The ASU South Phoenix visit
While change is wrenching, support comes from interesting alliances and strange sources.
- The day begins at the Valley Christian Center run by long-time community activist Becky Castro. Castro talks about the changes in South Phoenix...and about new hope in the neighborhood. But Carolyn Lowery, another longtime activist, has a different view. She talks about how city leaders tore down the old projects, which had the effect of pushing out African-Americans, scattering them. It's a sadder note that seems to clash with Castro's message. But both women are comfortable with each other's view. It was Castro who wanted Lowery to give her side to the ASU students. Just the night before, both women attended a reunion of African-Americans who went to the old segregated Carver High School in the 1940s (the building is now a museum). This dichotomy of experiences signaled a note for the rest of the day: What you see in South Phoenix has more than meets the eye.
- The students leave and spread out to talk to others in the community. Sam and Corbin documents odd juxtapositions - like two properties in wildly different states.
- Later they run into a long-time resident of the Matthew Hensen neighborhood who gives them a unique view of the past: A document that shows the tangled racial history of South Phoenix.
- Then they get just a glimpse of the future for a stretch of homes in South Phoenix... fences around some properties that appear to have been taken over by a developer. The student team wonders if this might be a potential story... and KJZZ's Nick Blumberg also has some interest.
- Two other Cronkite students stake their claim at a barber shop a few blocks away from Valley Christian - it's called Arthur's Hair Design. APM staffers marked the barber shop on a map for the students, figuring that it would be run by a local with roots in the neighborhood and be a gathering place other residents. But Tarryn and Matt discovered quite a different scenario. The owners of Arthur's are not from South Phoenix, explaining that the family opened the shop over 20 years ago because the area needed the support. Those who come for the specialty cuts are not from the area either.
- And as if these business owners came with an idea to boost the neighborhood. But it also seems to provide a local service. Tarryn and Matt say a local woman came in with her child and asked how long it would be for the boy to get a haircut. About 90 minutes, they are told. The woman leaves, but the child stays. He's watched over by those in the shop. The owners explain that they often watch children of adults at the shop. It's as if a kind of social capital is being built up. And those outside of South Phoenix are helping out that cause.
- Another student team - Kyle and Morgan - finds another benefactor from the outside. His name is Steve Colter, who grew up in South Phoenix... went on to play in the NBA... and now gives back to the place he once lived.
- Colter, who is a recreation coordinator for the city, uses his profile as a former pro-sports athlete to be a contact of information for those in the local community, say Morgan and Kyle. Colter serves as a connection between the police and the parents of kids who getting into trouble. He says the area is misunderstood... and that the national press seems to cover South Phoenix better than the local press.
- There were some odds and ends to the day as well....
- And no one will forget how Matt not only got some good information... but an "Anderson Cooper" look courtesy of Arthur's....
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