[Source: Si Robins, Downtown Phoenix Journal] — When DPJ’s Phoenix Suns blogger and I paid a visit to US Airways Center last week to interview guard Goran Dragic, we didn’t know what to expect. The guy is in his early 20s and from Slovenia, and before arriving in Phoenix via the NBA Draft a year-and-a-half ago, he spoke very little English. So, we weren’t sure he’d be able to give the DPJ crowd much insight on what he likes about Phoenix culture. We were right, in some respects. Dragic, who lives in a condo overlooking Tempe Town Lake, really only ventures into Downtown Phoenix for practice and games. He spends the rest of his time perusing the East Valley. It brings up a question that we at DPJ ask ourselves a lot: How do we get people from over there to come over here? When I take a look at the content we featured this past week on the site, there are plenty of reasons to spark a trip Downtown for those that live in outlying areas. I compiled a list of unique Grand Avenue locales worth checking out on a First Friday. There’s a growing Scrabble night at Urban Beans for those looking for a mellow, fun school night out of the house. And there is a whole plethora of nightlife fun, including the massive martini list at FEZ. These are just a select few. Keep telling your friends and family to venture Downtown. There is something for everyone, and there’s a whole lot of it.
Hope for a desert delinquent (What Phoenix, the poster child for environmental ills, is doing right)
[Source, Lisa Selin Davis, Grist Magazine, May 13, 2008] — In order for Phoenix to truly be a green city, it would have to be brown. Or not brown, exactly, but the sandy shade of the mountains that surround it: the jagged peaks and parched hills that enclose the Valley of the Sun. These days, though, Phoenix is a less-natural shade of brown; a ring of smoggy pollution known locally as the Brown Cloud shadows the city. And that’s not the only affront to the environs here. Anyone flying in can see the patches of fierce green lawns that paint the landscape, along with the swimming pools; the manmade lake in the suburb of Tempe, evaporating 452 million gallons of water each year; the sea of single family homes spilling across the desert; the traffic clogging the ribbons of highways; and the heat snakes squiggling from all that boiling bitumen. The 517-square-mile city — the fifth-largest and fourth-fastest-growing in America — just survived its second-driest winter on record and is deep in drought.
So how is it that this poster child for sprawl and environmental ills is being hailed — albeit by its own government — as an exemplar of sustainability? City leaders are quick to tell anyone willing to listen that not only are they finally getting hip to environmental matters, they’ve been attending to some of them for upwards of thirty years. From using cleaner fuels in their fleet of trucks and buses to implementing an environmental purchasing program, from building a new 20-mile light-rail line to signing the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, officials have taken concrete steps to right past wrongs.
Perhaps more important than these piecemeal sustainability steps is the city’s partnership with the local university. What’s wrong with the city — the temperature’s rising, for one thing, and development is still skidding out of control — is what makes it such an attractive candidate for a living laboratory. The city’s environmental deficits are educational opportunities for the students and teachers of Arizona State University’s four-year-old Global Institute of Sustainability. “When Phoenix is done growing, it will be bigger than Chicago,” says Dr. Michael Crow, president of ASU. “The next massive city of the United States isn’t done yet.” GIOS, then, has a chance to affect these latter stages of growth. And what GIOS gleans from Phoenix just might change the way other desert cities behave — that is, if it’s not too little, too late. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Glen Creno and John Faherty, Arizona Republic] — The trains left the station right on time. After more than a decade of planning, and $1.4 billion in spending, the Valley’s light rail system finally became a reality Saturday morning. One train left from a station in Mesa while another departed from downtown Phoenix at precisely 10 a.m.
Riders clapped and cheered as the crowded trains departed. Many sat transfixed looking out the windows. On the first east-bound train, people cheered again as the cars crossed over Tempe Town Lake. Lines started forming for the trains about one hour before the launch and didn’t let up through the morning or into the early afternoon. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]