Since moving to Phoenix, I’ve wondered about a sense of “community.” People who have lived here for years have a tendency to make little jokes about the lack of culture, and at times, I wonder if half of them even like being here. But … they’re still HERE, so I guess that says something.Thursday night, PechaKucha PHX 1 happened. PechaKucha was something I covered for the newspaper in Charleston, SC, and in Charleston, PechaKucha events left attendees practically exploding with local pride. I mean, after those events, I would go hopping down the street, singing and dancing the praises of my city by the sea. So as Thursday approached, I was curious: would PHX pull together, as a community, and worship our Valley of the Sun?
Well. Phoenix. You did.
From a man obsessed with font to a woman fixated on canals, I’d say PechaKucha PHX 1 covered its bases. We communed at the Irish Cultural Center, in the heart of downtown, for some thinking and drinking. As an outsider, I was surprised (and pleased) to see that most attendees knew other attendees. People hugged and said things like, “About time you got here!” Which made me realize, hey, there really is community here.
And there really is city pride. I was most inspired by Nan Ellin’s image of Canalscape. In Phoenix, we’ve got plenty of canals. These canals give us water. They give farmers water to grow crops. They function as a lifeline, and they are often overlooked. Nan’s idea is to create vital urban hubs around these canals—places where people can hang out and grab a cocktail, while overlooking the water. Now, coming from Charleston, SC, dang it, I need some bars overlooking water! I’m dying here! So I champion Nan’s idea. And I look forward to wallowing in her gift to the desert.
A further example of passion for PHX: all attendees received a copy of Phoenix: 21st Century City, a book about the art, fashion, and culture (See, there is culture here!) of our desert land. It’s a beautiful book, and its mere existence is a comfort to me. It is comforting to know that someone out there finds Phoenix beautiful and intriguing enough to write a book about.
PechaKucha PHX 1 was an inspiring night for me. It was a lot of fun, I met some good Phoenix folk, and the presenters made me want to give this gargantuan city a big hug. I miss Charleston. I will always love her beauty and her culture. But I’m in a new city now, and events like PechaKucha should encourage all of us to be thankful for the place we live.