Wrap Up of a Wonderful Learning Experience

            The colors change, the houses don’t match, and the streets are not perfectly manicured.  South Phoenix is stigmatized by images of crime, despair, and danger.  Is it true?  Is South Phoenix a place with nothing to offer?  Are you crazy?!  South Phoenix has it all!  Not only has one escaped the shy tans and soft pinks of the rest of the valley, but one has entered into a place that has everything.  From authentic foods to cheaper prices to cultural activities, all resides in the southern part of our fair city.

            As we spent so much time, yet so little, in South Phoenix, we experienced things that can be found no where else in the valley.  Religious displays hung on houses, storefronts and cars proudly.  The supermarkets had many foods unusual to anywhere else in the valley (and cheaper prices).  The people were great!  There was so much diversity in this area that it was hard to take everything in.

            Granted South Phoenix does have its bad side.  Gentrification is setting in for the so-called good of the community.  Frankly, South Phoenix has charm and beauty.  To recreate the north valley and Scottsdale in South Phoenix is to destroy everything that makes it ideal.  The idea is to move the concentration of poor people to the outskirts of the city.  To uproot these people from areas that they have lived in for generations and send them away because soon they won’t be able to afford to live there.  The politicians and builders have started with the golf courses and KB homes.  They buy these peoples houses for a pittance to build grandiose homes and golf courses.  There are programs to help people move, provided they even want to move, but they are often hard to get or even find out about.  Thirty five million dollars has been provided to revamp some of the ‘projects’ in South Phoenix.  This would upgrade the area enough so that the people currently living there could no longer afford to.  This is a good thing?  Think of what thirty five million dollars could do for the people if it were divided up between them.  Think of the improvements they could make themselves instead of simply beautifying an almost forgotten district and dislocating people.

As many people doubt that the people themselves could make such improvements, an example seems pertinent.  In our time in South Phoenix, we visited the Habitat for Humanity.  We found that through their own homeowners association they controlled the crime in their area.  They had a block watch, standards to which the houses must live up to as far as outside appearance and upkeep as well as many community programs.  This gave the kids something to do as well as being educationally rewarding.  Some of these programs included Head Start, English as a second language classes, after school activities, and a computer lab for community use.  The staff was incredibly dedicated and helpful.  This community built itself on pride and safety.  Who’s to say that others couldn’t follow in their footsteps?  I am trying to bring to light some of the problems that South Phoenix is currently facing to show the greater population that this area is not how rumor has it.  One must be informed to be just in one’s opinion.

            Going to South Phoenix was undoubtedly a rewarding experience.  I learned about other cultures and ways of living through the people I talked to and things I experienced.  I found out that just because a place is diverse, it doesn’t mean it’s bad.  If nothing else, I hope these web pages get through to some people and help alleviate some of the stigmatization placed on South Phoenix.  It is a fun place (especially for shopping) and I hope that people will be encouraged to visit and find out for themselves.