Category Archives: Volunteerism

Downtown Voices Coalition reviews its past, looks to the future

On Saturday, January 16, over 75 individuals interested and involved in downtown Phoenix participated in the Downtown Voices Coalition “Moving Forward” strategic planning session at the historic A.E. England Building.  The information and ideas garnered from the group will help Downtown Voices update its August 2004 report, “Downtown Voices: Creating a Sustainable Downtown,” and prioritize issues and projects for the future.  The information will also be useful for others (individually or organizationally) to review and use in their own efforts to improve downtown Phoenix.  Stay tuned for details.  At any time, you’re welcome to communicate your questions, comments, concerns, and ideas via e-mail, or by attending Downtown Voices’ monthly meetings.

The Downtown Voices Steering Committee sincerely thanks the following individuals and organizations for sponsoring this event.

  • Arizona Preservation Foundation
  • Arizona State University
  • Butler Housing/Roosevelt Commons
  • Candid Landscapes
  • City of Phoenix
  • Downtown Phoenix Journal
  • Fair Trade Coffee
  • Fresh Gourmet to Go
  • Get Consensus, LLC
  • Habitat Metro
  • Impact Printing
  • Kooky Krafts Shop
  • Local First Arizona
  • John Saccoman
  • Matthew Tomb

Thanks also to Suad Mahmuljin for taking photos of the day’s activities.

Rusty Spoke community bike shop opens on Grand Avenue

The Rusty Spoke hosts a weekly community bike shop for the downtown Phoenix community.  The facility, open every Sunday from Noon to 6 p.m., is located at Fractal, Bragg’s Pie Factory on Grand Avenue.

Phoenix Greenbuild Events Calendar

greenbuild_logoThe city of Phoenix, local businesses, and nonprofit organizations are planning a variety of events in conjunction with the 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Nov. 11 – 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center.  The events include the city’s “Gateway to Green” Neighborhood Celebration, from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 13 at Civic Space Park’s historic A.E. England Building, 424 N. Central Ave.  Other events include an art show, a street festival, a downtown beautification project, and a parade.  All carry a green theme, and most are free.

Here is an updated schedule (to download a flier, visit  Recent added events are indicated in italic.

Monday, Nov. 9 – Friday, Nov. 13

Green Art Exhibit, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Phoenix City Hall atrium,
200 W. Washington St. Free admission. Display features items fashioned from recycled material, including clocks, jewelry and purses.  The exhibit also marks the 20th Anniversary of “Phoenix Recycles, America Recycles Day,” Nov. 15.  For more information, call 602-256-5607.

Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona project.  In partnership with Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, Habitat for Humanity volunteers will build a “net-zero” energy affordable home at 20 N. 27th Drive as part of the Greenbuild Conference.  For more information, visit

Thursday, Nov. 10 – Thursday, Nov. 12

“Greenbuild After Dark” film festival, 6 to 8 p.m. Phoenix Convention Center, South Terrace, 100 N. Third St. Free admission.

Thursday, Nov. 12 – Friday, Nov. 13

Apache Fair Trade Cooperative, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. St. Mary’s Basilica, 400 E. Monroe St. (across the street from the Phoenix Convention Center). Free admission.  Authentic Indian crafts demonstrated and sold, including beading, jewelry, basket weaving, leather work and more.  For more information, call Paul Burgess at 602-750-2624 or e-mail.

Friday, Nov. 13

“Gateway to Green” Neighborhood Celebration, 4 to 6 p.m., Civic Space Park’s A.E. England Building, 424 N. Central Ave.  Free admission.  Learn how to make your home and neighborhood more sustainable. Displays by city of Phoenix departments, live entertainment and refreshments, plus appearances by Mayor Phil Gordon and City Council members.  Limited parking, so travel green to get there.  For more information, call 602-262-6213.

ASU School of Journalism LEED certification presentation, 4:30 to 4:45 p.m. at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 555 N. Central Ave.  Presentation from U.S. Green Building Council CEO Rick Fedrizzi to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Arizona State University President Michael Crow.

Green Streets Festival, 6 to 10 p.m., east Roosevelt Street, between Fourth and Seventh streets.  Free admission.  Enjoy local produce, vendors, chefs, artisans, green-themed art and live entertainment. Presented by Roosevelt Row in partnership with the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, ASU Downtown, the city of Phoenix, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, HandsOn Greater Phoenix, Local Arizona First, the Phoenix Community Alliance and Valley Forward Association.  For more information, visit

Third Annual Downtown Phoenix Pub Crawl, 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.  Tickets, $12 and $15.  Discover Phoenix’s night scene.  Enjoy entertainment, food samples, and drink specials at selected downtown restaurants and bars.  Top off the night at Sonoma Casual Dining after-hours breakfast.  Must be 21 to participate. Tickets $12 at or $15 at the Green Streets Festival.

Saturday, Nov. 14

Tenth Annual “A Day for Downtown,” 8 a.m. to noon, Downtown Phoenix. Volunteers have been mobilized for a rewarding day of service to benefit the downtown Phoenix community.  Presented by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, HandsOn Greater Phoenix and the Phoenix Community Alliance.  For more information, visit

Second Saturday Sidewalk Sale, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Garfield Street between Fourth and Sixth streets.  Discover smart boutiques, cafes, restaurants and shops that define Roosevelt Row.  For more information, visit or 602-475-2661.

Fourth Annual Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts (PAPA). 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fifth Street, between Roosevelt and Garfield streets.  Free admission.  Live entertainment on two stages and a parading arts fair.  Individuals and groups are invited to walk, ride or dance in the parade. For more information, visit

Volunteer to plant trees in downtown Phoenix, Nov. 14

[Source: Arizona Republic] — More than 100 volunteers will get their hands dirty during a community tree planting Saturday in connection with Hands On Greater Phoenix Day for Downtown.  The tree planting, sponsored by Mayor Phil Gordon, is an opportunity for residents, families, businesses, students, and visitors to connect with and take part in growth and development downtown.

Approximately 60 trees will be planted, including Arizona ash, evergreen elm, and sissoo.  The trees will provide shade and enhance the urban feel along Roosevelt Street, including the First Friday Art Walk area, and along Portland Street Park.  The planting locations are:

  • Portland Parkway at Portland Street Park, west of First Avenue
  • Roosevelt Street and First Avenue, in front of Trinity Cathedral
  • Latham Street and Third Avenue, in front of the Puppet Theater
  • Garfield Street at Fifth and Sixth streets, part of the First Friday Art Walk area

A block party hosted by Hands On Greater Phoenix will follow the planting, which is open to the public. To volunteer, send an e-mail.  Planting will be done from 8 to 11:30 a.m.  Volunteers are to meet at 8 in the courtyard of Trinity Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt, which is serving as planting headquarters.  Parking is in the parking garage north of the church.

Phoenix seeks residents’ input on General Plan revision

[Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] — Meetings are taking place citywide to ask citizens what they like about Phoenix, and what they want to change.  The gatherings are the first step in a three-year process aimed at revising the Phoenix General Plan, a document of nearly 500 pages that governs growth and development in the city.  “If you want to have a say in what happens — highways vs. transit, sprawl vs. infill, pollution, parks and open space — then you need to get involved,” said Jim McPherson, a civic activist who has volunteered in the effort.

Carol Johnson, a city planner who is managing the process, said meetings will take place over the rest of the year in connection with local village planning committee meetings.  “We really need to hear from the community about what they want Phoenix to be, and how we can get there,” she said.  “That will define the scope for what we do next.”

Johnson described the general plan as the city’s “long-term guide for the physical manifestation of the city.”  She said development of the revised plan would entail a period of “visioning,” in which ideas and goals are developed, followed by a period of drafting policies and measures, and determining implementation.

The plan could include updated sustainability measures, improved business-development plans, revised historical features, and new benchmarks for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.  In meetings so far, “there is a lot of interest in climate change and the urban heat island,” Johnson said.  “Some people have said the village cores are not working. Others want to see land use and transportation planned in tandem.” She said the plan ultimately would be organized around four subject areas: community, economy, environment and infrastructure.

Catrina Knoebl, a downtown activist, said she expects the process to be worthwhile for the public as well as the city.  “I have found the city absolutely listens to citizens,” she said. “They want to hear what residents have to say.  They are actively reaching out.”  Knoebl said she finds the timing to be advantageous because “we have more people than ever before who are knowledgeable and engaged.”

McPherson agreed the timing is right.  “We have a little bit of breathing room now,” he said.  “With the slowdown caused by the economy, we have some time to do some thinking.” [Note: Read the full article at Phoenix seeks residents’ input on General Plan revision.]

Now through October, go ahead and wonder about Phoenix’s future

wonderlandfront[Source: Phoenix New Times] Gregory Sale and Kimi Eisele have a simple, yet profound question for Phoenicians: Ever wonder about the future of this place? If so, you can immediately become an active participant in their interpretive piece “Go Ahead, Wonder,” which will have a presence at the “Phoenix as Wonderland: Art from New Times’ Best of Phoenix 2009” exhibit.

Sale’s idea for the piece — which is an amalgamation of media, text, photography, sound, interviews, and participation — was to envision his personal wonderland here in Phoenix as a community that gets involved with social issues.  The instructions go like this:

Leave a one-minute voice message, e-mail 100 words, or contribute at the opening of the “Phoenix as Wonderland” exhibition during October First Friday.  Offer your vision for how this region could grow/change/evolve physically, ecologically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, culturally, and/or spiritually over the next ten, twenty, or fifty years.

  • Out loud: 602-744-6527 (now till October 31)
  • In writing: (now till October 31)
  • In person: 1437 N. 1st St, Phoenix from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, October 2

“Phoenix as Wonderland: Art from New Times’ Best of Phoenix 2009” opens with a free First Friday reception on Friday, October 2, at [merz]project, 1437 N. First St. For more information, call 602-229-8478 or send an e-mail.

Viewpoint: Phoenix’s new Audubon Center brings life to formerly bare area

[Source: Sam Campana, Audubon Arizona, Special to the Arizona Republic] — When the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center opens in October in Phoenix, children from an underserved and diverse population who may never have connected with nature will find themselves in a green and LEED-certified wonderland. What was once a neglected site is now a riparian ecosystem blooming with native plants indigenous to the Salt River.

The 8,000-square-foot center is the National Audubon Society’s first education center in Arizona and a centerpiece for the city of Phoenix’s Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Project.  Six years in the making, it was funded by a capital campaign that raised $7 million.  Our new light-filled and green space features a multi-use classroom, exhibits and discovery areas, and numerous outdoor interactive spaces for children and adults.  An adjoining hummingbird garden invites everyone to enjoy the antics of these amazing birds.

Birds are the main attraction, but children also learn natural science, geology and history here.  Our Arizona-centric curriculum is geared for grades four through eight, and students may also participate in week-long programs during school intersession.  Thirty-five schools in four districts are within 5 miles of the center.

In planning for this center, we aimed for LEED Gold Certification.  But, during the design and building phase, it became apparent to our architects from Weddle Gilmore & Associates and Blackrock Studio that we could aspire to LEED Platinum, the highest rating given by the U.S. Green Building Council.  Some LEED points came from installing solar panels donated by Salt River Project.  Others came from our innovative landscaping design which allows storm water to filter into the ground instead of running into storm drains.  More points were garnered from our attention to water use and diverting 75 percent of construction waste from disposal.

Before we rehabilitated this site, only four mesquite trees grew on the entire 4 acres and just 40 bird species had been spotted in the area.  Our volunteers planted 180 trees to ensure that birds and other wildlife find food and cover.  Today, our center is visited by more than 200 species of birds, and dozens of species nest here.

But this historic restoration of the Salt River is also good for people.  Visitors can walk a trail on the property that joins with the 5-mile Rio Salado Restoration Project where 20 more miles of trails wait to be explored.  By every measure, this is a dramatic first step in revitalizing the entire area, a point that was elegantly driven home on the evening that we previewed the new center to our donors.  As we all marveled at this beautiful and sustainable building and landscape, a great egret, the proud emblem of the National Audubon Society, soared over the new wetland at sunset in full view of all the guests — proving that going green really is for the birds.

Water, apples feed bodies and souls of Phoenix homeless

[Source: Susan Casper, ABC News 15] — Even before sunrise Friday morning, volunteers started loading pick-up trucks with cases of bottled water and boxes of red apples.  Organizers and volunteers met outside the US Bank building in downtown Phoenix, which served as ground zero for the 2009 AZ Water Drive.  The goal of the drive is reach more than one thousand people.  “So I had a plan,” said organizer Dorsha Hale.  “My plan was to drive up and down the streets of downtown Phoenix and give as many homeless people I could find a cool bottle of water.”

Hale told ABC15 she organized the first drive in July 2005 after a relentless and lethal blanket of heat settled on much of the Southwest, leaving 20 people dead in Phoenix alone.  “The lack of preparation for the homeless was obvious by those sweltering on the sidewalks,” said Hale.  The community responded and this year volunteers spent their lunch hour handing out nearly 700 free bottles of water in downtown Phoenix.  [Note: Read the full article at Water, apples feed bodies and souls of Phoenix homeless.]

Celebrating downtown Phoenix via Get Your Phx

5928_135682899637_135682644637_3266102_4066150_n[Source: Arizona Republic MetroMix] — Get Your Phx (pronounced “fix”) may still be in its infancy, only starting up in January 2009, but this celebration of downtown Phoenix’s urban pioneers is evolving as quickly as the city it honors.  It’s a monthly gathering of roughly 40 young politicos and downtown enthusiasts at all the studios, restaurants, and galleries soon to be musts on everyone’s to-visit list, all learning about the foodies, politicians, musicians, restaurateurs, and artists responsible for the rebirth of downtown Phoenix.

Ken Clark, a Phoenix real-estate agent and downtown advocate, is the mastermind behind the parties, which he likens to a “Central Phoenix Booster Club.”  Celebrated businesses in the past have been SideBar, Hanny’s, the Clarendon Hotel and Suites’ Gallo Blanco Cafe, and Monorchid Creative Studios.  “The underlying principle is these are people who are taking a huge risk, and if you have ever taken a risk with a business you know what a challenge that is,” said Clark.  “They are taking a risk on making central Phoenix better, measurably better.”

But these events are not to be confused with your average networking cocktail hour.  Yes there are drinks, and yes they are even catered at times, although donations are welcomed.  And business cards will inevitably be passed around, but building a larger contact list is not the goal.  “This is a relationship based on a shared optimism for downtown,” said Clark.  “Not all of us could build a building, or start a restaurant, but what we can do is celebrate those people who do.  There is so much energy going on for central Phoenix, and people want to be a part of that. It is almost like watching something being born, and you don’t often get to do that.  This (Get Your Phx) provides a way for people to see the birth of this new lifestyle and city.”  [Note: Read the full article at Celebrating downtown Phoenix via Get Your Phx.]

Phoenix Graffiti Busters and Good Neighbor programs win national recognition

[Source: City of Phoenix] — Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department’s “Graffiti Busters” program took the top prize in the Physical Revitalization & Beautification category of the 2009 Best Neighborhood Program Awards, at the Neighborhoods, USA conference in Spokane, WA.  The department’s “Good Neighbor” program placed third in the Social Revitalization/ Neighborliness category.  “We are proud of the impact these two programs have had on the lives of the residents of Phoenix,” said Jerome Miller, director, Neighborhood Services.  “This national recognition honors the cooperative spirit of Neighborhood Services staff and residents, working together to make Phoenix the best it can be.”

The “Graffiti Busters” program was created as a partnership between department staff and residents to identify and remove graffiti as fast as it appears.  Last year, department staff removed more than 52,000 tagged sites.  Staff also trained residents and provided the tools necessary to help in the fight.  The “Good Neighbor” program was created to inspire residents to participate in neighborhood improvement projects through a series of educational & self-awareness oriented classes and workshops.

Neighborhoods, USA is a national nonprofit organization committed to building and strengthening neighborhood organizations.  For more information, click here.