Tag Archives: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy

Right Here, In Our Own Backyard!

Griffiths_Gina HeadshotBy Gina Griffiths
STARS

Class 29 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.

Class 29 embarked on our first full day of the Core Program with a little bit of uncertainty and a lot of enthusiasm. Our focus for Day One was Community Stewardship and Sustainability. This was a fantastic way to start the program year!  We were able to learn from community leaders and see examples of what can be done, often with only will and determination in the beginning. Who knew all of this was right here?

IMG_5354We began our adventure exploring the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I had no idea this hidden gem was right in ourbackyard!  Mike Nolan (Class 27), Executive Director, shared the history of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (MSC); a group of dedicated citizens knew that Scottsdale had to protect this beautiful asset to the community. They rallied the greater community to come together and support this initiative. They have worked tirelessly for over 2 decades and MSC currently protects well over 30,000 acres. This is one of the largest urban preserves in the country! They utilize almost 600 volunteers and have identified 743 different plants and animals!  Without the forward thinking of the founders, this amazing area would not be available for urban visitors to connect with nature.

IMG_5394Next, we visited an exceptional nonprofit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS (I have to admit, I’m a little biased about STARS because I’m fortunate enough to be their Program Director).  We heard from the esteemed Mary King; Mary founded STARS, along with a committed group of parents, by identifying a need for services for adult children with special needs in Scottsdale. Mary has been an active community advocate all of her life and is the epitome of how to find resources and get things done. For over 41 years, STARS has been improving the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities through day programs, vocational programs and a transitions program.  On any given day, we serve over 200 teens and adults on our two campuses and in the community. And throughout the visit, I heard several long-time Scottsdale residents say “I had no idea this was here!”

Community stewardship sounds rather big and intimidating, but we learned that fine examples of community stewardship are thriving all around us.  The common theme to finding success is people.  When any one of us identifies a need, we can rally the troops and make sustainable change.  It’s not easy, but with effort and determination, we really can change the world, starting in our own backyard.  At the end of the day, I felt grateful to be a part of a community that has a strong foundation built that will help foster it into the future.

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When You See Opportunity – Seize It

Davis_MikeMike 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 Community Stewardship Day, Scottsdale Leadership Class 28 experienced several amazing examples of community stewardship.  Each example carried a common theme – a recognized need leads to an opportunity.  What was unique about this class was the opportunity for us to witness community stewardship through several different pairs of eyes.

PreserveOur day began at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve – a beautiful 27,800 acres of preserved land in the McDowell Mountains.  We learned about the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy which seized the opportunity to secure the Preserve for the benefit of the community and where 400 volunteers help to provide public access to the Preserve, protect the Preserve through research and stewardship and increase the community’s understanding and appreciation of the Preserve through educational programs and community events. We then walked one of the nature trails, escorted by volunteer guides.

Mary KingNext, we traveled to STARS where keynote speaker, Mary King, shared her thoughtful story on her inspiration to get involved.  She hadn’t planned to be involved in serving those with developmental disabilities – but she seized the opportunity when she recognized the need.  We toured the campus and saw countless examples of stewardship through the life changing work that the staff at STARS does every day.

Panel

Lastly, we saw practical community stewardship in an impassioned debate regarding the 2013 City of Scottsdale Bond Election.  Bothsides were represented – those for the bond, and against.  Each side made compelling arguments for their position, encouraging us, as members of Scottsdale Leadership, to make up our own minds.

Community Stewardship day showed me that there are many opportunities to participate, Mary King inspired me to seize those opportunities.

I am passionate about mentoring, and I expect to find an opportunity to serve as a mentor, possibly on the board of an institution providing mentoring services.  So now I’d like to hear from you … given your passion, what do you think your opportunity will be and how do you think you’ll get involved?

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20/20 Perfect Vision: It’s Possible!

By SUZANNE PAETZER, Class 24
President- TriAra Consulting, LLC

20/20 Vision: Our Citizen’s Prescription for the Future – Scottsdale Leadership’s annual community forum sponsored by Scottsdale Republic/The Arizona Republic, APS and Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors.

Your vision is a primary sensory source – taking in your surroundings and making key decisions.  Quickly your eyes note the meaning of facial expressions in a conversation.  Colors and textures in nature are discerned. Vast publications of knowledge are absorbed. BlackBerry’s and TV’s send us countless images that influence our lives.

Your vision is not something to take for granted. It creates wholeness in your world and isn’t seeing 20/20 the ultimate goal?

On Thursday, April 29th a distinguished group of community leaders challenged the audience at Scottsdale Leadership’s  7th Annual Community Forum to create a vision for Scottsdale.  Scottsdale hasn’t set sight on defining a citizen-driven vision for more than 20 years. What do our citizens want for the future?

The panel, facilitated by Dick Bowers, former Scottsdale city manager, consisted of: Jane Rau, co-founder of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, sharing an activist’s vision; Charlie Smith, former Scottsdale council member, providing a hindsight perspective; Peter Kasperski, owner of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz, lending a future perspective; and Trevor Barger, founder Espiritu Loci, highlighting the key components of vision.

What is Vision?
I view the path of vision like a tree.  At the very root of vision is just one idea.  Then vision takes on an element of natural growth developing one branch.  As ideas are nurtured, more branches of new ideas stem from conversations that feed the knowledge tree.  Eventually, one idea has grown and taken shape and now becomes a solid foundation upon which more growth occurs.  Sometimes the final vision is very different than the very first idea that planted the seed of thought for growth.  Vision grows naturally and can’t be forced.

Trevor Barger resonated with my tree vision when he talked about a community vision and its premise of starting with a believable idea created by looking in the present with passion to the future.  We must see the potential of an idea but not merely change an existing issue.  We need to be bold about the vision of future potential of an idea.  You know when a vision has taken hold when it culminates by influencing and inspiring people to take action because the vision touches their soul.  Just like the deep roots of a magnificent tree firmly planted, vision inspires and takes hold on solid footing and branches out and grows naturally.

It’s Time Scottsdale
There is no citizens-driven vision for Scottsdale.  We need to know where we want to go or we will never get there. A small group of seven, who in the past decided to increase the size of Scottsdale’s original one square mile, made a difference!

There are countless examples of people from the past who said, “Why not _______?” Fill the blank in with build a stadium, create an Old Towne, preserve the desert, etc.  You can make a difference.  We must gather as citizens of Scottsdale and explore the vision we want.

The Challenge to Scottsdale Leadership, Class 24
As a member of the soon-to-graduate Class 24, I propose a challenge to my esteemed classmates.

We talked about the need for a vision in Scottsdale during one of our classes.  It was even proposed by Mike Seiden, Core Program Vice-Chair for Class 25, we abandon our six community projects and all focus on creating the groundswell for Scottsdale’s vision.  Well, we all participated in six amazing and impactful projects that touched the community in so many ways.  Thank you Scottsdale Leadership for having the foresight to not heed our plea, for our projects changed our lives and impacted many others.

So, now that we are a united force of 42 with community presence, I challenge my classmates to join in the offer from Dr. Jan L. Gehler, President of Scottsdale Community College, to meet at her college and start the dialogue and groundswell for our community vision.

We can make a difference even if it is only a small group of seven.  We may not know “how” it will turn out or even “what” the vision is but isn’t that exciting?  What we do know is that it will be revealed to us as we share ideas and perspectives, conduct difficult conversations and envelope it in courageous leadership.  The time is now.  And, it’s up to us.  What better way to serve our community than to help create its future!

If you’re in, let me know.  I’m willing to take the first step to get it started with you.  Let us take our time, talents, passion, pride and leadership and create a legacy for Scottsdale.  If we don’t, who will?

“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.”
Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961, Statesman and Secretary-General of the United Nations).

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Scottsdale Leadership to Start Dialoge for a Citzen’s Vision

WHAT CAN VISION DO FOR A COMMUNITY?

HOW CAN CITIZENS ENGAGE?

By RACHEL BROCKWAY, Class 23
Scottsdale Leadership Marketing & Resource Development Manager

On Thursday, April 29, Scottsdale Leadership will host its 7th Annual Community Forum, 20/20 Vision: Our Citizen’s Prescription for the Future.

The forum, sponsored by The Arizona Republic, APS and the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, will be held from 7:15 – 9 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch, 7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd.

More than two decades have passed since Scottsdale participated in a citizen-driven visioning process. Scottsdale Leadership wants to start the conversation. “Communities that have vision achieve amazing results and perhaps it is time for this community to engage in a discussion of its future,” said Dick Bowers, former Scottsdale city manager and panel moderator for the forum. “It is the citizens’ responsibility to say they want to create a shared vision and participate in its formation.”

During the forum, panelists will share their insights on and experience with vision. The panelists include:

20/20 Foresight – Restaurateur Peter Kasperski will discuss how he created a vision for his business which has cumulated into several successful establishments in Scottsdale that attract people from all over the country.

20/20 Hindsight – Former city councilman Charlie Smith will provide a historical perspective on Scottsdale successes that originated with a citizen-driven vision plan.

An Activist’s VisionJane Rau, conservation activist and cofounder of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, will share how she brought her vision for the City’s preserve to fruition through her grassroots effort and community dialogue.

3-D ViewTrevor Barger, founder of Espiritu Loci Inc., a land planning and development assistance company, will provide insight on creating a citizen-driven vision for a community.

For some, vision may be difficult to define. Put simply, Barger says vision is about “what we want to see, not what can we fix.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact Scottsdale Leadership at (480) 627-6710, or visit www.scottsdaleleadership.org. Tickets are $40, $30 for dues-paid alumni and $350 for corporate table of eight.

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