Lunar Society October 24th

It is time that we stopped protecting ideas and instead started connecting them.  Ever since I read Steven Johnson’s Invention of Air I have wanted to start a local Lunar Society and find fellow Lunaticks.  Recently Mark Ng and Chad Smith have been stoking that fire on twitter.  So the time is now.

October 24th during the next full moon will be the first Lunar Society of Chandler.  We will start at 3pm @ Gangplank and will go until midnight or so.  Feel free to bring your family and your favorite beverage.  Be prepared to argue and debate or create and inspire.  If you know someone that might be interested pass this along.  See you there!

Taste Chandler this Oktoberfest

It’s has been a whirlwind of activity this past month as construction on Gangplank 3.0 is getting underway and the widening of Arizona Avenue is coming a end.  This weekend is the 3rd Annual San Tan Oktoberfest.  It starts at 2pm and goes until 11pm and costs $10.

If you like beer this is YOUR event. San Tan Brewing, Papago Brewing, Sonoran Brewing, Grand Canyon Brewing, Mudshark, Sun Up, and Thunder Canyon will all be in the beer garden; and a lineup of Crescent Crown’s marquee craft beers will also be available, including Ska Brewing, Avery Brewing, Fat Tire and The Lost Abbey.  Holy Brew Awesome.

There will be live music from Take Cover as well as beer olympics, a strong man competition, a sexy beer maid contest, a bratwurst eating contest, as well as kid-friendly activities and games, including bounce houses tricycle races and bag toss.

The following week is TasteChandler‘s culinary festival.  You will probably see the commercials airing this week!

The best part about both events is being able to crash at the historic San Marcos Hotel after the event.

Political Bites: Most Influential in East Valley

Who is the most influential person in the Southeast Valley, and why?

It really depends on who and what you need to influence.  Politically there are plenty of mayors, councilmen and legislators with influence.  However, one person making a tremendous impact and gaining influence daily is Joe Johnston of Joe’s Real BBQ, Joe’s Farm Grill, Liberty Market and Agritopia.  He has set a course and made a commitment to change his immediate community.  He has been steadfast and disciplined earning respect throughout all of Phoenix for his hard work.

More Possibilities for the Arts in Chandler

The Chandler Center for the Arts is getting ready for it’s first season since it’s $6.7 million renovation.  The improvements included several visual improvements including new facade, new carpet and reupholstered seats.  However, the biggest changes were behind the scenes as significant technical upgrades have been put in place to open the center to entirely different types of shows than it had been capable of in the past.  These new capabilities provide new possibilities.

Highlights of Season

11th Chandler Symphony (Free)
12th “That’s Life” (Free)
18th Intel Variety Show
24th Howie Mandel

10th Chandler Symphony (Free)
13th US Air Force Academy Band (Free)
24th Cirque Shanghai Bai Xi (See Them In Action)

13th ABBA Mania (See Them In Action)
14th Chandler Symphony (Free)
26th-28th Ballet Etudes – NUTCRACKER

26th-31st Zoppe Italian Family Circus (See Them In Action)

08th Chandler Symphony (Free)

04th Chandler Symphony (Free)
12th Dancing On Ice
19th Chandler Symphony (Free)

27th Chandler Symphony (Free)

08th Street Beat (See Them In Action)
16th Chandler Symphony (Free)
16th HOTEL CALIFORNIA Salute to the Eagles
17th SPENCERS Theatre of Illusion (See Them In Action)

I am excited as I hear chatter that the Center is now looking to upgrade it’s programming to be more relevant to a younger demographic.  What kind of events/shows would you like to see?  Let’s get some great content for next season!

All-America City Celebration

The City of Chandler was awarded the National Civic League All-America City Award, the award recognizes communities whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.  Chandler was selected because of it’s work to curb underage drinking, use resources wisely and provide medical attention to uninsured children.

Tonight the city will be celebrating at 6:30pm at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue.  The event includes entertainment, refreshments, a slide show and a video highlighting the presentation given in Kansas City, MO.  It will honor CARE Center, ICAN and the Chandler Heights Community Facilities.

Employee Volunteering and Community Engagement Programs

I was asked to speak at a human resources brown bag for the Arizona Technology Council on Employee Volunteering and Community Engagement Programs.  The concept of a program for this seemed foreign to me even though I have consulted at large companies that have extensive programs.  As a non-profit director for several groups I have also been on the receiving end of some really great programs.  Locally Intel does a great job of employee volunteering.

It is important to understand that you don’t have to be a billion dollar a year company to allow and encourage employee volunteering.  Here are five things you could do as a small company to help give back to the community.

  1. Participate in something like AZ Give Camp and give back your talents locally.
  2. Work with a local charity to help see how your company can support them.  As little as 10 hours a month or $100 can make a real difference.
  3. Use volunteering as team builder.  Help feed the homeless or build a house together.
  4. Allow employees to volunteer for their favorite charity and for every hour they work give the charity $10.  You can put a cap on it for a $100 per employee and everyone wins.
  5. Find a local school and sponsor a classroom.  Help them go on a field trip or buy supplies that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

Ultimately, it is in our DNA to help each other out.  I won’t go on and on about the benefits of employee volunteering, there are already resources for that.  Just know that if you want to attract, keep and satisfy quality talent you need to be mindful of their need to give.  Embrace and encourage it.

Make a non-profit’s day today and contact them about how you can make a difference for them.

Phoenix Urbanites Cry Sprawl Foul, but Remain Most Guilty

A few times recently I have seen/heard Phoenix Urbanites disparage outside cities in derogatory terms using “sprawl” as their verbal assault of choice.  Oddly the facts, don’t line up with their dogma.

Let’s look at total population, population density (people per sq mile), incorporation date and average household income.

City Population Density Incorporation Household Income
Portland 582k 4,288/sq mi 1845 $70,000
Chandler 274k 4,202/sq mi 1912 $69,278
Tempe 175k 4,067/sq mi 1894 $42,361
Mesa 463k 3,536/sq mi 1878 $42,817
Phoenix 1,567k 2,937/sq mi 1881 $50,140

It’s amazing that Chandler, AZ looks more like Portland, OR than Phoenix, AZ does by the numbers.

I suspect that Phoenix people harping on density and urban infill while casting stones at other communities would know that in fact the City of Phoenix has been the biggest culprit of unabated sprawl over the last 50 years.  Having by far the lowest population density track record.  It likes to claim superiority by being the capital and being here “first” and that these other cities popped up over night and ruined the world with “sprawl”, but in reality it is younger than Mesa and relatively close in age to the others.

I do believe that all these cities have a sprawl problem (which I am against).  I am just setting the record straight that Phoenix is the biggest violator.

I  lived in Phoenix (the city) for 24 years and have lived in the East Valley for the past 10 years.  I worked in downtown Phoenix for 8 years and downtown Tempe for 4 years.  Two of my children were born in downtown Phoenix and one in Chandler.  I love both the city and the metro, but it’s time that we start having real discussion and stop just regurgitating the rhetoric the uninformed feed us or we will be doomed to be in crisis for another decade or more.

Disclaimer: My goal is to position Chandler is the linchpin of the Sun Corridor by 2020.  Rising tides raise all ships and by definition this does not make me “against” Phoenix.

Chandler Chamber : State of the Schools Luncheon

I have been slow in getting down content I have been collecting. I am trying to change that but I just hate writing. Recently I attended the Chandler Chamber : State of the Schools luncheon (April 22nd). It was a panel discussion including…

Dr. David Schauer – Kyrene School District Superintendent
Barbara Border – Deputy Superintendent of AZ Dept of Education
Dr. Camille Casteel – Chandler School District Superintendent
Dr. Keith Hjelmstad – ASU Vice President
Dr. Linda Lujan – Chandler-Gilbert Community College President
Debra Thompson – Maricopa Community College Vice Chancellor

Below are questions and answer summary of the event from my view point.
Chandler – Has a if we can’t sustain we won’t add it mentality. Managing operations better as well as buses. Governing energy usage and trash collection. $14m short with Prop 100. $29m short without Prop 100.
ASU – Extensive reorganization to eliminate administrative overhead. Staff furloughs. Sustainability. Using federal stimulus monies. No on prop 100 means $48m more in cuts.
Maricopa – Not a lot of state funding so not very impacted yet. Allowing alternative payment options. Keeping prices low. Triple a bond rating one of only two higher ed groups in nation. Growing 11-25% without any additional funding. Doing more with less, working smarter not harder. Changing process and not core activities. Mostly admin services affected. Property valuations will hurt them in years to come.
Kyrene – Have strong reserves and have been doing prepayments. $6m with prop 100, $12m without it. Refuse to cut PE/Art, etc. Salary reduction and larger classes instead. Can manage the $6m.
State – Blah. Blah. Blah.

What have you implemented to improve?
ASU – Changing everything.
Maricopa – Blah. Blah. Blah. 21st Century Maricopa Initiative.
Kyrene – Family resource center (food, clothing, medical attention), Poverty rate went from 9% to 20%. Professional learning communities. Collective responsibility at grade level. Collaborative approaches. Response to intervention (provide custom additional support)
State – Put bioscience and engineering first. Integrating academics CTE. Arizona skill standards commission (75 Areas)
Chandler – Staff development programming. Invest in their people.

What can schools do better to prepare students for the workforce?
Kyrene – Engagement of students needs better. Stop telling kids what to do and instead get them involved in a self organized learning approach.
Chandler – Agrees with Kyrene. Focus more on STEM.
Maricopa – Blah. Blah. Blah. Listen to students feedback more.
ASU – The pipeline is weak. STEM focus, need to be better at preparing for industry. Start listening and adjust don’t be same dumb university.
State – Get students more well rounded. Creativity and innovation mentioned but no strategy currently. CTE blah. blah. blah. EVIT joint tech and Chandler satellite programs.

How can business community be involved?
Maricopa – Weigh in with legislature. Financial support.
Kyrene – Be education friendly.
ASU – Go back to school….
Chandler – Ask the tough questions. Talk to your local district. Volunteer. Mentor. Serve.
State – Thank the Southeast Valley for standing up for education. Sit on committees.

My quick assessment is that Arizona State University and the State of Arizona seemed the most prone to the drone responses of their leadership and had the least value and little clue about the state of things.  They marked everything that is wrong with education today.  That said, I thought that Dr. Hjelmstad was better than most speaking on behalf of ASU.  The community colleges are under the least pressure financially and understand their place to serve students transitioning to a four year university or to enter the workforce.  While they had canned responses more often than not, they seemed competent.  Dr. Castille seemed a bit conservative and too focused on the STEM and CTE initiatives, but appears prudent with their money and understands the need for change.  Dr. Schauer was understated in his responses but it is clear that he is the only one that sees a radical need for change in the current way we education children.  Oddly, he currently faces the smallest budget deficit.  Coincidence?

Chandler Ostrich Festival

The Parade Kicks off this weekend in Downtown!  We are excited as this will be right outside of new Gangplank 3.0 building.

The Thorobred Chevrolet Ostrich Festival Parade will kick-off the Ostrich Festival on Saturday morning, March 6th, 2010 at 10:00 am.

The parade route starts at Ray Road and Arizona Avenue, proceeds south on Arizona Avenue to Chicago St.

Parade watchers are encouraged to bring their chairs and blankets to enjoy the parade. Some of the attractions that were featured in the past include Ollie the Trolley, antique cars, horses, high school marching bands and creative floats. More than 100 various entries are expected for the parade.

As the parade sponsor, the Thorobred Chevrolet name has been associated with supporting the Ostrich Festival from the beginning.

Don’t forget to get out and enjoy the rest of Festival the following weekend!