If I Go, There Will Be Trouble
Things happen in threes, right?
Veni, Vidi, and Vici. Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, then Michael Jackson. You get the point.
I often say that we are experiencing something special in Phoenix. A tipping point. That when we look back on the turn of the 21st Century we will see a time of unbridled innovation and leading edge creativity coupled with disciplined growth in infrastructure and sound policy-making. My friend thinks I’m crazy. He says that Phoenix has always been, and will always be, at that tipping point.
I disagreed, until this week.
In three different conversations this week, three different people said they were going to be leaving Phoenix in the near future. Things happen in threes, so I guess it’s time to write about it. One was going to Austin, Texas. Another to Seattle, Washington. And another to Denver, Colorado. All had different reasons for where they were landing, but everyone had the same reason for leaving:
“There’s nothing for me in Phoenix.”
The first time I shrugged it off, the second time I got defensive, and the third time I was just outright sad.
Before 1860, Paris was nothing. It wasn’t until then that The City of Lights invested in developing pedestrian activity along the Boulevards by embracing art, culture, and creativity. Before 1910, New York City was just another city. But because of its influx of people emigrating to a new country and a new way of life while holding on to the traditions of their own personal histories, New York became the bastion of “what’s next” in every field; art, music, business, and culture.
Now, think about Phoenix:
Developing infrastructure? Check. With numbers far surpassing expectations, Phoenix now has a successful public transportation system. A fantastic start, at least. Business development along the rail line is booming, and the community is calling for extensions in every direction.
Immigration? Check. Phoenix carries the honorable distinction of being a “majority-minority” city – meaning that over half of our population is made up of people who are not White. It means more than that, though. Namely, that we are provided with a unique opportunity to learn from a myriad of cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.
So where does that leave us? Right, the tipping point. But I’m learning that we don’t have the necessary ingredient to push ourselves to the next level: people who care we’re at the tipping point.
I get it, now. Our chance to get on the other side of civic adolesence leaves on a daily basis.
Our leadership boasts that we are the 5th largest city in the nation and that in 20 years we will climb the list to be the 3rd largest behind New York and Los Angeles. Yet people leave Phoenix every day for Austin, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, or Portland – taking with them their energy, talent, and ingenuity.
Being a large city is great, but I think it’s important to know that Detroit was the fastest growing city in 1954. Maybe instead of focusing on bringing in new people, we should figure out how to keep the ones we have…