About a decade ago, the Phoenix architect Taz Khatri gave the urbanist Yuri Artibise an “exit interview” of sorts after he left Phoenix for British Columbia. While the original post has been lost, the internet doesn’t forget, and they’re on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
What do you miss most about Phoenix? Family. Friends. Good Mexican food, or at least in my nascent explorations of my new city.
What did Phoenix have that Minneapolis doesn’t? That immutable quality that Phoenix is my home, regardless of where I live.
What do you miss least about Phoenix? The weather, especially nighttime temperatures in the summer that came awfully close to not falling below 100º. A lack of a sense of urgency to deal with climate change and exponentially shrinking water supplies, despite more and more people moving to Phoenix. Having to drive 10+ miles one-way to get to anything of importance. A media landscape that thought spending anything on arts/culture/downtown was a waste of money, but didn’t bat an eye at suburban/exurban sprawl.
From the perspective of someone who lived here and now has left, what do you think Phoenix’s biggest pitfalls are? The reactionary state legislature certainly hinders Phoenix’s progress. Phoenix also has a problem in that it can’t take serious criticism about itself. I still think of the Very Serious People in Phoenix taking issue with Andrew Ross’s book Bird on Fire, perhaps one of the best-researched books on Phoenix’s sustainability issues. The other big pitfall, as I’ve documented here previously, is that Phoenix thinks it can solve big issues with design rather than policy. A bike lane here or a mural there doesn’t address the core problems of walkability or economic inequality.
From the perspective of someone who lived here and now has left, what do you think Phoenix’s biggest opportunities are? Cities were borne from some of the harshest climates, so if any city has a chance to figure out how to adapt to a warming climate, it will be Phoenix. But again, its window of opportunity is running out on this.
Would you ever come back to live in Phoenix? Why or why not? If the opportunity was right, then of course I’d consider. But that window of time is running out.
What can we learn from Minneapolis here in Phoenix? It’s OK to design your city in response to the climate. Minneapolis does cold better than Phoenix does hot. The lack of shade in Phoenix, and especially at transit stops in central Phoenix, was one of Phoenix’s most egregious faults of urban design and planning.
What can Minneapolis learn from Phoenix? Can we talk about the DMV up here? (I know that’s a state thing, but that’s a whole adventure in itself…)