Regular readers of this blog will notice that I’ve had several harsh words for Phoenix and it’s leader lately. It’s not that I dislike Phoenix. Quite the opposite. I’ve quickly grown to love much of the city and many of its people. It’s because of this love that I want to see my adopted city reach it’s potential.
I’ve long believed that excellence requires a constant search for improvement. If everyone thinks everything is perfect already, or are reluctant to criticize, then there is no impetus to improve. I’ve touched on this theme before.
However, as necessary as it is to point out where we need to improve, it is also important to highlight our successes. There are a lot of great things about Phoenix (otherwise I’d be long gone). The city is home to many world-class events and sites that are uniquely ‘Phoenix.’ Sure not all of these events are the best they could be, but they are building blocks to use to create a unique sense of place that many say is lacking.
Here are a few of the more prominent ones:
- The Heard Museum is not only one of Phoenix’s first cultural attractions, but also one of the world’s finest destinations for learning about American Indian arts and cultures. In addition, it is home to a world-acclaimed Indian Fair and Market that draws 20,000 visitors and more than 700 of the nation’s most outstanding and successful American Indian artists. If you haven’t been yet, now’s you chance. It’s occurring this weekend.
- Phoenix is home to the longest running (and likely largest) art walk in the country. Can you believe it’s been 22 years? This is also happening this weekend.
- What do Emma Stone, Max Crumm and Jordin Sparks have in common? They all honed their skills at the Valley Youth Theater. VYT is a world-class, nationally recognized non-profit theater in our own back yard. They achieve their success by insisting on the same standards of excellence to its programs that apply to adult theater.
- The PF Chang Rock n’ Roll Marathon was first held in Phoenix in 2004. In just 5 years, it has become the largest same day marathon and half-marathon in the United States, With over 30,000 participants in 2009, Its unique format has been repeated in seven fourteen cities (and counting). Not bad for an event sponsored by a locally based company.
- At over 16,000 acres, South Mountain Park is the largest city park in the world. Yet this is but one of the amazing outdoor areas in the middle of our city. There is also Camelback, Piestewa and North Mountain Preserve in the center of the Valley, and other great natural amenities on the outskirts. As well, we have also have world-class urban parks like Encanto Park with was recently voted one of the best in the country, alongside such famous parks as New York City’s Central Park, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and Boston Commons.
- Phoenix is home to one of the longest (and oldest) canal systems in the world. Venice’s 125 miles of canals and Amsterdam’s 47 miles of canals make these cities European icons and postcard darlings. Meanwhile, Phoenix trumps both with 181 miles of canals, yet most people treat them like back alleys. Check out the new Canalscape Exhibit at Phoenix City Hall from March 2nd to March 12th to learn more about their history and potential. The opening event is this Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 4pm.
- Our history is measured in millennium, not centuries like the east coast, or decades like many people seem to believe The Valley is among the longest inhabited region in the USA. The Hohokam began settling here around 1 AD. Learn more at the Pueblo Grande Museum on 44th St and Washington.
What is your favorite thing that is unique to the Phoenix?
This is day 21 in my 28 Day Blogging Challenge. 7 days to go.