Highway Widening and its Potential Detrimental Effects in Tucson

Jenn Burdick a representative from the Tucson Transportation Dept gives a presentation on the Broadway Corridor Project

When I first came to Tucson to meet my friend Doctress Nuetopia we went to a Sustainable Tucson Meeting at the Tucson Central Library.

The discussion focused on an effort to expand a street called Broadway from 4 to 8 lanes from Euclid to Country Club and is part of a larger effort by the highway department there to aggressively expand roads to handle projected increases in traffic.

An overview of the Sustainable Tucson discussion can be found here and below is a snippet of the overview found on the page that relates to the general purpose of the meeting and the goals:

Neighborhood and City goals should be updated and integrated given the interrelated issues of mobility and urban form. In this age of fiscal and environmental constraints, we have the opportunity (and calling) to redirect limited funds to support live-ability and vibrancy at the neighborhood level while implementing a transportation system that unites and serves the larger city. Additionally, now is the time to address larger embedded issues such as the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI) and Climate Change.

To mitigate temperatures neither current nor future inhabitants of Tucson want to endure and to ensure live-able and vibrant communities we must seek alternatives to current built-environment and mobility practices that solve rather than add to an unsustainable city. The Broadway Boulevard Project discussion is a great place to start.

Presenters included:

  • Jen Burdick – Broadway Corridor project manager for the TDOT
  • Colby Henley – Citizen’s Task Force and local Neighborhood Association member
  • Tres English – Sustainable Tucson

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Arconauts Mull Pros and Cons of I-17 & AZ 69 Intersection Construction

The Arizona Department of Transportation decided to  “honor” of Arcosanti and Paolo Soleri by impressing his art on a large public works project design to improve traffic flow at intersection where Arizona state highway 69 forks out from Interstate 17 in Cordes Junction. Arcosanti is a tourist draw close to the interchange and so putting Soleri’s art on the concrete is really a no brainer. Not everyone will realize that the art is Soleri but it helps to reinforce and canonize Arcosanti as a tourist must see in Arizona.

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UNM Ecology Arts Students Visit Arcosanti

Now that I have some spare time, I am going through my notes and pictures and posting some of the more notable experiences from my last few years at Arcosanti.

One of the memorable experiences for me was in September of last year students from the Land Arts of the American West Program at the University of New Mexico explored and engaged with Arcosanti and the surrounding site for two days in September of 2011. This was a chance for me to learn about the Land Arts movement and some radical ideas about artistic collaboration and co-creation.

On Sept 14 2011, 10 students and two instructors from the Ecology Arts Program at the University of New Mexico participated in a “synergy” at Arcosanti. The focus of their efforts was to help better organize the worm farming/vermiculture system at Arcosanti, which I was in charge of at the time. I am not sure this was the ideal project for them at Arcosanti, but I was impressed that they tackled it with such passion and dedication.

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Pondering Amarillo and the West Texas Plain: When Cadillac Ranch becomes Cadillac Desert


On the way back to Missouri from Arcosanti on I-40, on Sept 18m 2012, I came across something I had not seen before a row of old cars buried into a farm field just outside of Amarillo Texas. The symbolism of seeing those half buried cars led me to think about another project titled Cadillac Desert which talked about the unsustainable use of water in the Southwestern part of the USA. It was originally a book that later was made into PBS series.

Now you might say Amarillo just another boring mid-western high plains town, but I have a different story. Most places just aren’t as predictable as we sometimes like to stereotype them as. Amarillo and the great plains are a case in point. Yet the purpose to all this is that as I travel throughout the Southwest what I realize is this: the region is at precipice because that vital fluid water is something that has and continues to be taken for granted. We have taken water from natural stores and reserves at unsustainable rates to power a economy that rewards hyper-consumerism and suburban sprawl. Our politicians are so beholden to establishment thinking that they seem unable to offer any resistance to the forces that encourage business as usual in the management of natural resources. The economy in this region in particular is built upon growing crops like cotton and grains on massive farms that consume fossil water as well as fossil fuels.

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The Rise of the Precariat: An Expansion of Andres Gorz’s Theory of the “Non-class of the Non-proletariat”

Thanks to Doctress Nuetopia, I had the chance while down in Tucson to attend my first Occupy Tucson Teach-in and I found it rather stimulating intellectually. About 20 people came to the Occupy Tucson Teach-in learn more about Andres Gorz, a French mid-20th century social philosopher.  His description of “non-class of the non-proletariat” was used by the Occupy movement according to Greg Evans who discussed his work to a group of Occupy Tucson activists.

Andres Gorz was a post modern, post-Marxist thinker who was an associate and contemporary of Jean Paul Sartre. He published several books on ecology. Reflecting on the discussion, I saw Gorz as a transitional thinker who seemed to see himself as a bridge between Marxism and more contemporary social movements in the West.

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A Critique of Conspiracy Theorists

While at the Occupy Tuscon teach in someone suggested I view Ben Stewart’s Esoteric Agenda and Kynatica. Two documentary films that were offered as  examples of an alternative story of a grand conspiracy emerging about the system.

However I found Kynatica to be more attractive and distinct when comparing the two because, I found it to have some great insights about the roots of life on earth.

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Re-Examining Tucson: Considering the Aesthetic and Architectural Implications of “Non-Class Culture” on the Tucson Built Environment

On Tuesday I met with some Occupy Tucson people at the Old Y” which is now a center for progressive groups and causes.  This was the first time that I met and participated in a Occupy event anywhere.

How appropriate that Greg Evans would present Andres Gorz’s work in Tucson as I come to Tucson for the first time in years. My revisit of the city made me realize that it despite its reputation for suburban sprawl and being a Red State is actually an unique and interesting place to live for many progressives.

What I see is that Tucson has evolved into a place that many of those non-class non-workers have settled. Sedona has similar groups coming there, but I see the population in Sedona as more affluent, older and the city as a whole has a huge problem with aesthetic image conveying inauthentic corporate feel despite being a bastion for the cultural creative class like Tucson.

Past experiences living in Tucson were bitter sweet though. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the sprawl. The Heat Island Effect – all that pavement baking the earth like an oven – left a deep impression on me. I remember feeling baked like a raisin on Speedway with an image of the highway running endlessly into the horizon of the surrounding mountains. I also saw the pathetic looking downtown as a sign of neglect and the fact that city was racing towards a million people but with a downtown more suited for a city of 250,000 left a bad taste in my mouth. I also remember having little luck finding a descent job when I lived here in 02.

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