Archive for the ‘Spotlight’ Category

Pro Bono Week Serves More Than Just Non-Profits

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

newbonoPro Bono Week PHX encourages local professionals, entrepreneurs and skilled workers to get out of the office and into the community.

The event kicks off Oct. 20-25 at the DTPHX Engagement Lab – a storefront activation at Arizona Center – and is the first national Pro Bono Week event organized by a co-working organization –  CO+HOOTS Foundation.

According to Kristin Romaine, executive director of CO+HOOTS Foundation and Pro Bono Week organizer, donating time and services to nonprofit organizations not only benefits the communities these nonprofits serve, but makes a huge impact on the volunteers as well.

“Innovation doesn’t just happen in an office,” Romaine said. “A lot of times it’s when you’re doing something out in the community that’s related to making the world a better place.”

According to Taproot Foundation, a leader in the pro bono movement, nonprofits play an integral role in the innovation ecosystem and by bringing the “thinkers” and the “do-ers” into a collaborative space, the community as a whole reaps the benefits.

Over the course of Pro Bono Week PHX, local organizations will be paired with professionals in marketing, technology, design, finance and other key areas. With the help of skilled volunteers, these organizations can increase their impact on critical issues like the environment, health and education.

dtphxlabSo why work for free? According to Romaine, it’s not about getting something for nothing, but finding collaborative partners and consultants to work with on an ongoing basis. If the nonprofits approach the work from that standpoint, they’re positioned to receive the most benefit.

The statistics back it up. According to a True Impact study on pro bono service, skilled volunteers are 142 percent more likely to report job-related gains than traditional volunteers and from a nonprofit perspective, pro bono services can be as much as 500 percent more impactful than unskilled volunteer services.

“It really boosts employee morale and professional growth,” Romaine said. “This is a no-brainer, everyone should be doing this.”

In short, donating a skill that would otherwise be paid for is a generous gift. To find out more about Pro Bono Week PHX and how you can get involved, visit the website or contact the CO+HOOTS Foundation.

*Photo of the DTPHX Engagement Lab at Arizona Center. For more information on the lab and its uses, email R.J. Price at rjprice@downtownphx.org.

Zombie Walk 6 Shuffles Toward History

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

IMG_3999Zombie Walk 6 is only two weeks away.

As the caretakers of this community building event, which has grown from 200 zombies in 2009 to nearly 10,000 in 2013, Downtown Phoenix, Inc. is guided by three very simple principles as it tries to host the best and bloodiest festival possible:

* Keep it fun

* Keep it free

* Keep it family-friendly

This year, we’ve added a slightly more ambitious goal, and to achieve it we need help from Downtown and the surrounding communities:

* Host the biggest, baddest and bloodiest zombie party of all time

Last week we posted a tutorial on how to zombify yourself in less than 15 minutes using cheap materials, many of which can be found in most household cupboards. The reason? While we want everyone to come and enjoy the spectacle that is Zombie Walk, we’re particularly interested in luring as many zombies of all ages to Heritage & Science Park on Oct. 25 as Downtown Phoenix attempts to overtake Asbury Park, N.J. [9,592 zombies in 2013] as the world’s largest zombie walk. [Note: Asbury Park hosted their 2014 event last week but attendance numbers aren't yet available.]

PhxZombieWalk5-1So, our call to you is simple:

Bring your friends, family and fellow zombies Downtown on the Oct. 25 so we can make history together. In return, you’ll get a full day of free, family friendly entertainment featuring:

* Live music on the Psyko Steve Main Stage including Recipe for Disaster a Tribute to Guns ‘N’ Roses

* Lil Zombie Zone kid’s area with arts, crafts and games

* Zombie Feeding Area with vendors and grub

* Four Peaks beer garden

And, of course, the main event, which is a 1.3-mile limp and moan through the heart of Downtown Phoenix. Festival doors open at 2 p.m. and we’ll begin lining up around 5:30 for the Walk, which will be led by Grand Marshal John Holmberg of KUPD’s Morning Sickness.

After the Walk we’ll return to the park for a costume contest (and Phoenix Comicon Fanfest giveaways), more live music and fun until 11 p.m.

For those aspiring zombies who need help achieving their look, the first 400 attendees who bring a non-perishable food donation benefiting St. Mary’s Food Bank will receive a voucher good for one free entry-level zombie makeover, including face deadening, eye darkening and blood splattering.

Celebrate Fall Events and Live It Up Downtown

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

liveitupnew

As summer wanes and beautiful days with cool nights approach, we can all look forward to an abundance of amazing fall festivals and events. From Zombie Walk 6 to the AZ Hip Hop Festival, there’s something for everyone and brand new things to experience too. So get outside, celebrate the city and Live It Up Downtown!

WednesdayWind-UpLogopegWednesday Wind Up
Every Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Civic Space Park; free admission
Spend your lunch break in the park with food trucks, music, art, games and pop-up boutiques. This weekly park activation is all about bringing the community together on a regular basis just to have fun.

Stateside Presents Belle and Sebastian
Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014; 7 p.m.; Orpheum Theatre; $20 to $41
Swoon to the folksy tunes of UK indie pop sensation Belle and Sebastian, known for their wistful laid-back sound and dedicated fan base cultivated over the past 18 years. Limited VIP tickets are currently on sale for $20, half the price of general admission ($32 to $41) and feature a special seating area with private bar.

AZ Hip Hop Festival
Friday, Oct. 18, 2014; 3 p.m.; Comerica Theatre; $20
The biggest, most original and eclectic hip hop show in Arizona brings more than 80 local rappers, DJs and performers under one roof for one night.

savethedate_barcardZombie Walk 6
Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014; 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Heritage and Science Park; free admission
This full day of fun begins with live music, vendors, family-friendly activities and awesome street eats inside Heritage and Science Park, followed by the biggest zombie walk ever!

Herberger Theater Festival of the Arts presented by APS
Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014; 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Herberger Theater Center; $5
Celebrate the arts Downtown at the annual Herberger Theater Festival of the Arts featuring performances, dance, food, visual art, live music, children’s activities, film shorts, pet adoptions, tequila tasting and more!

Barrett-Jackson, Phoenix Symphony and PIR Present The Speed of Sound
Thursday, Nov. 6. 2014; Pit Road Street Festival 5 p.m. $10; Concert 7:30 p.m. $25 – $500; Phoenix Symphony Hall
Mixing great music, classic cars and people who love both, The Speed of Sound celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Phoenix International Raceway with a street festival and performance by the Phoenix Symphony.

CALACALA Alliance International Festival
Friday, Nov. 7; 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 8; 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Civic Space Park; free admission
CALA International Festival explores the dynamic fusion of Latino cultural expression through art, featuring performances by international musicians, speakers, exhibitions, food and dance.

Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts and Grand Avenue Festival
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Grand Avenue; free admission
Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts (PAPA) and the Grand Avenue Members’ Association (GAMA) join forces for a non-traditional pedestrian-friendly celebration of neighborhood sustainability and collaborative arts and creativity.

certified_local_genericlogoCertified Local Fall Festival
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Portland Parkway; free admission
Peruse local goods from more than 100 vendors at this all-day family-friendly affair with food trucks, beer and wine garden and live music.

Los Dias de la Crescent
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014; 7 p.m.; Crescent Ballroom
This event features a packed roster of local musicians over two days, with two stages and a variety of food and beer from Arizona restaurants and breweries.

Downtown Living: Skyline Lofts

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

skylinepoolEverything is here for us,” said Annie Helms, a retired empty-nester, who moved to Skyline Lofts from Surprise, Ariz. – a west Valley suburb – with her husband in January 2014.

She says she’s happier than she’s ever been.

With 10-foot exposed concrete ceilings and walls, sleek modern finishes and a gorgeous pool and hot tub area, there’s a lot to love about Skyline Lofts, nestled at the corner of Fillmore and Fourth streets, just north of Arizona Center.

While she loves the apartment, pool area, and on-site amenities – for Annie Helms, it’s about having the freedom to do as she pleases, now that she’s retired and her children are grown.

Whether it’s walking to Arizona Center for some shopping, going for a bike ride around the Roosevelt Row Arts District or catching dinner and a show at Herberger Theater – she’s fully embraced the urban lifestyle.

“I loved being out in Surprise but I didn’t have anything out there for me,” she said. “Being able to make new friends, getting my business started and just being able to go anywhere I want in five minutes, it’s just been such a blessing.”

annieMost days, you can find Annie walking one of her many dogs around Downtown or Roosevelt Row. She runs Annie’s Pet Sitting, a Skyline Lofts dog-walking and daycare service and said it’s a great way to stay busy while her husband Michael Helms, a business attorney, continues to run his Downtown law practice full-time.

Minus the 3-hour daily commute from Surprise to Phoenix, the Helms spend more time together doing things they enjoy.

“My husband and I have both asked ourselves why we didn’t do this a long time ago,” she said. “We’re both so happy.”

Changing the World One Chair at a Time

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

sit2When Jon Irons developed the idea behind Sitgreen Cardboard Furniture as a college student at Arizona State University in 2010, he had no idea how far it would go or how quickly.

Like most college students, he just wanted to find a job doing something he loved and figure out how to make ends meet later. Irons found the balance between the two in his passion for designing eco-friendly furniture using post-consumer materials.

At 24 years old, Irons launched Sitgreen with the help of startup incubator Seed Spot, which mentors and finds funding sources for local entrepreneurs. He raised enough money to open a warehouse, office and retail space and has worked with big organizations like TOMS shoe company and local businesses like Cartel Coffee Lab and Natural Choice Academy.

He’s building a name for himself in the sustainable furniture market but scaled back his operation over the past year, making some design and manufacturing adjustments and now primarily works from his backyard in Tempe.

“I love what I do,” Irons said. “I would rather make less money and love what I do, that’s my biggest thing.”

Being driven, flexible and resourceful in the face of changing demands is what makes Jon Irons a success. Adaptive reuse and repurposing is kind of his business motto, which is one of the reasons why he’s drawn to Downtown Phoenix.

“Downtown Phoenix is going through this really cool time right now, where instead of growing out it’s actually kind of turned in on itself,” Irons said. “It’s rebuilding from the inside out, which is amazing.”

With that in mind, you might just see a new Sitgreen warehouse or retail space popping up in Downtown in the near future. In the meantime, Irons is mostly constructing custom pieces, which can be ordered on the Sitgreen website.

*Photo courtesy of Sitgreen Furniture.

Fired Pie Serves Up Gourmet Pizza – Fast!

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

firedext

Fired Pie is taking the fast-casual pizza market by storm. Partners Doug Doyle, Rico Cuomo and Fred Morgan opened their sixth Fired Pie location in Downtown’s Collier Center August 26, with plans for three more by the end of October.

“We’re just three local guys that met many years ago working at California Pizza Kitchen and decided to leave the corporate world,” said Fred Morgan, co-owner of Fired Pie.

Now they’re local giants in the newly forged build-your-own-pizza market. Most people don’t think of gourmet pizza as fast food. But using a special kind of pressed dough, which helps sear the bottom, and a high temperature brick-style oven, the pizza cooks in just four minutes.

fredFast customizable pizzas and salads, which sell for just $7.95 each, certainly draw crowds of hungry people through the door, but the key to Fired Pie’s continued success is the selection of fresh ingredients and Rico Cuomo’s famous tomato sauce – an Italian family recipe passed down generations.

After opening just weeks ago, Morgan said they’re already thinking about expanding to other parts of Downtown.

“We really feel that Downtown has turned the corner and people see that it’s a great place,” he said. ”We love the growth here and want to be a part of that growth.”

Downtowners do love their choices. At Fired Pie, diners select the dough, sauce, cheese and an assortment of 30 different toppings. Located at 201 E. Washington St. inside Collier Center.

The Hunt Continues: Mercury Seeks Third WNBA Championship

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

The Phoenix Mercury earned a spot in their first WNBA Finals since winning their second championship in 2009.

WNBA FINALSThe team with BOOST on the front of their jerseys boasts three mega-watt All-Stars, including one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in Diana “White Mamba” Taurasi, dunking sophomore phenom Brittney Griner and Candice Dupree.

The Mercury enter the Finals with a league-best 29-5 record, including 18 consecutive home victories. Heck, they haven’t tasted defeat at US Airways Arena since May 23.

But they’re not done. Three more wins against the Eastern Conference champion Chicago Sky are necessary to reach their ultimate goal: A third WNBA championship.

That’s where you, the foam finger-waving Downtowner, come in.

If the team is going to end this magical season with a trophy hoisted over it’s collective head it needs the rabid support of the Downtown community. We need to show the love. Give some dap. Bring the pain.

So, how can you get behind our First Ladies of the Fast Break?

* Buy tickets to Sunday’s Game 1 or Tuesday’s Game 2 by calling 602.252.WNBA or visiting the US Airways box office
* Flash your best Mercury-colored threads
* Ask a Downtown Ambassador how you can register to win FREE vouchers to the home games
* Cheer hard. Real hard

Let’s do this.

Fair Trade Cafe’s New Community Kitchen Concept

Friday, August 29th, 2014

sign

Healthy nourishing foods can be delicious too, according to Stephanie Vasquez, owner of Fair Trade Cafe. She introduced a new all-organic culinary concept August 18 at the Civic Space Park location, which is now called the Fair Trade Community Kitchen.

It started as an idea that blossomed between two friends who share a love of healthy food and a desire to help their community through food awareness. Vasquez and fellow foodie Ingrid Hirtz, founder of the online meal service Community Cuisine, worked together on the new Fair Trade Community Kitchen menu, which features an array of flavorful vegetarian and organic dishes, with many vegan and gluten-free choices.

steph“I want this to be a community space where local food artists come together,” Vasquez said. “We need a lot more collaboration.”

With specialties like Thai Summer Rolls with homemade peanut sauce and Teriyaki Un-Bowls with tofu and steamed vegetables, it’s a big change from the traditional cafe fare still served at the Fair Trade Cafe First Avenue location near Roosevelt Street.

Depending on its success, the all-organic vegetarian menu may be adopted at both locations.

“I feel that organic is just the right way to serve,” Vasquez said.

In addition to a new menu and new composting program, Fair Trade Community Kitchen now hosts a vegetarian pay-as-you-can meal every Sunday at 6 p.m.  These “community dinners” are completely donation-based and provide healthy nourishing meals to everyone from ASU students to the homeless.

Expanding community meals to two days per week and working with other “food artists” in the community are just some of Vasquez’ goals for the cafe. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or an organic fair trade coffee from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Downtown Living: 44 Monroe

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

monroewindowIf you build it, they will come.

At least that much is true for 44 Monroe, the tallest and one of the first residential towers built in Downtown Phoenix.

Completed in 2008, it was initially designed and marketed as luxury condominiums, but the majority of homes proved more successful as rental units, leasing to capacity within 12 months of transitioning in 2011.

As the urban Core flourishes, it just makes sense that more residents become centralized as well, according to Kevin Bohm, community manager at 44 Monroe.

“The missing link in the past has always been the residential component,” Bohm said. “Forty-four Monroe has played a critical part in showing that the demand is there.”

Bohm not only manages the property, he’s a resident too. As a Phoenix native, he’s lived in a lot of area cities – including Glendale, Scottsdale and Tempe. But Downtown Phoenix is rapidly becoming a hub for the whole metro area.

Nowhere else can you walk out your front door and go to a sports game, the theater or just grab a cup of coffee in the morning. While the luxury finishes and sweeping views of the Valley are huge selling points at 44 Monroe, the convenience of a pedestrian lifestyle is truly what sets this place apart.

“The walkability for Phoenix, this is new for us, ” he said. “It’s really exciting that’s there’s more and more coming all the time.”

What’s Cooking at TEDx Evans Churchill

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

379251_471701452890292_1559181400_nBrad Moore doesn’t consider himself a culinary innovator – more of just a guy who likes hot dogs. But based on the success of Short Leash Hot Dogs, which he co-owns with his wife Kat Moore, he’s definitely making a name for himself in the Downtown Phoenix culinary scene.

Moore was chosen along with seven others to speak at TEDx Evans Churchill Thursday, Aug. 28 on the topic of food and beverage. Like the parent organization, TEDx uses a conference-style format with short impactful speakers. But unlike the TED talks we often watch on YouTube, TEDx is a completely local grassroots event, organized in Phoenix by a passionate band of Downtowners from the Evans Churchill Community Association.

This year marks the addition of a new event, which takes place directly after the presentations called FED after TED, and includes beer samples paired with small plates from Downtown restaurants like 1130 The Restaurant, Canyon Cafe, Phoenix Public Market and Kincaid’s.

According to Kevin Rille, event organizer for TEDx Evans Churchill, choosing the food and beverage theme dubbed, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen” was a natural fit for Phoenix.

“The food and cocktail scene here is really ahead or on par with the rest of the country, especially Downtown,” Rille said.

Organizers intentionally agreed upon a Downtown Phoenix location during the summer months because it’s off-season and they wanted to activate the area, while also spotlighting some of the great innovations happening here.

“I’m a native and I’ve seen Downtown go through a lot of changes,” said Shannon Bremser, volunteer coordinator for TEDx Evans Churchill, “and it’s really amazing to see how the people in this group are making a positive impact through passion, creativity, and just being proud of what Phoenix has become.”

Brad and Kat Moore are pretty excited about what’s happening in Downtown Phoenix too. They started selling hot dogs out of an 80 square-foot truck three years ago and now have a successful restaurant on Roosevelt Row with plans for a new one in the works.

“It’s fantastic, Phoenix is becoming a kind of culinary destination,” Brad Moore said.

The TEDx presentation at the Phoenix Convention Center is sold out, but there’s still space available for FED after TED from 8-10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $10.