Category Archives: Arizonans

Local experts and national author to discuss state of sustainability in metro Phoenix, Jan. 17

A panel of local experts and Andrew Ross, author of “Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City,” will discuss the current state of sustainability in metropolitan Phoenix at a public forum on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  The event, free to the public, will be held at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center at 415 E. Grant Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., panel discussion 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., audience Q&A 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and reception with complimentary refreshments 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Panel moderator will be Charles Redman, Arizona State University (ASU) Virginia M. Ullmann professor of Natural History and the Environment and founding director of the ASU School of Sustainability. The current slate of panelists (with two to be added soon) includes:

  • Maria Baier, state land commissioner, Arizona;
  • Steve Betts, former president/CEO of SunCor Development and current Arizona District Council Chair of the Urban Land Institute;
  • Terry Goddard, former Phoenix mayor and former Arizona attorney general who now teaches a course at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus: “Phoenix and the Art of Public Decision Making;”
  • Taz Loomans, architect and writer/blogger on sustainability issues;
  • Kris Mayes, former commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission and current director of the ASU Law and Sustainability Program and professor at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law;
  • Andrew Ross, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.
  • Silvia Urrutia, director of Housing and Healthcare Finance, Raza Development Fund

According to Susan Copeland, steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, “Issues of sustainability are paramount to the future of Phoenix. Ross’ book is a great springboard from which to begin, or continue, discussion.”

The Downtown Voices Coalition is sponsoring the event with in-kind support from the Lexington Hotel in downtown Phoenix, Four Peaks Brewery of Tempe and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

Bird on Fire” is available at Made Art Boutique, 922 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix and at Changing Hands Bookstore at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. It is also available at Burton Barr, Cesar Chavez and Mesquite Branch libraries in Phoenix.

Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown. For more information, visit

Adam Diaz, downtown Phoenix advocate, dies at 100

Adam Diaz, Phoenix's first Latino city council member, and family

[Source: Connie Cone Sexton, Arizona Republic] — An interviewer once asked Adam Diaz why, at age 77, he continued to be so politically and socially involved.  Why not just take up bowling or golf?  Diaz politely discounted the suggestion.  “My time is limited,” he responded.  “Every day you get up is a bonus day.  But having a goal keeps you young.  It helps keep you alive and vital.”  His positive attitude paid off.  Diaz died Friday.  He was 100.

Diaz led an accomplished life.  A highlight reel would include, of course, being the first Latino councilman of Phoenix.  He served four years, starting in the 1950s.  One year, he was vice mayor.  He later spent five years on the Phoenix Elementary School District board.  He championed downtown Phoenix decades before it was the hip thing to do.  He pushed for historic preservation and pushed even harder for preserving the spirit and legacy of the Hispanic people.  He helped establish Friendly House, helping the poor.  He was a board member for Chicanos Por La Causa.  President Bill Clinton tapped him for his Task Force on Aging.

Accolades and honors followed his every project.  But he would point to the two things that made him strong: his family and his community.  He embraced Phoenix with warmth and pride.  He sought improvements for all but was a constant advocate for the Latino community, especially in south Phoenix.  He lived there most of his life.  He lived during the years when Hispanics were not welcome by many to live north of Van Buren Street and were prohibited from going to certain schools.

Diaz’s gentle nature became passionate about bringing change and taking on responsibility for getting things done.  It had been that way since the death of his father when he was just 13.  He went to work as a delivery boy for Western Union, then as an elevator operator in one of the buildings owned by prominent Phoenix businessman George Luhrs.  Diaz was popular, engaging.  Luhrs took him under his wing, eventually making him a building manager.  The job put him in the path of many early Phoenix movers and shakers.  Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater became a friend and urged him to run for the City Council.

Diaz’s daughter, Sally Feight, said he liked being on the council because it gave him greater access to knowing the community’s needs.  “He really was a man of the people,” she said.  Granddaughter Lisa Urias said he never retreated into old age, adding, “every morning he would say, ‘Que bonito el dia’ (What a beautiful day).  He loved life so much.”

Baseline Haiku: South Mountain Flower Garden

One of the last flower growers of Japanese descent on Baseline Road, where in the old days of Phoenix you could know it was spring by driving Baseline and seeing row upon row of flowers.  Development encroaches in the film; in reality it closed several years ago and soon will be housed over.

Happy Statehood Day, Arizona!

Opinion poll examines most important questions facing Arizona

[Source: Dan Nowicki, Arizona Republic] — Most forward-looking reports from policy think tanks or universities face a huge hurdle: selling their proposed goals and recommendations to the people.  The Center for the Future of Arizona hopes to avoid that fate.  The Phoenix-based organization – or “do” tank, as it likes to call itself – went to the people first to learn their hopes and desires for Arizona’s future.

At the heart of “The Arizona We Want,” the center’s new report charting a “citizens’ agenda” for Arizona’s second century, is in-depth statewide polling data from the Gallup Organization.  The findings show that many 21st-century residents are loyal and attached to the state, thanks particularly to its scenic open spaces and environmental beauty, and actually see eye to eye on a variety of issues.  But they are disenchanted with their elected leaders and concerned about jobs, education and the economy.  “I view the report as a platform for positive change,” said Robert Delgado, the president and chief executive of Valley beer distributor Hensley & Co. and a community leader who got an early look at the publication.  “It will have the effect of saying, ‘OK, look, this is really what the citizens of Arizona want,’ and those who we elect to public office are accountable to the citizens of Arizona.  I think it gives us a great road map or compass on how to go forward.”

The center, an independent non-profit, hired Gallup because of its reputation as “the gold standard” of polling companies, said Lattie Coor, the former Arizona State University president who founded the Center for the Future of Arizona in 2002.  Gallup surveyed by telephone a random sample of 3,606 Arizona adults and then followed up with 831 respondents who agreed to participate in an online poll.  The statewide telephone poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.  “This is not so surprising, but we also found that the natural environment, the open spaces and aesthetics of Arizona, are at the absolute top of people’s view of what it is about Arizona that resonates most highly with them,” Coor said.  “We found, disturbingly, but I fear I must say also not surprisingly, that citizens don’t think their elected representatives represent their interests.  Only 10 percent strongly agreed that they do.  We also found that Arizona is not viewed as a good place for talented young people, and we also found that Arizonans want jobs.”

The center relied on the poll results to inform its set of eight resident-backed goals for Arizona related to jobs, education, water and the environment, transportation and civic involvement.  It also used the results to help identify a series of sticky problems that need resolution: inadequate “leadership and governance structures”; the lack of an “investment strategy” for priorities such as job creation and education; the need for a clear commitment by the state to compete globally; the illegal- immigration situation; and an unstable state tax system. [Note: Read the full article at Examining the most important questions facing Arizona.]

Does Arizona have an image problem?

Outside the Phoenix Convention Center, where the U.S. President was speaking on Aug. 17, "Chris" sports a semi-automatic rifle and pistol.

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Just as local and state tourism officials tried to shed Phoenix’s unbecoming title as the “kidnapping capital of America,” another national moniker has emerged: gun-crazy.  A man carrying a pistol and semi-automatic rifle outside the Phoenix hall where President Barack Obama spoke this month ignited a media firestorm, reinforcing the stereotype of the Grand Canyon State as a gun-loving vestige of the Wild West.

The firearms display, later revealed to be a publicity stunt, was legal under an Arizona law that allows most citizens to openly carry guns in public without a permit.  But the spotlight cast by cable-news pundits, newspaper editorials and blogs — including censure from a world-renowned travel writer — raised questions about whether Arizona’s lax gun laws make it safe to travel and do business in the state.  “We’re an urban city, and there are individuals trying to hold on to the old ways of the Wild West,” said Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski, himself a gun owner.  “We’re going to lose a lot of conventions because of one knucklehead.”

Before the gun stunt, tales of Mexican drug cartels abducting rival smugglers and immigrants and holding them for ransom in Valley homes had already painted Phoenix as a city under siege. [Note: Read the full article at Does Arizona have an image problem?]

A few moments of people watching in downtown Phoenix

A month ago, amateur videographer Ed Kishel traveled to downtown Phoenix to document some of its architecture, but found watching the people walking around him much more interesting.

Arizona Centennial Legacy Projects in Phoenix, statewide

What projects are planned for your neighborhood or community?  For more information about Arizona’s Centennial efforts, click here.

History of Arizona place names topic of April 30 “brown bag” talk

image001In this presentation, Tucson writer Greg McNamee examines the history of Arizona place names, from Ali Shonak to Zephyr, using lively anecdotes to discuss the little-known stories behind names on the land.  Place names are like fossil poetry.  They afford a kind of folk history, a snapshot in time that enables us to read them and reconstruct how members of a culture in the past assigned names to the places they saw. The U.S. has over 3.5 million place names, and there is no part of the world where nomenclature is so rich, poetic, humorous, and picturesque.

  • Date: Thursday, April 30, 2009
  • Time: Noon to 1 p.m.
  • Place: Carnegie Center, 1101 West Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • Free and open to the public
  • Bring your lunch!  Light refreshments served
  • Free parking

Gregory McNamee is a writer whose publications include twenty-six books, as well as numerous essays, short stories, articles, and translations in journals in the United States and abroad.  He is a contributing editor to the Encyclopedia Britannica and writes regularly for its blog.  Mr. McNamee has taught writing courses at the University of Arizona and elsewhere, and he delivers talks and lectures on writing in many venues.

For more information, call 602-926-3368 or send an e-mail.

Noel Stowe leaves his mark on Arizona history

image of Professor Noel Stowe[Source: Arizona State University] — Noel Stowe, an ASU professor who founded the university’s Public History Program and is recognized for his work in helping Arizona preserve its heritage, died Dec. 13 at the age of 66.  A memorial ceremony to celebrate his life will be held in late January.

Stowe joined ASU in 1967 as an assistant professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  He served as chair of the department from 1998 to 2007.  In 1978, Stowe became the department’s director of graduate study.  In his eight years in that position he expanded the master’s and doctoral degree programs and founded the Public History Program, which under his direction achieved national and international recognition.  In 1987, Stowe became assistant dean of the Graduate College and in 1991 became associate dean.  He also served one year as interim dean of the Graduate College.  In his role as director of graduate study, Stowe directed more than 50 graduate theses and dissertations.  His students have gone on to direct public history programs at other universities, and to work in museums, historical societies, and archives across the country, as well as in nearly every historical organization in Arizona.

“I am just one of many who have known the profound privilege of being a student of Dr. Stowe’s,” says Catherine May, who earned her master’s degree and undergraduate degrees in history from ASU.  “Dr. Stowe was a teacher in every sense of the word. He was a leader in the field of public history; knowledgeable, brilliant, creative, compassionate, generous… he brought integrity and respect to the classroom.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]