Open letter to the residents of Phoenix and South Phoenix

As a native of Phoenix, I have visited South Phoenix many times in my life. I anticipated seeing the same things that I had seen before. I also thought that I would come away with the same impressions that I had prior to taking this class. Some of my pre-conceived notions remained true but others did change.

Those that remained true were that for the most part, the core of South Phoenix has remained neglected. It is true that there are new sub-divisions going up along Baseline road but I did not see any new development between 7th Ave and 24th St, the river bottom to Southern Avenue. This area, in my opinion, continues to be neglected.

The Rio Salado project is moving forward but most of the residents I spoke with are not in favor of it. Their reasons ranged from, “that’s not where the money is needed”, to concerns about toxic waste and the mosquitoes the project would bring.

One of my pre-class impressions was that South Phoenix was not friendly and that our class would have difficulty in being accepted. I could not have been more wrong on this point. Every Friday I encountered people who were willing to talk about their neighborhood. I was invited into their homes and included in their lunchtime conversations.

My new best friend is Art Hugez. Art is one of the better human beings you will run across in this world. He is knowledgeable about South Phoenix and represents all that is good about South Phoenix.  Click on “ Interview with Art Hugez” on my home page.

I think the biggest problem with people’s attitudes about South Phoenix lie in their need to be better than someone else. We are all residents of the Valley. Why do we feel the need to section ourselves off from one another? East valley versus West valley. Scottsdale versus Tempe. Arrowhead Ranch versus Anthem and so on? Once we are able to get past our need to feel better than someone else, we will all be better off.

In closing I would like to challenge my fellow classmates. I challenge you to visit South Phoenix often. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity again. Show a genuine interest in what remains the same in South Phoenix and what is changing. Attend meetings at the South Mountain and Travis Williams Community Centers. Don’t let this course be the only time you venture south of the river bottom.

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Chris Fowler