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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

SM – People Caring for Each Other

 South Mountain Park Phoenix Arizona

This year I had Thanksgiving dinner at The Farm.  Oddly enough, since this is one of the most beautiful and unique places in all of Phoenix, I did not want to have Thanksgiving there. I told my beautiful wife that I work at The Farm and I did not want to have Thanksgiving dinner where I work. The rest of the conversation is not fit to print. We had Thanksgiving at The Farm. There were about 20 members of our family ages 1 through almost 80. Everybody brought something: pies, casseroles, potatoes — did I say pies?  My amazingly talented stepson, Dustin Christofolo fried a turkey to perfection. I brought my flask of Jack Daniels and my marvelous personality: this is one of the things that I have learned from the New Testament: when you have guests, let someone else do the work. Another thing is to “always come late to work and expect equal pay.”

We set up in the lawn in front of Quiessence. Every year folks get married there and there are always events scheduled for that particular place on The Farm. Obviously many people feel this is a very special place inside of a very special place. Usually that is not me.

First, I see this area as a venue. I am concerned about the electrical infrastructure. Is the lighting working properly? Are the bathrooms in working condition? That tree wasn’t trimmed properly. That bush needs to be cut back. I can see several projects that need to planned and estimated.  Is that fence on a list to get repaired soon? Everywhere my eyes land is another item that needs to be on a list. I see deferred maintenance everywhere or a new problem that needs to solved. That’s why I didn’t want to have my Thanksgiving dinner where I work.

But, something happened that took me by surprise. I started to see the lawn and the patio and trees and flowers through the eyes of my family. All of a sudden I realized this was the perfect backdrop for people that loved and cared for each other. For some reason there seemed to be magic in the green things and old things. The crooked fence and the not-so-perfectly manicured garden started to make their own sense, their own logic. This was a place long before it became my job to make sure the power didn’t go out during a wedding ceremony. And it will be a place when I am only a memory to my family and friends.  And at that moment it was a place for Thanksgiving.

We live in a part of town that always seems to need repair and there is an endless supply of folks willing to repair it. We are one of the few parts of town that people feel they can claim membership to because they “administer” to the folks that live here, even if they do not live here themselves.  In fact there are some people who claim to be Southside experts who have never spent a night south of the River in their entire lives. I have even met Southside experts that didn’t know we have a river and a mountain for borders. These same experts are filled with facts and figures about who we are but will never know us.

Years ago, Cody Williams went through something like this in his efforts to bring developers and builders to this area. He had the facts and figures, but they just looked at him and said, “But who wants to live in South Phoenix?”  He knew they did not know the “South Phoenix” that he knew. At that point he set aside the numbers and started his now-famous bus rides to show these developers that the Southside was beautiful: it had its own sense of what it was and its own logic. It was not just a few neighborhoods that made the nightly news, but a rich, historic and, yes, magical place. Our Southside is the backdrop for folks who love and care for each other.  And, they are us.




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