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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The South Phoenix We Want

Back in April I had the pleasure of attending the Phoenix Urban Design Week event titled, “The Downtown We Want,” at the The Phoenix Center for the Arts. The house was packed with residents, community leaders, developers, small business owners, architects and people who just passionately care about Downtown. The night was filled with great presentations by Lattie Coor, Tim Eigo, David Krietor, Jim McPherson, Shannon Scutari, Mo Stein and more. They each shared their efforts and how their work is impacting the Downtown core.

One of the presentations that really sparked my interest was given by South Phoenix Resident Lattie Coor. He is the Chairman and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona. He spoke about the rapid transformation of Arizona that has been underway for the past few decades. He added that “Arizonans will be required to put a fresh, bold restatement of who we are and how we respond to the road ahead.”

Over the last five years the Center for the future of Arizona has released two groundbreaking studies that provides the foundation for community action. They released the Arizona We Want and the Arizona We Want 2.0. According to the studies they reference that the Gallup Arizona Poll taken in 2009 captured the most comprehensive picture of citizen thinking ever compiled in the state of Arizona. The study found a surprising amount of consensus among Arizonans on issues, which made it possible for the Center to build a citizens’ agenda for the state. The Arizona We Want study is the first of its kind in the nation.

The Arizona We Want report is the result of a five-year effort to capture the ideas of both Arizona leaders and the citizens they represent. In the first phase, completed in 2005, the Center published a Vision for Arizona that called for our state to become one of the best places in the nation to live a rewarding and productive life.

The Center launched the second phase in 2008 to capture the voice of Arizona citizens through the Gallup Arizona Poll. The Center needed a realistic and contemporary picture of who we are today and what we want for the future.

One outcome of this poll is the Arizona Opportunity Map. It tells us clearly how Arizona citizens rate the state’s performance on 11 factors that describe a high quality economic, social and physical environment in the 21st century. The map also identifies which factors most influence citizen “attachment,” the degree of emotional connection that people feel with their communities.

The studies gained a number of insights about Arizona and how to address the ever-changing needs. The Gallup Arizona poll captured a clear picture of what Arizonan’s want for their state. The broad consensus in our state made it possible for the Center and its partners to identify eight key goals that they we can all take forward. The new report revisits the eight citizen goals and looks at what changed since the first report compiled three years ago. The report also includes the 2012 Arizona Civic Health Index finding.

When I read the full report at www.thearizonawewant.org I began to see immediately why it was so important for me to share this effort and information with the SoPho and Laveen communities. Its five key insights and eight goals are in line with the challenges we have faced the past few decades and that we will need to address moving forward. I was especially drawn to the eight goals that are laid out in the  “Citizens’ Agenda For Arizona’s Second Century” listed below;

Caring for the Economy

1. Create quality jobs for all Arizonans.

2. Prepare Arizonans of all ages for careers in the 21st century workforce.

Caring for People

3. Make Arizona “the place to be” for talented young people.

4. Provide health insurance for all, with payment assistance for those who need it.

Caring for Communities

5. Protect Arizona’s natural environment, water supplies and open spaces.

6. Build a modern, effective transportation system and infrastructure.

7. Empower citizens and increase civic involvement.

8. Foster citizen well-being and sense of connection to one another.

Like SoPho and Laveen, folks in Downtown and most Arizonans are willing to set ambitious goals and measure results. They agree on more than they disagree about on a broad range of issues. I was able to talk with Jim McPherson the organizer of the The Downtown We Want event and he said this, “Downtown Phoenix is more than just the core. It’s Roosevelt Row. It’s Evans Churchill. It’s Garfield. It’s Grand Avenue. It’s Capitol Mall. And it’s South Phoenix.” “Each area has a rich history that we need to do a better job in telling. Each neighborhood has unique characteristics and attributes that residents, businesses, and non-profits are taking ownership of, improving, and promoting.” He is right on and I hope you will get more involved in improving the quality of life in our community and our connection to the core.

If you would like to get more involved in current community projects with the Arizona We Want institute you can visit their web site at www.thearizonawewant.org.

vvidales@remax.net

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