I was born and raised in Arizona, and a love affair with the sun has pretty much solidified my future here. I’ve lived in the Valley for about six years, and the toasty summers are a small price to pay for year-round comfort and recreation.
With the New Year in full gear, I thought it fitting to share reasons why I’m looking forward to an AZ-filled 2010. Last year was a tumultuous year for many Arizonans, yet despite many economic challenges, it’s important to recognize what’s going right.
While our counterparts across the nation are bundling up amid freezing temps, I’ve been spending as much time as possible outdoors. Cool mornings gradually develop into warm, soothing afternoons. It doesn’t get any better than a winter in the Valley. Take a few moments each day to relish it.
Phoenix may be one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, but Mother Nature isn’t far away. Hiking destinations like Camelback Mountain, Piestewa Peak, South Mountain and Pinnacle Peak are so close to city dwellers… that they can essentially take a hike during their lunch breaks. I try to squeeze in hikes after meetings. The little escape helps me stay fit and sane when stress mounts.
Organic Food Boom
Farmers markets are sprouting up around the Valley, making a locally grown, organic diet feasible and even fun. Strolling along open air booths with friendly vendors and wholesome samples beats your standard grocery chain any day. In addition to organic produce and premium grass-fed meats, you’ll find fresh-baked breads, natural cheeses, wines, tamales, candles, soaps and more. To find a farmer’s market near you, visit the Arizona Community Farmers Markets. It maintains an online calendar with Valley-wide market locations.
“Buy Local” Movement
A movement to “buy local” is gaining significant ground with consumers and Valley businesses – and it’s something we will all ultimately benefit from. According to Local First Arizona, a non-profit that supports and promotes local businesses, 45 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned business will stay in Arizona, versus 13 cents spent at a national chain.
To help Arizonans pinpoint local products and services, the organization hosts an online business directory solely dedicated to local, independent companies. The team at Arizona Oddities is an avid supporter of Local First and the “buy local” concept. My company (Aker Ink) and American Traveler Press (Clay and Marshall’s publisher) are also members.
Downtown Phoenix Revitalization
There’s new life in Downtown Phoenix these days. For years the city pulse would stop beating once the workforce went home. Suns and Dbacks games would lure bodies downtown on game nights, but there wasn’t enough daily traffic to sustain a somewhat vibrant nightlife community.
Fortunately those dull days are fading, and revitalization efforts are paying off. The light rail and ASU expansion have opened up a slew of opportunities for struggling small businesses. New bars and restaurants are emerging, bringing a jolt of youthful energy with them. It’s encouraging to witness the progress, and I’m excited to see how 2010 unfold.
What are you looking forward to in 2010? Why do you love (or hate) living in the Valley?