join leaders of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa for an announcement today about LISC Phoenix and Raza Development Fund adding $30 million to a pool of transit-oriented development investment money.
In 2011, LISC Phoenix and Raza Development Fund created a $20 million transit-oriented investment fund to that has helped create more than 2,000 units of affordable housing and 205,000 square feet of retail and community space. The fund leveraged $387 million in total investment activity. The additional $30 million in the investment fund will build on that success.
Some of the projects built with support of the fund include The Newton commercial project near Central Avenue and Camelback Road in Phoenix, the Gracie’s Village mixed-used development in Tempe and the Encore mid-rise senior housing project in downtown Mesa.
Secretary Foxx’s visit comes the day before the opening of the Metro light-rail extension in downtown Mesa and four days before Phoenix voters decide the fate of the Proposition 104 transit tax.
Death made life real. It shook up my thinking about what I thought was important and worth chasing. Clarity of purpose brought calmness and strength.
Losing Dad hurt like nothing I experienced before or after. But 15 years later, I know that one of the greatest gifts from that experience was losing my fear of death. Life is easier when you’re not afraid to die.
Below is a Thanksgiving column I wrote about Dad in 2000, when I was still struggling to fully understand what losing him meant to my family. I’m still figuring that out.
Briana, a best friend of my daughter, is a first responder. She is a freshly minted teacher beginning her first professional year of school. She’s running toward a crisis. It’s not a burning building; it’s Arizona’s public education system.
Teachers have left Arizona classrooms in droves, causing a critical shortage of educators. Rare is the school district that begins this academic year with a full complement of certified teachers. Many meet classroom needs with long-term substitute teachers.
Let’s not mince words about the suspect in the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. He is a terrorist of the worst kind - the domestic variety that this nation knows so well.
Nine people were gunned down Wednesday night at a Bible study inside the historic church in Charleston, S.C. The attack ignites again the uniquely American debates about guns, violence and racism.
But this attack at this church in this day and age does so much more than that. At least it should. (Full disclosure: The African Methodist Episcopal Church is dear to my family. My grandfather was a presiding elder in the AME Ohio conference. All three of his sons, including my father, were ordained ministers. At least one cousin in my generation carries on the Dokes tradition.)
Should Phoenix exist? What a dangerous question. I love it.
Zócalo Public Square and the ASU College of Public Service and Community Solutions launch a community conversation with the “Should Phoenix Exist?” prompt. The event June 2 at the Heard Museum features former Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard and New York University professor Andrew Needham, author of “Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest” and Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the ASU Morrison Institute.
“Make it snappy” takes on new meaning when writing “Quick Hits,” brief comments by Arizona Republic editorial board members featured at the top of the Opinions page. You must reach a point quickly and it has to pop.
Here is a sample of what I said in 2014.
Grand Avenue (U.S. 60 on the map) has challenges and potential so large it shouldn’t be ignored. It deserves more attention than it gets and probably more public resources than are available. A recent Republic article describes its current condition. An editorial I wrote in 2012 (below) has some of the hopeful attitude I still hold for it today.