Stories of South Phoenix
By Caleb Santiago Alvarado
South Phoenix is one of the most diverse areas of Phoenix. During its modern development and after the Hohokam, it was developed as a farming town which the canal system was upon and drew inspiration from the ruins from the Hohokam Canals.
One of these canal systems was the Salt River which located in Central & South Phoenix. Traditional this was one of the few places immigrants & people of color were allowed to live. With that said, my family lived in the Historic but now, demolished Golden Gate Barrio. We were pushed out of South Central Phoenix to make way for Sky Harbor Airport. My parents were given a total of $10,000 and the only place my parents could afford a place to live was in South Phoenix.
Now South Phoenix is starting to become a hot bed for many people with its proximity to the South Mountain Preserve, beautiful views, a diverse community and cheaper cost. Growing up in South Phoenix, I had to grow up fast and learned quickly that South Phoenix was always looked down upon and there were/ are systematic oppressors that do not want the community to grow or progress but internally and externally.
For many years, South Phoenix has been disconnected from the rest of Phoenix. It functions as a community itself but it is lacking an abundance of infrastructure to connect it back to the rest of Phoenix.
Phoenix is a city that completely dependent on the car and all its ideologies.
In South Phoenix, there is no complete freeway/ highway that connects it to the rest of the city, light rail turns east before it goes down to South Phoenix. Many places on the South Side of Phoenix, do not have sidewalks for its citizens to walk on, not many lights and not many maintained green spaces or parks.
Due to the interested of developers in Phoenix, there is a demand to connect to it now. The city is wanting to bring the light rail down Central Ave, which is a community full of small business owners lined up and down the street.
Before that can all happen, we must listen to the citizens of South Phoenix. What is needed for their community and how they want to build their community for the future.
It is time to listen to stories what the people of South Phoenix really need in their community.
These are Stories from South Phoenix.
“the place where we live…”
So for both of you, what does South Phoenix mean?
Wow… South Phoenix is... the place where we live. The place where we created our family. The place where my daughter was born. The place where my daughter is growing up. The place where I am getting to know more friendships. I am getting to know those friendships.
It is the place where I fellowship.
It is the place where we as a family, project who we want to be, conserve and transmit. South Phoenix is... well... founded on many families. With lots of diversity. That is the truth.
South Phoenix with lots of diversity, when it comes to religion, sex, culture, and of ideologies. And of education.
And besides that, What South Phoenix means to us currently is transformation.
However, it is very accelerated. Many times that acceleration, it is creating a lot of chaos. For many people.
What can we do as a community to connect more and really embrace South Phoenix as a place of Social Exchange?
As a community, I believe that we should continue making efforts to work together in order to reimagine a South Phoenix where we can all thrive not just survive. Our efforts should continue to focus on sharing our stories and the lived experiences we have as South Phoenix stakeholders. We need to continue making those efforts for our future. I want to be clear in stating that our future is and should prioritize our most vulnerable populations one of which are our students that also live and are being educated in South Phoenix. We should continue to imagine a South Phoenix that our students can be proud of. Where they can be more independent, autonomous, liberated people that can also continue to live, work and become leaders in their own right. I hope that this becomes our aim by imagining an environment that has supported them with choices as soon as they step out that door. For example, those choices should include being able to freely move around the city and not having to be tied down by the cost of private transportation, having access to homeownership, college and workforce learning institutions in their proximity, a grocery store or urban garden around every corner, access to free wifi, support in becoming a business owner, a sustainable and stable foundation for them to grow, and safety from over-policing to name just a few.
If there is one thing the rest of Phoenix can learn from South Phoenix what would it be?
I believe one thing that the rest of Phoenix can learn about South Phoenix is the history of this community and of the people that have lived, worked, and received their education in this community. If they can learn the history of South Phoenix then they can understand why concerns about displacement, gentrification are valid. South Phoenix has a history much like many other communities of color. That history is tied to the systematic racism that resulted in redlining and segregation as acts to exclude people of color from resources and capital that should have been dispersed equitably. There is a lot of trauma that has been passed on through each generation from how people of color have been treated by institutions that have the power to “Develop” an area. Through that understanding, we can also see why and how so many communities and people of color are resilient in every capacity of life.