Political Bites : Best Southeast Valley City for Home Ownership

Oil Painted Sunset
If a friend wanted you to buy a home in the Southeast Valley for him/her, where would you buy it? Why? 

If my friend had kids I would choose something in South Chandler or Gilbert because of the meticulous neighborhoods and fantastic schools.  If my friend wanted to be out of the city a bit I would buy something in Queen Creek for the open views, star filled night skies and excellent views of the Superstition mountains.  If I wanted the best of all worlds I would buy them something in Downtown Chandler allowing them to be in the middle of urban redevelopment and vibrant place making while having access to great schools and community.  If I didn’t like them very much I would probably tell them to rent something Tempe so they could be tortured by the college student body.

Gangplank Connecting Citizens

There is a wealth of information out there on connecting people, human behavior and civic engagement.  The problem is how do you use it in the face of changing world.  A world that is adapting to technology at a rapid pace.  The Monitor Institute put together Connected Citizens: The Power, Peril and Potential of Networks for the Knight Foundation.  I strongly recommend if you are in the social change, connecting communities or civic engagement arena to check it out.

Connected Citizens: The Power, Potential and Peril of Networks from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

At Gangplank our work lines up very well with the model put forward to help in connecting citizens and mobilizing them to action.  In a nutshell here are some good practices.

Listen to and consult the crowds.
Actively listen to both online and offline conversations and openly ask for advice.

  • Make participation fast and easy.
  • Show you’re listening.
  • Develop a clear contract with participants and abide by it.

Design for serendipity.
Create environments, in person and online, where helpful connections can form.

  • Make it easy to enter.
  • Build trust through repeat interactions.
  • Design the space, NOT the outcomes.

Bridge differences.
Deliberately connect people with different perspectives.

  • Develop systems for establishing reputation and trust.
  • Use influence to recruit diverse participation and catalyze bridging.
  • Make it FUN!!!

Catalyze mutual support.
Help people directly help each other.

  • Leverage existing and underutilized resources.
  • Provide enough structure for immediate benefit and enough openness for new opportunity.
  • Build trust in the system.

Provide handrails for collective action.
Give enough direction for individuals to take effective and coordinated action.

  • Give clear instructions for action.
  • Make it gratifying.
  • Build platforms that structure individual contributions into something greater.
  • Develop leadership.

We do some of these things really well. We suck at some of them. We have a number of things underway to start leading in this area. A better Arizona relies on strong citizen involvement to move us forward. If this stuff is interesting to you, join me in trying to figure out ways to make Arizona better.

Arizona Art Project – Influx AZ Comes to Chandler Arizona.

IN FLUX a innovative multi-city initiative.  It demonstrates a holistic approach to temporary public art projects.  Influx showcases installations created by local Arizona artists.  They are preparing for their third cycle.

Local Arizona Art

This cycle has three Arizona artists displaying working in Chandler, AZ. Textile artist Ann Morton, sculptor Craig Randich and mixed-media artist Denise Yaghmourian will be displaying their work.  This temporary display is intended to help show case Arizona Art.  There is plenty of FREE covered parking in Downtown Chandler.  Additionally, the installations are all located the Valley Metro Bus Rapid Transit line for those looking to leave the car at home.  Come make an afternoon of it by walking the path and visiting the Vision Art Gallery.  Stay and grab a meal at one of the fine eateries before heading back out.

We are excited that Gangplank will be the host to one of the installations. Here are the locations and a proposed walking trail.  Installations should be ready to display in the next two weeks.

In Flux Arizona Art

In Flux Arizona Art

Political Bites : Who is the Most Influential Figure of the Southeast Valley

Who is the most significant person in the history of the Southeast Valley and why?

Also, let’s define our terms, Southeast Valley is Tempe, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert, extending south to the Gila River reservation, southeast to Queen Creek, east to Apache Junction and the Superstition Mountains. So it can’t be Barry Goldwater, etc.

Dr. AJ Chandler.  Chandler a veterinarian by trade, was a pioneer in the science of irrigation engineering and was instrumental in building the early canal system in the East Valley.  His forward thinking (and some mandates by SRP) pushed him to create the vibrant City of Chandler that still stands today including a central park, golf course and the San Marcos Hotel.  His entrepreneurial spirit and creativity is still present in the culture of Chandler today.

Checkout Mt. Rushmore of the Southeast Valley.

Chandler Center for the Arts.. A Place to Arrive

Recently, I was asked to sit in on a visioning session for the Chandler Center for the Arts (CCA). The report from those meetings has been published. You can find it here.

Muchilottu Bhagavathy Theyyam
CCA should be applauded for not resting on it’s laurels and understanding that it must adapt for the future. Taking the time to get community feedback is something so many organizations/facilities fail to do.

The recognition that the audience is changing and that educational components have to be address in order succeed is a great first step. Understanding that the facility, current partners and programming all need to be challenged to fight the status quo is key.

The report covers in detail the dynamics of Chandler’s community, demographics, business/lifestyle trents, the role of arts/culture, building on a strong foundation, preparing for the future and managing dynamic tensions.

If you care about Arts/Culture in your city, run a an arts organization or want to understand the dyanmics at play, this report is a must read.

Valley Area Libraries Now Support Kindle Book Reader

I love to read.  I love libraries.  I have blogged before about my obsession with books.  I regularly put out book reviews.  I am extremely active on Goodreads.  So today, is a special day for me.  Many of the Metro Phoenix area libraries have started to lend digital books for the Kindle.  Starting with 28,858 titles isn’t too shabby.

Libraries Supporting the Initiative

Apache Junction Public Library
Website | Support

Arizona State Library
Website | Support

Casa Grande Public Library
Website | Support

Chandler Public Library
Website | Support

Glendale Public Library
Website | Support

Maricopa County Library District
Website | Support

Mesa Library
Website | Support

Peoria Public Library
Website | Support

Phoenix Public Library
Website | Support

Scottsdale Public Library System
Website | Support

Tempe Public Library
Website | Support

Political Bites : Historic Preservation in the Southeast Valley

What’s your favorite historic revival story? Which historic Southeast Valley buildings most need saving?

In Chandler, I love what San Tan Brewing did with the old bank, keeping the safe in tact and repurposing it as an office. Coach and Willies new renovation downtown is simply amazing. In Gilbert, Liberty Market and Joe’s Real BBQ are both great examples of adaptive reuse done right. The Historic San Marcos used to have a speak easy in it’s basement. Restoring that would be a massive win for historic preservation in the East Valley.

Observations to Making a City Walkable

When making the choice to move Gangplank to downtown Chandler one of the goals was to be in an area that was walkable.  The last four months has allowed me a lot of time to observe what is important in making a place walkable.  The improvements for widening Arizona Avenue for pedestrians (how rare for Arizona) is almost complete and here are some reflective thoughts.

Sidewalk width is very important.
Drivers of vehicles like wide lanes and lots of them to avoid congestion and speed their commute.  Pedestrians and cyclists are no different.  Nothing is worse than getting stuck behind a slow walker and having no way to easily pass them.  Go wide or go home.

Trees are critical.
Not only do they provide shade which is necessary when it is a brutal 100 plus degrees out, but they provide the aesthetic necessary to allow people to lengthen their horizon of vision.  This gives perspective and raises awareness for pedestrians of their overall environment.

Empty lots are bad.
People don’t like to walk/cycle past empty lots.  They will walk for half a mile and think its a short walk if there are no “gaps” in the property line.  Insert a single empty lot and people will complain about walking a single city block.

Tall buildings insulate.
The bigger the buildings the more protection they provide from the elements, sun, wind, etc.

Raised crosswalks change culture.
This was my biggest take realization.  Just by having a raised brick crosswalk I have seen the same mid street crossing completely transformed.  It is now common that cars will stop at the crosswalk when someone is just simply standing waiting to cross the street. Adding strong visible cues to motorists is important!

Places to congregate accelerate community.
Something as simple as a benches, tables and chairs or inlets encourage people to hang out and have conversations.  This encourages other people to do the same.  It brings activity and life to pathways and starts dialog among those in travel within the place.  It acts as an ignition spark for building community.

In a nutshell, we underestimate how much of a mental shift being walkable really is.  Lots of little things especially visual cues are necessary to help ease into a culture of wanting to walk or cycle from place to place.  The reward is being connected to your place and being energized.

I challenge you to start walking or biking to anything that is within 1/2 mile of where you live or work.  When you do so, put yourself in observation mode.  Think about every little thing that you like and dislike when doing the challenge.  These are the little things that you need to work with your city/neighbors on to change the culture.

Technical Infrastructure is Important for the Creative Class

Investment in cultural and technical infrastructure is imperative if we want to attract and retain creative people.  Just the other day I got to see my friend Tyler Hurst throw a fit because something as simple as lack of 3G cellular prevented him from ubiquitous creation.  The creative class expects to be connected digitally.


I am frustrated that 3G service is horrible in downtown Chandler.  However, I remain hopeful that when the new city hall is complete that an AT&T tower will go on top of it.  I know that the city council is sensitive to the needs of the new economy as they have shown in the past a commitment to investing in the future. They understand this kind of investment is as necessary as providing quality roads and adequate water/sewer lines for economic development.

For example, earlier this year Google announced that it wanted to do experimental broadband in a few select communities.  It got lots of feedback, but has yet to announce a winner. While other cities were hard at work lining up for a handout from Mountain View; Chandler was busy investing in itself, working to upgrade it’s broadband infrastructure downtown.

By partnering with Cox Communications and Cisco they were able to upgrade their wireless capacity at the downtown Chandler civic campus including the Chandler Center for the Arts.  Additionally, the upgrades allow them to extend capabilities to other remote municipal sites like Tumbleweed recreation center.  So sooner than later I expect reasonable 3G service to match!

Chandler Represented at Invest Southwest

This year at Invest Southwest Capital Conference three of the twelve finalists are Chandler, AZ companies.  It is great to see that per capita Chandler is producing results in the entrepreneurial community.

I just wanted to thank the following companies for choosing Chandler as their home.

Elliptical Mobile Solutions – Offers a cost-effective, energy-efficient, micro-containerized data center by making refrigerator units for IT equipment.

Seal Innotech – Provides mobile business applications synced with enterprise resource planning for Fortune 1000 sales representatives, executives, operations and other staff.

Sokikom – Is developing a multi-player online learning game to help students learn math.

Additional support goes out to one of the finalists choosing a technical partner located in Chandler.

ArmedZilla – Is a social networking support system for the military community.

Best of luck to all the participants.  It is great to the start up community alive and well.