My story revolves around my desire for a simple, sustainable lifestyle, and around some key decisions I have made that impact everything I do.
In the lexicon of sustainable buildings, place may be the most important decision you make about a living space. In choosing your location and orientation, you will establish the environmental variables that you will relish or fight in every decision thereafter. These variables might be the outdoor temperature, the path of the sun, noise and air pollution levels… or daily life issues like distance to schools, public transit and the nearest grocery or great restaurant (often captured in an index measurement called walk score.) Of course, it all translates back to the currency of energy used (or dollars spent), with the desire to use resources effectively. Plus, of course, it’s important that you are happy with where you live.
For one, I chose Phoenix.
I’ve been living in LA for going on three years now, and as I see the city evolve, I can’t help but think about the similar transformation Downtown Phoenix is going through. When I left Phoenix and my work with Roosevelt Row in 2007, I had no idea how many of the lessons I learned there would apply to my work in arts and culture in other cities.
LA, like Phoenix, suffers from urban sprawl, siloed neighborhoods, and mediocre (though improving) public transportation. Both cities are going through a revitalization of sorts, and lately, I find myself asking how LA and other cities can be more like Phoenix.
Imagine a perfect day riding your bike down a street lined with trees and endless shade, you wave to a friend who is enjoying a cup of coffee outside your favorite café. The sidewalks are busy with neighbors exploring the different shops and enjoying the sounds of the street performers. You make a stop at the market before hopping back on your bike to zip home.
Now, imagine a similar street here in Phoenix...not many to choose from right? We find ourselves hopping in our cars to drive long distances just to go to the mall or to buy groceries. Many are taken aback by the sight of someone walking down our hot, unsafe streets.
So what can we do as a community to change the way we live in Phoenix? What can we do to activate our sidewalks and to get people to really live?
First, let's stop thinking and start doing! Local community activists have come together and decided to do just that. Better Block PHX is coming, and we'd like you to join us in bringing the Phoenix streets to life!
There are some influential people in Phoenix that just really stick with you. Whether it's community activists like Kimber Lanning, DJs like Sean Watson, or the smiling face that always greets you at your favorite coffee shop , they are the type of people that make you think: They are what makes Phoenix cool. Matthew and Rebecca Fritz of Sutra Midtown Yoga are those people. Ever since I stepped into Sutra a three years ago, I was in awe of their daily motivation to give back to their community, their positive attitude, and their aspirations for Phoenix. When I learned a little more about their Phoenix story (they dropped their big city 9 to 5's to start a business and a family in the Coronado Historic Neighborhood), I realized they weren't just those people to me, they were a major inspiration to everyone that came in contact with them.
So, I asked Matt from Sutra to share what it was like to start a business and raise a family in Midtown Phoenix with This Could Be Phoenix. The following is what he wrote.
-Courtney Craig, Outreach Director of This Could Be PHX.
New York City. That's where I expected to be by now.
I told myself at 21 that if I was still in Phoenix by 30, it would mean that I had failed at pretty much every aspect of life. Well, I just turned 39 last month and I have never lived anywhere but Phoenix, save for college years spent in Tucson. But I realize now that just because I didn't grow up to live in the city that I thought I would have doesn't mean I have failed. I've actually come to love the city I was born and raised in and have called home for nearly 40 years, though, I can't lie, it's taken nearly every one of those years to realize that.
My disdain for Phoenix began in my mid-teens and held strong until my early thirties. But it wasn't always there. As a little girl, I can remember trips to my dad's office at the Historic City Hall building. I can remember the thrill of hustling through the crowds of office workers, my dad's firm grip on my hand. Navigating the unique buildings, giants in my little girl eyes.