4 (Somewhat) Hidden Gems in the Scottsdale Area

Andrea AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Scottsdale Leadership serves as an incredible knowledge bank for lifelong residents and newbies alike. At some point during each class, a collective “I can’t believe I didn’t know that” is uttered from the group. History & Treasures Day was no exception. While gaining insights about popular landmarks such as the Scottsdale Waterfront and Scottsdale Airpark, we also toured these lesser-known-yet-just-as-special icons:

IMG_4838Singh Farms – Just off the 101 and Thomas, a line of unassuming trees encases an oasis of sorts from the surrounding dirt plots, pavement and traffic. A charming farm with organic fruits, veges, flora and fauna is literally steps from the highway – but seemingly in the middle of nowhere upon entering. Come on Saturdays between 9am and 1pm to meander through the gardens, sip on a freshly squeezed juice and stock up on seasonal produce. Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/singhfarms

IMG_4856Cosanti/Paolo Soleri Studios – Famed architect, artist and philosopher Paolo Soleri is known for many endeavors and art forms, including a particular style of bronze bells, which can range from about $100 to more than $150,000. You can see how these bells are created at his personal studios in Paradise Valley. Catch live demos and tour the facility where he lived and worked. Learn more: http://arcosanti.org/cosanti

IMG_0359Los Cedros – Many folks wouldn’t think of a performance horse training facility as a destination. Yet most facilities of this nature don’t double as an ancient Moroccan citadel, complete with an authentic Moroccan throne room. This venue is open to the public to peruse, or to rent for corporate events. Take a quiet stroll through the gardens or stables. You may even catch a horse swimming in a special exercise pool. (And yes, apparently horses can swim.) Learn more: http://www.loscedros.com

Cattle Track Arts Compound – Discretely located within a residential neighborhood near Miller and McDonald, this 13-acre property brings you back to a time when this region was primarily open space and dirt roads, earning its name as a pit stop for ranchers moving cattle north. Old West structures now house artist studios, a blacksmith shop, gallery and two old-fashioned letterpresses. Visit 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday to catch artists in action. Learn more: (480) 607-3658.

What other hidden gems have you found around Scottsdale?

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Serving Others in Need is Noble and Courageous

RodneyHeadShotBy Rodney Smith, Class 28
First Financial Equity Corporation
Founder, Helping Hands for Freedom

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership

As someone who has spent 24 years in the non-profit industry – as a founder of three organizations and a consultant for more than 20 others – what I heard and saw at Scottsdale Leadership’s “Lead it Forward” competition on April 4th was simply amazing.

I am a firm believer the strong survive and prosper in life, and I am not talking about how much money you make. Whether that is strength in character and integrity, a commitment to family, friends and community, or having respect for yourself and your way of life, to find peace and fulfillment is often a matter of one’s heart and soul and not measured with your bank account.

To serve others when others need help is one of the most noble and courageous things a person can do with their life. To see the impact that 44 Class 28 members made on five Valley charities was breathtaking. The projects featured sustainable solutions, addressed immediate concerns and needs, generated donations, provided introductions and connections that were not there before, and were filled with passion and a skill set that charities are always looking for to serve on their committees and boards.

As someone who benefited from others who took an active interest in my life when I was a child, I was touched, moved, and inspired by the dedication and hard work that went into the projects and what a powerful impact everyone had for their charity of choice.

Some simple truths learned that day:
1. Volunteering can make a difference.
2. Professional expertise can catapult a charity to higher levels.
3. Connections and relationships with other like-minded individuals is a powerful combination.

“Lead It Forward” Projects included:

Tavan Digital Literacy Program, which held a technology fair at Tavan Elementary School, showed children, their parents and teachers how technology can help them succeed in education.

Quest for College, which produced an informational packet prepared on a flash drive and in print that consolidated all of the useful information high-school students at the Paiute Neighborhood Center need to know about preparing for college.

Amplif(i) it Bash, a free event was held in partnership with notMYkid for 150 area school children and 70 parents at Scottsdale Gymnastics, to draw attention to issues surrounding bullying and positive life choices among middle-school children.

Project CANdo partnered with the Salt River Fields and the Arizona Diamondbacks to present a canned-food drive at a spring-training game that featured a pyramid stack of cans, which were all donated to Vista del Camino Food Bank.

And the winning team, Victorious Secret, earned both the audience and judges choice awards, developed a volunteer recruitment program for Foothills Caring Corps, partnering with corporations and other community partners to supply an on-going, stable group of volunteers to assist its mission serving older adults who are homebound and disabled so they can maintain an independent lifestyle.

What a spectacular group of people representing great organizations! Class 28 Dominates!!!

Scottsdale Leadership www.hauteeventphotographs.com

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What’s Behind the Scottsdale Brand? How Can We Protect It?

Andrea AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

What comes to mind when you think of Scottsdale? Luxury, golf and shopping… or “Snobsdale” and perhaps smugness? A variety of terms and connotations emerged during our class day, Beyond Scottsdale City Limits, where local leaders shared their thoughts on the role of collaboration among cities as well as the state of Scottsdale’s brand.

While all cities battle conflicting viewpoints to some extent, it seems the passion and pride of Scottsdale residents has been put into question a bit more since voters struck down the General Plan late last year. This issue has come up during many of our classes since the election, and it resurfaced once again as dignitaries from around the Valley converged.

Have the recession and other events from recent years altered Scottsdale’s brand? While it’s clear that many residents want changes – especially among those who hit the polls – I don’t believe the brand has suffered permanent damage. However, I do think more leaders and residents need to find common ground, goals and priorities.

Rachel Sacco, President and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, shared five key distinctions that make Scottsdale a desirable place to live and visit. Promoting these aspects of our city, she says, will help protect the Scottsdale brand.

  • Desert Recreation – No doubt the McDowell Sonoran Preserve is a local gem. More than 30,000 acres of pristine desert landscape and 120 miles of trails within city limits are certain to draw residents and tourists alike.
  • Resort Lifestyle – There are many benefits to being dubbed a resort destination, especially in attracting affluent tourists who impact tax revenue. I also don’t mind living near a stone’s throw of poolside service.
  • Arts – The Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts serves as a hub for the arts community, but artistic endeavors are present throughout the city.
  • Events – Think Barrett Jackson, Phoenix Open, Parada Del Sol, Scottsdale Culinary Festival, etc. These events draw people from all over the Valley, state and even the nation.
  • Transportation – This might be a weaker point from my perspective, but certainly worth noting and discussing. Ever been on Ollie the Trolley? Me neither, but I want to catch a ride one day!

Do you agree or disagree? At what level should local leaders focus on supporting these distinctions? How can Scottsdale collaborate with neighboring cities to further strengthen positive branding?

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A Bird’s Eye View of Water and Power

KinsellaBy Lois Kinsella, Class 28
Intel Corporation

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program provides its students with a bird’s eye view of the City of Scottsdale: its people, its culture and history, and the intricate infrastructure required to support it.  A lucky few recently had a different bird’s eye view – from the windows of a Bell 212 helicopter, compliments of Salt River Project (SRP).  Along with an impressive sight-seeing excursion, it was also an amazing lesson in the waterways and power sources which SRP manages across the state.

Helicopter1

Hydro, coal, methane, natural gas, desalination, surface water, drought-planning… SRP has been a leading company in the valley for decades, dating back to the reclamation act in the early 1900s for the privately-owned water division of the company, and the ‘20s for the publicly-owned power division which serves over 950K+ customers.  Legend tells that Arizona’s waterways were first designed by early native tribes, then later re-built and improved upon using ideas from people such as C.C. Cragin who came to town with a visionary design for water flow; a great challenge for a state with very low annual rainfall.  At the time he was run out of town for radical ideas which may have been simply ahead of their time, however C.C. Cragin’s has since been described and recognized as a utility artist.

Helicopter2

Our sincere thanks to our new SRP friends Mark Campbell, Jason Dudley, and our pilot John, for an impressive day – check-mark on the bucket list for taking a helicopter ride!

A few knowledge nuggets from the day:

  • If you flipped on the switch to a natural gas plant, it could be producing power in under 15 minutes.  Roughly the same time it takes to heat up my bbq to cook dinner!
  • Palo Verde Nuclear is the largest nuclear plant in the USA, and the only one which uses reclaimed water in its operations.  A great example of how water and power working together can reduce our carbon footprint.
  • There is no such thing as ‘new’ water; water is continuously recycled, cleaned using ground filtration and treatment methods, then re-used.  An insightful way to think about water…

AS SRP continues to plan ahead 20-30 years for our water needs, and 10 years ahead for our power usage, think about what you could do to make a difference TODAY!  What are your ideas?

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Do You Have a Voice? City Government is Listening …

Davis_Mike

By Mike Davis, Class 28
DMB Associates, Inc.

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

On City Government Day, I certainly did not expect to find myself entertained while learning how Scottsdale’s city government works – but that is just what happened.  With each Scottsdale Leadership class, I start the day thinking I have a good idea of how the day will unfold, yet in each class I continue to be pleasantly surprised… and City Government Day was no different.

To start the day, we were fortunate to have an intimate conversation with Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane, and learn how important reforms and government transparency are to him in his term as Mayor.  This was followed by a presentation from City Manager, Fritz Behring who explained how Scottsdale’s particular form of government works.

Now it is one thing to listen to a lecture on how city government works, but it is another thing entirely to experience it.  After our overview of Scottsdale’s city government structure, we went to small presentations that focused on code enforcement, city financials and boards and commissions.  These presentations tied city government to tangible scenarios, such as enforcing noise ordinances or settling residential disputes.

IMG_4194Next, the class witnessed a panel discussion with the Scottsdale City Council, answering various questions.  Our panelists included Councilmembers Robert Littlefield, Virginia Korte, Dennis Robbins, and was moderated by Councilmember Linda Milhaven.   Each councilmember participated in the discussion and answered questions based on their view of how the City Council is supposed to work.  We learned that members of the council often do not agree, and can have very spirited debates about topics that have a significant impact on the City of Scottsdale. 

IMG_4213One such topic is the General Plan, which the class staged a mock vote.  The class was divided into supporters, opponents, decision makers, and drafters.  The culmination of the exercise was the mock City Council vote on the Scottsdale General Plan – but only after hearing from people in favor of and opposed to the Plan.  This exercise was both humorous and valuable in that it demonstrated how a City Council meeting is run and how Scottsdale citizens can make their voice heard.

If this class day inspired you to get involved, whether it is simply to let your opinion be heard before a City Council meeting, or to run for a position within city government, then the class accomplished more than its objectives.

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4 Lessons Learned During a Scottsdale Police Ride-A-Long

AkerBy Andrea Aker, Class 28
Aker Ink®

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program. The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership.

Scottsdale Leadership is designed to take us out of our comfort zones – and I experienced just that recently, riding shotgun with one of Scottsdale’s finest. Officer Jennifer Cook, a 13-year veteran of the Scottsdale Police Department, gave me a peek into the hustle and bustle of street patrols.

SPDFollowing November’s Safe Communities Day, Class 28 gained a much deeper understanding of how local law enforcement works, as well as the people, canines, tools and resources that keep our community safe. Officer Cook brought many of these lessons to life during two “committal calls” (transporting individuals who appear unstable to mental health facilities) and neighborhood disturbances. Here’s a sampling of what I gleaned:

Women Rule – While I was quite aware that women rule in general, the ride-a-long served as a thoughtful reminder about the additional challenges women overcome in male-dominated fields such as law enforcement. Officer Cook has put in extra effort to gain much of the same respect her male counterparts receive from the public, without issue. However, women have advantages too. They tend to be very effective communicators which can be crucial when diffusing tense situations that could escalate into physical violence.

Traffic Stop Danger is Unknown – Officer Cook informed me that police officers are most likely to get injured during traffic stops, which is why they may appear extra cautious or serious when approaching your car door. The process may seem routine to outsiders, but officers never know who they are pulling over, and what secrets they may be hiding. In recent months, a Phoenix police officer was assaulted during a traffic stop, and a DPS officer in Payson was shot during a traffic stop. A simple traffic incident can quickly turn violent.

Police Officers are People Persons – Stereotypes of stern and often insensitive officers are false. Each of the officers I encountered were friendly, accommodating and passionate about protecting the community. Effective cops must relate well to others – doing so can help prevent crimes, diffuse risky situations and calm victims. (And that doughnut stereotype is totally untrue, too – fudge brownie bites were passed around during the briefing.)

Scottsdale is Among the Safest Cities to Live – Safe neighborhoods are one of the primary reasons Scottsdale is such a desirable city to live. Highly trained and skilled officers like Officer Cook directly contribute to an extremely low crime rate. In fact, LawStreetMedia.com ranked Scottsdale as the fifth safest city in America in 2013 (with a population greater than 200,000).

Scottsdale residents, students, business owners and city employees can take part in ride-a-longs. If you want to see what a day in the life of a Scottsdale police officer is really like, call the Uniformed Services Bureau Secretary at (480) 312-1907.

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Pssst… Wanna Join a Nonprofit Board?

LloydBy Stacy Lloyd, Class 28
Lloyd Media Group

Class 28 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program.  The views expressed here represent those of class members and not those of Scottsdale Leadership. 

It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. -Albert Einstein

Serving on a nonprofit Board is a great way to “put back.” But first, read this blog!

Our last Scottsdale Leadership class was Boardsmanship Day. Honestly, I was fairly confident; it was going to be bor-ring. Imagine my surprise, when it was the exact opposite.

Board Panel Our panel – charged with teaching us the roles, responsibilities and expectations of serving on nonprofit Boards – was a who’s who in the world of Arizona nonprofits. Steve Davidson, Class 10 (CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale), Pam Gaber (CEO, Gabriel’s Angels), Patricia Lewis (ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation) and Eileen Rogers, Class 2 (nonprofit Board all-star) emphasized that it’s important to do your homework before serving on a Board.

Say you’ve found the nonprofit of your dreams. You’ve heard wonderful things about it. You’re eager to join the Board. Whoa… not so fast! Having passion for a nonprofit is critical, but so is doing your due diligence. There are essential things to grasp before joining a Board for the first time. Here goes….

You definitely want to meet the Executive Director.

It’s imperative to know that as a Board member, you are a fiduciary. You’re managing assets for another party, often with the legal authority and duty to make decisions regarding financial matters on behalf of the other party. No matter how the organization is structured or the degree of authority delegated to staff or committees, the Board and therefore the individual members are ultimately accountable.

Inquire if the organization has proper insurance coverage. Patricia Lewis said, “Don’t join a Board unless it has directors’ and officers’ liability insurance.”

Ask financial questions as it’s your responsibility to understand the Board’s financial statements. If you notice any red flags, stay away.

Board members must understand the facts and circumstances of accounting issues and the overall financial health of the organization. To do this, Board members must be actively engaged in the governance process. This means getting educated on Board governance and the nonprofit’s bylaws.

Ask about the Board term length and the expected time commitment. Don’t join something if you don’t have the time to serve. Oh, and be careful of any conflicts of interest.

Wait – you’re not done yet. Our experts said to test-drive the Board first. Join one of the nonprofit’s committees. You can see firsthand the organization’s inner workings. Plus decide if the current Board members are people you want to work alongside.

Don’t go blindly into joining a nonprofit Board. Put on your extra-strength spectacles and do your due diligence.

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