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Phoenix's Third Places
14 Apr

Home Away From Home: 6 of Phoenix’s Best Third Places

My introduction to the real Phoenix came at the hands of a coffee shop. It was a month or two into the school year, and I went with some of my friends to First Friday. Afterward, we stopped at Jobot for iced toddies. I'd never been in a local coffee shop before — raised in the suburbs, I was much more familiar with Starbucks — and I was fascinated by how many people were hanging out in those three small rooms talking and laughing and making friends. It's not something you see in a Starbucks, where if someone is at one of three tiny tables, they're in a suit, on a laptop, and don't want to be bothered. In the years since, I've grown to appreciate the value of third places — those crucial spots that facilitate socialization and interaction outside of home or work. Ray Oldenburg outlines just why third places are important in his book The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. They offer an "escape or time-out from life's duties and drudgeries." They serve as a pick-me-up, and create new sets of acquaintances.
Yvette Hughes
07 Apr

My Phoenix Story: Yvette Hughes-Duenas

The Beginning

My story starts in a small town in London, England, where I was born. My mother, also born in London, had met my father, originally from Nigeria, while he was passing through on his way to America. His dreams to reach the land of opportunity were quickly delayed. My early childhood was spent traveling back and forth from London and Nigeria, which gave me a good idea of what I liked and didn’t like about the two countries. When I was nine, we finally made it to America the beautiful, the great, the desert…

Where is America?

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized we were really in America. We had been living in the place my father spoke so highly of. I couldn’t believe that this was it. The weather was hot. It never rained. I couldn’t wear my rain coats that I adored in England. There was no canal like the Regent’s Canal by my grandmother’s. No Broadway Market. I didn’t feel the freedom like I felt in Nigeria. The food wasn’t nearly as good as the food I was used to. The only thing we did downtown was to go to Woolworth's, a general store...what fun.
02 Apr

My Phoenix Story: Lisa Parks

Ten years ago, I left the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Phoenix to live closer to my parents. They had retired to the Verde Valley from Michigan and I hadn’t lived near them in sixteen years. As beautiful as it is, San Francisco never felt like home. That place was reserved for New York City, where I spent most of my twenties and half of my thirties. It still feels like my hometown, even though I lived in Michigan until just after college graduation. I felt like I really grew as a person when I reached Manhattan and I fell in love with that city. But as friends got married, had children and moved out of NYC and to neighboring Boston, I found myself following them there, enjoying a wonderful two-year stint. Having lived in all of these great places, it was easy to compare Phoenix to them when I first arrived and wondered what on earth I had just done.

The Heart Grows Fonder

My first exposure to Phoenix had me seeing sprawl, freeways, huge arterial streets, little in the way of public transportation and no walkability. Having spent many years without a car, I wasn’t thrilled to have to drive everywhere. But I wanted to be closer to family and so I was committed.
31 Mar

Upcoming First Street Project Design Critique

On March 20 the city presented the design for the upcoming First Street Pedestrian Project to the neighborhood at the Irish Cultural Center. I was there with This Could Be PHX and other community advocates. What we saw was actually more disappointing than expected. All the feedback they were given over the past four years since the Fillmore-McKinley portion was completed was ignored. Our expectations that this “updated” McKinley-Moreland design would reflect at least SOME of that feedback were completely let down. Instead we saw the exact same design that they presented five years ago. I don’t know about you, but we've learned new and better ways of doing things over the past five years. So why hasn't the City and its consultants included them in the updated design?
Mapping Downtown Phoenix Growth
26 Mar

Mapping the Growth of Downtown Phoenix

If you've spent any time Downtown recently, you know that Phoenix is booming. This year it ranked 11th on Forbes' list of fastest-growing cities in America, and is projected to be the fourth largest U.S. city by 2020. This growth is perhaps most visible in the sheer amount of construction taking place, especially in the housing industry. Last month a Phoenix City Council subcommittee voted to recommend a request for proposals for a mixed-use residential and commercial development just south of Fillmore Street. A couple weeks ago developers broke ground on Union @ Roosevelt, another mixed-use development that will include commercial space at the street level and residences above. Portland on the Park is set to break ground at the end of this month. And last week, 222 E. Roosevelt was demolished to make way for a new residential tower being developed by Baron Properties. We could go on...