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3/2/11

Geography of the Mind

Arizona is a state of mind...

It's irrelevant what any urbanist, civic booster, city officials or property developers say. Downtown Phoenix is a ghost town of brand new high rise buildings, condominiums, multi-use projects that have largely been unoccupied or are under occupied. Lots of them. The restored slums sit waiting alongside the new buildings also waiting to be fully peopled. Our historic buildings sit as lonely islands in a sea of steel and glass. The truth is not much is happening in Phoenix, at best we're at a standstill, mostly the core city is deserted. Meanwhile we are ringed by cheaply built but formerly high priced suburbs that one day may rival the desolated developments of the Salton Sea.

There are those who are doing well, the usual suspects, making a buck of what is left but despite attempts to dispel the truth, the average person is economically down. There are pockets of activity and vitality, some of it in the most surprising places and communities of people. For the most part, Phoenix is like a jilted lover, confused and wondering what to do next. As most forsaken ones do, we will find new companions and our way back. People may be down but are not out, the new frontier spirit is alive and well among lots of folks.

The Arizona Legislature is busy thinking of ways to buck the Federal Government, in ways that appall much of the rest of the country, but we have never much cared for what they think. Good on 'em for doing it. Even though I find our Senate President, Russell Pearce and his minions, personally repulsive. We're as broke, if not more so, than any state in the union but we need to rebuild this state our way. We have been like that from the beginning. Before President Taft would even allow us to become a state, he insisted on changes in our Constitution, which our ancestors made and then after statehood put the issues to the voters to reinstate them and they did. Nowadays we have people in Pima County who want to become a state of their own.

Which is laughable to a lot of the rest of the country but you have to be a real Arizonan to understand. We truly don't care what the rest of the United States thinks or does, especially about us. I have no idea how Arizona, especially it's two major cities, Phoenix and Tucson, are going to pull out of this over-development and funny money mess. What I do know is there is something about this place, that you have to be here a long time to fully understand, that always manages to find it's own way back.