Monday, December 30, 2013

Helping Me Again: ProActive Physical Therapy, a Tucson BrightSpot

Since I broke my ankle in April, 2010, I have come to rely on Kevin Fay and tech staff at Proactive Physical Therapy for continued maintenance, strengthening and stabilization of the ankle and related tissue and muscles.  I cannot praise this locally owned business enough and I express my sincere gratitude for their continuing support and excellent care.  If you ever need physical therapy assistance, go to them at one of their regional locations.  www.proactivept.com .  They are the best!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Salsas Rangel: The best salsa we've tasted in a long time

Yesterday we were out and about and one of our early afternoon stops was at the Farmer's Market in St. Phillip's Plaza.  The sycamore trees are just halfway through their leave-color-change phase and the cool temp made the stroll down the cobblestone boulevard quite pleasant.  While we bought a few fresh tomatoes and canned mustards at one booth (Grammy's from Cochise, Az, swyckoff@powere.net ), our real find was Salsas Rangel.  Here is a man who proudly shares his 25 years+ passion for making a wide selection of salsas (mild, medium and hot) in various sizes.  We tasted several of the options and purchased the Anaheim and Hatch variety, including a can for our son who is the banquet chef at Hacienda Del Sol.

The quality of freshness in this salsa is amazing and so I encourage you to go to the next market and taste (and buy) for yourself.  The holidays are coming, too, and I can think of a couple of cousins back East I need to tell about ordering from Fidel.  His website is www.salsasrangel.webs.com or you can email him at salsasrangel@gmail.com .

He ships throughout the world, thanks to DMAFB exposure.  Air Force personnel taste his products and then, when shipped to Germany, etc., they place orders with Sr. Rangel, who quickly sends them the best salsa in Tucson.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Update on Happiness Community Conversations


Happiness Community Conversations Lead to Happiness Actions
 

 
Happiness Community Conversation at Murphy-Wilmot Library, October 18, 2013, Pat Griesel, Community Renaissance facilitator, Anita Fonte assisting.  Photo taken by Mark Grushka.

 

At the four hosting branches of the Pima County Public Library, small groups are meeting at the ninety minute Happiness Community Conversations.  At these conversations, they discuss the UA Happiness Lectures topics and dig deeper into how to transform the ideas from the happiness lectures into personal and community happiness actions.  Some participants have attended the downtown lectures but most have not.  Participants come for each of the five sessions or for the one or two topics that interest him/her.  Offering the conversations at the familiar library branches during the daytime hours creates a choice for participants who may not be able or willing to drive at night.

Each conversation is unique because of who attends and the selection of interactive activities provided by the facilitators from Community Renaissance.  For example, one activity is to define key terms of the lecture topic by writing a few words on a multi-colored sticky note which is put on a larger display board.  Next, these comments are collected by the facilitator.  Another activity a conversation on Compassion involved “bearing witness” to the suffering of another by contemplating a photo of suffering, focusing one’s breath on the photo’s image, and sending feelings of compassion to the image.  One participant remarked that she observed herself changing her reaction to photo as her breathing relaxed. 

Each conversation includes a “take away” happiness tool that encourages participants to consider making a commitment to complete for a week.  In one group this involves picking three cards from a happiness deck of cards and selecting one she or he will do the next week.  Returnees from the first session to the second session shared that they experienced a happier week by sticking to their happiness action and even going beyond that initial commitment by applying another action they heard someone else in the group offer to do. 

At the beginning of 2014, Community Renaissance will produce a summary of the groups’ activity responses and the responses from an 11 question Happiness survey that each participant completes at the first Happiness Community Conversation she or he attends.  This survey asks the same questions as developed in the 2013 World Happiness Report.  Also, the 2014 report will include results from the “snap surveys” that started in June, 2013 as part of the Talk UP^ Tucson events.  This survey has participants rate the 4 Pillars of Gross National Happiness and is cited in the Talk UP^ Tucson… book by Anita C. Fonte.  A free read-only copy of the book is available upon request to Anita.  

Community Renaissance facilitators are volunteering their time for the conversations and Talk UP^ events, including materials preparation, cost, and follow-up as part of Community Renaissance’s pro bono program, The Partnership for Equity and Civic Engagement, or PĒCE.  For more information contact Anita C. Fonte at acfonte@aol.com and www.community-renaissance.com. 

 

 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A musical BrightSpot in Tucson: PCC's Chorale and College Singers

My husband and I did our second volunteer-usher stint at today's PCC chorale concert.  Mark was able to take a photo of one of the two choirs during the pre-show rehearsal and a very supportive crowd attended. 

Our guesstimate was about 150 people of diverse ages.  We met one charming couple who drove from Douglas to see their grand daughter sing. 

We were familiar with the director, Dr. Jonathan Ng, who is also the music director at our occasional-church, Catalina United Methodist.  The repetoire was diverse and, to me a former youth/church choir member, pretty challenging.  One of the first pieces, Danny Boy, which I usually don't like because it reminds me of The Lawrence Welk Show, brought me to tears.  It was a lovely arrangement and sung with tenderness.  Two pieces from "Phantom of the Opera" were Mark's favorites, and while I enjoyed these, I was inspired by two pieces by Edward Elgar--so much so I had to look him up on the Internet:  http://saturdaychorale.com/2011/08/18/edward-elgar-my-love-dwelt-in-a-northern-land-university-of-delaware-vocal-group/.  This piece, based on a poem written by a poet I do not know, really moved me--even though I couldn't catch all the lyrics the melancholy mood struck me deeply.  In a mood-music change next, I tapped my feet to two songs arranged by Aaron Copland, based on America's past.

The performance ended with combined choirs and featured soloists, weaving their voices through two pieces by Joseph Haydn from "The Creation."  I didn't know these pieces either but I could appreciate the trajectory of the voices and the rhythm changes which brought the audience to close the performance with two curtain calls and a strong number of "bravos!"

What a gem we have at PCC and their Center for the Arts www.pima.edu/cfa.  The next chorale concert is December 6th and we'll be there to celebrate our 39th anniversary!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tapas Fusion: Foodie Bright Spot on small plates

As Mark and I have become more aware of our health and are looking for good local places to eat which support this, we are delighted to share photos and brief descriptions on our latest discovery, Tapas Fusion www.tapasfusiontucson.com .  Tucked away in a Campbell Ave. shopping center between Ft. Lowell and Glenn, we pass it regularly and once frequented the Italian restaurant it replaced.  So, this week, we made it a point to go in and immediately liked the comfortable design of the place.  Like the restaurant before it, there is an open kitchen, but Tapas fusion added a bar and decor that is modern and urban-chic.  But looks aren't everything--it's the taste and service that matters and both get gold stars from us on this visit.  We will definitely be back and are telling our friends to check it out, also.

We started our dinner with salad--spring greens, cherry tomatoes, artichoke pieces, olives (pitted), and cucumbers (I forgot to ask but I suspect they were Persian or English cucumbers, not the standard variety).  The light lemon vinegarette dressing was perfect--and I am not a fan of most dressings with vinegar.

 
 
Mark ordered two sliders (we ate before 6 so could still get lunch prices), one was salmon and the other BBQ chicken. 


His salad was included in his entree.

I went for the small plates and picked two:  Mediterranean Meatball Stuffed Mushrooms, dotted with mozzarella and Brie Orange Crostini sprinkled with spinach, cucumber and red pepper.  Both were absolutely wonderful.  I suspect that the meatballs had substantial amounts of garlic and were crunchy and baked in olive oil. 



Mark enjoyed the crostini, too, and the ingredients were fresh and delicate.



As part of our self-imposed calorie limits, we often abstain from dessert but we were intriqued by the "handcrafted chocolates by M. (Mary) Joseph" whom, I discovered, comes from the Phoenix area.  We ordered one dark chocolate merlot and actually split it--divine dessert that was sweet yet soothing.  So was the total bill (under $30.00) plus our usual tip for excellent service and attention as we inquired about the meal preparation and confirmed that the restaurant is owned by a local person.

Treat yourself to a bit of European pleasure at a Tucson-affordable locally owned restaurant and support Tapas Fusion.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BrightSpots Constellation: We appreciate our Tucson artisans

As I have been paying attention to the evidence of autumn in Tucson, I have also noticed that I am sleeping better, getting more fresh air, and gaining a sense of gratitude for my life.  This coming weekend (October 11-13) offers us the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival and one of the terrific things about Tucson is we can "meet ourselves" every day if we are so inclined.  So Mark and I had our own mini-version of a Meet Yourself this past weekend and Mark took some fantastic photos that share our experiences.  The link takes you to the picasa album and photos are in order as I describe them in this post.  https://plus.google.com/photos/115037493039149573213/albums/5932526063553386785?authkey=CLOWyomBlYy7ugE&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1#photos/115037493039149573213/albums/5932526063553386785?authkey=CLOWyomBlYy7ugE&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1

First off/BrightSpot #1:  The Maker House, www.makerhouse.org .  I have been looking forward to this new event and learning space since they launched their crowdsourcing venture in the summer and I became a small investor.  Through that effort ($53,000) plus an additional $75,000 from the founder, Tony Ford's, software business, Art Fire, The Maker House had a soft opening on 10/5.  [Note: ArtFire is a software marketplace for arts and crafts and is second in sales only to itsy].  Tony gave us and another visitor a personal tour of the redo to the former Bates Mansion.  This 1880s mansion predated the infamous 1930s-1960s Owls Club (part bordello) and had three spacious pools (now covered and one is the floor of the Solarium) and inlaid mesquite floors (visible), along with other fine architectural elements. 

The mural by Slavador Corona was added in the 1960s who also did murals for the Manning and Jacome home.  It is one of three of his surviving murals in the USA. 

The Maker House is not a hackerspace which is the purpose of Gangplank who, along with The Maker House, Xerocraft and others have formed  Downtown Inovation Companies since July.  The Maker House is the "home" to Art Fire and will be offering affordable membership-driven classes and will also have events open to the general public. 

Their coffeehouse serves Fair Trade, nano-roasted coffee and pastries prepared by a Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef .  We had a generous cup of hot chocolate that was the creamiest we've ever had, and enjoyed the set-up for the lightshow in the refurbished courtyard.  In the near future the courtyard will feature heirloom gardening, yoga classes and an outdoor movie theatre.  All spaces at The Maker House are multifunctional and can be used/rented for diverse uses.

Next on our BrightSpot list:  The Sonoran Glass School www.sonoranglass.org .  I featured it last year in my blog and I can tell you that at least one visit a year during their pumpkin-glass blowing events is going to become a ritual for us. 

This year we had a long "happiness" conversation with one of their former students, now a volunteer who is starting her own glass art business www.facebook.com/kemaurer .  She led us into the back room where we me master lamp/flame worker Bronwen Heilman www.bronwenheilman.com .  She had us put on glasses so we could better view the flamework and took us, step by step through the making of a leaf shaped pendant. The flame glows at 2400 degrees and starts with her taking two solid tubes of colored glass to form a "glob of glass"; this process is called "gathering."  Then she sculpts the glass and, in this case, used a press for the leaf shape.  Next, she stretches the glass, closes it and pokes a hole in it for a necklace chain.  To finish it and prevent it from cracking, she places it in a 950 degree kiln for "annealing" where the glass molecules resettle and align. 

Just a beautiful craft to watch and we left with two small flameworked pumpkins and a decorated box with a pumpkin bead.

My #3 BrightSpot was our dinner stop at the Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, founded by Chef Romiro Scavo www.pascokitchen.com .  We had walked around the UA's main campus and scouted out a couple of places to eat but this one was new to us, although it has been thriving on University Blvd. for two years.  We were able to take advantage of their happy hour.  We ordered two salads and split the entree.

Mark's salad was the house-made Mozarrella and Tomato salad with spring mix, pesto and shaved parmesan.  Mine was the Farmer's Market salad which varies each day--this one had spring greens, carrots, red beet pieces, shaved parmesan.  Our entree included Heritage pork tacos and freshly made pico do gallo with green chilis and cilantro. 

Everything was tasty and our patio service came with a smile and comfortable attention.  A special "shout out" to this restaurant which features local food providers such as the UA Meat Lab, Anita's Street Tortillas and the Food Conspiracy Coop.  On the menu, not only are the providers named but the mileage number for each provider is also noted, demonstrating that the providers are indeed very local!

As we ended our weekend and drove home, we remarked to each other that life indeed becomes happier when the three digit temps are behind us and cool evenings and mornings stretch before us.  But, throughout the year, we all need to remember our local businesses and artisans who also have to survive the summer--so do a "meet yourself" twelve months a year, not only in October!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Operation School Bell: The Assistance League of Tucson--a glowing "BrightSpot"

Twice in the past two weeks, I have been a library-volunteer reader for the Assistance League's Operation School Bell.  http://assistanceleaguetucson.org/Operation%20School%20Bell.htm

Before arriving at the Assistance League, and having driven past its location for years, all I knew about the AL was that they had a thrift store.  I was absolutely blown away by the existence of this fantastic community-based program.  Once I arrived at the Operation School Bell site and was ushered around past the shopping area and tables for the kids to draw, write "thank you" notes and/or participate in the reading corner, I called my husband and said "you have to come over here and take photos for my blog."

He arrived and, like me, was stunned by the generosity and retail savvy of this program.  He took other photos but these are the ones I selected and shared with the League's president before I put them on this post.

Yesterday, when I arrived and was getting settled with my books, a third-grader came to me and pulled at the hole in the center of his t-shirt and lifted up his tennis show to show a hole where his big toe was poking through it.  "This is why I am here," he mumbled.  I wanted to hug him, but I didn't, of course.  Instead, I replied, "well, today you are getting new clothes."  In addition to three shirts, a pair of jeans, a new jacket, a new backpack and a pair of shoes, each child (assisted by his/her "personal shopper") selects a new book.  I read from a couple of their selections yesterday and one little girl, after quietly listening for thirty minutes, waiting for her turn to shop, commented, "You like to read, don't you?"  "I do when I have a good listener like you," I responded. 

I truly value this experience--one that our public library supports and connected me to, and now I am sharing my experience with you.  Hug a child, read to a child, buy and book and donate it to your nearest day care center.  Or find another action that will make a positive difference in Tucson or your community.

 
 
 
 
 
  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reflections on Another Transportation Open House Meeting

I did not stay for the small group work exercises.  Now that I am attending these events by choice and not part of a consulting position, I can determine a) if I attend and b) how long I stay--just as any other community member can choose.  That's a luxury I appreciate these days.  I certainly applaud the 40 plus hours the citizens' task force has already put into this project with almost as many hours ahead on their "to do" list.  Having worked for five years with the Grant Road Improvement Plan's Task Force, I continue to be impressed by the willingness of some community members to engage, learn and decide what to recommend for Tucson's future.  So mostly, this post reflection is a "shout out" to the important roles Task Force members play--and to the other 200+ folks who also attended last night's working session. 

In spite of "the travails of Tucson" (hmm, is that similar to the "Perils of Pauline"--that old silent film picture which I have only seen in retrospective clips), the pluck of the public to hang in there with policy-making strongly suggests that our local democratic functions are not dead.  But they are becoming increasingly frayed by polarized thinking and the lack, in my opinion, of government/convenors to be willing to budget, thus, design, the necessary quality of public process necessary to "work through and deliberate" on, in this case, nine different alternatives for a contentious corridor plan.  It can't be done well in an hour.

I don't know how this story will end; heck, I don't know how the Grant Road story will end I worked on it from 2006-2012.  But I will continue to find a way to balance public involvement with personal detachment and honor those who can do more while I may do a bit less but with renewed passion for what I choose to do.  That's why, for me, the upcoming community conversations on happiness will probe answers to my question:  are we in Tucson ready to become a happier and more prosperous community?

Stay tuned for reflections on the answers to that question.

And here's the link to the ongoing Broadway Blvd. planning process.

http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/broadway

Friday, September 13, 2013

La Cocina Redo

It's important that patrons walk past the orange sidewalk barriers and continue to support La Cocina as they go through a significant "redo".  We had lunch with a friend today, Mark and I splitting their delicious pulled pork w/slaw sandwich and side salad.  Mark took a couple of photos of the work in progress and we had a brief chat with Jo, the owner, who has taken on this effort as part of her continuing commitment to improve the downtown's venue's for good food (many items are gluten-free) and local music.  www.lacocinatucson.com

So while we celebrate the new spots opening along Congress and nearby side streets, we want to continue to shine the light on this "brightspot" which offers a sense of the Old Pueblo's eclectic mix of food, music and artisan galleries.  In a few months, the "redo" will be completed and will draw in folks again, but in the meantime, we need to make that effort to support La Cocina during this transition.

Here are the blueprints for the remodeled weather-friendly area with a new beverage bar being added.

 
And here is the action, dust not included!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sonoran Arts Network September Issue

This on line publication is expanding.  There are many interesting reviews (including mine) and a reflective writing by the editor which shows how much passion and commitment it takes to produce this product.  I hope you will appreciate it (as I do) and subscribe if you are not yet getting it via email.

http://www.sonoranartsnetwork.net/

Saturday, August 31, 2013

S. Arizona Watercolor Guild Art Gallery: A Vibrant Tucson "BrightSpot"

Yesterday, as a free-lance writer/reviewer for the Sonoran Arts Network (www.sonoranartsnetwork.net), Mark and I visited the Gallery to cover their fourth WOW show.  I have submitted my review (and his photos) to SAN, but here I want to highlight two watercolors that were not part of the WOW show.  They are hung on the back walls of the gallery and feature, first, an artist who has served the Guild as a gallery show juror and workshop teacher.  This painting, entitled, Windmill Inn, is by Frank Frances.  I love its pink color and stand-out image of the hotel's facade.

 
Second is one I wanted to buy, if I had the income.  Painted by Ellen Fountain www.FountainStudio.com , it features two of my favorite subjects these days:  daisies/black-eyed Susans and a black/gray cat.  Had I the talent she does, which I obviously do not, this could be Charlie A. Gray admiring a vase of flowers in our home.
 
 
 
Whether as a writer for SAN or not, I will be visiting this charming gallery more often.  It is staffed by artist-volunteers who were so helpful and willing to talk with us, answer questions and take photos.  The talent displayed in the gallery and the gallery itself earn this week's Community Renaissance "shout out" for another Tucson BrightSpot!
 
 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happiness Community Conversation in August


Happiness Community Conversation at TMM Family Services, Inc., 8.22.13

Last week, my husband (the photographer), and I were fortunate to share an evening hour with ten women in a Talk UP^ Tucson… happiness community conversation.   I tried a couple of new prompts for this conversation.  At a nicely arranged table grouping with refreshments provided by TMM and a staff person to help occupy some of the women's young children, another staff person joined the group and we talked.  www.tmmfs.org .

I handed out large index cards and a colored marker to each participant, letting them know they would be keeping this card for themselves.  First, I asked them to respond to the prompt "Recently I was having a bad day because..." .  I gave them the example of my day starting off badly with my lingering cold and cough.  Their responses, shared verbally by choice after taking five minutes to write varied from "my car door handle fell off" to "my best friend passed away."  Several of the responses drew a supportive "God Bless You", or “I am sorry", and I shared, when appropriate, my feelings for their unhappy experiences.

Next, I asked them (on the same card), to write a response to this prompt "But I managed to find a few happy moments in it anyway, like..." .  I shared that, in spite of my cold, I was able to laugh at a funny YouTube video with two dogs dancing.  Responses to the second prompt, again shared verbally by choice, included:  "my boys hug me" or "to pray" or "the paramedics who helped me were cute."  Again, we talked a bit more deeply about their responses and the possibility that even a very bad day can have a few happy moments.  All of their verbal responses to both prompts I wrote down on a large paper pad framed on an easel.

Because the program director had shared with me that the concept of "community" might be new to some of the participants, for the third prompt, I showed on my large paper pad the equation:
            
             Community = 1 + 1 + 1

 I talked about how a community is made of up of me and at least two others--family members, friends, work colleagues or church companions.  I also shared the quote that “a wise person knows ‘enough’ is abundance."  (I could not recall the source).

 Then, I passed out colored medium-sized post-its and asked them to describe an experience where being in a community was "enough."  I gave them my example of recently being with a group of other writers.

This time I collected their responses (if they were willing to share, and all did) and read them aloud before sticking them to the large paper pad.  Responses included: "Faith Singing", "looking at the beautiful children being cared for by TMM...", and "I enjoy my job."

As we wrapped up the hour, I asked them, if they were willing, to share one thing they were taking away with them from the conversation.  The staff person said she now has the idea of starting a program newsletter; a participant offered to host a Bible study group "now that I see I am not alone", and another said she actually was taking away "four new things" and listed them in sequence.

I am always amazed at what I take away from these community conversations:  new ideas, hope, strength, and yes, more happiness.
 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reflections on Tucson's Neighborhood Summer Sessions


Reflections the Neighborhood Infill Coalition (NIC) Hosted Neighborhood Sessions, a.fonte, 8.22.13
 

Earlier in the week, I thought I would be writing a detailed summary of the last of three NIC hosted Neighborhood Sessions held at Ward II this summer and posting it via my AnitaWrites blog.  But, as the days have passed, and I have had time to consider what role, as a neighborhood resident and as a professional in community development, I would be willing to take on as a result of these sessions, much of the “wind has gone out of my sail.”   

Maybe it’s the announcement this week of the “strategic pause” of Imagine Greater Tucson (IGT), yet another planning organization that did not meet community expectations for positive change.  I had devoted many hours as a volunteer and later as a consultant to IGT.  I co-facilitated the 2010-2011 Community Conversations and the subsequent policy analysis process that generated the IGT list of community values.  But, two years before IGT put itself on “pause”, I left the organization due to what I viewed as a significant (and non-community-based) decision to focus on transportation planning.  And I have experienced other efforts in the past years that, although begun with the intent to be inclusive and community-based, turned out to be top-down driven and, because of that, produced community plans with no community supported actions. 

The intentions and commitment of NIC and the other twenty-five neighborhoods who participated in this summer’s sessions are, I believe, positive and consistent with determined efforts they have demonstrated over the years.  Tucson is, for better or worse, a city-town of neighborhoods and small businesses.  We are not a corporate city, we are not a destination city for new businesses, in spite of economic development incentives and recruitment attempts to make us one.  Neighborhoods and small businesses are pillars of our region’s progress or stagnation.  These summer sessions were framed by NIC neighborhood leadership to be positive and proactive.  For the most part, they have been.  They have also been productive.  Here are several outcomes of this all-volunteer summer effort: 

  • A statement of neighborhood and community principles and goals, entitled “This We Believe”;
  • A quantitative summary of “desired organizational outcomes” for one or more neighborhood city-wide organizational structures;
  • Identification of (three potential and one current) organizational structures to implement the desired outcomes;
  • NIC’s invitation for another follow-up session in six months to access continued actions.
Within my neighborhood, I live in an HOA community.  Within that community, I am active in establishing a little free library to promote community building through reading.  These are focused steps I can do.  I have professional skills that I can and do contribute to the broader community through my business, Community Renaissance www.community-renaissance.org .  However, I won’t be taking on any new roles or responsibilities as I might have done a few years ago.  Instead, I deeply value the efforts of others I enjoyed working with this summer at these sessions and I will continue to share the word of their progress and successes.
 

If you want more specifics on this summer’s sessions, outcomes and next steps, send an email to Collette at williamaltaffer@azbar.org .

 

 

UA's Peace Corps Fellows Program: Tucson BrightSpot

Over a decade ago, my HUD colleague, Ric Gerakos, asked me to arrange a meeting with UA "powers that be" to brainstorm the idea of bringing the Peace Corps Fellows Program to the UA Grad College.  He had experience with the success of this program in California and, with our Tucson and Phoenix HUD offices working together, he planted the seeds at NAU, ASU and UA.  The seed has flourished at the UA which now houses the 2nd largest Peace Corps Fellows Program in the USA.  http://grad.arizona.edu/peacecorps .  Currently, twenty-seven different UA academic programs support the Fellows' academic careers. Most are seeking master's degree but an increasing number take on the doctoral track. This year there are twenty-six new Fellows and three returning Fellows who have served in over twenty different countries while in the Peace Corps.

At the University of Arizona, the program has been nurtured by Georgia Ehlers (and other staff).  Georgia is in the red dress in the photo below.  Each fall a reception is held for incoming fellows and agencies and programs who attempt to get matched with a Fellow.  Community Renaissance was fortunate, when our PECE program was temporarily housed at the College of Education, to recruit a work-study Fellow, Beau James, who has helped with a wide range of community dialogue and conversation events.  Base grad tuition is waived for 2 years with possible additional scholarships for the students and, if it applies credit internships and/or work-study placements.  In return, students complete projects with their matched agency or program.  It's a Win-Win for everyone. 

I attend each year, reminiscing to myself how this program started and that it is probably my primary HUD legacy.  It's also a joyful time to listen to past Fellows, many who have gained professional employment with Tucson agencies, share their story about how this program has changed their lives.  It has changed our Tucson community, as well--and deserves to have attention as a Tucson BrightSpot!


Monday, August 19, 2013

More Happiness

Talk UP^ Tucson... was just added to this website:  http://www.downtownlectures.arizona.edu/more-happiness

I am looking forward to this week's Community Conversation on Community Happiness and Prosperity at TMM Family Services, Inc. and the fall conversations with UA Graduate College and the Pima County Public Library who is collaborating with SPS and its Downtown Lecture Series on Happiness. 

Here's a photo from July Community Conversation and book House Party, located in a Ward III neighbor-colleague's home.  We had a lot of fun, food and ideaing.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Social Capital is the Number One Factor in Economic Mobility

I just saw this segnment on CNN and feel it is so important to share asap:  http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2013/08/17/exp-gps-0818-take.cnn&iref=allsearch#/video/bestoftv/2013/08/17/exp-gps-0818-take.cnn

Based on a collaborative Harvard/Berkley study of the factors that affect economic mobility, and for the USA "The American Dream"--the element a community has or does not have that is #1 factor is Social Capital.  Considering the Arizona Daily Star's recent series, Losing Ground, which explored poverty in the Tucson region, I strongly encourage followers to spread the word that this study and its findings could be the basis of an indepth "Gaining Ground" response.  As a Reading Seed Volunteer for five years (and now a TUSD/classroom reading volunteer), I certainly support the Star and our mayor's call to increase the number of Reading Seed Tutors as one way to create a more positive potential outcome for our community's children.  But we need a deeper conversation about poverty in our midst and I believe the CNN story and research it cites is a good beginning.

Let me know if you are interested in moving forward with this approach by emailing me at acfonte@aol.com .

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Local First Arizona Mixer, Tucson

This week, Mark and I attended our first Local First Arizona Mixer at Creative Juice Art Bar www.creativejuicebar.com .  Both of our businesses have been Local First Arizona members since last November, but we haven't been to a Mixer before and now we think it will be regular "date" we had so much fun! 


We met some folks we knew and met quite a few that were "new" to us.  The experience at the Creative Juice Art Bar was just enough "art" for me to feel that I was capable of doing it.  Everyone had a complimentary wine glass, with wine served by Gallifant Cellars www.GCwine.com .  I tasted the pink and red wines and since it only takes a little bit of wine for me to get a buzz, I was willing to try painting the wine glass.  Paints, pallette, brushes and water were displayed on the tables and my finished product now holds the business cards I collected from this Mixer (and future ones).  Appetizers, pizza and a decandant flourless (gluten-free) chocolate caked were served by Renee's Organic Oven www.reneesorganicoven.com .  I went back for three servings of the artichoke cheese bruschetta and Mark had two thin slices of the cake, minus the bites I allowed myself.  There was a DJ and cool, easy music that kept the 70+ local business owners in an energetic and congenial mood--definitely enhanced by the artistic atmosphere and complimentary food.


Local First Arizona Tucson Coordinator, Deanna Cheavas, did a brief "update" of exciting Local First Arizona events and developments including the October launch of their Localism campaign.  I highly recommend you check out their website and sign-up for the newsletter and other ongoing updates from Local First Arizona.  And, of course:  go local!  www.localfirstaz.com .

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Important Story on Poverty in Tucson: How do we build a more prosperous community for all?

The Arizona Daily Star is doing a terrific job this week, with their in-depth investigation on poverty in Tucson:  http://azstarnet.com/news/local/losing-ground-tucson-kids-pay-poverty-s-high-price/article_b79c3c72-bd69-5898-8876-d60bf8045746.html  .

I hope that, after this series has been completed, Community Renaissance can collaborate with others in taking some "next steps" in answering the question I pose in the title of this post:  How do we building a more prosperous community for all?" 

I don't doubt that the majority of us in the Tucson region want more prosperity for ourselves, our families and our neighbors.  I really do believe that most people want a better life for everyone, not just themselves.  And the stories in the Star are showing how complex issues of poverty are for individuals and families.  So there's no easy answer.  But, like any problem, if the pieces can be taken in small steps, progress can be made.

When I first came to Tucson in 1971, recently graduated from college in the midwest, I felt at home here because I thought "ah, there are a lot of people like me here, struggling to survive."  Tucson has the same, if not worse, reality 42 years later.  Yes, choices were made and are still being made and some of the factors (such as our proximity to Phoenix where large external capital investments are often featured in the news) are beyond our control, but I think each of us can do take one more step to help solve this problem.

I have made several community commitments:  to assist my neighborhood and HOA as an active member, to weekly volunteer in a TUSD location, to volunteer for the public library and, when possible, to offer Community Renaissance's pro bono program, PECE, to assist with forward-leaning community conversations. 

These are my commitments and I am willing to take one step more.  What about you? (This is a picture from flickr.com and their "commons"--it's the scene of Huck and Tom fixing up their community by painting a weathered fence.")

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bentley's for Lunch: Our "get out of the computer cave" BrightSpot

One of the challenges of working at home is getting out from the "computer cave" (i.e. home office) and reconnecting with the world.  I have found myself slipping into a more solitary mode the past few weeks and, as a result, my mood shifted to match with our partially cloudy skies.

So, today, I purposefully said to my spouse, "We are going out to lunch today.  Where do you want to go?"  A friendly spot, just south Mountain Ave. and east on Speedway, is Bentley's where we know we can get an affordable and tasty lunch and order from a selection of specialty teas.  Lately, we have been adapting to our budget and waistlines and split a meal.  Here's today's special for lunch: turkey (on multigrain from Small Planet Bakery) with provolone, sprouts, lettuce and Roma tomatoes.  We ordered a side salad and, for $1.00, added a second side of fruit.

All elements were fresh and plentiful. The total was $11.00 and it was enough for both of us.  (And, we confess, we also split a fudge brownie/not pictured which was tasty to the last smooth crumb).  The energy in the room elevated our spirits: two toddlers were flitting around like butterflies, conversations were animated and, as always, the parade of patrons is worth an extended time for viewing.  Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea is also a member of Local First Arizona, so make sure you take time for stopping there and supporting one of the first local cafes in Tucson.

http://www.bentleyscoffeehouse.com/

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Keep Tucson Fringey

In last week's Tucson's Weekly, the cover story was about the push-back from some Tucsonans to how the downtown and urban area of Tucson is changing.  The baseline comment was "Keep Tucson Shitty" (or not), comparing the phrase to "Keep Austin Weird."

In today's (8/1) Arizona Daily Star, Caliente section, there is a story about how the Mother Hubbard Cafe is evolving from a basic eggs, waffle and bacon diner to a niche gluten-free Native American comfort food eatery.  I haven't been there since this change has evolved, but it's on our "go to eat" list now.  What struck me in the article was this quote by a patron, Gary Svenson:

"Tucson is a fringe area.  It's not quite Mexican; it's not quite American...."

So, here's my suggestion to VisitTucson, The Chamber of Commerce, etc. (and I think it fits better than the lame phrase "Free Yourself"):

Keep Tucson Fringey!
Exciting entrepreneurship, exhilarating mountain landscapes, enticing entertainment--all and more happening in the Fringey Tucson area.

What do you think?  Can we start a campaign to Keep Tucson Fringey!  ?

Our Epic Sock Monkey Christmas: A Blog BrightSpot

Here is a blog I really like and just subscribe to; full disclosure, the blogger is my friendly neighbor!

Our Epic Sock Monkey Christmas

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Defining Prosperity Down

As the second theme of my book, Talk UP^ Tucson... is an exploration of community prosperity, I am signed on to google alerts for everyday posts on both book themes: happiness and prosperity.  Almost every day, I post Facebook comments on articles related to happiness, but it's a rare article on prosperity that stirs my interest.  This article is such a rare find that I am posting it (also) on my blog.

http://www.capjournal.com/opinions/columnist/defining-prosperity-down/article_e848398e-f992-11e2-a114-0019bb2963f4.html

The pop-up ads are annoying but the article is worth the distractions.  Here's a question for my readers: are you defining prosperity down in your life as the article suggests?  If so, how and what do you feel about this change?  I think I am doing that, out of necessity as well as adjusting the reality described in the article.  Mostly, I feel that it's leading me to live a simpler life, but sometimes I feel angry and depressed about what I can't "have" that I think I "want."  To be honest, I have what I need and practicing daily gratitude helps me stay focused on the cup more than half full.  What about you?



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BrightSpot: Joel Valdez Library's Summer Reading Program

According to the staff in the Children's Library ("make sure you tell people we are really good with kids"), this Summer's Reading Program--which ended July 20--was 25% higher in registration compared with their similar program in 2011.  (In 2012, the format was considerably different so a comparison doesn't apply).  The librarians note that this year, as in 2011 and previous years, incentives were used and, particularly important, were the free pass incentives to Breakers WaterPark.  Another key to the higher registration was the emphasis on this year's program as a "family event".  For example, when a teen sibling brought in younger siblings, the librarians signed up the teen right on the spot for the teen reading program.

I cannot give a loud enough shout out to our public library (all branches) and the able staff.  I am a dedicated lover of books and reading but the knowledge each of the librarians I have worked with at the "downtown" (i.e. Joel Valdez Library) have more book titles in their brains than I could ever hope to download onto my computer!!  They are patient with all ages of children and willing to assist and encourage book reading from board books to tomes such as Harry Potter.  One librarian stressed to me that "we want kids to learn how to hold a book in their hands, turn the pages and take care of the book."  Another words (no pun intended), ebooks are fine but they do not replace the golden glow of a book.

So thank you Public Library for generating another summerful of new and continuing readers!

 (photo from flickr.com/commons)

Another BrightSpot:

Here is a national magazine giving a "shout out" about Tucson's entrepreneurial culture. As a long time civic and now small publishing entrepreneur, Community Renaissance would add this caveat:  entrepreneurs in the Tucson Region often have to bypass traditional business pathways in order to get launched and, if your "business" involves civic entrepreneurship you have to endure being undervalued and underpaid for work that does not support the civic status quo.  Still, entrepreneurship is a "brightspot" in the region as I wrote about in earlier posts on Ignite Tucson, Tucson Food Truck Round-Ups, locally owned restaurants, entertainment venues such as local bookstores and Local First Arizona.

http://startuptucson.com/2013/entrepreneur-magazine-names-tucson-emerging-entrepreneurial-hub-2/

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another social media step

I decided to try to set up some of my (or Mark's) photos via Flickr.  Originally, I thought I would add Instagram, but, after reading about both, I decided Flickr was my next step.  I hope folks let me know about both social media tools--which you use, prefer and why.

Here's the link to my gallery:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/99167910@N04/

Friday, July 19, 2013

Beyond Counting Clouds

prompt words:  name, number, look, hear, up, evening, welcome


File:PiazzaBarberiniByRoeslerFranz.jpg


It was turning out to be more significant evening than Alicia had expected.  Paolo had accepted her cake and berries with a welcome kiss on both cheeks, and his daughter, Sophia, had hugged her closely around the knees.  The look the child gave her at dinner, as Alicia shared stories about her Italian fountains expedition, was one of awe.  Sophia asked if she could accompany Alicia on the next day’s fountain journey and ran to her room to get a piece of paper so she could give Alicia her phone number.  This request was a surprise for Alicia to hear. While she was gone Paolo explained, with some temerity, that Sophia still missed her mother, gone now for two years, and, since Sophia was an only child, she sometimes clung closely to her Papa and worried about his own sense of loss.  

 

Alicia was cautious about making a commitment too soon to the child.  Looking for fountains in Italy had become her private pleasure and sharing the experience and the expectation might be too much, too soon. Giving up that privacy was giving up a part of herself. But, when Sophia returned with her piece of paper and called Alicia by name, the vowels spilling like water with the Italian emphasis on the final “cia”, she couldn’t help but smile and acquiesce to Sophia’s request.  They would meet outside the Museo Nazionale Romano, near the Termini station, and decide which direction in the city they would go, looking for another fountain of Rome. 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Flash Fiction: Counting Clouds



Counting Clouds

In Rome, it seems to Alicia that every corner has a fountain.  Whether she is walking near the Tiber River, or going to one of the bus ticket and book stands to buy a British newspaper, the sound of water slowly cascading over the necks of horses, pineapples, turtles or mermaids beckons her to pause for a coffee and count the clouds in the sky.  She came to Italy with the purpose of finishing her book of poetry, but that goal is now gone for the near future.  Instead, she has made it her purpose to try to visit, photograph and write a phrase or two about every Roman fountain.   

Yesterday, she stopped on a path along the shore of the river to watch three boats glide beneath the bridge of Castel Sant’Angelo.  While there, a familiar man with his daughter passed her by and they chatted.  He invited her to dinner tonight and she is wondering what she should bring to the meal.  She knows he is a widower and that he likes fruit, which she often saw him carrying in his market basket and every Italian likes sweets.  So, she will buy a cake and bring berries along with some of photographs of the fountains. They will get to know each other a little better and she will be open to possibilities.

 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Talk UP^ Tucson... event: Quotes Worth Sharing

I admit it.  One of the aftereffects of my PhD (circa University of Arizona, 1996) was my affinity for data collecting, particularly through informal qualitative/ethographic observations, group interactions and interviews.  Even when I don't know if the information will "go anywhere", I can't make myself throw away notes.  So, from yesterday's Talk UP^ Tucson... book houseparty here are quotes from some of the participants, only attributed by a first name initial.  Thanks to all for sharing and opening your hearts and minds.
****

I:  Good idea...to talk about the pluses and minuses of Tucson.....Can progress be done?

K:  I am frustrated with groups, egos...am drawing away from the Tucson community...[but] while I am here, I want to be happy....

M:  I love the town but I have my moments....

R1:  ...neighborhoods are key components to authentic empowerment....  A neighborhood is defined by boundaries...a community is made up of people we have an emotional connection with....

N:  ...I am interested in how we can build resilience....

J:  I am curious about the intersection of community and happiness....  I know there is a lot of burn out in community work....  If it's not fun, why do it?...

R2:  ...Tucson could be a really great city...but we go down the wrong path....

B1:  I am burnt out.  I am happy with my life but unhappy in my neighborhood....  I am here to learn something....

B2:  I've gotten a bit disgruntled living in this neighborhood...[there is] a chipping away.  I came to see what's happening outside of neighborhood association meetings....

C:  ...I love my house but I don't love what's happened around me...infill...crime....  I am always looking for something positive.

D:  ...I live in a neighborhood 80% and I am a renter...I want to make a little corner [of it] better.



Snap Surveys: an activity of Talk UP^ Tucson presentation/houseparty/salon gathering etc.

As a "next step" for my 2013 book Talk UP^ Tucson..., when a person or organization buys two books (or more), I will come and do a presenations, reading, sharing, etc. based on the book.  I have done three events so far, meeting my minimum goal of one event per month.  At Kellond School's 3rd grad class where I volunteer during the year, we brainstormed responses to "what do you like about the Tucson region?" and I wrote down their responses with the cup (half full, or, in this case, brimming).






At Centra Realty in June, I did that activity and added a "snap survey" activity.  I asked the group to rate the Tucson region on a 1 to 5 scale (one=low, five=high) on the "Four Pillars of Gross National Happiness."



1. Promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development
2. Preservation and promotion of cultural values
3. Conservations of the natural environment
4. Establishment of good governance
(source:  http://www.ghhusa.org/what-is-gnh/

I did the same activity yesterday at a friend's book-house party.




I am looking for locations/invitations to do more events like this and gather enough informal data to share in a fall newsletter. So let me know if you would like to participate.  Books are available at Mostly Books www.mostlybooksaz.com and Antigone Books www.antigonebooks.com

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tucson Neighborhood Leaders Meet and Do the Hard Work: BrightSpot Surprise

"This is really hard work," one of the participants mused at yesterday's meeting of neighborhood leaders who gathered for a 2nd of 3 scheduled meetings this summer convened by the Tucson Neighborhood Infill Coaltion.

"It sure is hard work,"  Ruth Beeker, facilitator for the meeting agreed.  "Moving ourselves from complaining (actually, Ruth used the "bit....." word, but I am cleaning it up a bit for my post) to finding solutions is hard work."  And, silently, I also agreed, saying to myself, "And this is why I am here: to find solutions."

As part of my tentative re-emergence in community work focused on "my cup is half full" philosophy and practice, I wasn't sure I had a place in this group.  But I decided to give it a try and administer a kind of self-test about how deep my exploration of community happiness and prosperity had really gone into my psyche.  So far I would say, it's made a definite positive difference in my attitude and behavior of public particpation.  I listen more closely and think a bit longer before I say something.  I judge less and appreciate different perspectives a bit more--not a 180 degree shift, but, still a change.

It's too soon to tell if this gathering of 22 neighborhood associations and 44 civic organizations can lean forward toward a more positive direction between neighborhoods, businesses and local government, but, as of today, I am hopeful.  One example emerged from my small group where a representative from the Garden District NA talked about how they have formed a public-private partnership with two neighborhood stores.  The businesses now fund a neighborhood newsletter and have altered their business hours to accomodate neighborhood concerns.  If this kind of progress can be duplicated in other neighborhoods (and expanded), Tucson can offer a brighter neighborhood-business community future. 

My neighborhood of Crest Ranch (located in Campus Farms NA) is just east of what I refer to as an example of "funky Tucson."  Walking west along the rurban roads along Vine and King, I enjoy rabbits and quails, lizards and diverse birdlife and the holiday decorations provided by one of the residents.  If I go east, I quickly can shop at Safeway and eat at Ghini's and buy French pastries at La Baquette Bakery.  On cooler days, I can ride my bike to UA Farms and enjoy the animal life and green fields that remind me of my farming roots.  All this, and more, contribute to the good life in my neighborhood. While establishing a "little free library" remains a challenge to my HOA (we have expanded my front yard "book basket" practice to something bigger...), a dedicated group of my neighbors and I are working with our HOA board to find common ground on this small community-building project.

What creates the good life in your neighborhood and how are you contributing to it on a regular basis?

 
 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Turn Around: Flash Fiction


The alabaster abbey glowed like a white diamond in the Caribbean skies.  Father Thomas welcomed his guest with a glass of wine and freshly baked bread.  The man in green shorts and yellow shirt moved uncomfortably in his chair as the bulge of his revolver pressured his bruised hip.  He was a man accustomed to deluxe surroundings and hearty five course meals, not this simple fare.  However, under these conditions he had little choice at this moment but to accept the monk’s hospitality.  As the monk prepared to administer grace, his guest heard a sound that jarred his tattered soul and stirred his mind.  “There is a child somewhere who sings with a soprano voice like my sister.  She died seven years ago but a voice such as this can bring back memories I thought I buried along with her body.”  He bent his head as the “Our Father…” began and wondered if, this time, he could find a way to turn his life around—again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Remembering the 19 Yarnell Firefighters

On the Fourth of July I baked blueberry-pecan bread and we took it to Tucson Fire Station #3 (our neighborhood station) near Campbell and Broadway.  The firefighters said policy wouldn't allow them to be in a photo without prior permission, so Mark took this shot outside the station.  The flag is half-mast for the 19 Yarnell Firefighters who lost their lives and were memoralizaed today in Prescott, Arizona.

I am grateful for these valiant men and women who are willing to take risks to fight fires, pull victims out of burning cars, rescue a child from a pool, tenderly lift a kitten out of a tree.  In another capacity as EMTs, they respond to 911 calls and serve as medical first-responders.

So thanks Firefighters and EMTs and forever thankfulness to the Yarnell 19 for their ultimate sacrifice. You all are heroes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rebecca's Knots: flash fiction for you

I submitted this for a July Flash Fiction contest, responding to its 7/9 prompt:  angels, light, new, mother, trees, art, second, affectionate.


Rebecca’s Knots

 

The July mid-day light glared on the silky waterfall in front of the Phoenix Art Museum.  Rebecca was taking advantage of the new “children’s corner” event at the museum with the hope that playing with other children would offer Samantha some calming moments..  Usually an affectionate child, lately her two year old was becoming something of diva. Rebecca imagined that Samantha sensed something odd was happening as Mommy’s belly bump continued its daily balloon-sized expansion.  A second child was on the way, and although Rebecca considered herself an affectionate mother with Samantha, she wasn’t gleeful about number two coming along so quickly after number one.  It was that damn trip to the White Mountains that did it: sitting under the golden aspen trees last fall rippling through the canyons.  Mike had coaxed her into a spontaneous moment and, since she was breast feeding, she thought that would give her the coital cover she needed.  It hadn’t.  So when she learned she was pregnant, she consulted the three glass angels on her bookshelf for guidance:  should she make an appointment for a pre-natal check-up with her GYN or go to Planned Parenthood to terminate this mistake?  The angels had nodded and danced in the midnight moon glow and Rebecca wasn’t sure how to interpret their responses.  She waited a few days and then the realization came to her that a mistake or not, she could do nothing more or less than go with this baby.  But she told her doctor “once you deliver, I want you to tie up those tubes into the tightest knots your tools can twist.”  He had laughed and they made the pact he would keep.  As for Mike, aspen trees were off-limits until both children were out of diapers and she had re-started her degree in art history.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Arizona Daily Star Review by J.C. Martin for Talk UP^ Tucson...

I am learning so much about the less fun stages of marketing an independently published book.  Fortunately, we have a book reviewer at the Arizona Daily Star who shines light on local authors and I am especially glad she gave my husband, the photographer, a byline.  Here is her review of the Talk UP^ Tucson... book in the Star, 7/7/13: 

http://azstarnet.com/entertainment/books-and-literature/southern-arizona-authors/article_771b42f9-10fc-5e4c-959b-b676d591b245.html 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Food Fun at Jax Kitchen

In the local newspaper's food section last week, I had read about the chef's fried chicken and thought we would try it at one of her restaurants, Jax Kitchen www.jaxkitchen.com .  It is located in the same strip mall as the Alphagraphics office on North Oracle where we had just picked up the new book, Writing at the Paradise Cafe.  When we got the menu, we discovered that the fried chicken is only served at The Abbey on the eastside of town, so we had to adjust our expectations.  We did and still glad we took a chance on a new-to-us, but really five year old locally owned fun food place.  I say "fun" because they use that tag on their business card and, although it took me a few minutes to connect the "jax" with the vintage "jacks" ala childhood sporting game I used to play with my cousins, the ambiance was relaxed (flip-flops accepted), casual and the orange/black decor (with light green touches) made me smile. Another smile came as I walked to the restroom and scanned the black and white and color "snapshots" hanging on a clothesline-type wire and "clipped" on with office clips. The bar is open and connected to the seated tables but the noise wasn't unacceptable for early eaters such as are.  We also were able to  enjoy a 1/2 price appetizer.

The bar: 

Here are the photos and descriptions of our items.

Homemade chips from russet potatoes and seasoned with garlic and celery salt.  A yummy, crunchy surprise:

 
Bread, from a California bakery (wish they would "buy local"--we have great bakeries in Tucson), served with garlic infused olive oil andsea salt, seasoned with chives and parsley:
 
 
An appetizer we loved: baby artichokes flash-fried in buttermilk batter (the same batter as the fried chicken), seasoned with parmesan and chives and served with lemon aoili (note: another "fun" detail--the artichokes served in small mason jars and wrapped in crinkle paper):
 
 
Mark enjoys soups and so tried the chicken and green chili with cilantro and goat cheese bits.  The broth was seasoned with garlic, shallots, celery and bay leaves.  He loved it.
 
 
We split the entree--pan-sheared rainbow trout with orzo pasta and bacon, served with hericots verts, a sauce of blackberry gastric, fennel fronds, julienne-cut Fuji apples, blackberries and truffle oil.  Absolutely divine--and, as you look at this picture, it's a half portion!
 
 
Bon Appetit at Jax Kitchen!
 
 
 

Mt. Lemmon Summer "BrightSpot"

I have shared "BrightSpots" photos of Mt. Lemmon before, but this is summer and it surely is a gem of place for desert dwellers in the summer to head to the moutain and experience 30 degrees cooler temps.  Yesterday, Mark and I drove up about noon, went to the very top where the largest aspen grove still stands and walked for about an hour.  Later, we went to the Sawmill Inn in Summerhaven and celebrated Mark's 61st birthday with our son and his girlfriend.  Coming down (after buying the obligatory Mt. Lemmon fudge), we stopped at Windy Point and witnessed the storms in the valley below.  Enjoy these photos by Mark--flowers, ferns and forests.

The pathway with flowers by the side:

 
Grasses, ferns and forest
 
An old growth tree
 
 
Indian Paint Brush and fallen tree trunk with skeletons from the fire, 10 years ago
 
 
Happy Daisies
 
 
Majestic Aspens, rustling in the winds
 
 
"There's a storm across the desert..."--John Denver
 
 
Which photo is your favorite and why?
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tucson General Plan Meeting's Quick Notes

This week, I attended two follow-up meetings convened by the City of Tucson to finalize concepts and language for the General Plan.  Both meetings were ably facilitated by City of Tucson staff, Rebecca Ruopp and supported by City staff.  The notes posted here reflect my listening and note-taking.  Both meetings were transcribed in more detail by City staff.  From both meetings what struck me, overall, were the following points:

1.  The tone was civil and productive.
2.  Some participants are coming for the first time to sessions which have been developing over 2 1/2 years.
3.  The elements of economic development and growth are interrelated and yet, we, as a public representing neighborhoods, government and businesses, don't seem to be ready to talk about them as interrelated elements and are not yet willing, therefore, to examine them with their benefits and trade-offs.

Here, then, are my notes:
______________________________________________________________________

Quick notes from 6/20/13  City of Tucson General Plan meeting on language and growth map, particularly as they apply to neighborhood and area plans; note no direct attribution but only initials of those quoted are in  (    ) parenthesis —by a.fonte/community renaissance (CR)

[For more specific meeting info, maps, etc., go to  http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/plantucson ]

Topic 1:  for Chapter 4 of the General Plan—suggested additional language, which, after 45 mins. of discussion was approved “for now”. (JH)  The suggested and approved text reads:

                Any amendment, consolidation, deletion, or modification of any neighborhood or area plan will be subject to the same public processes that are required during a neighborhood or area plan amendment, and all public input, including the input of the affected residents, will be maintained as part of the public record that is forwarded through these public processes.
Key comments noted by CR:
·         “It’s as a good a document as we can get….”  (RB)

·         “…what happens to the input is what is in question…”  (CA)

·         “Suggest that a future meeting examine how the current public processes are working….” (RB)

·         “…we lack policies to support the [General Plan] statement….”  (CA)

 

Topic 2:  The Growth Area Map—City of Tucson facilitator, Rebecca Ruopp and city staff explained that the state law requires that the 10 year General Plan address future growth; it does not require a map but, staff noted, most cities are now using maps to suggest future growth areas. Tucson has not had such a map for previous plans; this is new.   After 60 mins. of discussion, the map was approved with a) a new title that emphasizes it is a vision/scenario map and b) the map explanation of how to use and not use the map be moved to the map itself and increased in font size so that readers of the map cannot miss it or “cut it” off from a printed map 

Key comments or points noted by CR:
 
·         The 12 building blocks/elements of the map were distilled from 36 or so previous elements.

·         The scenario model uses policies that will be in the recommended General Plan; these policies emerged from the 2 ½ year public participation process for the Plan.

·         The Map does not regulate nor is it a map for future zoning; it is a “starting place” for possible refinement of neighborhood, area and other land use plans.

·         The previous 10 year plan had a map with four growth areas.

·         “…we haven’t resolved the underlying [growth] issues….”  (DI)

·         “The Map doesn’t show enough potential growth details on the N/S corridors….”  (CM)

Handouts of the City’s proposed Map, an alternative map presented by one of the participants, Growth Areas Map Use Language and Attachment A were distributed to all participants.