*A Love Note for My Home State, On Its Birthday*
A few days ago I drove to Globe to give a presentation at the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts. I left my Phoenix home around 9 on a beautiful, clear Saturday morning. Brilliant sun, crisp air, just me and a Lola coffee and the satellite radio, hurtling eastward on the 60.
I thought of you throughout the drive, there and back. I know it isn’t fashionable to freely express your love for the place you’re from, particularly if you’re from Arizona and paying any kind of attention. But care, I do, and I’d like to tell you why.
I recognize your potential. You seem to have lost sight of it, but with your wide-open skies, miles of road ahead and behind, your independence and determination… you’d do well to remember: with some thoughtful leadership and collective resolve, your best days could very well be in front of you.
You are exquisitely beautiful. So much so, it sometimes astonishes the senses. You are the potent wildflowers on the drive to Fountain Hills, the Verde Valley’s velvety red rocks, the incomparable clean scent of the desert after a rain. Cynics focus only on the vacant strip malls and beige-stucco home-farms that ornament your land like costume jewelry. But you are – you could be! – so much more.
You already possess many of the tools required for advancement and success. You have brilliant and innovative minds, room to experiment, and creativity that pulses like heartbeats through your storied neighborhoods. If you could find the courage within, you could also be lifted by the strength of cultural diversity and the honored traditions of your residents.
It seems there is a powerful disconnect between those who see you as I do, and those who believe your best days have come and gone. Lately and often, the people you choose to associate with… don’t reflect well upon you and don’t seem to have your best interests, or future, at heart. Lately and often, your exploits embarrass me and others like me with roots in your soil.
But I have seen you at your best and know you can be better. And I’d like to help, if I can be useful. Because in truth, I will always feel closest to home within your borders.
With love on your birthday, and blessings for 100 more,
Jaime Dempsey is proud to work on behalf of Arizona’s arts and culture sector. The opinions expressed here are solely her own (although I share them)