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Friday, August 18, 2017

Time to Make Something Happen

My knee went bad. I have heard this complaint so often as I have grown older. Sometimes folks can point to a war injury or, these days, more likely, an athletic injury: maybe they where a high school star or played some college ball. It could be that minute in the NFL (or other pro league) before their knee blew.
Or perhaps it was hiking: up and down South Mountain, Piestewa Peak or Camelback Mountain. They might say it was when they did the National Trail across the top of South Mountain Park (Tempe to Laveen); or maybe it was the Ridgeline across the Superstitions. Was it the Quartz Peak Trail in the Sierra Estrellas that tore their meniscus?
Or, it could be, like me, they just didn’t maintain it and let it wear out.
But I learned early on from the Sisters of Mercy at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Albion, N.Y., that there is often a direct link between my experience of physical pain and my awareness of the world around me. I am not trying to perpetuate the stereotype of the angry Nun trying to beat a poor defenseless student. There were 51 of us in our class. We were pretty much rural kids with a pretty high threshold of pain–and that was just the girls. The guys played games designed to tear the knees out of pants, destroy shirts and leave elbows bleeding. A slap with a ruler would pretty much not get most of these guys to flinch, but it did get your attention, especially when it was followed by, “if you don’t straighten out I will call your parents.” I still don’t believe in corporal punishment in the classroom. But, I do understand the attention getting.
There it is: my sore knee is a message to me to look around and become more aware of my surroundings.
At first glance the Southside looks like it has for a few years: Central Avenue is still there; not planned, but waiting like a bride in an arranged marriage, hoping the transportation plan that is being dreamed up for the area will actually have something to do with its history and culture, and not just some opinions from a handful of self-appointed matchmakers. Broadway Road, a withered hand still wearing two beautiful rings, both reminders of a very lively past and both filled with the hopes and dreams of a new future, a bride’s glittering diamonds and polished gold.
But there is something missing: the spirit of the Southside. It used to be that we were a kind of defensive, some might say, angry lot. We use to call the media and argue about where the Southside began and ended. We fought to stop liquor licenses on Broadway. We harassed developers and fought with everyone for the attention and the resources of the city. We battled to have our Chamber of Commerce to be its own entity. We fought for a community college, to run the cruisers off South Central and to have a smaller Wal-Mart. And more, much more …
And then there was the Centennial Celebration: you would think the Southside didn’t exist. It is one thing to be mellower and more cooperative; it is another thing to be comatose. Where was a leadership? We have two folks in the House, one in the Senate, two city council members (one is vice mayor, whatever that is) and a mayor who spent a lot of time campaigning in this village. Where were all the political organizers, board setters, Facebook posters?
In truth, if you can’t represent our community in the present, you do not deserve to use its past. The year is not over, let’s get together and do something that is our own, that represents our entire community.
Now hold your hand out…

By Greg Brownell
Photo: The view from Camelback Mountain

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