Category Archives: news

News from anywhere or about the blog itself.

Civic Space Park opens

enter the vortex

enter the vortex

"Her Secret is Patience" hovers over the Cronkite School.

"Her Secret is Patience" hovers over the Cronkite School.

About half a month behind schedule, the Civic Space Park opened today, bringing a large, urban-style park to Phoenix.

The park looked excellent — lush grass, chessboard-topped tables, polished and cleaned architecture. And, of course in the middle of it all, was Janet Echelman’s “Her Secret is Patience,” the giant “mothership-looking sculpture” (as my friend described it) that hangs over the space.

Water is good at 100+ degrees.

Water is good at 100+ degrees.

City council members, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, representatives from ASU and the community spoke at the opening. Gordon emphasized that the park’s completion made Phoenix final look like the fifth largest city in the nation — which appearances or not, it is.

Crowds gathered for the opening.

Crowds gathered for the opening.

Personally, I can’t wait to chill on the grass between classes at the Cronkite School. The park looks and feels (think grass on your toes) great. I’m just a bit miffed it didn’t open earlier; the good weather won’t last long.


Building a more connected (online) Phoenix

Yesterday’s post on Urban Affair and Downtown Phoenix Journal generated a ton of views and comments — way more than I expected.  But then, maybe that’s to be expected considering Phoenix’s increasingly large, and  zealous, local movement.

I just wish I had paid more attention.  The original post was a rush job I quickly hammered out between classes simply to get something posted (there’s a lesson in responsible blogging in here somewhere).  Of course, the result included some errors of fact and typos, but I’m actually glad they were there.  Without them, I doubt the post would have received the attention it did, and I never would have heard the bloggosphere’s Phoenix voices  — and there are a lot.

Beginning in-mass approximately 10 years ago, many Phoenix residents have worked hard to develop nationally recognized movements promoting local business and community.  Of course there’s Kimber Lanning, et al., with the exalted Local First Arizona, the largest coalition of independent business in the nation.  LFA is the organization I’m most familiar with, having written half a dozen stories on it for various publications and journalism projects in the past year or so — the topic always seems to please j-school professors.  But there are tons of other movements, and a surprising number of them are online.

The cyber community in Phoenix, while not as big as many other cities, seems to be extremely well-connected.  Blogs link to organizations, which link to blogs, which link to businesses, etc.  And the writers for these publications certainly seem to know what’s going on; the coverage is phenomenal.

As a small-time local blogger, it’s really amazing to see the power of these larger movements.  I DO see blogging as the future of local publications, overtaking the free, community papers.  Print will always be available, but more and more content has moved online.  And that’s great.  Online has so many benefits, among them the ability to link and create vast communities that coordinate and contribute to each other.  Groups like Urban Affair and DPJ have become hubs for both original content and aggregated information imported from dozens of personal spider blogs.

It’s good to be in a community.  As conceptions and expections of journalism change, the since of journalistic duty to the community will always remain.

Urban Affairs staches up Downtown Phoenix Journal blog

Downtown Phoenix Journal announced yesterday its acquisition by Urban Affair, the new marketing campaign for Phoenix.

DPJ, the biggest blog for aggregating info in Phoenix, has been a great source of news for the downtown area since 2006. Its bloggers mix postings about events and issues to produce a solid, hyper-local blog. However, downtown keeps changing; it recently rocketed out of the dull drums and into a world-class urban center. So, DPJ should change too, I suppose. I’m just worried the new renters will corporartize what was a great, independent voice.

A shiny new site is born...I'm a bit jealous.

A shiny new site is born...I'm a bit jealous.

Urban Affair, a recently started campaign, is looking to promote Phoenix in much the same way cities like Las Vegas promote themsleves—by establishing a well known brand and appeal.  In our case, Urban Affair wants to market Phoenix as the “urban heart of Arizona.” (Correction: The “urban heart” campaign is actually the work of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  Thanks for those who commented and corrected me.)

DPJ’s new look certainly ratchets up the visual appeal — ah, the wonders of professional graphic designers.

Now, this move is probably a good thing in most respects.  Urban Affair shows great promise.  Their moves seem to show they understand why people like downtown—the urban appeal, the independent shops, the unique atmosphere.  Hopefully DPJ and their fan base will help guide them too.

rallies: they’re not just for your parents anymore

Community is a lot like an abstract painting—all the parts work together, even if you’re not sure how or why.

While the Phoenix art scene and the university system exist as two independent brush strokes, the two both come from the same painting and the link between artists and academia can’t be ignored.

Many Phoenix artists contribute to or in some way associate with Arizona State University. I know first hand the impact ASU faculty have on the burgeoning arts scene. For instance, the Kitchenette Gallery in Phoenix—well known for the controversy following ASU Professor Betsy Schneider’s photography—features monthly photographers, who for the most part, come from the pool of ASU graduates and students.

The art community also connects predominately with ASU. College-aged students make up the majority of the art community as well as the major audience that attends the more offbeat scenes. The experimental years of college can provide the most introspective, edgy and controversial movements.

students protest with signs and slogans

students protest with signs and slogans

With that, I hope I’ve established how crucial ASU’s community has become to Phoenix’s cultural growth. A threat to ASU mushrooms into a threat for the community.

Yesterday, about 1,800 protesters from all three Arizona universities assembled outside the state capitol to oppose sharp budget cuts that university officials say could cripple education. The protest atmosphere — slogan chanting, picket signs, uniform color and moving oration — resembled the idiosyncrasies of the 70s, a foreign experience for members of my generation.

students march on the state capitol

students march on the state capitol

ASU President Michael Crow instituted furloughs last night for all faculty, marking the first decent of the rollercoaster.

“Through this furlough the university will save approximately $24 million to help toward meeting its FY09 state budget reduction which could total more than $60 million,” Crow said.

This comes as a surprise considering the catastrophic numbers originally released in other e-mails from the president. The budget proposal working in the Arizona legislature calls for a 20% cut this year and another 20% next year, totaling 40%. Needless to say, a budget cut of this magnitude would greatly harm the school and art/culture programs are historically the first to go.

However, this issue goes beyond the university. All of Phoenix faces money problems in this bum economy. I fear Phoenix’s unique people and places will be the first to suffer.

the birth of a blog: less messy and more fun than real birth

SO HERE IT IS!!!  Scenesterist, the blog, up and running…sort of.  I’ve got a lot of work to do so just hang in there.  If all goes according to plan, check back on Scenesterist for updates on Phoenix culture, news, eccentricities, opinions, writing, and perhaps even guest posts from notables.

Here’s the plan guys: My name is Channing, your quasi-editor-in-chief and master of ceremonies.  I’m trying to run this circus, but it’s going to take a lot of work.  I’m currently in college, which eats up time, and do two other journalism jobs on the side—but really, that’s nothing unusual for journalists these days.  All this means it’s going to be hard to get this project off the ground, but fear not.  I have great plans.

First I need to learn about WordPress.  I’m currently in an online media class, learning about HTML and all that good stuff, but WordPress already does a lot of that for you.  I just need to mess around with this thing enough to know the in’s and out’s.

Because I’m ultra-busy, I’m not above asking for help.  After all, one person can’t run an entire e-zine, no matter how free he/she is.  So.  While I try to work all this out, I’ll also be recruiting a team of crack journalists—that is, not on crack but skilled, masterful or generally a bang-up group.

And the beauty of this arrangement?  Good, solid writing that, hopefully, you can really get into.  There will be a level of quality control but no limit on admissible material.  If I can post it, it’s golden.  I already have a few souls picked out to start contributing.  MORE SOON!