Urban Lifestyle & Culture | This Could Be Phoenix - Part 2
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Urban Lifestyle & Culture

"Living Downtown" and "saved me money" are two phrases that don’t normally go together. Up until a year ago I would have agreed, but then I realized that living in Downtown Phoenix could actually be a great way to fill my pockets with some spare change, and then some. I've heard a lot of people talk about moving out of the city in order to cut costs or not choosing to move Downtown because of the higher costs of urban living. It's true; many places in the city are expensive to live in, especially if you are expecting to live in a 1,500 sf – 2,000 sf apartment or condo with outrageous HOA fees. So I am sure you must be asking; how in the world does living in Downtown Phoenix save you money? The answer: transportation.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 10.00.18 PM 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.

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.