Tag Archives: sense of place

Making Phoenix a more walkable community

I talked with Tony from Light Rail Blogger earlier this week.  Here the result.  Thanks Tony!

Making Phoenix a more walkable community

Posted on 01. May, 2009 by Tony in News

People in Phoenix are relishing the cooler spring weather this morning, especially since the seemingly relentless summer highs are right around the corner.

Those sometimes brutal temperatures in the Valley of the Sun, which some days hover around the 115 degree mark, might be the one big reason few people use their own two feet to get around town.  Yuri Artibise is hoping to change that.

Yuri Artibese talks about his efforts to create a walkable community in Phoenix

Yuri Artibise talks about his efforts to create a walkable community in Phoenix

“Look at New York City,” says Artibise.  “They have extremely cold weather.”  Even in freezing temperatures, people still manage to make Manhattan a walkable community.

Artibise is hoping to change minds and attitudes, especially now that the Phoenix light rail is up and running and helping people get places.  Artibise and several others around the country are organizing a nationwide event called Jane’s Walk.

According to the Jane’s Walk website, the event is a series of free neighborhood walking tours given by locals who care passionately about where they live, work and play.  Jacobs, who died in 2006, is an icon to urbanists around the world.

Artibise says here in Phoenix, the event is more than just changing attitudes about walking in really warm weather.  Artibise is hoping to lay the ground work for a grass roots movement to make Phoenix a walkable urban city.

Sitting at a table at the Fair Trade Cafe on Central Avenue this week (Roosevelt and Central light rail stop), Artibise tells me the event is like a giant house party.  There have been 50 or so RSVP’s but he has reason to believe more will show up.

Artibise invited people who are knowledgeable about the Downtown Phoenix community to share their stories about old buildings, new buildings, and parks that few people seem to use.  If more people are familiar with where they live, then they will care more about the future and direction of Phoenix.

“I’m hoping to act as this glue to bring all this together,” says Artibise.  “We have the power to shape how downtown looks.”

The walk starts Saturday at 9 a.m. at Roosevelt Park and should last about two hours.  You can sign up for the walk here or just show up.  Make sure to bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and water.  The tour is about 2 miles long.

Artibise hopes people will hang around when the walk ends and support local business by grabbing a coffee, some breakfast, or maybe something at the Downtown Farmers Market.

There’s a link to a New York Times obit about Jane Jacobs here.  Jane Jacobs is best known for her book the Death and Life of Great American Cities.  A Wikipedia entry for her book can be found here.


Mr. Roosevelt

Here’s a great profile on somebody who exemplifies the spirit of Jane Jacobs, especially her focus on community building and grass roots activism.

Some extracts:

“Antonio combines a deep affection for his small village upbringing in Honduras with a cosmopolitan flair,”…. “What has most impressed me is his ability to bring the sense of community and love of nature he imbibed as a child into his efforts to build community and a sense of place in larger cities such as Phoenix.” 


“I have always been intrigued by cities,” he says. “How cities grow, how cities develop, how people’s relationships are affected by the growth of the city and how people live in the city.” 


HT: Downtown Phoenix Journal