All Souls Procession — ‘Remembering Together’

I never expected to feel like a foreigner in a city that’s been my second home for the last two decades. But it happened. A blend of joy and sadness erupted from my gut when I verbalized this particular contradiction. And I knew turning away wasn’t an option. In between gawking at the spectacle and sheer amount of people, I caught up with a couple I met shortly after first relocating to the Old Pueblo.

I also snapped a few photos when the mood struck me and my timing felt appropriate.


Taking part in the All Souls Procession as a photog feels like you’re shooting a citywide funeral, collectively capturing two hundred thousand people in mourning. The event started in 1990 by local artist Susan Johnson, who commemorated the passing of her father via the artistic mode. ‘From the beginning, it was different people’s ethnic groups, different cultures, but also it was all these different art forms put together,’ Johnson said, during an interview for the procession website. From Johnson’s personal, artistic memorialization, the procession now spans an entire weekend and attracts more than 150,000 people annually.   

The mood concurrently feels celebratory, festive. And this balloon tailed me all evening, I snickered to myself while editing my images.

When the ocean of people began floating south, I waltzed on tempo — only breaking my stride if my shutter beckoned.   

We all appear the same and cry similar tears when the light vanishes. This ultimate meeting of Tucson’s tribes drove home that fact. Then, the temperature dropped, making the sound of footsteps echo and visualized an exhaled breath.

By the close of the night, my legs wobbled with a pleasant ache. And my heart gushed as I slipped through the shadows of Barrio Viejo, thinking, ‘Obrigado, meu amigo.’

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ — Marcel Proust


ALL WASHED OUT: Torres Blancas sees land erode, Anza Trail recede

For more than a decade, the Torres Blancas Golf Club in Green Valley has been stuck between a river and hard place — and it’s getting worse.

Since 2016, the golf course has lost 10 to 15 yards of land due to erosion from the Santa Cruz River, said Mike Cochran, club general manager.

The erosion is also swallowing portions of the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail, which is forcing hikers onto golf course property, creating safety issues.

Pima County Regional Flood Control told the Green Valley News if the river winds through, or affects private property, managing the waterway is out of their hands.

For Cochran, that argument’s dead in the water.

History of erosion

In September 2014, Torres Blancas’ former managers notified the county about erosion on the golf course green opposite homes located from 2773 to 2709 S. Greenside Place.

At the time, the county said a review of historical photographs of that bend in the Santa Cruz River “has not been significantly altered” and “is naturally prone to erosional events.”

Pima County then determined the area of concern was on property owned by Torres Blancas LLC, and the county could not spend public money for private land improvements.

“From a regulatory perspective, this natural process is addressed by establishing minimum safe setback distances for structures from washes,” according to the statement to Torres Blancas.

The default setback distance established by the county is 500 feet.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Nov. 14, 2018.

Pima County has volunteers serving in tough jobs

How does the Pima County Board of Supervisors stay on top of the minutiae of road repairs or the best way to serve local business owners?

What about keeping up on elections, historical designations or agriculture?

They appoint a small army of volunteers to commissions and committees.

There are 56 county boards, commissions and committees made up of community members who provide insight, information and perspective to the board. While some panels are created for a specific, short-term purpose, others are mandated by state statute and meet year-round.

District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy Christy says he tries to appoint people from his district even if it’s not required by that particular committee. His general rule of thumb assures that an appointee has a vested interest in the issues.

Members drop off boards on occasion, but he says it’s fairly common for people to approach him and volunteer for commissions.

At any given moment, Christy has about a half-dozen people he can call on to fill a vacancy.

“It’s gratifying to have people stop you and say, ‘If I can help you, let me know,’” he says.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Nov. 4, 2018.

County plan to fix roads with bonds goes down

Pima County voters have spoken: Find another way to repair our failed roads.

Proposition 463, which would have green-lighted a $430 million road repair bond package over a five-year period, was going down hard on Tuesday.

With almost 43 percent of Pima County’s registered voters accounted for at 10 p.m., just over 56 percent of county voters said no.

Gary Davidson, an outspoken critic of the roads plan, said voters don’t believe that 70 percent of county roads are in failed or poor condition simply because the county lacks sufficient resources.

“Nor do voters seem to believe the poor condition of our roads is because the taxpayers are insufficiently taxed,” Davidson said. “And it’s time for the county government to begin prioritizing core government services, including road repair and maintenance.”

Davidson has served on the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee representing District 1 since 2006. He was a leading opponent of an $815 million county bond package that went down in flames in 2015.

During the first five years of the repair plan, unincorporated Pima County, which includes Green Valley, would have received $166.1 million, and the Town of Sahuarita would have received $12.1 million.

The bonds would have kept primary property taxes level at 69 cents per $100 of assessed value. If it passed, the tax rate would have been extended from January 2019 through FY 2028.

Read the entire Green Valley News and Sun article here. Originally published Nov. 6, 2018.