February 22, 2002

Dear Citizens of South Phoenix,

First, I would like to thank my professor, Dr. Kristin Koptiuch, for giving this class the opportunity to experience South Phoenix from a non-threatening perspective.  I would also like to thank the many South Phoenix residents who I spoke with at length, often times during their work hours, about life in South Phoenix and their feelings about the changes taking place.

I do not think I would have ventured into South Phoenix to hike or to eat if it had not been for this class.  Itís not that I thought I would get shot or harmed in some way, the reason is that I couldnít think of what South Phoenix had to offer.  In other words, why would I want to go there?  The answer is simple:  many reasons.

One reason is South Mountain Park.  After the first week of class I took my son hiking and horseback riding in South Mountain Park.  Afterwards we ate at a restaurant that I had eaten at that Friday with fellow students.  Food would be another reason to visit South Phoenix as well.

The people are one of the reasons to go to South Phoenix.  Throughout the course of this class I had the opportunity to speak with a few people from various backgrounds.  I spoke at length with Jane, the owner of my favorite restaurant, El Mesquite, about the changes happening in the neighborhood.  Jane, a resident of South Phoenix and a graduate from ASU, said that like most residents they would like to see a Wal-Mart and more grocery stores.  She and many others are tired of driving to Chandler or Tempe and investing their money in those communities they want to do it in their own.

Like any community some grow up to stay in the neighborhood and some leave.  Roberto, owner of Robertoís Barbershop (and Carwash), was a resident of South Phoenix growing up, but then moved away.  However, he came back to operate his business.  Sam and Samantha Davis, father, daughter and former residents of South Phoenix, who now live in Tempe and own a barbershop just off Central Avenue.  I spoke with Samantha about her thoughts on the inevitable change and her reply was that it was long overdue.

Perhaps the change is long overdue.  However, I hope that when the tidal wave of change hits that it doesnít disrupt the current state of being so much so that South Phoenix loses it sense and feeling of community.

In closing I would like to say thanks to Jane, Roberto, Sam and Samantha for talking with me and sharing that feeling of community that they realize every day.

Very truly,

Tammy L. Olague-Buchan

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