Tag Archives: Taliesin West

Scottsdale Treasures and Leadership Stories

Prince_Madison CropBy Madison Prince
SRP

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.

Initially I thought, history + bus tour = BORING. Little did I realize I would be anything but bored! Part of our journey in this program is to understand and develop our leadership style and this day really helped me identify the qualities I value in a leader. First and foremost it is PASSION! At each stop we heard stories of passion, vision and failure? YES failure (and lessons learned) is a big part of leadership and ultimately success!

The first inspiring leader of the day was Fred Unger. In his introduction, he said ” I like simple but simple doesn’t like me!” He told us how his vision for an urban downtown Scottsdale grew from his passion for making Old Town a great destination for everyone to work, live and visit. Though he encountered failure along the way, he has never given up. His vision is thriving today and can be seen by walking along the remarkable downtown waterfront and South Bridge, filled with residents, retail and restaurants. He sees some challenges ahead: how to keep the city vibrant, to keep media (like ESPN) coming back and to attract more businesses when every inch of buildable space is taken. Great leaders are problem solvers and he shared his future visions (and solutions) that gives Old Town residents like me goose bumps about what is to come!

talienin2The next stop was Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s living museum and a Scottsdale treasure I had never visited. He is from Wisconsin, the same as me, so I can appreciate the lure of a sunny Arizona oasis every winter! His passion was nature and this is reflected in his architecture. Taliesin means “shining brow” and describes his philosophy of building into nature. Best quote from the tour (said to his apprentices): Bring nature into your design; it will never let you down. He not only taught it, he lived it! The houses were constructed from rocks on the land, they used water from a natural spring and didn’t use electricity for many years. Apprentices attending the School of Architecture still live out in the desert in small shelters they design.

Los CedrosThe next stop was Los Cedros. This Scottsdale treasure is owned and developed by Miguel Sfeir as a result of his passion for citadel architecture and Arabian horses! Beauty can be seen from any vantage here: the outside views are spectacular, the intricate details of the design inside are remarkable and the horses are majestic. It’s a fun place to escape the city, while still being in the city.

SinghMy personal highlight of the day was Singh Farms and listening to Ken Singh’s story of passion. A commercial farmer for many years, he was most passionate about making money. It was later in life when he realized the importance of taking care of the earth, and this is his passion today. He said to us: In 50 years, the top soil will be eroded, making growing food difficult and if we don’t have food to eat, it doesn’t matter how much money you have! His organic farm is a model of responsible farming, and allows him to educate people about sustainability. It’s an important situation we (and future generations) will be facing and an issue I’m very passionate about!

The theme of the day was history but we also learned some interesting things about leadership. To be a great leader you must have passion but ACTION is what turns passion into reality. Taking action is not without sacrifice or failure and those who leave the biggest impact are seemingly not afraid of either. My biggest take away about leadership is that fear can be a limitation or a motivation, depending on how strong your passion is. Good things to think about!

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Did you Know?!

Kehayes, GeniaGenia Kehayes, Class 27
VP Finance Administration, Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Class 27 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

…that Scottsdale Stadium sits on what used to be cotton fields? … Harper’s Bazaar magazine staged a major fall fashion show and photo shoot in downtown Scottsdale in 1950? …the Rusty Spur Saloon is housed in what used to be a bank?  We learned these things and more as Class XXVII went on a whirlwind tour of Scottsdale during our History and Treasures Day.

We started out at Scottsdale Stadium, and I never knew that a number of teams called the stadium home before the San Francisco Giants settled there.  Next was a walking tour with Joan Fudala.   This lovely lady is a tremendous source of information about Scottsdale; she shared the information I opened with and more.

The Little Red Schoolhouse was our next stop and contains many historical artifacts of Scottsdale.  The museum manager told us that her parents actually attended school there and the “Rules for Teachers” posted on the wall brought to life how dramatically times have changed.

Did you know there’s an organic farm, Singh Farms, just east of the 101?  It has an almost forest-like atmosphere with garden beds interspersed throughout.  You owe it to yourself to attend the farmers market on Saturdays.  Spending just a brief time there proved to be very relaxing.

Liberty Wildlife

I really enjoyed Liberty Wildlife, which rehabilitates injured animals.  Those that cannot be released back into the wild as a result of their injuries are retained as education animals.  We saw a couple of eagles, a red-tailed hawk and my favorite, a desert screech owl named Ivan.

Scottsdale Airport was next, and it’s important to note what a major economic driver the airport is to our city, both in attracting employers and in the tax revenue it generates.  We were told that it gets utilized to capacity during our events season, but during the short time we were on the tarmac several jets took off and landed.

Los Cederos

We headed north to the Desert Foothills Family YMCA for a tour and more Scottsdale history.  Next was Los Cedros, modeled after a Moroccan Citadel.  It is rented out for events and meetings and houses some of the most beautiful Arabian horses.

Taliesin

We then focused on the Arts and headed to Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Upon arrival one does get the sense of the experimental atmosphere that was intended for those studying there.

Finally, we went to Cattle Track Art Compound.  Ms. Ellis, the general manager, recounted a dynamic history of Cattletrack and what it was like to grow up there.  Photographers, painters, costume designers and hot rod shops still are housed there.  There was so much to see that we were encouraged to return to spend some time visiting the various shops and artists.

Even though I’ve lived here for years, I learned so much.   What little-known facts do you know about Scottsdale?

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The Scottsdale story

Braden Love
Director IT Business Consulting, Scottsdale Insurance Company

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

This is the toughest blog assignment I’ve had for Class 26.  The sheer volume of content we were exposed to during the day alone makes for a tough summarization job.  But it was more than going to a bunch of cool places and meeting interesting people, there was a thread of the Scottsdale story throughout the day.  I’ll see if I can do it justice and try to tell that story.

The much hyped Buss Tour Day lived up to its billing.  Hats off to David Valencia and Kelly Tope for putting together an action packed day that told a great story of the history of Scottsdale and who we are now.

Starting the day on top of the Waterfront Tower we listened to Joan Fudula, Scottsdale historian, telling us the early history of Scottsdale while we drank in a sweeping view bathed in the early day sun.  While we were a little bit windblown and chilled – it was a perfect way to frame the day.  Seeing the vision of modern Scottsdale while hearing about the vision of our early Scottsdalians wrote the first and last chapters of the day’s story.  The rest of the story was written as we toured Old Town, the Talking Stick Resort, Liberty Wildlife, West World, DC Ranch, Los Cedros, Taliesin West, and Yelp.  (Yes, we did this all in one day and on schedule – are you impressed with Kelly and David now?)

As we walked around Old Town and to the Little Red School House the roots of our city emerged literally below our feet.  Agriculture was the foundation of Scottsdale starting with the Hohokam inhabitance of the valley and later Winfield Scott establishing an agricultural community.  When visiting the Talking Stick resort I was struck at the juxtaposition of a gorgeous resort overlooking the desert and farm fields where a lone tractor working the field left a trail of dust lingering in the air.  It perfectly symbolized how Native Americans once pushed inside arbitrary boundaries and hired as hands are now thriving by driving the tourism economy and sustaining the area’s appetite for luxury.

We saw modern Scottsdale foreshadowed in the stories about those who first created the city.  Winfield Scott not only worked a ranch and recruited people to come live in Scottsdale; he also started a tradition of tourism by hosting people on his property so they could rejuvenate.  Fast forward to today and you see that tradition sustained from early guest ranches, through mid century hotels such as the Hotel Valley Ho and Safari, then on to the resorts we all enjoy so much today. During the mid century Scottsdale’s personality of arts and fashion emerges.  We saw pictures of a mid century fashion show put on in the dusty streets and heard about the early craft studio that is now surrounded by the Arts District.

Our visit to Taliesin West provided another reminder of how ingrained the arts are in our city’s personality.  It was a privilege to learn from Arnold Roy, a man who may well have literally walked in the shoes of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Scottsdale’s identity is formed by just being “out West” and among the Sonoran desert.  We saw how that thread of being the west’s most western town continues to drive our economy and form our personality at West World and Los Cedros.  Of course our signature horse show is nothing short of the romantic and exclusive Arabian horse.  And Los Cedros houses those horses alongside an accurate reproduction of a Moroccan throne room with imported tapestries, rugs, furnishings and architectural features fit for a king. How Scottsdale.

Today we value our Sonoran desert and nurture that resource.  Liberty Wildlife exemplifies that passion.  It provides an outlet for people to care for injured wildlife and helps out our feathered neighbors in this great place.   I imagine there are a lot of Scottsdalians in the volunteer pool there.  We heard too how DC Ranch supports the McDowell Sonoran Preserve knowing that it provides their version of beachfront property and that DC residents value their unique geography.

Somewhere in this whirlwind several people from the class shared their personal histories and ties to Scottsdale.  What a nice treat to learn more about your friends while learning about the area.

Finally our last stop – the Yelp office. You could feel the energy in the office.  The office was all about sales and the Yelp IPO was earlier that day. I was trying to figure out how that fits into our story.  Then as we were sitting listening to the old-timer director of the office who has five years in with the company, which is almost as long as the company has been around, I got it.  This is Scottsdale in the new economy.  Scottsdale is supporting a thriving business with an entrepreneurial spirit, independence and rapid growth I’m sure Winfield Scott would have recognized.

There was so much more to this story and the bus tour day.  But I hope you can see what we did.  We saw a vibrant, modern city that is still in touch with its roots.

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