It may not be immediately visible to the casual eye, but there is a diverse cross section of people and organizations who are busy creating a thriving root system to support long-term urban livability in Phoenix.
They work both independently and in collaboration to create a sustainable urban landscape that thrives on walkable neighborhoods; entrepreneurial local businesses; an arts and culture suffused environment; innovative mixed-use development, and access to healthcare. Over the next several months, DPJ will take a closer look at the people and projects that are transforming downtown Phoenix into a sustainable 21st century city.
Consider Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC) a primary root. Through its partnerships, SCC is making progress in areas as wide-ranging as housing, community development, public health and transportation. Because of the success of this unique collaborative, the Living Cities Network, a Washington, D.C.-based philanthropic collaborative of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions, met in Phoenix last week for the very first time to learn more about the innovative work being accomplished by SCC locally.
The Sustainable Communities Collaborative is a unique non-profit partnership of thirty-five entities powered by a $20 million fund privately financed by the Raza Development Fund and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Included in the collaborative are lenders; city officials from Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa and their staffs; financial institutions; local foundations; public health professionals; built environment professionals; private businesses; and community groups. Through the fund, the SCC mission is to create an economic catalyst for Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe connected to development along the METRO Light Rail, which means putting into place critical pieces, including underlying policies and tangible outcomes, to complete the sustainability puzzle.
Shannon Scutari, SCC’s co-founder and director explains the significant role for the collaborative as “keeping the conversation going.”
“It’s our job to help connect the dots,” Scutari said. “We break down the development process into easily consumable bite-size steps that create positive outcomes for everyone involved.”
“SCC,” she continues, “provides the glue between builders, city officials and staff, the developers and the neighborhood groups.”
To be truly sustainable, SCC members know that urban growth has to move beyond suburban sprawl, boom-and-bust models to a new paradigm that embraces infill development; increased density with mixed-use development and mixed income housing; access to public transportation; community healthcare; locally-spawned, entrepreneurial businesses; and the incorporation of the arts at every level of public life.
“This is one of the hardest landscapes to get funding in place,” said Scutari. “It has to be multi-faceted to get off the ground.”
“If it wasn’t for the collaborative members doing all the behind-the-scenes heavy lifting – the foundational work – we wouldn’t stand a chance in being attractive to companies, investors and developers who are looking at the Phoenix core as a place to invest in innovative ways.” said Scutari.
SCC Members participate on steering committees focused on policy areas that are most important for redefining urban vibrancy: housing, public health, community development, financial tools, and transportation. Scutari points out the importance of “setting the table” to make this new paradigm effective, saying, “It’s about turning public policy into public action.”
Scutari praises Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s work in making the SCC successful. “A tremendous amount of credit should go to the City of Phoenix and Mayor Stanton for making infill, adaptive reuse and transit-oriented development a priority. The mayor has been a real leader in this space.”
She also notes that Metro Light Rail has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Mayor Stanton, Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, and Mayor Mark Mitchell of Tempe and their staffs to collaborate across city lines in ways that maximize resources and create a winning outcome for each community. Listen to their comments in the video below.
SCC and others who are creating a new vision for a livable, sustainable Phoenix are just beginning to make a difference through the development of projects like The Newton at Camelback Rd. and Third Ave. and Union at Roosevelt at 1st Ave. and Roosevelt St., to name just a few.
Additionally, SCC has been involved with innovative partnerships with SeedSpot, Co+Hoots and LocalFirst to support commercial ventures connected to the light rail line that will attract and create jobs and economic opportunities. And while the impacts are only just beginning to be felt, the relationships being developed are creating a strong root system of trust and success that bodes well for the future of our urban core.
After decades away from Arizona, baritone and Grand Canyon University alumnus Mark Delavan returns to the Valley in the title role of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (Der Fliegende Holländer). Arizona Opera’s production continues this weekend at Symphony Hall and closes next Sunday in Tucson.
Starting in 1966, Delavan spent 14 years growing up in Phoenix while his father Macon served as chairman of the music department at then-Grand Canyon College, which gained a stellar reputation under his leadership and that of Mark’s mother, fellow professor Marlene Delavan.
“My father and mother brought…the Westminster Choir College school of vocal teaching here,” says Delavan, “and we had some amazing choirs. And I had the unique privilege of being…raised on it.”
He remembers touring in Europe with one of those choirs at the age of 17. “My opera career probably directly correlated to my Choralaire experience, because we got five days a week of choral training, of vocal training, of assisted vocal pedagogy.” Delavan qualifies his description. “It wasn’t listed that way, but my father was giving voice lessons all the time. He’d stop and have the bass section go through one thing…a passage…and say, ‘Support that! Come on! Put the shout in the voice.’”
He chuckles. “It was my dad, you know? I didn’t know what I was getting — I had no idea. It was just Dad. And now that I’m in my 50s and I’m looking back on it…he was pretty gifted.” Delavan continues, “But you don’t know what you are at 17…nobody knows what they are at 17. So I…went on my merry way.”
Delavan played football at Scottsdale Community College — where he says he learned about “ego and team play” — and earned a degree in art with a music minor before singing in his first opera, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief. “This is not his best work,” says the singer, “but I had a really cool aria in it, and it’s like the bug bit.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in music at Oral Roberts University, Delavan worked in Arkansas and North Carolina before continuing on to the now-defunct Western Opera Theater tour and an Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera, also placing as a national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.
Delavan moved to New Jersey in 1990, and, by his own account “kind of crashed and burned” between 1992 and 1993. But thanks to the intervention of great Metropolitan Opera bass Jerome Hines, he says, “I started pulling myself together.”
The role of John the Baptist in Hines’s opera I Am the Way led to a year of work with New York City Opera and eventually Delavan’s Met Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida with an all-star cast of Luciano Pavarotti as Radames, Deborah Voigt as Aida, and Olga Borodina as Amneris. “It was a wrecking crew,” Delavan recalls with a smile. “It was like the ‘90s Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan — if you get on the court you’d better pass, shoot, or get out of the way.”
“And…for all of my faults,” he continues emphatically, “when you put that kind of pressure on me, I will go with reckless abandon. And it worked out really well…I worked there for seven seasons in a row.” After performances throughout Europe at the Edinburgh Festival, the Bavarian State Opera, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, and recently with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Delavan returned to the Met to critical acclaim as Gianciotto in Francesca da Rimini and Wotan in Wagner’s epic Ring cycle.
Delavan’s signature roles include villains like Otello’s Iago and Tosca’s Scarpia as well as the title characters in Rigoletto, Falstaff, and The Flying Dutchman, written in 1841 by a 28-year-old Richard Wagner as one of his first mature works. The composer based his libretto and music on the legend of a sea captain who swears to conquer a storm even if he must sail forever. Hearing his oath, the Devil condemns the captain to sail until Judgment Day unless he find a woman who will love him faithfully until death.
In his quest for redemption, the Dutchman is allowed to make landfall once every seven years to find and woo the bride who will break his curse, ultimately ending the perpetual existence of the immortal captain and his crew aboard their ghostly ship.
Wagner, who identified with his tortured hero, emulated Beethoven’s symphonies in The Flying Dutchman and used musical motifs so effectively memorable that scholars have compared them to advertising jingles — the famously popular “Spinning Chorus” and the Dutchman’s theme are two examples.
“It’s one of his earliest pieces, and he wrote it in the Italian style,” says Delavan. “You have set pieces, you have duets…you have repeated words.” He continues, “Now admittedly the Dutchman’s monologue is a piece of genius writing.” Delavan sings a bit of the motif, and compares it to a theme from Wagner’s later opera Götterdämmerung. “Both of them are very eerie.”
“And it’s very short,” the baritone adds with a chuckle. “The duration [of Dutchman] is just right under the pain threshold.” Wagner’s later operas are renowned for lengths greater than five hours, a challenging proposition for audiences and singers alike.
“But here’s what it has in common [with Wagner's other works],” Delavan says. “It has a mythological theme and…redemption. And one could make the argument that poor Richard [Wagner] desperately needed redemption of some kind, because he was one tortured soul.” He laughs. “I mean, it’s common knowledge.”
The singer overcame his own struggles with this opera when he learned it years ago. “The first role that I did after my father died in 1995 was my first Flying Dutchman,” Delavan says, “and I’ve got to tell you — I couldn’t remember ‘come to Jesus.’” He continues, “Memorizing this role was the equivalent of trying to memorize…all of Shakespeare’s pieces. It was impossible…I had no ability to retain anything.”
He recalls a particularly difficult section of text, which translates as “Could you possibly be moved by my suffering with this deep pity?”
“That line I think I memorized ten times until it finally stayed. So that line…I go by it — I kind of close my eyes and move on.”
The Flying Dutchman is sung in German, with English supertitles projected above the stage. Arizona Opera revisits the large-scale projection techniques used in last season’s Il Trovatore to augment the production’s scenery and otherworldly atmosphere. Brought out of the pit and arranged onstage behind a scrim, the orchestra shares the majority of the space with the chorus. The main cast performs in a small area downstage on the raised floor of the orchestra pit, near the audience.
Delavan cheerfully anticipates better reviews for these performances than one he recalls from his last appearance with Arizona Opera, as Escamillo in 1989’s Carmen. “I got the worst review of my entire career in The Arizona Republic, and I probably had it coming, truthfully,” he says with a self-deprecating laugh. “Painful.”
For this production, Delavan shares the stage with soprano Lori Phillips as Senta, the heroine who redeems him, and bass Raymond Aceto as her father Daland. Joseph Rescigno conducts, and Bernard Uzan is the director.
If you go:
Practice your chicken dance, don your favorite walking shoes, and gather your fowl-loving friends for the Valley Permaculture Alliance’s Sustainability Festival and fifth annual Tour de Coops this Saturday at PHX Renews.
Organized in partnership with Keep Phoenix Beautiful at a 15-acre vacant land repurposing project at the northeast corner of Indian School Road and Central Avenue, the free festival features live music, food trucks, raffles, kids’ activities, and sustainability classes along with contests for best chicken call, best chicken dance, and coop design. Bring your mesquite and carob beans for milling into nutritious, tasty flour (continues on November 17).
Visit Valley chicken coops and talk with urban farmers about their feathered flocks and sustainability ideas on the self-guided Tour de Coops. Tickets are $20 for adults ($15 in advance; free for kids 14 and under with adult ticket-holder), and the tour includes a printed guide and map to participating coops throughout Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, and Glendale, along with a bike tour option.
Past tours have featured friendly, helpful chicken owners willing to discuss everything from feed to coop construction to flock-friendly gardening and water harvesting.
All photos courtesy Tour de Coops.
If you go:
- Tour de Coops (adult tickets $15-$20; free for kids 14 and under) and free Sustainability Festival
- Saturday, November 16, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at PHX Renews and coop sites around the Valley
- Visit tourdecoops.vpaaz.org or call 602-325-1230
- Resources for poultry information and supplies:
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Arizona Costume Institute Nouveau Hosts “New York Dream, 1953” Fashion Event
Fundraiser to Celebrate Author Elizabeth Winder’s “Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York 1953”
Arizona Costume Institute (ACI) Nouveau is hosting its fourth annual fundraiser as a 1950s-themed fashion event at Phoenix Art Museum that will feature well-known author Elizabeth Winder’s latest literary gem, Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York 1953.
Close to 300 guests are expected to attend and listen to Winder discuss famous American poet and author, Sylvia Plath and her time as a guest editor in 1953 at Mademoiselle magazine. Winder will share her insights into Plath’s experiences in the New York fashion scene and receive sined copies of her book that will be available for purchase.
Following the lecture, enjoy light bites, cocktails, beats by DJ Kim E-Fresh, Dior makeovers by the Saks Fifth Avenue cosmetics team and gift bags by sponsors Saks Fifth Avenue and Kendra Scott Jewelry.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Lecture begins at 7pm
Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N. Central Ave, Phoenix 85004
$30 per ticket
To pre-purchase tickets, visit www.phxart.org.
About Arizona Costume Institute Nouveau
The Nouveau Division of the Arizona Costume Institute is a professional group of fashion enthusiasts under the age of 35. The group’s objective is to raise awareness and membership of the Arizona Costume Institute through celebrating Phoenix Art Museum’s distinguished fashion collection. ACI Nouveau makes its presence known in the fashion community by holding monthly meetings, mixers and special events. The Nouveau division inspires fashion education while fostering camaraderie in a professional networking environment. For more information about the Nouveau division, visit http://arizonacostumeinstitute.com/ACI/Nouveau.html.
About Arizona Costume Institute
The Arizona Costume Institute was founded in 1966 to support Phoenix Art Museum’s Fashion Design Department in the acquisition and preservation of garments and accessories of historical and aesthetic significance. The Museum currently houses more than 5,000 objects of men’s, women’s and children’s dress and accessories dating from the late 17th century to the present. Each object considered for the collection is evaluated on its merit as a work of art, design, its place in the history of fashion and its condition. For more information about the Arizona Costume Institute, visit http://arizonacostumeinstitute.com/ACI/ACI.html.