31 August 2015

We Are A What Works City! > Now Is The Time for Open Data in Mesa

Open Gvt Voices
A guest opinion piece on Sunlight Foundation OpenGov Voices blog by Alex Deshuk [Chief Innovation Officer for City of Mesa] on August 10, 2015 @ 12:01 a.m.
[Excerpts included here. Please read here for complete post.]

Mesa is excited to be involved in Bloomberg’s What Works Cities initiative because of the way it engages the public in discussing the data behind key strategic decisions . . . We plan on using Sunlight’s open data principles and guidelines as we build our strategic priorities and open data strategy to improve where we work, live and play in Mesa. We want to build an open data portal that provides a visual around our strategic goals to increase understanding internally and externally. In addition to the visual charts or maps, we’ll provide the full dataset for the public to use and expand upon.
Aligning with mayoral, council and city manager priorities, we will begin this process concentrating on three citywide strategic efforts: 

  • Increase the prosperity of Mesa residents
  • Reduce blight in Mesa
  • Increase the vitality and vibrancy of downtown Mesa. 

Much more to come on the specifics! . . .  [left blank, but a promise] . . . 
Open data is about transparency, yes – but it’s also about better decision-making. An open data portal should be the way citizens see clear demonstration of progress (or not!) with specific goals or performance using data, not rhetoric; a dialogue to discuss what’s important among the noise; another way to identify gaps or new areas of interest. 

Twitter and Facebook counters from site as of today

Alex Deshuk at center in image
from City of Mesa Newsroom
Who is Alex Deshuk? Alex Deshuk is the chief innovation officer for the City of Mesa, Ariz., and is a direct report to the city manager. He oversees a combined team of 400 employees and an operating budget of approximately $50 million. He is responsible for championing new and existing initiatives that streamline operations and improve customer service, as well as overseeing complex organizational change projects including technology and vertical business applications. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation.

28 August 2015

Another First for Mesa: MultiMedia Gaming Convention > GameON Expo

WHAT IS THE GAME ON EXPO?
The Game On Expo is a gaming convention that focuses on all aspects of gaming including: both modern and retro gaming, arcades, board games and card games.
Here's a link to a more details article from Phoenix New Times 
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/game-on-expo-in-downtown-mesa-a-field-guide-to-this-weekends-event-7597834

The new Game On Expo brings you the first ever multimedia gaming convention in Arizona. 
Video games, card games, RPGs, board games and all of the pop culture and art that inspired them! Play in our interactive museum! Buy and test new exclusive games! Shop our awesome vendor hall! Attend panels with industry designers and pro players! Play in tournaments, challenge others at our Retro Championships and win prizes! All that and much more... this is just the beginning!

ARE YOU READY FOR AN EPIC ADVENTURE?


Arizona’s first ever multimedia gaming convention, and it will be happening HERE Friday thru Sunday at the Mesa Convention Center.
Some of the main attractions at the Game On Expo are the RetroFest, which will be a reimagining of Nintendo’s famous 1994 tournament, PowerFest.
One of the other main highlights of the event will be the debut of the RETRO Video Game System, which will be the first cartridge based video game system made in nearly twenty years. This will gave Arizona gamers some early, exclusive access to brand new games and hardware long before they are made available to the public. 
Saturday at the Game On Expo will feature a video game auction where people can bring their video game related items and auction them off. The auction will also be helping to benefit the Extra Life charity. 
For more information, visit the event's website
http://azgameonexpo.com/





Social Snacks Via Mesa Channel 11: Light Rail Extension in Mesa


2:11 You Tube video . . . only 18 views on YouTube at the time of making this post on MesaZona.
Fast moving and quick-edit transitions, and another interview with the mayor who seems to appear wherever there's a microphone. 
Stay on the alert to catch it - an actor from the Southwest Shakespeare Company in costume, with featured talent Holly Smith asking "Who are you?"

26 August 2015

Here in Sub-Urb Mesa: Arizona Prepares for its First-Ever Green Apartment Community??

Hip-hip Hooray! . . . [or is it??]
NOT in the new urban downtown Mesa, but in "suburban sprawl" on the east side of Power Road just north of McKellips near Red Mountain in the 202 Loop.
Sounded so confused with all its claims, and then digging into stuff, it got even more confusing
The 5.30-acre site abuts the Red Mountain campus of Mesa Community College and is the northern neighbor of a charter school called the Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center.

Scan this code with your smartphone or tablet to access driving directions
QUESTION: What's the take-away here?
ANSWER: Nice headline, but beware of press releases
Go to this link to read about Verde Dimora, with an excerpt after the link
 http://www.multihousingnews.com/news/kauffman-aims-for-first-sustainable-multifamily-community-in-arizona/1004126485.html

That's an astounding claim in the headline from the press release published in MultiHousing News on August 25, 2015 from a mid-market new home builder that follows the usual suburban planning patterns.

In an earlier press release for July 11, 2015 the new development was only called "sustainable/multi-family"  adding a sustainable preschool [compared to what? an unsustainable preschool?] and also incorporating a Veteran Center! and, hmmm a firepit and a dog-washing station! 
Link here for more details: Kauffman Development and Allison-Shelton proudly announce… Verde Dimora Apartment Homes! Verde Dimora/July 2015



Mesa, Ariz.—Kauffman Real Estate and Development is developing the Verde Dimora Apartments, a multifamily community in Mesa, Ariz., which aims to be the first sustainable multifamily community of its kind in the state.
Did that headline just change from "first ever green apartment community???"
Does the image to the image of Verde Dimora look any different from the hundreds of other 3-story suburban constructions you see everywhere? And it's been more than three years to start this after getting approval? 
The wording in the press release is clumsy and vague to say the least - take a look:
“Verde Dimora Apartment Homes offers sensible, development and construction techniques that improve the development’s economic viability while providing broad-based economic and community benefits,” Dan Kauffman, principal of Kauffman Real Estate and Development, told MHN. “ . . Verde Dimora will offer incentives to residents not to have a car and will allow the use of bicycles provided by the developer during the resident’s lease terms. There will be secured and enclosed bicycle storage areas on each floor, including bicycle workstations.By Keith Loria, Contributing Editor/August 25, 2015
Digging into the history of this development, two articles written by Gary Nelson pop-up, one beginning like this opening paragraph:
"A controversial apartment complex in northeast Mesa won unanimous City Council approval this week despite neighbors' objections, a legal protest and misgivings by council members themselves . . . The Planning and Zoning Board voted 4-0 against the complex in March, largely because of concerns over parking . . . 87 out of 89 neighbors signed a petition against the project when asked to do so. . . . Council members were not enthused about the project, but noted that it comports with Mesa's voter-approved general plan and said Kauffman himself would bear the consequences of the complex flops. . . "I do like this project," Councilman Dave Richins said. "I think it's got all the right elements in entirely the wrong location."
By that, he meant that the site is probably more suited to suburban-style apartments than the "sustainable" urban model Kauffman proposed.
Read more http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2012/04/24/20120424housing-okd-despite-neighbor-complaints.html#ixzz3kECRd5Sw

The City Council voted unanimously Monday, Arpril 23, 2012 - more than three years ago - to introduce a zoning ordinance to accommodate Verde Dimora apartments

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/mesa/articles/2012/04/02/20120402ne-mesa-apartments-proposal-moves-ahead.html#ixzz3kED9h42U



Long Time Back-to-Mesa American Master : Photographer Pedro Guerrero Has His Story Told

Documentary will narrate the life and works of under-appreciated photographer

There is a lot to say about photographer Pedro E. Guerrero. 

Yet little has been said - your MesaZona blogger wants to make sure you recognize a talent from Mesa now getting the overdue recognition he deserves and overcoming obstacles that, hopefully, we've turned the pages over for fair and equal rights.

Growing up in “Mexican only” schools in Arizona, Guerrero was not a stranger to segregation or social injustice – something that would manifest itself in the latter part of his career – but he also did not allow those injustices to keep him down. 
Information from this link La Voz Colorado >
Pedro Guerrero, age 95
http://www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=8236
Mr. Guerrero was born in Casa Grande, Ariz., on Sept. 5, 1917, to Rosaura and Pedro W. Guerrero, and grew up in Mesa, Ariz., where his father established a sign painting business. He attended the Mexican-only Webster School until the fourth grade and graduated from Mesa Union High School. 
When discussing photography names such as Mario Testino (Vogue, Vanity Fair), Steve McCury (National Geographic) and Annie Leibovitz (Rolling Stone) are a few of the more talked-about individuals. They, however, never had the opportunity to chronicle the artistry of Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. 

Pedro E. Guerrero did have that opportunity and now the Mesa, Arizona native will have his story told on the PBS’s American Masters series and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES series. 

Mesa Arts Center, VOCES and PBS American Masters collaborate in home-town honors


Film Screening Preview of Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer's Journey 
Wednesday, Sept 9, 2015 (7pm)
A special co-presentation of VOCES and American Masters
Tickets are 
FREE and Limited
Click here to reserve your ticket or contact Box Office at 480-644-6500.
Piper Repertory Theater

Opening Reception
Friday, Sept 11, 2015 (6-11pm)

FREE and Open to the Public
• Artists in Attendance
• Cash Bar
• Season Kick-Off Activities on Mesa Arts Center Campus

More extensive details about his life can be found in this link to his obituary

Obituary: Pedro E. Guerrero, 95, famous photographer, longtime resident

By New Canaan Advertiser on September 19, 2012 

The Power of Arts & Creativity > Building Our Future.

Yes : We are all connected. It's a wonderful life.
As a "transplanted" Manhattanite who lived on Broadway and 91st Street, it's great to see the network of talent via jazz flowing between Broadway and Mesa that may appear to be worlds apart.
Yeh, Jazz > Mesa'a got Jazz.
Three days @ Mesa Arts Center September 24-26

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis Comes to Mesa Arts Center

August 25
10:25 PM2015
On Thursday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. Marsalis will give a free talk entitled "The Power of Arts & Creativity: Building Our Future." On Friday, September 25, Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will give a rare, intimate concert in Mesa Arts Center's Piper Theater. Finally, The PhoenixSymphony will join the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on stage in Mesa Arts Center's Ikeda Theater on Saturday, September 26, at 7:30 p.m., when Marsalis' "Swing Symphony" will have its Arizona premiere. 
Tickets to the performances and talk are on available now at mesaartscenter.com or by calling 480-644-6500.
"We don't just play jazz - we teach it, we write it, we dance it, we sing it, we present it, we photograph it, we film it, we produce it, we archive it, we record it, we broadcast it, we commission it, we celebrate it, we love it, we share it." -- Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center.

25 August 2015

$30 Million in Pre-Development Money for Transit-Oriented Development Joint Effort

LISC and Raza Development Fund pledge $30 million to spur transit-oriented development in low-income communities
Secretary Foxx, seen in the image to the left and three city officials applaud effort to leverage light rail for local growth

24 Aug 2015

[See end of post for details about Mayor John Giles "candid, cute comments" that someone thought worth sharing . . . ]


PHOENIX (August 21, 2015) — Just days before the opening of the Central Mesa extension of the light rail, two local nonprofits have announced $30 million in funding to attract new housing and businesses to low-income communities along key transit corridors.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Mesa Mayor John Giles and Tempe Vice Mayor Corey Woods to help launch the transit-oriented development (TOD) program—a joint effort of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Raza Development Fund (RDF).
LISC and RDF drive programs to help revitalize disadvantaged communities. Both have a decades-long focus that has poured tens of millions of dollars into the Phoenix area.
"The transit-oriented development program shows that Phoenix has a tremendous strategy to ensure that the benefits of investing in transit reach every neighborhood," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "I encourage Phoenix to boldly pursue transit projects that are important to its future and that will pay them back in economic and social capital for many years to come."
The LISC/RDF commitment expands on the partners' 2011 Sustainable Communities TOD fund, which provided $20 million in seed money for local projects in areas often overlooked as too poor or too risky for private investment.  That fund helped build nearly 1,800 units of housing and 200,000 square feet of commercial and community space.
Readers can go to this link > https://asunews.asu.edu/20141126-sustainable-cities-transportation 
 
"To date light rail has attracted more than $8.2 billion in economic development along its 20-mile corridor," said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. "With LISC and Raza teaming up to more than double the size of their transit-oriented development fund to help build sustainable housing and businesses, we know for certain that this already substantial economic impact will continue to grow."

[Readers can see the Valley Metro Economic Report in a previous post]
 
Terry Benelli, LISC Phoenix executive director, said that TOD investments are particularly valuable for distressed neighborhoods that struggle to attract capital. "We want to make sure lower income areas can take advantage of TOD gains, just as more affluent communities do," she said.  "The combined $30 million from LISC and RDF will encourage development in areas that might otherwise be overlooked."
You can go to this link to see the accomplishments of the first $20 million investment  http://www.sustainablecommunitiescollaborative.com/our-accomplishments/

. . .  and in this YouTube link https://youtu.be/j6YCDXKEK7Q readers can hear Terry Benelli tell more about how all this works in an appearance on PBS Arizona Horizon Sept 4.
 
"As I reflect on RDF's initial investment in the Sustainable Communities Fund, I am reminded that the country and our Valley of the Sun were in the middle of the 2008 financial meltdown; yet the Fund defied the odds and has been an extraordinary success! We are pleased to announce this new pledge of $15 million dollars, that will allow us to continue financing health centers and affordable housing that meet the needs of families," said Tommy Espinoza, president & CEO, Raza Development Fund.
Nationally, LISC has invested $355 million in TOD efforts—including $90 million in Phoenix—which has helped fuel $1.9 billion in housing and business developments that are helping raise standards of living for low-income people and places.  
The new $30 million for the Phoenix area is especially valuable because it provides pre-development money to get projects moving, well before the first brick is laid. 
Links to two press releases: one from LISC and one from PRNewsWire

[Apologies to Tinkerbell]
Here are excerpts from Giles' comments starting with the words "Once upon a time . . . " 
[Isn't that how all those fairy tales used to begin?]
And, dear readers, please note that the mayor used the work "I" more than eight times in just a couple of the sentences quoted.
Once upon a time, downtown Mesa was the economic hub of the entire East Valley. I had the privilege of serving on the City Council in the 1990s, and, frankly, when I left, I felt like I had given up hope that our downtown was ever going to be revived. But as pessimistic as I was then, I am certain that downtown Mesa is the next big thing.”
“Back when I was on the council in the ‘90s, I remember being somewhat pessimistic that light rail was a good idea. Because if you remember back then, we were thinking we’re in this Western sprawl environment. Really, is fixed-line transit a good idea? Or are we building some sort of Disneyland ride where we’re all going to scratch our head and wonder about later.
I can’t be more delighted about being wrong about something.”


24 August 2015

Visualization of Data Will Shape The Future of Culture, Business + Politics

What you see is what you get > THE POWER OF NETWORKS
"This really shows the transition from hierarchical thought to networked thought. These thoughts will shape the future of culture, and redraw the power structure of our businesses and politics. 


As the world becomes more networked, hierarchies will become obsolete (already happening) and so stifling that ever more people will seek to shedthem. . . . I look forward to the day that elected officials, monarchs, and oligarchs are nothing but vestigial limbs of ancient cultures - and we instead vote on ideas through networks which enable true democracy for the first time in history." 
 -  Adam Martin on TEDTalk website link below
Clip from video
How does knowledge grow? 
Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches; other times it grows as a complex and interconnected network. 
Infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the 1000-year history of mapping data - from languages to dynasties - using trees and networks of information. It's a fascinating history of visualizations and a look into humanity's urge to map what we know.




Data visualization researcher
Manuel Lima studies how information can be organized — into elegant and beautiful diagrams that illustrate the many unexpected twists of big data. Full bio
Link to TEDTalk video can be found below: Watch It!
http://www.ted.com/talks/manuel_lima_a_visual_history_of_human_knowledge

Lima begins with a brief survey of how systems have been represented throughout time. Going as far back as early depictions of the tree of life as knowledge systems to early diagrams of hierarchies and lineages, Lima proves that visualization of connected information and knowledge and ideas is not exclusive to modern times. But soon, Visual Complexity becomes a collage of images that are both high-design and data-rich. Most importantly, Lima's curation and narrative demonstrate that by presenting relational data in innovative formats, completely new relationships and insights into the information become available to us...not to mention that the results are often distinct works of art in themselves. Lima finishes the book by reflecting on how we see the world through data, how our relationship with data will change in the future (cybernetics for example) and, more importantly, how data visualization can be used to solve some of the pressing challenges facing our planet by engaging audiences in completely new and compelling ways. 

One thing is for sure...data geeks will not be able to let this book out of their hands. They will take this book with them everywhere....to coffee shops, on camping trips, to the bathroom. And yes, they will sleep with it under their pillow.

from a review of "Visual Complexity" http://www.future-ish.com/2011/12/visual-complexity.html

<iframe src="https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/manuel_lima_a_visual_history_of_human_knowledge.html" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

22 August 2015

NOW IN SERVICE: Valley Metro Light Rail Central Mesa Extension > Open Today 22 August 2015


Image courtesy from Valley Metro Public Information & Communications Office
OPENING WITH A RARE SITING OF GLITTER IN THE NEW URBAN DOWNTOWN MESA

This extracted from NextCity: Mesa Mayor John Giles, addressing the crowd gathered in front of the Mesa Community Arts Center for the formal ribbon-cutting, called the opening “one of the biggest and best days in the history of Mesa” and predicted that the LRT line would transform the city center into a “great living room”  ? that would draw visitors from all over metro Phoenix.
Your MesaZona blogger doesn't get the reference to Disneyland in some reportings, but here we go again: The opening had more than a touch of Disney about it: Giles and other Mesa officials formally opened the ceremonial train by pressing a large “magic” button that opened the train doors while showering the crowd with glittering confetti, and the news story described “lines that rivaled Disneyland attractions” forming at each of the new extension’s three stations.
https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/mesa-light-rail-london-victoria-upgrade

Yes it was hot at 8 o'clock in the morning . . . here's a change-up for visuals on the make-over On/Off Main Street

Pictures in a mosaic with the sites on Main Street in and around the opening ceremony.
PLEASE NOTE: image in top left center: green bikes for rent on Main Street?


Opening Ceremonies: too many speeches for this blogger even in the cool zone mist.
[altho the early morning "fog" was a very welcome comfort]







Panoramic view of the turnout for opening with "The Cone" at center middle ground.










No doubt a sight you won't see in mainstream media, but readers of this blog might recognize residents of Mesa Royale who kept the focus on the human cost of redevelopment.






After Six: 
MAIN STREET
Night Market

20 August 2015

More Main Street Make-Over > A Work-in-Progress [Just Add People]

Happy to see DDG design lab open again after a short summer vacation and even William Barhart's horses on SWC of Main & Center Street are getting in the mood . . . Check out second row @ far right dude's really in the mood! Images of more color along the shaded verandas and those Valley Metro People - some of my favorite - put art on the move. Yeah!
[Click on or touch to enlarge image and view on a different screen]


























Muralist Lauren Lee gets a hydraulic lift applying oil to the wall

























Getting Hyper-Local > Filling-In + Re/Generating The Old Donut-Hole

What can get more local than importing "a group of experts" when the home-grown talent here in The Urban Downtown Mesa have be...