Daily Archives: September 6, 2008

Muslim-operated food bank in midtown Phoenix helps families fill the gaps

[Source: Lawn Griffiths, East Valley Tribune] — The Islamic holy month of Ramadan began Monday.  Among many things, it is a time when Muslims are called to practice charity, or zakat, to the needy at the same time they practice fasting during daylight hours.  In the Valley and in 17 major U.S. cities today, the national Islamic Relief Foundation is hosting the Day of Dignity “to give Muslims an opportunity to fulfill their Ramadan obligation to help the needy.”

The Cultural Cup Food Bank, a Muslim-operated food bank in midtown Phoenix, is leading the Day of Dignity effort, which actually began Friday and runs through Sunday, intentionally bridging the three days in order to be an interfaith project that can better involve Christians, Jews, and Muslims whose weekend days of worship vary.  The main activities will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Human Services Campus, 1125 W. Jackson St., Phoenix, when more than 200 volunteers will distribute food, clothing, hygiene items, and toys. There will be health screenings for those in need. “It brings people from different faiths and backgrounds together in a common effort to relieve the suffering of those in need,” said Zarinah Awad, founder and director of the Cultural Cup.

Awad started the food bank in her home in 2003.  “I knew a lot of families, Muslim families, and immigrant Muslims that needed help with food, so I started this out of my home,” Awad said.  Some of the economic problems, she said, were related to a backlash toward Muslims in wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America.  Her efforts snowballed, and she secured a small building in downtown Phoenix from which to dispense food and clothing. Then it moved into a larger building at 537 E. Osborn Road, where it barely has enough space for a food pantry, offices, and a Saturday wellness clinic.

Few know a Muslim food bank exists, Awad acknowledged.  There may even be the stereotype that Muslims take care of their own needy, as is especially seen in such faiths as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  “Muslims are just like anybody else,” she said.  “We live here in the United States, and we are suffering with the economy like anybody else.  It is affecting us, too.”  She said Muslim refugees arrive in the Valley and may have great difficulty finding jobs.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Preventing pedestrian accidents on Phoenix’s light rail

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Slow train coming… With just over 100 days left until the Valley’s light-rail system opens, the City Council is getting serious about safety.  When Metro light-rail CEO Rick Simonetta stopped by a council meeting this week to give members a progress report, the council grilled him about how motorists and pedestrians can stay safe around the trains. “I worry about pedestrian traffic,” Councilwoman Peggy Neely said.  “A lot of folks at the office buildings kind of float back and forth (across the street) and are used to that.”

Neely’s right.  Every day at lunch time, hundreds of people cross the light-rail tracks at First Avenue and Adams Street without so much as a sideways glance to check for trains.  That’s fine for now — train testing won’t resume downtown till the end of this month, Metro officials say.  But when it does, pedestrians will need to be much more careful.  In the meantime, Metro is trying to come up with a slogan to remind people to stay off the tracks. May I suggest: “Don’t be a hobo; stay off the tracks.”  If you can think of something catchier, send an e-mail and I’ll pass it along.

Phoenix Parks & Recreation Board to discuss citizen feedback, Sept. 11

Dining Hall, Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

[Source: Phoenix Parks & Recreation Foundation] — On Thursday, September 11, 2008 the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department will present to the Parks and Recreation Board information collected from a series of public meetings and a summer-long online survey designed to allow residents to set priorities for park and preserve development and improvements over the coming years.  

These results, being presented to the public for the first time on September 11, are intended to assist Parks and Recreation Department staff in the development of a proposal and recommendations for consideration by the Parks and Recreation Board.  Ultimately, a final plan must be approved by the Phoenix City Council.

The City created this public involvement process in response to the overwhelming May 20 voter approval of the reauthorization of the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative.  For the past nine years the Initiative, using a one-tenth of one cent sales tax, has raised more than $200 million to fund the construction and improvement of parks throughout the city and the addition of thousands of acres of desert land to the city’s preserve system.  In the May 20 vote, 83% of voters approved a 30-year extension of the program, which was set to expire next year.

The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5 p.m. in the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 West Jefferson Street.  For more information, click here.

Phoenix Art Museum hosts 2008-09 art season kick-off, Sept. 26

Celebrate the downtown Phoenix lifestyle during Urban Affair, billed by promoters as the Valley’s premier urban living event, on Friday, September 26, from 6 to 10 p.m.  The Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave., will host a cocktail reception highlighted by several local, live arts performances.  Guests will experience a spirited atmosphere that will serve as a kick-off to the arts season.  The schedule includes:

  • Live Performing Arts — by local artists and representatives of performing arts organizations.
  • Culinary Arts — iconic downtown restaurants and chefs serving a “progressive tasting menu” throughout the evening.
  • Visual Arts — professional and amateur photographers and filmmakers will document daytime scenes and nightlife.

Tickets are $30, $75 VIP (VIP includes host bar and access to the Champagne & Dessert Gallery).  A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, produced by the non-profit Community Food Connections.   Tickets are available online.  For more information, call 602-252-2642, send an e-mail, or go online.

Arizona Corporation Commission candidate debate set for Sept. 15

The primary election for Arizona Corporation Commission is over, and congratulations to the following candidates — Sam George (D), Sandra Kennedy (D), Marian McClure (R), Paul Newman (D), Bob Stump (R), and Barry Wong (R) — who move onto the general election in November.  A candidate debate has been set for September 15, 2008 at Rio Salado College in Tempe.  Registration Noon to 1 p.m.; debate 1-3 p.m.; and reception 3-4 p.m.  The debates will cover issues important to you and Arizona’s future:

  • Water quality and the cost of electric and natural gas
  • High speed Internet to rural communities
  • Solar, nuclear, and other alternative energy sources
  • Arizona’s investment in utility infrastructure

Logon to our webcasts, tune in to your local Cable TV, or engage in person at Rio Salado College in Tempe to learn more about the powerful ACC (often described as a Fourth Branch of Government) and to see the candidates debate these and other issues that will have an enormous impact on you, Arizona’s future, and the finances, safety and quality of life of all citizens, businesses, and organizations in Arizona.  You can propose questions and discuss issues online by clicking here.

These nonpartisan debates, sponsored by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission, are presented by the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council and moderated by Mark Goldstein of International Research Center in cooperation with other business and community organizations.  For more information, contact Steve Peters, ATIC ACC Debate Coordinator at 520-321-1309 or e-mail.