The Heart of South Phoenix
A great urban planner by the name of Donald Hilderbrandt once said that “The city’s expression of itself is best personified at its core or heart.” So I have to ask this question… where is the core or heart of our community?
You could easily argue that the South Mountain Preserve and its over 16,000 acres of pristine Sonoran desert is our heart. On any given day you will find thousands of our residents and visitors on the 58 miles of trails either on horseback, mountain biking, hiking or just enjoying all the wildlife and views of the entire valley. This could easily be considered the heart of SoPho!
How about 24th Street and Baseline Road? This area has quickly become a bustling center with a wide mix of uses to include retail, higher education, leisure, performing arts and fashion. This area offers a variety of reasons to visit and to stay throughout the day. You can easily spend a day with family or friends at the new 50,000 square foot South Mountain Community Library that is located on the campus of South Mountain Community College. It features a children’s story room, group study rooms, quiet study area, a teen space, WiFi, Snack Bar, patio spaces for outdoor reading or lunch and a massive collection of DVDs, CDs, books, newspapers and magazines. If you get tired of the library you can easily head over to the new pedestrian bridge to Starbucks, Applebee’s, Zoyo’s Neighborhood Yogurt, Smashburger, or the House at Secret Garden.
What about South Central? It’s one of the few places in SoPho where you will see the streets filled with people walking, biking or catching the city bus to and from all day long. It’s a place with many small business owners and entrepreneurs, a number of churches providing worship and social services, vibrant private and public schools with thousands of kids, and there are also dozens of great Mexican food restaurants, panderias, tortillerias, mariscada’s and as all the locals know… Poncho’s is always packed. After decades of distress and uncertainty this part of our community is reclaiming its prominence as the focus of new business, culture, and entertainment. The abundance of life, color, variety and surprise makes this part of the city a place to go seek and discover with easy access to downtown, and unique settings like the restored 600 acre Rio Salado riparian habitat.
Could it be that the heart of a community does not lie in a particular building, place, or intersection? I happen to believe that we all have our specific place in the community and each of us must fulfill their daily task and purpose in life to make the place we call home become fully alive. No matter how much we plan, politic, strategize, or develop we must first build an authentic heart in SoPho. A heart that will do all it can to ensure that all people are treated like brothers with love, compassion and dignity. The economic development and buildings will come in its proper time but my hope is to see us produce real growth and benefits to everyone by building a true brotherhood in our community.
The importance of this goal requires our openness to understand it in depth and to move ourselves at the level of the “heart”, to ensure that current local economic and social process moves towards fully human outcomes. You are the heart of SoPho!