40th anniversary book
ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy commissioned JDD Specialties LLC to write its 40-year history. The storytelling approach makes for fun, enlightening reading about the institute’s origins and survival.
ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy commissioned JDD Specialties LLC to write its 40-year history. The storytelling approach makes for fun, enlightening reading about the institute’s origins and survival.
JDD Specialties continued an annual tradition of writing profiles of people and organizations that LISC Phoenix identifies as doing exemplary work in helping to build equitable communities. The 2021 honorees include:
UMOM’s Newsom Village, exemplary project: Newsom Village builds upon UMOM legacy of developing permanent affordable housing
Arouet Foundation’s Financial Opportunity Center, exemplary program development: Arouet Foundation rises to challenge of operating a LISC Financial Opportunity Center
Mesa Vice Mayor Jenn Duff, exemplary advocate: Jenn Duff’s continuous search for best ways for Mesa to develop starts with neighbors and local businesses
City Councilmember Robin Arredondo-Savage, exemplary advocate: Robin Arredondo-Savage brings small business, veteran background to Tempe community-development efforts
2020 Funds to Feed grantees and partners, exemplary community response: COVID-19-response Funds to Feed Grant inspired innovation, launched new era of grant-making
I met Gwen, my neighbor who is homeless, in March of 2020, just as the COVID-19 lockdown began. My gym was closed, and so I started taking long walks for my physical, mental and emotional health.
I passed Gwen many times when I walked on Central Avenue before we started to have conversations. I posted them on my JDD Specialities Facebook page as part of my #20/20 series.
I’m continuing that conversation in this blog. The posts are in reverse chronological order.
All families experience stress at some point. Knowing that family stress is a first sign of child abuse and neglect, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona in April 2021 issued a community call to action and toolkit. It’s an effort to raise awareness about the factors that protect families from overwhelming stress, and provide tips, tools, and messages to help community members strengthen families in everyday ways.
The toolkit was developed after a series of virtual listening sessions in 2020 with stakeholders in the child welfare system, including families who are in the system and who identified as being at risk of having contact with the system.
Beyond Strategy Consulting is a multidisciplinary professional practice that uses the art of collaboration to deliver results and strengthen communities. Founder Cassies Hilpman Breecher tapped JDD Specialties to help write content for a revamped BSC website. JDD Specialties is also part of Cassie’s team of collaborators.
With the support of LISC Phoenix, the Arouet Foundation helps women newly released from Perryville Prison navigate complex systems that pose barriers and obstacles to their success. The Financial Opportunity Center, a special initiative of LISC, is a crucial part of Arouet’s support system to formerly incarcerated women.
LISC Phoenix recognizes people or organizations that have helped it in its work to build equitable communities. JDD Specialties, as it has in years past, wrote profiles of the 2020 honorees.
Exemplary Collaborative, Arizona Home Matters Fund: “New Arizona affordable housing fund built on solid foundation of collaboration.”
Exemplary Project, Urban Living on Fillmore by Native American Connections: “Urban Living on Fillmore’s form follows Native American Connections’ functions.”
Exemplary Partner, U.S. Bank: “U.S. Bank COVID-19 relief funds follow a trail of trust, partnership to transit corridor microbusinesses.”
Heroic efforts for the arts
For the third consecutive year, JDD Specialties wrote all profiles for the ON Media Arts Hero program. Arts heroes are honored each month in theater programs for venues in Phoenix and Tucson.
The 2019-20 profiles of heroes are available in digital booklets:
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.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, JDD Specialties helped the trust communicate a multifaceted, rapid response of strategic emergency grants.
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.”
Bianca Buliga grew up thinking ‘business’ was a dirty word and that nothing good comes of its practice. Her early perceptions seemed diametrically opposed to her life goal of making positive, societal change. The 2017 graduate of the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management knows better now. In April 2020, She was featured in the school’s Alumni Spotlight.
This wrap-up of a LISC Phoenix event that has become a major celebration of community development work in Arizona featured LISC COO Annie Donovan. The national expert in community development and impact investing, shared five things to focus on when addressing structural factors that create and perpetuate poverty in our communities.
(Note: This article is part of “Communities on the Line,” a LISC Phoenix series on transit-oriented development in the Valley.) A ¾-acre residential lot in the West Camelback Corridor is long past its prime as a single-family-home property. As fate and determination have it, that’s a very good thing for 20 future homeowners and a neighborhood experiencing revitalization spurred by light rail.
Trellis broke ground in May on a townhouse development in central Phoenix at 1617 W. Colter St. Trellis @ Colter is a rare, unique new home ownership opportunity within the Valley Metro light-rail corridor where thousands of units of multifamily rental housing have sprung up along the 28-mile route in recent years, including projects underway to the south and west of the townhomes.
But for Trellis, which has a long history in single-family home lending and building, it didn’t make sense to put three or four small units on the lot near the 19th Avenue and Camelback Road light-rail station. Trellis delved into density options for home ownership because of the lot’s proximity to light rail, its central city location and because of all the commercial activity occurring on Camelback Road. Continue reading
Progress on the Valley’s affordable home ownership crisis requires thinking and acting differently. Trellis and its partners, including LISC Phoenix, are doing just that. Here’s an article about a transit-oriented development project that offers a rare Phoenix home-ownership opportunity near the light-rail line.
Editor’s note: This article appeared first appeared in the ASU Thunderbird School of Global Management Knowledge Network e-newsletter.
Ask Solomon Frank about his typical workday after launching a start-up on a small tropical isle and he will talk about rolling out of a hammock for a day that includes fishing and swimming. Fishing is for sustenance; swimming is how he gets to work.
There is no checking email or seeing what the stock markets are doing because there is no Internet on the island. But pigs and chickens do get his and his co-workers’ daily attention; so do some food crops.
There’s also a cash crop to tend: seaweed. That’s where he gets down to the business of improving lives through economic development.
(Photo credit: Howard Paley)
ON Media celebrated the third year of its Arts Hero program in Phoenix. (It conducts the same program in Tucson.) This has become one of my favorite annual projects because of all the talented and extraordinarily decent people I meet.
Fran Cohen Smith, a champion of modern dance in Arizona and a driving force behind Wolf Trap, an arts-integrated, early-child-learning program, was one of my favorite interviews of the 2018-19 season. We laughed and talked for hours at First Draft. Her profile appeared in March programs at Valley venues, about two months before she died at 87. Fran was seen dancing on stage with children just weeks before she died.
(Photo credit: Howard Paley)
ON Media honored another season of Arts Heroes in Tucson. It’s always a pleasure to write profiles of the honorees. Soleste Lupu and Joey Rodgers, owners of Dancing in the Streets AZ, were among my favorites for the 2018-19 season. The husband-and-wife team teaches classical ballet in South Tucson.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.”
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.)
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.