Nick Smith is an entertaining writer. More importantly, he's a very good writer. In "Tales the Outskirts: Ajo" (July 22), however, his tone—as a very French friend of mine would say—is off.
Ajo, a non-incorporated community sweetly and inconveniently distant from Tucson by 135 miles, is a bit more than a "poor man's Green Valley," a clever but unfortunate phrase which is condescendingly offensive on so many levels.
Ajo's unemployment stats are higher than county, state and national levels; our household incomes are significantly lower. Home ownership, interestingly enough, is comparatively high.
Most of the people I have come to know here in Ajo have worked and are working hard. My friend Anthony, a recent GED graduate, works 60-plus hours a week at two jobs to support his family. Lisa puts in a fulsome week problem-solving for the telephone company, and then another 20 hours on the school board. Cliff is busting his butt every day, upgrading his motel north of town, room by room. Gabe edits the local paper and is on call 24/7 for EMS work, as are Norma and her host of volunteers in the county's victim-advocate program. Nina spends her days and nights developing community gardens and consciousness. Andrew, my partner, runs the Oasis Cafe (thanks for the mention, Nick) 70-plus hours a week. Many other friends spent decades working jobs at the mine.
Tucson flails about, and the Weekly flays on, the issues of Rio Nuevo, Warehouse Arts District development and the like. Ajo has seen the conversion of the abandoned Curley School campus to a nationally award-winning live/work artisans' environment with community workshop space, as well as the ongoing revitalization of the Plaza, the historic center of the community. There is a thriving arts community—with and without our winter residents—and active, productive efforts to change our non-townscape.
I guess we may be "poor" by some regards, but I know we are rich in many measurable ways. Green Valley, we are not.
As regards the John Campbell Greenway statue? I agree with Hop David that the man has become an historic footnote, and with Louie Walters that Phoenix is the perfect place for it.
Nick Smith responds: I used the phrase "poor man's Green Valley" because it was a phrase Hop David used when I asked how he characterized Ajo.
I have lived in central Tucson for the last six years. When I first moved to Tucson, I asked the first Tucsonan I met to direct me to the local weekly mag, as this is always the best way to gauge what kind of town you happen to be standing in.
From day one, I have been an avid reader and loyal fan of the Tucson Weekly. I found your stories to cover a wide range of local, global, national and public-interest stories, with a fair approach to each "side."
I am currently in the process of relocating to Kansas City for work, and along with the weather, my friends and the cactus, I will miss rushing out to grab the latest edition.
Thanks for being a great and fair "friend" over the last six years. Stay classy.
Joshua M. Detherage
Great piece by John Schuster on the success of TucsonCitizen.com (Media Watch, July 29)! We just wanted to clarify one item: The J-Lab grant was designed only to be a one-year pilot project. However, we were so excited about the work TucsonCitizen.com and our other partners have been doing that we decided to offer an additional $15,000 to continue the experiment for a second year.
The goal remains to help outlets like TucsonCitizen.com continue to search for sustainability models. We're quite pleased with the work of Mark and his network and can't wait to see what comes next!
I read with some interest your article on Linda Avenue ("One Street's Story," July 22). I lived on Linda Avenue as a boy in the late 1940s and very early 1950s. My family was Anglo, and most of our neighbors were Mexican-American. We all got along and enjoyed playing in the sand piles at the nearby rock and sand company. The water table was still high, and there was a reed-filled lake across Congress where you could rent a boat.
The house we lived in is no longer there. It's just a vacant lot with a "for sale" sign. A while back, it was badly damaged by a fire, and the lot was scraped clean.
When I came back to Tucson in 1995, it was obvious that there was an undesirable element on the street. But considering that the surrounding neighborhood today is generally better than it has been historically, there should be a positive future for Linda Avenue—if they can just stop the arson.
In "Feel the Heat" (Chow, July 29), we said that Diablos Sports Bar and Grill was on 22nd Street and Craycroft Road; it's actually on Craycroft just north of Golf Links Road.
In "Melvin Gives in to Debate Pressure" (The Skinny, July 29), due to a typo, we quoted Cheryl Cage as talking about Legislative District 28; she actually referenced her district, LD 26.
We apologize for the errors.