Lots of vacant, privately-held land in Phoenix isn’t being developed right now. Enter PHX Renews, the effort focused on partnering with communities and negotiating with landowners for community use of those parcels until such time as its owners wish to build.
Following in the footsteps of grassroots efforts like Valley of the Sunflowers and The Lot, the first Phoenix Renews prototype was launched in November, with a kickoff featuring Mayor Stanton, acres of farmland, community gardens, food trucks, and public art. Among the partners, one finds the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Between SARRC’s therapy gardens and IRC’s retinue of skilled refugee farmers, this would seem to be a project poised for not just physical growth but broadly-inclusive progress in the direction of improved health and well-being.
Forty-three percent of land within the nation’s sixth largest city (by population) is vacant, and that could give Phoenix lots of options (pun intended) for creating a healthier, more sustainable future. All it takes is political will, connections with community, an organizational backbone, and somebody to pay the $1-a-year lease. Here’s to more prototype launches in the coming year that support communities in efforts to complement and complete themselves by tapping into their own assets.