Spring 2002

Dear, South Phoenix Community

            I am a graduating senior at Arizona State University West and a third generation native of Phoenix. When I enrolled for Urban Studies (SBS-460) for “just an interesting class to take for graduation,” I had no idea how much I would learn, how many friends I would make both in the class and in the Community of South Phoenix.

            Our instructor, Dr. Kristen Koptiuch, a professor of Anthropology, gallantly lead all of about forty of us to South Phoenix. This area you must understand, up until a few years ago, known to us “North side” residents as “Oh why would you want to go to South Phoenix.” My mother even taught me, in the 1970s not to go there because it is to far and South Phoenix was a different culture and most of all “dangerous.”

            Boy!  Have times changed South Phoenix is at this very moment undergoing a face-lift. Located four miles to the south of downtown Phoenix it is now going through the process of “gentrification” in short redevelopment.

Before I took this class, I thought that redeveloping this area was a good idea. Clean it up with new homes, bring down the crime rate and it would benefit the community as a whole. Again, Boy! Have I been re-educated?

            Our group met each week in the beautiful desert surroundings of South Mountain Park, the largest City Park in the United States. Each week, we learned more about this unique community through lectures from City representatives, Police officers and park employees. My favorite class during the six weeks was taking part in volunteering at the Habitat for Humanity. At Habitat we all helped build a house. I spent two hours pounding nails on a roof. 

Our groups disembarked for field studies each week, which entailed conducting interviews with local business owners, taking pictures of land development and local building and sites of interest; parks, schools, and older neighborhoods. The best for last the “people” of South Phoenix. My fellow classmate and friend Tracy and I spent a Sunday morning in South Phoenix exploring the possibilities of a coffee and pastry shop, go to our “Starbucks Team Project” web page to find out more.

Thank you so much Community of South Phoenix


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