Ryan Tempest | This Could Be Phoenix - Part 2
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Author: Ryan Tempest

You live where?! That’s right, I live in Downtown Phoenix. Now let me tell you why. Have you ever woken up to a beautiful city skyline right outside your window? For anyone who appreciates the city, a view of the skyline is as picturesque as it can get. With the cities unique architecture sculpting the skyline, each building adds to the individuality of the city. Here in Phoenix, the city carves its own identity out of the orange, red and purple backdrop produced by the magnificent sunsets. From the balcony of my fourth floor apartment on Roosevelt Street, the whole city is on display for my enjoyment.  I can even see part of the new Arizona State Recreation Center which I spent one year of my life as an integral part of the design team and another year on the construction administration team. There is nothing more gratifying to me than being a part of shaping the fabric of Downtown Phoenix – my home.

I once had a conversation with a pro-suburbanite about why I loved the city. Their response was common and concise, “I love living closer to nature too much to live in the city." Actually, to say I "once" had this conversation is an under exaggeration. In fact, that is one of the most common justifications I hear in response to asking people why they chose to live in the suburbs.

The Paradox of Suburbia

On the surface, this statement actually seems quite valid. I lived in the suburbs and I felt much closer to nature when I was there than I do now in the city. Cities are our urban cores at the center of the surrounding suburbs and, naturally, the further out from the city you are, the more likely you will be closer to nature. So if you are a nature lover then you probably want to live in the suburbs, and if you are an urbanite, you probably want to live in the city, right? Well, not so fast. There is something paradoxical about this belief. Suburbia is actually the leading cause of environmental destruction in the United States. No other phenomenon has caused as many acres of forest to be destroyed here.

Why did I start This Could Be PHX? The answer to this question begins 29 years ago in Clinton Twp. Michigan. I, like 70 percent of Americans today, was born in the typical suburban town. I had an excellent childhood and teenhood. I had great parents, family and friends. When I turned 16, I bought my mom’s old car and entered into the beginning stage of freedom. For the first time I could go wherever I wanted without having to ask my parents or a friend for a ride. It was the most liberating moment of my life – or so I thought. So, for twenty years I was completely submerged in the suburban ocean that surrounded my family’s home. And for twenty years I never once complained about the lifestyle I was a part of, why should I? After all, everyone lived that way, right?! Oh how little I knew at that time.

What’s the cause for the recent rise in urban living? I blame it on Seinfeld. It was the first show to glorify the urban lifestyle. As millions of Americans sat watching TV in their suburban home, Seinfeld depicted a way of life that never crossed the minds of suburbanites. Ok, so I can't blame it on Seinfeld, but you have to admit, ever since then there have been an increasing number of shows set in energetic urban environments. It’s hard to turn on the TV and not find a show that fits this description; Sex In The City, How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI New York, Rules of Engagement, and the list goes on.  In fact, the Millennial generation is increasingly choosing urban environments over the suburban lifestyle they were raised in, and the proof of this can be found in all the shows now geared precisely to this way of life.