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.

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!

Political Bites: Southeast Valley Arts

What can be done to strengthen the Southeast Valley’s performing arts scene?

First, start booking quality, relevant shows in the performing arts centers.  It’s okay to step outside the family friendly box on occasion.   Second,  there is still a need for smaller venues to allow local artists to take root.  Third, get out and support the arts, you might be surprised what you find.

Background, if needed: http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2010/07/02/20100702mesa-theaters-arts.html

The World is Changing and so is our Economy

We might be in the midst of a recession, but I don’t think we have seen anything yet.  Most of America is not willing to acknowledge a few key concepts.

1. Things won’t bounce back to where they were, expect recovery to be in decades not months.  A new normal has been set.

2. The old economy is dying.  The days of manufacturing things is now a commodity.  That other countries are able to much better and cheaper.

3. Our educational system is broken to prepare America’s youth for the new economy.

I understand that I sound like chicken little and at this point people are laughing at the mention of the sky falling.  I could point to statistics and reputable journalists, but perhaps the best thing to do is show you reality.  Let’s take a look at a great city that at one time was the “model city” for “industrial” America, Detroit.

It literally lays in ruins.  It looks vacant similar to Chernobyl after a nuclear meltdown.  Will all cities be in this position?  No.  Is there a little of Detroit coming to every city?  Yes.  We can no longer stand idle and watch as things decay.  It is time to step up and unite.  Tackle the tough problems we face in educating our youth and training a displaced workforce.  It is time to make creativity and innovation core to our culture and walk through to the other side prosperous and and top.   As you watch these samples of urban decay ask yourself what you can do to change your neighborhood, city and state.  How can you help be part of the solution?

Coworking is a commodity. It is a race to the bottom.

I read  “A case against ‘free trial coworking‘” by Alex Hillman from IndyHall and it reminded why I can’t relate to the coworking movement.  I purposefully use the word collaborative workspace when talking about Gangplank because implying that there is a coworking component is a misleading comparison.

Coworking claims to be trans-formative and future thinking.  Changing how people work and think about work, but in reality it is a lie.  It highlights independence of the worker, but still structures itself on old economy models of thinking.

Don’t believe me?  Let’s examine a single phrase from this article to highlight the point.

‘..it’s unwise in an early stage business to give ANYTHING away that you wouldn’t otherwise charge for..’

That is conventional wisdom.  That if you give something away it costs what you gave. The more you have the less I have.  The more I share the more I lose.  This is a dying model.  Repackaging it as a revolution by telling the participants they have ‘independence’ is disingenuous.

The truth is charging for space turns the relationship into a transaction and destroys the ability for real community to flourish.  Coworking is a commodity.  It is a race to the bottom.

At Gangplank we choose to give our space away for free.  All the time, not just on a trial basis. When you give something away, you benefit more than the recipient does.  The act of being generous makes you rich beyond measure, and as the goods or services spread through the community, everyone benefits.  Giving space as a gift with no reciprocity allows us to experiment and create.  We seek to help people be dangerous and challenge the status quo. It’s not for everyone, but it’s how we see the world and we hope to help the right people change their view of the world and how they contribute back to it.  We want to give them the gift of finding the creator within themselves.

Metro Phoenix has been hit harder than most during this recession.  We feel that giving to the community freely let’s us all prosper more quickly.  It increases the quality of bond between our members and ultimately strengthens our community.  It leaves an obligation for our members to help the next person.  The gift creates a surplus as it spreads and ultimately gives us joy.

The argument we always hear is ‘Some one has to pay for it.  You can’t run a space for free’.  The truth is if you were remarkable you would find a way to give it away for free.

The reason Gangplank is hard to quantify is because its worth something more than we could ever charge in rent.

Political Bites: What Does a Future Candidate Look Like

With a number of lawmakers termed out of their seats, several Southeast Valley Legislative districts could see new blood this fall. What characteristics would you like to see in Legislative candidates?

We need candidates that are pragmatic and visionary.  Willing to set a side party biases. Staying away from decisions based on furthering their political careers instead of bettering their community.  They need to be able to execute difficult decisions and stand for what they believe in.  More than anything they need to connect with their constituents on more than a superficial level and be accessible to them at all times.

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?

The New Economy: A Guide For Arizona

Getting ready for the 96th Arizona Town Hall, I am reading their report Building Arizona’s Future: Jobs, Innovation & Competitiveness.  It references a 1999 paper from the Morrison Institute The New Economy: A Guide for Arizona.  It lists eight principles that underpin the new economy…

  1. Technology is a given
  2. Globalization is here to stay
  3. Knowledge builds wealth
  4. People are the most important raw material
  5. There is no such thing as a smooth ride
  6. Competition is relentless
  7. Alliances are the way to get things done
  8. Place still matters

Those  items in bold are the very thing that Gangplank espouses and I will be reminding the Town Hall the importance of them.  Most importantly, I will remind them that good and talented people are the key.

Five foundations found to be critical based off this study were

  1. Connecting (telecommunications infrastructure)
  2. E-Government (getting government on-line for faster/better service)
  3. E-Learning (distance learning and technology in classrooms)
  4. Creative Communities (amenity-rich communities with strong quality of place)
  5. Knowledge leaders, entrepreneurs and capital (higher education, R&D, tech transfer, incubation and VC)

Again those items highlighted are the essence of Gangplank.  We are proud that the City of Chandler is standing as a strong supporter in providing ALL of these things and why we think they will be the CORE of the Sun Corridor.

Please leave comments to tell me I’m wrong, stupid and idiotic.  I am looking for motivation.