Strong Towns’ guru speaks
Editor’s note: Charles Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, shared thoughts about Phoenix-area development during a 2018 visit. This article was written for LISC Phoenix, one of the sponsors of Marohn’s visit.
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” — Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”
The definition of insanity, the adage goes, is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Charles Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, argues that current development patterns force people, especially those in the Southwest, to live some variation of Crazytown, USA.
The horizontal expansion development patterns we see today make life unnecessarily difficult for some residents and are not sustainable long-term, Marohn said. Cities and towns can’t afford the post-World War II, automobile-centric, sprawl development pattern seen coast to coast, he said.
“You’re in a dysfunctional system designed to do a dysfunctional thing over and over again,” Marohn said.
“Phoenix, the state of Arizona, a lot of the Southwest, is designed to grow in a very certain, specific way. … Not only is the landscape perfectly adapted to that, but the structures that we’ve created — socially, politically, culturally, economically — are perfectly aligned to do that,” he said.
Last summer Marohn led a candid “Curbside Chat” (one of more than 300 he’s held nationwide) about development of cities and towns and was the featured speaker at events sponsored by LISC Phoenix, Local First, Downtown Voices Coalition, Downtown Phoenix Inc., RAILmesa, Sustainable Cities Network AZ, Sustainable Communities Collaborative, Urban Phoenix Project and Vitalyst Health Foundation.
LISC is a national organization with a community focus. LISC Phoenix was formed in 1992 to help revive blighted neighborhoods throughout metropolitan Phoenix. Working in collaboration with grassroots organizations and community partners, LISC Phoenix creates innovative solutions to problems faced by distressed, low-income neighborhoods.
LISC Phoenix initiatives, such as the Corridors of Retail Excellence (CORE), speak to some of the people-first community development principles championed by Strong Towns. CORE is a data-driven strategy that supports development and economic growth along five commercial corridors in low and moderate-income neighborhoods. CORE strategies develop from market assessments, on-the-ground surveys and collaboration with residents and business owners.
Strong Towns’ mission is to restore sanity to the places we call home by supporting a development model that encourages financial strength and resilience in cities, towns and neighborhoods. The organization believes “strong citizens (people who care),” collaboration, financial solvency, a meaningful transportation system, and sustainable land use are keys to stopping the madness.
Marohn told downtown Phoenix audiences that current U.S. development patterns — “the suburban experiment” — are a deviation from thousands of years of how civilizations grew and prospered.
Our ancestors knew what they were building; they followed a strong pattern of incremental development, Marohn said. They started small, taking low risks as they grew up within a core rather than building horizontally on the edges. Over time, buildings were constructed with more intensity: wood structures would be replaced with brick and granite.
Cities and towns back in the day lived within their means; they were able to pay their bills, he said. Today, not so much. Marohn calls today’s development pattern a growth Ponzi scheme that creates an illusion of wealth.
Because of decades of unproductive development, we have built more than we can take care of, Marohn said. Older, established neighborhoods are paying for themselves and contributing to city coffers; the rapid-fire new developments are not, leaving shortfalls when it comes time for public infrastructure upkeep or replacement, he said.
Historical development patterns recognized that complex natural systems are never based on efficiency; they are based on resiliency, adaptability and redundancy, Marohn said. But with modern development patterns, we’ve said cities and towns should be built and administered on an efficiency model. Marohn believes the efficiency model is designed to fail.
Strong Towns has adapted a Silicon Valley saying that innovation that happens from the top down tends to be orderly but dumb; innovation that happens from the bottom up tends to be chaotic but smart. Taking direction from the people for how to grow and development is a smart thing to do, Marohn said.
“We all have a preference for smart over dumb,” Marohn said. “But we have an enormously overwhelming preference, especially as an affluent society, for order over chaos. We will tolerate an incredible amount of dumb in order to have order.”
“How do you not get chaotic but dumb? I think you trust that people living in the community over time will not be dumb,” he said. “They’ll not migrate towards dumb. And if they do, that neighborhood will probably fail and go away.”
In the Phoenix metropolitan area, the impact of the 10-year CORE initiative, which has a transit-oriented development focus, has come into focus. LISC Phoenix and its partners have invested in five commercial corridors in Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix and have provided technical assistance to support ongoing grass-roots corridor management.
In four of the five corridors, population increased, largely as a result of investment in affordable housing. The percentage of low-income households also decreased from 2008 to 2018.
Marohn believes the best way North American cities and towns can get off the path of catastrophic failure is to turn planning and development on its head. Instead of trying to take a dysfunctional, professional top-down process and try to bend it to better ends, put people first in planning, he said.
Let neighborhoods be part of the solution, part of rescuing themselves, Marohn said. Observe where people struggle and make small investments to deal with those struggles, he said.
“Instead of saying, ‘Our goal is to do this to help them,’ what if we said, ‘Our goal is to help them?’ “
Marohn is convinced the outcomes of such a process would be very different than something that came from top-down efforts. It could help stitch neighborhoods back together, making them stronger, more resilient, and adaptable. It could improve lives, he said.
“Tactical urbanism” is part of a “Neighborhoods First” initiative championed by Strong Towns. It’s a citizen-led, low-cost approach to neighborhood building and incremental growth. It happens in the Phoenix metropolitan area with efforts such as tree plantings, Park(ing) Day, the Radiate PHX Pop-up Festival, Mesa temporary murals, and Mesa Movies on Main St. (Downtown Voices Coalition started an open source map that shows examples of tactical urbanism.)
“We need to step back and acknowledge that we may have the right motives in our heart, but we’re using a process designed to do something different than what we’re trying to accomplish,” Marohn said. “If we can pump ourselves to have a different approach, an approach that is messier, an approach that’s not as efficient, an approach that’s not necessarily tied into federal and state grant programs, an approach that’s not tied into redevelopers and large amounts of capital, but an approach that actually starts with the needs of the people in our community, I think we can, in a very low-risk, high-reward kind of way, build places that are productive, successful and great places to live.”
That doesn’t sound crazy at all.
A public-private partnership with layers of leveraged resources produced huge community impact in the form and function of Valor on Eighth, an affordable housing complex with a special focus on veterans.
This is part of the “Communities on the Line” series that I write for LISC Phoenix.
Honor, dignity and opportunity took up residence at Valor on Eighth when the Tempe apartment community designed and built for under-served veterans opened in January. Hope and determination have made themselves comfortable there, too.
With Valor, housing and veterans’ advocates scored a victory in the ongoing battle to create decent, affordable living environments for those who have served our country. Valor is the only affordable housing apartment community in Arizona that puts the needs of veterans with families front and center.
I have been asking questions for more than 30 years. I know a good answer when I hear one. Now I know what it’s like to be on the other end of that process.
VoyagePhoenix was kind of enough to share my story of founding JDD Specialties. It was a fun Q&A and an honor to be included in the online magazine’s popular “Phoenix’s Most Inspiring Stories” feature.
Here’s a link to the article posted on Oct. 19: Meet Jennifer Dokes of JDD Specialties
(Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the LISC Phoenix website.)
Perodin Bideri, a west Phoenix shop owner who was raised in refugee camps in Tanzania, and Christy Moore, a veteran Valley nonprofit executive who is on a mission to disrupt the landromat industry, are in the same boat.
Both are seeing things — opportunities, specifically. Both have a brand of ambition that’s engaging and inspiring; it invites participation.
And both are navigating waves of success that often come with access to capital made possible through a partnership with nonprofits LISC and Kiva, an online crowdfunding platform. For as little as $25, a lender can join a fund that allows borrowers to receive loans of up to $10,000.
Access to capital is a major hurdle for emerging small-business owners. They don’t qualify for credit from traditional lenders. If they do secure loans, they come with high interest rates and fees.
With a Kiva loan, borrowers pay zero interest and no fees. That got the attention of Bideri, owner of B&R African Styles.
“When I was introduced to Kiva, it was a great opportunity to open doors that grow my business,” Bideri said. “To get a loan with zero interest? I was in.”
Editor’s note: Miracle Mile on McDowell is the latest entry in the LISC Phoenix “Communities on the Line” series.
Nearly seven decades ago, shop owners frustrated by the challenges of conducting business in downtown Phoenix went looking for the next big thing in local commerce. They found it on McDowell Road, which back then was on the outskirts of town.
McDowell Road quickly became a mid-century commercially vibrant, pedestrian-friendly place to be. A stretch of east McDowell was so thick with business activity it became known as the “Miracle Mile.”
Fortunes changed just as quickly for Miracle Mile. By the late 1950s, the hot spot was snuffed out by the next big thing — Park Central, Arizona’s first shopping mall.
Decades of neglect and abandonment and policy decisions turned McDowell Road into a major route for commuters rather than a destination location or a place with goods and services for neighbors.
McDowell Road is getting a second chance.
In contemporary terms that signal next-big-thing status — revitalization, diversity, inclusion, small-business investment, creative placemaking, connected neighborhoods — the east McDowell Road commercial corridor from 7th Street to Highway 51 is heating up again. The area has amassed an array of ethnic restaurants and markets (Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Morrocan, Mexican) and is becoming a hub for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurship. Other small business also are finding success in the corridor.
New Miracle Mile conversations are enlivened by a respectful historical perspective of McDowell Road, new tools in the community planning and organizing toolbox, and nearby examples of eye-popping urban revitalization along stretches of Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue in central Phoenix.
“I see an area just ripe for potential,” said Joel McCabe, co-chairman of the McDowell Road Revitalization Committee. “I see a vibrant commercial corridor, harking back to our days as the Miracle Mile and doing fun projects that recognize some of that history.”
“It’s hard to find, in this big city that we are now, the remnants of what was this commercial corridor,” McCabe said. “Sure the street doesn’t look the way it did, but I can see beyond that.”
McCabe is COO and vice president of Trellis, an organization dedicated since 1975 to the development of stable homes and communities, which began its revitalization work in the neighborhoods in the McDowell Road corridor. Now it’s a Miracle Mile anchor institution that has added commercial corridor development as a pillar of its work.
Trellis helped the Coronado Neighborhood on the north side of McDowell receive historic district status and it moved some homes from the path of Highway 51 to the neighborhood. In the Garfield neighborhood south of McDowell, Trellis has acquired and rehabbed more than 80 homes and this year is building new single-family homes there.
In recent years, Trellis and community partners such as Phoenix Community Alliance and LISC Phoenix have focused on the McDowell Road commercial corridor as a gateway to downtown Phoenix and as a way to strengthen neighborhoods.
LISC MetroEdge completed a market scan of the corridor in 2016 that recommended goals, noted assets and challenges, and suggested early actions for organizing small business leadership and corridor improvements, including clean-up efforts and beautification. Formative work has begun with Miracle Mile Merchants Association. Community clean-ups occurred last year; the first one of this year is April 21. Trees were planted last year; additional landscaping may be added this year.
The McDowell Road Revitalization Committee of the Phoenix Community Alliance meets monthly. McCabe is co-chairman of the committee that will help create a branding and marketing campaign and a website. The new Miracle Mile corridor logo features the iconic “Gateway Arch” that spans McDowell Road near 16th Street. (The public art installation was an attempt in 1991 to brand the area for local businesses and to create an entrance to downtown Phoenix.)
Ideas are flowing about the “missing teeth” look of the corridor, the gaps of vacant lots and empty building space between successful businesses. There’s talk of pop-up shops or events to help bring people to the area. There’s also discussion of activating alley space.
Various mixers for business owners are planned in 2018 to discuss topics such as microlending, social media and marketing. There will also be a brand unveiling and community celebration in which there likely will be Miracle Mile talk about the past, present and future.
“I see this as the re-pioneering of McDowell,” McCabe said.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing nearly two dozen people in the Valley and southern Arizona for the On Media Publications Arts Hero project. It’s been a labor of love during the past few months because I’ve met some of the coolest people doing amazing, righteous things for our communities.
Most of the honorees are new to me. But Rusty Foley, the Phoenix Arts Hero for January, is very familiar. She built a legacy long before she put her talent and energy into Arizona Citizens for the Arts. I knew her first as a very good journalist and then as a community mover-shaker while at SRP.
You can call Rusty a hero. I call her a bad chick. Not many people hold that high status in my book.
(This article is part of a LISC Phoenix series, “Communities on the LIne.” Photo by Mark Lipczynski Photography.)
For city, state, and federal housing leaders, Camelback Pointe is part of a regional effort to end chronic homelessness. The 54-unit apartment complex has a single-person focus and on-site case managers and resident service specialists to address an array of needs.
For developer Native American Connections (NAC), the $13 million complex in the West Camelback Road commercial corridor represents an evolution of its groundbreaking permanent supportive housing work, combining the Housing First service model with transit-oriented development principles.
For urban renewal advocates, Camelback Pointe, a LEED Platinum certified development, is an example of converting a nuisance property into an architecturally clean community asset. It replaces an abandoned fast food restaurant site that had become a problem property, and now has an engaging, neighborhood-focused owner (NAC) who will have a 24/7 presence at the secure-community site.
But for its new residents, Camelback Pointe is simply and powerfully one thing: Home.
Andrea Hipps, NAC affordable housing specialist, said Camelback Pointe is not temporary or transitional housing. It is designed and programmed to meet chronically homeless individuals’ needs, both basic and complicated, as a first step to wellness, she said.
On Jan. 18, residents, local and state housing leaders, and community development partners, including LISC Phoenix, will celebrate the grand opening of Camelback Pointe, 1537 W. Camelback Road.
NAC has a 46-year history of providing supportive services in central Phoenix for urban Native Americans with substance abuse issue. Its focus on housing emerged from that work. NAC opened it’s first Housing First service model to end homelessness when it celebrated the grand opening of Encanto Pointe apartment complex in 2013. Input from Encanto Pointe residents emphasized the importance of transit to wellness.
Camelback Pointe’s location adjacent to Valley Metro light rail is intentional and so are its design features. For example, bicycles are the major source of transportation for residents, and so Camelback Pointe has ample bike storage and a bike repair shop.
In addition to internal 24/7 NAC services, residents live in what Hipps called a “naturally service enriched location.” Via light rail or bike, residents have easy access to a federally qualified health center in Mountain Park Health Center at the Chris Town YMCA, a branch of the public library, Solano Park, and a Fry’s grocery story.
Camelback Pointe is NAC’s fifth permanent supportive housing site with a single-individual focus. A sixth site is in the pipeline.
“In Arizona and in Phoenix in particular, there is a significant need for permanent supportive housing in general and for singles in particular, and so I think we’re just filling a much-needed gap for the type of community member that needs more structure, that needs more investment to achieve housing stability,” Hipps said.
LISC Phoenix, which helped NAC purchase land for Camelback Pointe, is among those contributing to the investment in permanent supportive housing. Such investment requires a shift in thinking about the expenses associated with improving the housing and health conditions of chronically homeless people who are regular users of the emergency medical services and can revolve through criminal justice systems. The Housing First service model shifts investment into something that has long-term, positive effect on their lives and reduces costs in other systems of care.
“In a financing climate where it’s really hard to find someone to be ‘first in,’ LISC is willing to be first in,” said Diana Yazzie Devine, CEO of NAC. “That means the world to us as developers to have a partner that believes in our model, believes in our ability to perform long-term. It’s a real gift.”
A new series for LISC Phoenix
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 series called, Communities on the Line.
LISC and its partners are experts in the business of comprehensive economic development. Maurice Jones, president and CEO of LISC, said the success stories in the Phoenix area and throughout the nation leave no doubt about that.
They’ve done the heavy lifting of revitalizing neighborhoods and forging healthy, sustainable communities. They’ve flashed genius in leveraging tools and resources for initiatives that create place, spur small-business activity and strengthen the local workforce.
But on Nov. 1, Jones used the occasion of the LISC Phoenix annual celebration of exemplary work in community development to talk about failure — specifically the effort needed to push toward a higher-degree of success with deeper meaning. Don’t lose sight of humanity in community development work, Jones said in urging leaders to look for the faces of loved ones in serving people in need.
“Sometimes in our work we get caught up in what’s the capital stack that we need, where does philanthropy play, where do banks play, where does local government play, where do we play,” Jones said. “The real issue is do I see the face of my daughter in that homeless guy. …The most important muscle in the work that we’re talking about now is the heart. It’s not the other stuff. We know how to do it. It’s whether we have the heart to do it.”
Jones was the featured guest at the 2017 LISC Phoenix annual breakfast at the Mesa Arts Center. More than 200 attended the celebration that honored Mountain Park Health Center – Tempe Clinic as an exemplary project; Nordstrom Bank as an exemplary partner and Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center as an exemplary collaborative.
Mesa Mayor John Giles expressed gratitude for LISC Phoenix’s work, particularly in improving the affordable housing condition in downtown Mesa and growing a strong arts community.
“Thank you for your support,” Giles said to LISC. “Thank you for helping us create places in our communities that are the hub of people and business and in the way we interject new economy, sometimes in old buildings. It’s exactly what my community needs and each of the communities that you serve so well.”
Jones said LISC has a particular interest in the Phoenix area for building more commercial corridors, helping individuals get prepared for the work that exists in the region, facilitating entrepreneur and small-business endeavors and “really investing in this robust arts community here, leveraging it for both creating place but also creating jobs.”
In addition to urging a recommitment to moving people’s hearts to maintain momentum on effective community development work, Jones said it’s important to have a solid partnerships across many sectors that can confidently navigate the ups and downs of pursuing strategic goals.
“For the work we do, the most important thing is heart and high-functioning team,” Jones said. “That combination gets us across the finish line every time.”
Maurice Jones gets to the heart of matters
The president and CEO of LISC, a champion of inclusive economic development, was the featured guest at the LISC Phoenix annual breakfast and awards ceremony on Nov. 1.
“Sometimes in our work we get caught up in what’s the capital stack that we need, where does philanthropy play, where do banks play, where does local government play, where do we play,” Maurice Jones said. “The real issue is do I see the face of my daughter in that homeless guy. …The most important muscle in the work that we’re talking about now is the heart. It’s not the other stuff. We know how to do it. It’s whether we have the heart to do it.”
‘Leap for Joy’
The Red Book, a resource for those involved in the social and philanthropic community, and azredbook.com launched a new magazine. The Red Book Magazine will have a single focus. The premier issue published in September 2017 focused on the arts. JDD Specialties was honored to write a feature, “Leap for Joy,” for the first issue of The Red Book Magazine
Arts Hero project
On Media hired JDD Specialties to write profiles for its Arts Hero project. The 17 profiles will appear in the 2017-18 theater programs published for Phoenix and Tucson performances.
September Phoenix Arts Hero
Giant Coffee: The mayor is there. He asks me if I miss daily journalism. (That’s an emphatic, “NO!”) I tell him it’s good to see him out and about. He says it’s better than staying inside Phoenix City Hall. He dashes off, in that trademark way he comes and goes. He left me me wondering where his next political home will be, but not in a political junkie way. It was more personal.
The Refuge: That’s the site of a business meeting with someone who is the wind beneath powerful wings. There’s lots to discuss about a long-term project that could revolutionize the way we help people in need, how we make our communities stronger. But first things first: We take our time catching up on family news. She’s wearing a sharp, black dress, heels and pearls. I’m in a shirt, jeans and flats. We’re both in appropriate work attire to handle the business before us. That’s just how we roll in Phoenix.
First Draft: Even when I’m not there, I’m there. While at the gym, I get a text from a dynamo who I’m counting on to win the most interesting Arizona legislative race in 2018. She’s at Changing Hands bookstore where we’ve bumped into each other a couple of times when I’m working out of the adjacent First Draft. It’s to the point where she expects to see me every time she’s at the bookstore. I like that connection.
None of this happens without the excuse to drink coffee and tea and to be in interesting places. Coffee shops make you feel like the world is small and intimate, but they are also places that help you keep the big picture in sharp focus. There’s a certain magic in all of that.
A focus on urban living
JDD Specialties has expertise writing about community development, urban design and sustainable communities. An article for LISC Phoenix that recaps “Happy City” author Charles Montgomery’s May 2017 visit to the Valley of the Sun is an example of that work.
(Editor’s note: This blog is part of a LISC Phoenix monthly series, Communities on the Line.)
The Phoenix metropolitan area has a world-class freeway system and wide arterial streets laid out in a marvelous grid pattern to move people around and within a vast, car-dependent region. Residents can’t be happy.
Seriously. Neuropsychology, sociology and public health lessons about happiness tell us what we’ve done over 30 years to build communities and move cars in the region generally is at odds with creating environments for widespread personal satisfaction.
Urban design patterns throughout greater Phoenix discourage social connections vital to the desired human condition we call happiness or well-being, urbanist Charles Montgomery said during a recent visit. A growing body of scientific research tells us unhappiness invites social, health and economic miseries that stifle individual and community prosperity, he said.
“Cities really do make or break our well-being in their systems, through architecture, through public space,” Montgomery said. “They change how we feel, they change how we move and they change how we treat other people in ways most of us don’t even realize.”
(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!”
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.
“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.
Promoting special initiatives
JDD Specialties is a consultant and writer for Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, one of the nation’s top-100 foundations. The trust awards annually about $23 million in grants to nonprofits in Maricopa County.
In August 2015, JDD Specialties helped the trust and the Arizona Commission on the Arts with a joint announcement about a three-year grant to launch the AZ Creative Aging initiative, which a national leader of the creative aging movement called “brilliant.”
(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.)