Yeah, I know. Phoenix, Arizona, is the fifth biggest city in the United States. I could write it off as a quasi-New York, with hustle, bustle, and high blood pressure. But after living in Charleston, SC, I have come to believe that cities are difficult to write off. Instead, they’re like kids. On the surface, kids seem like they want to run around, scream, and basically be annoying. But on the inside, all they really want is a hug. This morning, Phoenix gave me a hug.
This morning, I had the pleasure of meeting local design guru and PHX Pecha Kucha 1 organizer, David White. He instructed me to meet at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. Armed with Jake’s Garmin (thank goodness), I headed into the thick of things, East on I-10, toward the heart of downtown PHX. This was my first trek downtown alone, without my strong, amazing Jake safely behind the wheel, pointing out pretty things and talking about the places we would go on the weekend. This time, I was all by my lonesome.
But instead of being thrown to the traffic wolves, I had a comfortable trip down to Central and Pierce, where—lo and behold—I found … an oasis in the desert. Obvious clichés aside, I found Royal at the Market and the aforementioned Public Market. In a city that had—until today—looked anything but homey, I found a homey spot at this modern, minimalistic coffee joint. The Public Market next door was full of local, organic goodness, and, joy of joys, it was there that I found my blessed Kombucha AND learned that every Saturday, they have brunch and a local market in the parking lot outside.
With my sinfully strong Americano, I was also embraced, not only by the city of Phoenix, but by the city’s chocolate. I was introduced to “Wei of Chocolate.” I consumed a spicy piece of “Daily Gratitude.” Description: “65% cacao with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and other ‘chai’ spices together with herbs traditionally thought to encourage mental clarity, immune system support, and be calming and relaxing.” I don’t know that I felt calm after the chocolate, but I know I wanted to hug Phoenix right back.
Following my reverent gluttony, I did eventually get down to business. As I mentioned, the point of this whole adventure was to get “plugged in” to the Phoenix Pecha Kucha. Pecha Kucha was a part of Charleston that I could not bear to leave behind. It is a celebration of creativity, wherein artists—from architects to painters to magazine editors—present 20 slides in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, in an effort to convey their message and share their passion. I covered the event twice for the Charleston City Paper, and upon leaving the Lowcountry, I promised myself to continue the tradition out west. However, surprise! David White already had the ball rolling. Check out the Phoenix PK website, where you can sign up for PK/PHX Twitter and Facebook.
Phoenix has plenty of design- and art-oriented events. For one, there is Ignite Phoenix. This is an event similar to Pecha Kucha, but with a much wider topic range. For instance, varied speaking submissions include “How Improv May (Or May Not) Save the World,” “Rejected Campaign Slogans,” and “You’ll Never Watch Star Wars the Same Way Again!” There’s TEDx Phoenix. The national event brings together industry leaders in Technology, Entertainment, and Design. The Phoenix event does the same thing on a much smaller scale, but much like PK and Ignite, TEDx exists to worship and admire the creativity inherent in even the most straight-laced.
Through this, my heart still belongs to Pecha Kucha, which, I suppose, is why I agreed to jump on board as the PHX/PK1 promotional helper. This, friends, is my first step in plugging myself into a new professional life in the desert. It’s part of this new thing I’m trying: Going With the Flow.
This first week in Phoenix has been stressful. It has been full of shopping for apartment stuff, changing of addresses, unpacking, organizing, repacking…good GAWD, moving sucks. But somehow, all around Jake and me, a river of good is flowing—a personal oasis in this desert of ours. We’re going to flow along with it and see how things unfold. Because seriously, hustle, bustle, and high blood pressure is for New York. It just can’t exist amidst cacti, red mountains, and tumbleweed.