Moving On

When a city has lost a way of life...

How a western city became a model of modern boom and bust.

There comes a time when it is time to move on, get back to where you started from and remove yourself from the once small city that grew up around you and become a big one. You can't change a place, only your attitude toward it or remove yourself from it, especially when you feel as if you no longer belong there. You have the choice, the control and the ability to move on and improve your way of life. Living is not to be wasted in a place you don't want to be because it is no longer what it once was.

This city and I have a long history with each other. There was a brief moment of time in the late sixties and seventies when it was just the right size and mix of people. It still retained an air of a western way of life, live and let live, without being totally bereft of the conveniences of city life. In hindsight real change began to occur after the floods of November 1978 through March 1979 which paralyzed traffic in the metro area. This was followed by floods the next winter season of 1979-1980 where flood waters were polluted by sewage. The infrastructure couldn't sustain what growth that had developed. This was also an era of unexpected political change coupled with public reaction to the floods and the legacy that led to is too lengthy for this writing. The summary is the infrastructure was built and the people did come. In droves. That was the beginning of a series of events that brought us explosive growth that really detonated after the recession of 1992-93.

The nineties was a pivotal period when most of my family left and returned to our original hometown of Prescott. I fled for Tucson that by 2000 started beginning to quickly replicate the frenzied thoughtless growth of Phoenix. The few things it had going for it couldn't be fought off by the housing boom that was occurring all over the country, particularly the western and southern regions. Fueled by subprime money coupled with shrinking employment made for a combustible mixture that caused me to leave in 2005 and return to Phoenix for better employment. It was at the height of the craziest years to be here when it seemed as if every inch of the city was crammed with people and oversized houses and automobiles. The proverbial jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Even with good employment it was impossible for people like myself who were not borrowers to keep up with the pace and cost of living.

We are a contemporary ghost town now. Although there is some job growth in low paying jobs, higher paying employment and many well educated people have fled. Housing is essentially frozen, suspended in some tract that no one really knows what is going to happen. There is not a political answer although we have elected city officials and bureaucrats who have an over-inflated view of themselves and their sense of control. We are an urban heat island with searing heat summers, year round pollution and rarely does it rain now in the urban core to wash of the dust and ash.

The economic crisis hit hard here and by now the entire country has awakened to the fact that this is a long term disruption that will take a decade to resolve itself into whatever the new average standard will be. Since I didn't buy into the frenzy that preceded the crash I am maintaining and have preserved enough to be able to build for the future. My attitude has adjusted to accept that I may be here a little longer. I am of the fortunate ones not living on borrowed money or time and that I am not alone and share a life with someone else with similar ideas. Neither one of us grew up in large city Arizona but the smaller cities of the state. When I left in the nineties I didn't feel as if I belonged here and haven't since I returned. It is now time for a call to action and a plan to remove ourselves as soon as we are able.