Today’s post is by contributing writer Feliciano Vera:
I had never been to Portrero Hill. The view to the east, across the Bay towards Oakland, was nothing short of breathtaking. Framed as it was by the deep inset windows and aromas of Plow, against a foreground of artisanal sausage, almond pancakes, hipsters and software developers, it almost made me cry.
And then Kelley interrupted my reverie: “So, when are you moving here?”
“Trust me. This isn’t making my decision to stay any easier.” I responded. My son lives across the Bay in Oakland. With no girlfriend or wife, and nothing but work keeping me in Phoenix, I could easily move. My folks wouldn’t mind. San Francisco is closer than Cambridge ever was – or West Lebanon, New Hampshire, for that matter.
The question weighed on me. This trip didn’t make it any easier. I was in town trying to convince a number of old business associates that kooks really didn’t dominate Arizona. I was successful, mind you, but the only reason for that success is that my professional (and avocational) preoccupations were not anathema to them, as they seem to be here. But every step of the way, I was asked some version of Kelley’s question: When are you moving? Why are you still in Arizona? Are you crazy?
My internal rationalization has always been that Phoenix is a city in need of leadership. Sure, I could go to San Francisco, or New York, Boston, or DC, make money and lead a comfortable life. But here I could make a difference. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Especially on those 110+ degree days.
Then again, this place has its own ways of grinding you down. Many of the die hard fighters I know have left, tired of the insanity (yes, I am talking to you Jon and Annie). I can’t fault them. Really. Their decisions were probably sane when compared to the inertia of my own romance with Phoenix.
We are collectively looking over the precipice of the worst of summer. We no longer have the respite of the cool evening breezes of my youth, or the clockwork monsoon showers. We may well have cut down too many trees because they were too expensive to maintain, and we may have bladed too many acres of virgin desert to plant new subdivisions. In the process of carving out our own, personal, slice of the American dream, we seem to have forgotten our collective responsibility to each other is what has allowed Phoenix to survive summer’s hostility.
The aggregation of our work is what will allow us to transform this place. Whether we are designers or developers, government officials or entrepreneurs, it is our responsibility to each other to cultivate, shape, and invest in the best talent and ideas that will allow us to survive.
Because that really is what this whole series of conversations on design, planning, development and sustainability is about.
It’s getting hotter by the minute.
The temperature as I write this is 109 degrees, and it is the beginning of June. My internet connection is on the blink every five minutes because of the heat load.
If we don’t do something now, we’ll just continue to slow baste in our own insanity. And I for one, would rather slow roast a pernil and crack open a beer than cook myself in a Crock Pot of our stupidity.
Photo Credit: Photo from cognitivedistortion.com.Tags: arizona, Feliciano Vera, living in arizona