Blog | This Could Be Phoenix - Part 8
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It's no myth that Phoenix is a car-centric city. With streets in the heart of our city as wide as 8 lanes, it can often feel like owning and driving a car is the only way to get around. Have you tried walking down Indian School road lately? The very street itself doesn't encourage anything but traveling on top of four wheels with a tank full of gas. And that's not the only street that can tell the same story. When I moved back to Phoenix 3 years ago, I moved closer to the light rail in order to be able to diminish as many car trips as I could, but the reality of Phoenix, and the convenience factor of having a car on our city streets (in addition to the fact I had no auto payments) left me with no other logical choice but to keep my car. I always loved the idea of living in a city where I didn't have to own a car, but Phoenix wasn't really that city. That is, Phoenix didn't become that type of city until the decision was made for me. My car was stolen in November of 2013, and that was impetus enough for me to try a car-less lifestyle in seemingly one of the most un-friendly cities for such a lifestyle. You can read more about the story of my decisions and how I'm making car-free work for me in Phoenix on my recent blog post: "How I Live and Work without a Car in Phoenix, Arizona."

Nowadays, more and more people are doing their part to be ‘green.’ People all over the country are greening their homes with solar panels, solar water heaters, trash compactors, low water use plumbing fixtures, energy efficient light bulbs and mechanical units. The hybrid car is selling like hot cakes and the all-electric car is gaining in popularity as well. Governments and other organizations are beginning to require that all new buildings are built to LEED standards, with each building aiming to be more sustainable and ecologically friendly. Together, each of these tactics plays a huge role in transforming the way we have been living into a more eco-friendly way of life – or so we believe. In reality, true sustainability has been contaminated by companies, governments and other organizations who want us to believe that we are being green. By creating eco-friendly products, promoting green technologies, eco vacations, etc. – we’ve bought into the idea that sustainability is just another thing to obtain. But it’s not a gadget or technology – it’s a context.  Sustainability is not a micro phenomenon applied to individual components, it is a network of deeply interdependent relationships, a way of living that goes beyond a product or service you can purchase.

"Ew" was one of the first words I heard when I told people I was moving to Downtown Phoenix. Yep, seriously. They would ask, "Is it safe?" or "What's even down there?" My parents were even guilty of this vision of Downtown, two people who have lived in the Valley since the 1970s, and worked/played in Uptown Phoenix in its early booming days. As unnerving as those questions sound now, at the time I really couldn't blame them. Downtown Phoenix was just starting to be "revitalized" after years of what seemed like dormancy. It didn't help that I grew up in Scottsdale and graduated from ASU – a school full of transplants who (7 years ago) would say, "Phoenix has a Downtown?"  Yep – that comment also seriously happened. Outside of sports arenas and concert venues, most of the people I knew seemed to see Downtown Phoenix as a barren wasteland.

Wine Walk Downtown Phoenix chose us as a couple, or at least I like to think of it that way. We met at Carly's, had our first date at Fez, got engaged at Durant's; of course, it didn't happen as quickly as that, but Phoenix certainly fostered our relationship along the way. I lived at a studio apartment on Roosevelt Street at the time. We filled our weekends with self made brunches on the balcony, local festivals in the parks, and even purchased a tandem to cart us around the city. We were every bit in love with each other as we were with Downtown Phoenix. Steve proposed to me on a rainy day in December. The seasonal, multi-colored string lights inside Durant's will forever ignite a twinkle in me. It was there, in that plush, red booth, we knew the only place we could get married was Downtown.

Some people think driving a car is the only way to get around Phoenix. With our sprawl and less-than-luxurious transit service, that’s true in some cases. Many of my Downtown Phoenix friends get around almost exclusively by bike. But for me, living 16 miles out and working in the heart of Downtown, riding the RAPID bus to work is a blessing. Here are some things I've learned along the way.

1. Travel light

Cars let you carry all kinds of things "just in case." Clothes, blankets, chairs, tote bags, snacks, books on their way to the library, yard sale leftovers headed for Goodwill. It’s lazy and wasteful, adding weight and reducing your miles per gallon. Riding transit, I think about today and carry only what I need. It makes me feel stronger and more self-sufficient.