Monthly Archives: June 2009

Finding Willo: An eclectic Phoenix historic district has a way of making friends


Annual Willo Home Tour festivities

[Source: Katherine Bair Desmond, American Bungalow Magazine] — When my husband suggested a relocation to Phoenix four years ago to be nearer to his family, visions of endless identical postwar homes surrounded by dirt and cacti sprang to mind.  For a girl who grew up in the green hills of Atlanta and has lived in the Berkshire mountains, Boston, Washington D.C. and London, the thought of a move to the desert was less than thrilling.  The pace of life was appealing, as was the closeness to family.  But could I ever feel at home in the desert landscape?

We decided to take a “get to know Phoenix” trip.  Ryan drove me around to countless neighborhoods his mother had suggested we check out.  None spoke to me.  Many were nice — perfectly pleasant — but I needed a neighborhood with character.  A neighborhood with soul.  I started to think maybe you couldn’t find that in America’s “new” cities.  And then… we found Willo.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Fourth of July fireworks in central Phoenix

When: Saturday, July 4, 2009

Time:  6 p.m. – 10 p.m.  Fireworks begin approximately 9:20 p.m.

Place: Steele Indian School Park, 300 E. Indian School Rd.

Cost: Admission is free.  Food and beverages available for purchase.

For more information, click here.

Will trains be silenced in downtown Phoenix?

The City of Phoenix is proposing a “quiet zone” for downtown Phoenix’s Warehouse District. They need federal approval to do so.  Retail businesses and condo owners complain about the noise, but others worry about safety.  Click here for KPHO Television’s video report.

1st Grand Avenue Festival to celebrate Phoenix culture, art, history, and adaptive reuse

Grand Avenue Festival[Source: Grand Avenue Festival organizers] — This is an exciting time in downtown Phoenix and one of the hot spots is Lower Grand Avenue.  All along the Lower Grand Avenue corridor, independent locally-owned businesses, galleries, performance venues, and artist studios are flourishing in a unique, diverse environment.  The area prominently features the creative, adaptive re-use of historic buildings, helping to preserve Phoenix’s heritage.

To increase awareness of this pedestrian-friendly arts and retail district, we are pleased to announce the first annual Grand Avenue Festival, to be held on Saturday, September 26, 2009.  The event is a celebration of the vibrant culture, art, history and adaptive re-use of the Lower Grand Avenue small business district and adjoining neighborhoods.  The festival will include historic building tours, fashion shows, music performances featuring local talent, and a variety of other activities throughout the day.

RadiatePhx event at The Lost Leaf, June 30

radiatephx[Source: Catrina Knoebl, RadiatePHX] — Join RadiatePHX in celebration of National Independents Week, June 29 through July 5.  Celebrating with us will be Local First Arizona Director, Kimber Lanning. She’ll be our guide to the week and share how we can continue to support the cause by tapping into Local First’s directory, Golden Coupons, and more.

  • Date: Tuesday, June 30
  • Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.; panel discussion will start a little after 6 p.m.
  • Place: The Lost Leaf, 914 N. 5th Street, Phoenix, AZ

Radiators will also receive $1 off the 8 p.m. Tuesday evening showing of documentary film “Malls R Us” at Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt St.

Then make a night of it!  We will be gathering at The Lost Leaf for beverage refreshment so everyone can head out afterward and visit nearby independent restaurants in our own downtown.  You will be invited to forward your own brief restaurant review (“We had a terrific burger and the best margaritas!”) by the end of Independents Week and they will be posted on the RadiatePhoenix site and on for all to see.

Click here to RSVP.  For more information about RadiatePHX, click here.

College planning center opens in downtown Phoenix library

[Source: Jonathan Rogers, National League of Cities] — Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, city council members, school board members and local funding partners recently celebrated the opening of a new, full-service college planning center at the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix. Developed through a partnership between the city’s Youth and Education Programs Office and three higher education institutions, College Depot will provide access to a range of free services to help high school students prepare for postsecondary education.

These outreach, resource and referral services are aimed at improving access to information for college planning, financial aid and admission, and will include:

  • One-on-one assistance with the college application process;
  • Workshops for students and parents on college readiness, financial aid and scholarships, applications, personal statements and test preparation;
  • College planning software to match students with the right colleges, scholarships and internships; and
  • College fairs and appointments with bilingual university and community college counselors.

The library’s College Depot is expected to serve at least 2,500 students and parents within six months of opening.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Food businesses face increased federal regulation

[Source: Mike Sunnucks and Jolie McCullough, Phoenix Business Journal] — Owners of small food-related businesses in the Valley are concerned about a federal plan to expand the government’s power to police food-related businesses and production.  That includes the ability to issue recalls, quarantine food supplies in contamination cases, and impose larger penalties on companies that violate food safety rules.

One bill making its way through Congress, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, would create a $500 annual federal licensing fee for food sellers and producers to fund a wider food-policing role for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.  The federal fee would piggyback any local licensing requirements.

Local independent and small-business owners say new federal fees and regulations likely would squeeze their already tight operating margins.  They are concerned such rules will pressure smaller operators and micro-businesses, even though recent food contamination incidents have occurred at larger corporate farms and production plants…

Adding more federal fees and regulatory layers will add to their costs and eat away at their viability, said Joe Vanderhart, owner of Farmer Joe’s Veggies and a vendor at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.   “A lot of them aren’t really that big, and they aren’t making a lot of money anyway, so any extra expense isn’t going to be good for them,” Vanderhart said…  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

CenPhoTV for the week of 06/26/2009

A weekly video webcast about Phoenix living. For more information, visit their website.

Phoenix city manager Frank Fairbanks to retire this fall

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Frank Fairbanks, Phoenix’s longest-serving city manager who steered the city through two decades of extraordinary growth and three economic recessions, will retire this fall. In private phone calls this morning, Fairbanks told Mayor Phil Gordon and other City Council members that he will step down as the city’s top non-elected official on Nov. 5. The council will conduct a national search for his replacement, though several of Fairbanks’ deputies are expected to put their names forward.

Fairbanks, who is 62 and has been eligible to retire for the past decade, said he is leaving the city with a balanced budget and strong management team in place. “This has to happen sooner or later. I will not live forever and I will not work here forever,” the Phoenix native and third-generation city employee told the Republic. “I just think the timing is good. The reason to announce now is to give them (the council) time to select somebody.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

23 Phoenix businesses to use new currency: ‘Phoenix Bux’

[Source: Tim Vetscher, ABC News 15] — In light of the economic downturn, a number of communities across the country have started printing their own money.  It’s called scrip, or local currency, and now the idea is coming to Arizona for the very first time.  It’s called Phoenix Bux and it launches July 4th.  “It’s all about supporting the local businesses, if we shop locally, it keeps the money local,” said Joey Grether, who came up with the idea for Phoenix Bux.

It’s based off the concept of local currency, essentially a way for a community to exchange services and locally produced goods.  Detroit, Ithaca, and the Berkshire region of Massachusetts all currently use a form of local currency.  “It just keeps the money in the community rather than shopping at a corporate chain where your money will be siphoned off to a headquarter in some other city or potentially another country,” said Grether.

Starting on the 4th of July, 1,600 of the coins will go into circulation around the Phoenix area.  The tokens can be used for a dollar off at participating businesses.  “You don’t have to participate if you don’t want to but if you do you can just ask for your change in Phoenix Bux and you can use those tokens at other participating businesses in the Valley,” said Grether.

So far, 23 businesses have signed up to accept Phoenix Bux including Conspire, Carly’s Bistro, The Lost Leaf Bar and Gallery, and Hood Ride Bicycle Shop.  “A lot of us downtown already think locally, it’s a great way to introduce the concept to outsiders,” said Derrick Pacheco, owner of Hood Ride.

If the concept catches on, Phoenix Bux may just one day do away with the dollar.  “We’re taking a baby step,” said Grether.  “Is Phoenix able to handle local currency?  We think it is.”  [Note: To read the full article and online comments, click here.]