Some Voices of South Phoenix
South Phoenix has many faces and voices and so far you’ve mostly heard from those voices whose main interests concern policy making and new development. Now we all have the chance to hear from some members of the community whose lives are affected every day from the policy decisions and new development that is taking place in their community. Stephanie Favela and her family were kind enough to let me into their home and I was able to ask them a few questions about what is happening in their community. Their comments and the additional comments from some other residents I met while some classmates and I were doing research on the streets of south Phoenix, should provide some insight from those actually affected by the new development and policy decisions. The people we met while doing research on the streets declined to give their names, but I hope their comments support what insights Stephanie and her parents were able to provide.
I met Stephanie at work two years ago and she was more than willing to let me interview her family to help provide what insight they could about their community. Stephanie’s parents, Alex and Mary Ann, have lived in south Phoenix their whole lives meeting shortly after high school, where they both attended in south Phoenix. They have continued to live in south Phoenix because both work in the area, and both have family that also still live in south Phoenix. Living in the same community their whole lives they have been able to see and feel the effects some of these changes are having on their community.
Stephanie and her parents understand the many reasons why south Phoenix is now the home to many of Phoenix’s new residential developments. These reasons are the same reasons they have called south Phoenix home their whole lives. For one, south Phoenix is centrally located making any commute as short as possible in this expansive urban setting called Phoenix. Another reason is South Mountain Park, the largest urban provincial park in the whole United States, which is located in south Phoenix. Stephanie and her parents frequently visit the park making use of the many facilities that include hiking, horseback riding and their favorite picnicking. One thing they do miss because of the new developments is the citrus groves and Japanese flower garden that are now replaced by communities with names like Citrus Heights. Stephanie remembers going over to her Nana’s house and seeing citrus grove after citrus grove, now all she sees looking out the same backyard is house after house. They also note that with the new development comes added congestion to the streets, and if you’ve ever driven on the streets of south Phoenix you know they are in dire need of improvement and widening. They are hopeful that these improvements to the streets will eventually come as a result of the new developments along with some other improvements.
One improvement that Alex would like to see happen is the cleanup of the landfills that line the Salt River. Stephanie and Mary Ann agree saying that they hope the Rio Salado project cleans up the long ignored Salt River bed. Other residents also agree that cleanup of the landfills and salvage yards should be high on the list of improvements in south Phoenix. These other residents pointed out a salvage yard immediately behind a house whose front yard they were cleaning up at the time we were able to ask them some questions. This is an example of zoning policies that allowed salvage yards and chemical plants next to residential areas. (See Environmental Justice) Stephanie feels that a movie theater would be a welcome addition along with some of the franchise stores like Target and Wal-Mart that are slowly finding their way into south Phoenix.
Stephanie and her parents also feel that crime is not really a problem in their neighborhood. Instead they agree that is one of many misconceptions people have of their community perpetuated by local media. They feel that most people’s ideas of what south Phoenix is are just a bunch of misconceptions. I hope that my website, along with my fellow classmate’s, will show everyone the south Phoenix that Stephanie and her parents have known their whole lives.
Thank you Stephanie, Alex, and Mary Ann
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