What are the hidden gems within neighborhoods and how do we identify them, celebrate them, and leverage them for greater economic opportunity and a sense of belonging?
This project was carried out by students in a Spring 2016 cultural anthropology class at the University of Arizona under the guidance of Dr. Maribel Alvarez and graduate teaching assistant Elizabeth Eklund.
The project responded to a expressed desire on the part of many artists and creative workers in South Tucson to see the City’s main commercial thoroughfares, 4th and 6th Avenues, become a designated “Cultural District.” It was also motivated by a notion put forth by Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, a leading experts in cultural community development. Jackson suggests that process of mapping the assets of a community is, at heart, an effort to “change the narrative” of what is known, shared, and held in value about a neighborhood, city or region.
In tandem with lessons in methods of community observation, ethical collaboration, cultural writing, students interviewed residents of South Tucson to identify and document the area’s unique artistic and occupational sense of place and culture. Their goal was to start an archive of South Tucson assets that community residents and planners can expand and leverage for increased economic development and cultural tourism.
The students’ work was part of a larger planning and visioning being carried out by the Primavera Foundation and was conducted in partnership with the YWCA’s House of Neighborly Services in the town of South Tucson, Arizona. The Southwest Folklife Alliance provided additional support.