Category Archives: South Phoenix

Environmental Memories of South Central Phoenix exhibit, Sept. 6 to Dec. 7

[Source: Arizona State University] – Long ago, the Salt River flowed through southern Phoenix. Canals lined with shady cottonwood trees carried water to farms. Families picnicked on the riverbank, caught fish, and swam in the refreshing water.

These and other memories of south central Phoenix from the late 1800s to the present will be displayed in a new exhibit. “Environmental Memories of South Central Phoenix” pairs research on environmental change, urban vulnerability to climate change, and environmental justice with local stories, photographs, and timelines to provide fascinating insights into some of Phoenix’s oldest neighborhoods.

The exhibit was researched, produced, and designed by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of graduate students and co-sponsored by ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and local community partners.

For more information, contact info@carvermuseum.com or visit azcmcc.org.

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Central City South residents unveil “golden threads” to revitalize their neighborhood

Local residents of Central City South – young, old, and in-between – carefully thought through and developed a plan to revitalize their neighborhood. They unveiled their community engagement project, “Golden Threads,” this week. Here two young girls examine the map legend of desired buildings and amenities represented on the large-scale model before them.

Phoenix Revitalization Corp., with numerous civic and business partners, organized this project as part of the Central City South Quality of Life Plan.

“Communities Take Root” in South Phoenix

Last year St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit that provides food, health care, shelter and other services for the homeless and working poor won a grant through Dreyer’s Fruit Bars as part of their “Communities Take Root” Program to plant a fruit orchard at their downtown campus. The ceremonial planting is taking place next Thursday, March 24 at 11 a.m. at Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 420 W. Watkins Rd, Phoenix, Arizona.

50 fruit trees of varying types of citrus will be planted and will help beautify the area along 3rd Drive, just south of I-17 and also provide fresh fruit for the hundreds of working-poor families that come to St. Vincent de Paul’s Family Evening Meal program.

The schedule of events is:

  • 11:00 am:  Project overview and introductions (Society of St. Vincent de Paul: Fruit Tree Planting Foundation; Dreyer’s Fruit Bars)
  • 11:15 am – 11:30 am:  Ceremonial Tree Planting/Photo Opportunity
  • 11:30 am – 1:30 pm:  Tree planting; Dreyer’s Fruit Bars sampling

Representatives from St. Vincent de Paul, the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Dreyer’s will be on hand to plant the trees, with Dreyer’s providing refreshing Dreyer’s Fruit Bars to members of the community.

 

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.

Voice your ideas on connecting Rio Salado to downtown Phoenix, Feb. 11

[Source: City of Phoenix] — The first of three stakeholders meetings to discuss the HOPE VI Rio Salado Connector Trail to downtown Phoenix has been scheduled for Thursday, February 11 at 5:30 p.m., 1150 S. 7th Ave. (northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Buckeye; the yellow building with bell tower).  Please attend to contribute to the pedestrian improvements plan for this project.

This session will be held as part of the Matthew Henson Village Community Action Team meeting.  For more information, please contact Gail Brinkmann, City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department, 602-495-2073.

Phoenix residents vow to fight cuts to city programs

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — As Phoenix leaders prepare to whittle $140 million in city services to help close a $245 million budget gap, neighbors say they are ready to fight for popular programs.  The proposed cuts will be announced this week, and there will be public hearings next month at which residents can voice their concerns before the final vote, scheduled for March 2.  But residents aren’t waiting to have their say.

In central Phoenix, downtown activists are worried about two neighborhood parks that they fear could become havens for crime if they lost funding.  In west and south Phoenix, residents want the city to stop trimming library hours.  And in northeast Phoenix, horse enthusiasts are concerned about a popular equestrian park…

The latest round of cuts comes one year after the city slashed $156 million in city services to close a $270 million general-fund budget shortfall.  City leaders are considering a proposed 2 percent grocery tax that could generate $50 million annually.  But even if it is implemented, the city would still have to cut about $100 million in city services.

Since cuts are inevitable, residents also worried that Phoenix may end recreation programs at University and Verde parks.  Cuts at those parks were proposed last year, but the city backed off amid an outcry from the community.  Activists recently spent most of the Downtown Voices Coalition meeting brainstorming ways to shield those parks from more reductions.  Cuts could erase years of community efforts to boost youth programs, discourage gang activity, and make the parks safer, said Reid Butler, a local developer who belongs to the group.

It’s premature to talk about specific programs because no proposals have been made, city spokesman David Urbinato said.

The Parks and Recreation Department has been asked to suggest ways to cut its budget by 30 percent.  At 30 percent, “it would dramatically reduce, if not eliminate” many parks programs, Urbinato said.  The parks would remain open, but the staffing, programs and community centers attached to them would face deep cuts.  “That’s the tragic downside.  There has been massive investment through the system” over the years, Urbinato said.

People now depend on city services more than ever, said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, noting that he and Councilman Michael Johnson represent some of Phoenix’s poorest neighborhoods in west and south Phoenix.

Residents have pressed Nowakowski to protect after-school programs and library hours, the councilman said.  People wait up to three hours to use free computers at César Chavez Library, because they have canceled their Internet service, he said.  Recently, a mother came to a community meeting with an armful of notices about sex offenders who live in her neighborhood, he said.  She wants the city to keep low-cost after-school programs open so her children will be safe, Nowakowski added.  “We need to listen to find out what are the needs and wants for the whole city,” he said.

Phoenix’s “New Vision” city council slate unveils Plan 468

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Proposed Playa del Sol along the banks of the Rio Salado.

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Free health care for all Phoenicians.  The creation of a Mexican Riviera-type development along the Rio Salado.  And a new Phoenix energy board to oversee the city’s sustainability efforts.  They are just a few ideas from Plan 468, which the New Vision slate unveiled during a Thursday evening news conference attended by one reporter.

City Council candidates Robert Dennis Johnson (District 4), Nathan Oshop (District 6) and Jon Garrido (District 8), all Democrats, published the six-point strategy online.  “Everybody talks about a comprehensive plan.  We’ve done it,” said Garrido, who is in a three-way race with incumbent Michael Johnson and Darlene Jackson. The plan calls for:

  • Transforming the Rio Salado, or Salt River, into a giant lagoon that would anchor a multi-billion dollar beachfront development called Playa del Sol.  It would serve as a world-class destination, attracting 8 million new tourists to its resorts, golf courses, shops, casino, and Phoenix SeaWorld.
  • Free health care insurance for all Phoenix residents, paid for using $1 billion in casino revenue from the Playa del Sol project.  The only caveat: The proposal relies on Arizona voters to pass an initiative allowing a casino to be built on non-tribal land.
  • Refocusing economic-development efforts from downtown to the Indian School Road Corridor by creating jobs in research and development, light manufacturing, and international trade.  The city would forge business ties with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Spain.
  • Forming a city energy board charged with reducing the city’s carbon emissions by 30 percent within 10 years, and redeveloping blighted landfills into revenue-generating commercial developments.
  • Widening the reach of city community centers so they serve all segments of the population.
  • Developing urban mixed-use “nodes” where people can work, shop and play.

Even though the slate is being outspent by incumbent candidates, none have put together a more ambitious and complete plan than New Vision, said Robert Dennis Johnson.  “We realize we are outgunned.  This is a David vs. Goliath fight,” he said.  “But what we have, when you look at this, is substantially more than any of our challengers are offering.”  [Note: Read the full blog post at Phoenix’s “New Vision” city council slate unveils Plan 468.]

Church program seen as key to safer South Phoenix

[Source: Michael Ferraresi, Arizona Republic] — Sweating in the summer heat, volunteers moved boxes of donated food at the Bridge Church as others helped south Phoenix residents find clothes, jobs and government benefits.  Meanwhile, police officers watched briefly over the small crowd at the worship hall, which doubles as a human-services community center to serve more than 30 families a day in an area long stigmatized by gang violence.

Through partnerships with police and city leaders, the Bridge became a prototype for the renewal of south Phoenix.  It was the first of the area’s 90 churches to join the Neighborhood Roots System.  Police credited the increased faith-based involvement for a 39 percent drop in area homicides, as well as other crimes, since 2008.  Police have saturated south Phoenix with crime-suppression efforts in the past few years.  Now, officers and neighborhood activists are working to sustain the relationships they established years ago.  “When law enforcement is involved, I think businesses look at that as a positive,” said Jon Katov, CEO of non-profit Open Table Inc.  Katov said he was inspired to focus on south Phoenix after attending a service at a community church.

The Bridge is open 20 hours a week in an area where nearly 17,000 people live in poverty.  Katov said 20 other south Phoenix churches have already begun mimicking the Bridge.  He pointed to a small room filled with donated computers.  “Here, you’re looking at a job center inside a working church,” Katov said.  “To me, it’s a breakthrough.”

Churches have helped south Phoenix rebound from the wave of violent crime and gang-related homicides it suffered two years ago.  [Note: Read the full article at Church program seen as key to safer south Phoenix]