From the Archives: Thoughts on SB 1070

In light of the US Supreme Court’s decision on SB 1070, a two-year-old post seems to be relevant yet again.

[author’s note: The following post, originally published 14 May 2010 in the wake of the recent signing into law of Arizona’s SB 1070, is relevant following today’s earlier decision by the US Supreme Court to pre-empt certain portions of the controversial immigration law. SB 1070’s not going away yet, unfortunately, as immigration is an issue that our political leaders would rather use as electoral politics instead of actually doing something.]

Arizona State Capitol (photo: robeeena on Flickr)It’s been a few weeks now since SB1070 has been signed into law. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks, you know all the fallout that’s happened from around the state and across the nation. It hasn’t been pretty. There have been calls to boycott Arizona, and some state and city legislatures have introduced measures to boycott Arizona.

In all the madness, I’ve been trying to figure out what SB1070 means for me, my community, and greater Arizona. I believe that SB1070 is misguided and does nothing to solve the true issue at hand, immigration reform.  I firmly believe that SB1070 was passed because we’ve let fear drive the conversation instead of reasoned, rational debate.  As Emerson said, “Fear always springs from ignorance.”

It’s been hard putting words to how I feel. I understand the frustration on the parts of those who support this law. The Federal government has definitely let us all down in passing any sort of immigration reform. I hope that Arizona’s passing of this misguided law is a wake-up call to the Federal government to start a new dialog on immigration. Unfortunately, seeing how this is an election year, I’m not holding my breath that a humane, sensible, and comprehensive immigration policy will be passed as candidates will pander to their ever-increasingly polarized sides.

I know that it’s all too easy to say that the law will only impact those who aren’t legally in this country. I believe that this will impact everyone. It has only raised the already-heightened sense of fear in the community.  Those who support the law have publicly squirmed when they try to come up with criteria besides skin color of what an “illegal immigrant” might look like. We have a sheriff that goes on media blitzes to brag about how many undocumented immigrants he and his office have apprehended. Laws like SB1070 will only further enable him to do that.

I’m not writing this to downplay the issue of undocumented immigration in Arizona. It is a big deal. For too long, it seems like we’ve let this issue slide because there was enough resources to help immigrants and because we recognized the positive effects they’ve had on the economy. Only now are we realizing that operatives of drug cartels are operating in the local schools. Now that Arizona’s economy is in a nosedive, the state legislature and a somewhat silent citizenry are scapegoating the immigrant community for these problems. It’s their fault that Arizona is losing money.  It’s their fault that crime is on the rise. It’s not our fault, it’s their fault.

It seems like an excuse to pass this law is the increased border violence, drug transportation, and its localized crime. If this is the case, why was there not an element in the law deploying the Arizona Army National Guard to the border area to defend against this criminal element? Why are we focusing on people who are here already instead of stopping the real threat to our safety and security?  The framers of this bill have said that we want safer communities and that this will help mitigate the criminal element inherent in immigration. So why, then, are we focusing on those who have innocently set up their lives here to escape the violence and bloodshed in their homeland instead of those committing the violence and bloodshed?

One has to understand that it is a small percentage of the total immigrant population that is giving everyone a bad name. The media and its unchecked commentators are quick to highlight on a few stories that prove their points. We were spoon-fed stories about a southern Arizona rancher allegedly being murdered by an immigrant yet evidence is now emerging that an American citizen is the alleged suspect. We hear of a rise in crime, but that crime is usually localized and insider crime that is tied to smuggling. It’s not random.  As Dean Nicholas Knisely+ of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral wrote in an essay on this very topic, “There are some very bad people coming across the border. There are also many people desperate to find work coming across as well, because the crushing poverty in their home communities makes [it] impossible to feed and care for their families.”

There have been many parallels drawn that connect Arizona to Nazi Germany. As an Arizonan, I’m offended. Nobody likes their home state compared to a brutal régime that systematically killed millions of Jews. Yet that does not mean that I’m oblivious to these parallels. Those who support this law say that those who are here with the appropriate paperwork have nothing to hide. But this now means that entire groups of people will now have to carry with them the appropriate papers to show that they are either citizens or immigrants in the country legally.

I’ve been convinced that SB1070 will never actually go into effect because there are a multitude of legal challenges and injunctions that will be filed against it. I hope this is the case. I’m a proud Arizonan and I don’t like that my home state, the state in which I was born, is the butt end of jokes. The Arizona in which I live is open, welcoming, and tolerant of other peoples. The Arizona that is unfortunately being portrayed to the media is a xenophobic, old, and rancorous state.

For those who care about this state, we’ve been let down. We’ve been let down by a state legislature that passes policies blaming one group of citizens for the state’s troubles. We’ve been let down by politicians that put their careers before their constituents. We’ve been let down by a federal government that has neglected to address immigration reform thus enabling states to pass draconian laws such as these. We’ve been let down by the media that is using opinions as the basis for facts and not vice versa.

I’ve publicly debated on this blog whether or not I’ll stay in Arizona once I’ve finished my Master’s degree. I think that now is the time that I should stay here and fight to change Arizona to be the Arizona in which I want to live. The quotation by Mohandas Gandhi is increasingly pertinent: “We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”

We need change. Desperately. But that change has to be relevant, humane, sensible, and comprehensive.

Quick post on iOS 6

…in which we make the obligatory iOS 6 initial thoughts post.

iOS 6 icon (credit: Apple)To nobody’s surprise, Apple (at its WWDC keynote address) formally announced the next major edition of their mobile operating system, iOS 6. The big features added to iOS 6 include Siri support on the new iPad, a new Apple maps app (iMaps?), OS-level Facebook sharing, an app called Passbook, and a few other things.

The news is generally welcome. The verdict is still out on whether the new Apple Maps app will have transit directions. As to be expected, very few sources are reporting on this. Some places say yes, many many places are silent. Of course, the fallback will be using Google Maps in the browser.

Another feature that is very welcome is the addition of per-account signatures for each of your email addresses. And, for educational use, I’m welcoming the new Guided Access feature, which will enable device administrators (e.g. parents or teachers) to lock down their device so only one app may run.

A theme that emerged at today’s WWDC keynote — and made very evident by the launch of the latest MacBook Pro (you know, the one with the Retina Display) — was that it’s time to look forward in technology and leave some technologies behind. If you have the first iPad, you won’t be able to upgrade to iOS 6. Likewise, only the fourth generation of iPod touch will be the only iPod touch that can get the iOS 6 upgrade. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are also upgradeable…and so is the iPhone 3GS, announced at WWDC three years ago.

iOS 6 upgradeable devices (credit:

As I usually say: “Interesting, interesting…”

iOS 6 and transit maps?

…in which we wonder about Apple’s new mapping application.

On Monday, Apple is set to release the sixth major version of iOS, its mobile operating software. Normally, however, changes are a good thing and each new version of iOS has been better than the last.

One of the big stories that’s flying around in this weekend before iOS 6 is formally announced is that Apple is dropping from Google Maps in favor of using its own mapping solution. Apple and Google have been trading punches lately and Apple has purchased several mapping companies. Of course, these are all rumors and we won’t know for sure until Monday morning. But if the rumors are true, then I’m sure that Apple will call their new mapping application “amazing,” “revolutionary,” “magical,” and other synonyms.

But, will it really be that?

I’m sure that it will be aesthetically pleasing. And that the graphics will be great. But one of the best features of Google Maps — and the big reason why I use it — is that Google Maps offers transit directions. You see, I don’t have a car. The option for me to get reliable directions to get from Point A to Point B via transit, as in the screen capture on the right, is absolutely mission-critical.

The other problem, at least for Phoenix, is that Valley Metro is very protective of their transit schedules. It took several years after Google Transit’s launch before one could plan transit trips here in Phoenix. If there is a transit feature in Apple’s new maps, what data will be there? I highly doubt that Phoenix’s will be there at launch.

Thankfully, we can still access Google Maps via the browser. But a native app was so much better. Ah, there’s something to be said about restricting an ecosystem.

IPv6: The Future is Forever

…in which we celebrate the launch of IPv6. The future is here and the future is forever!

Tomorrow marks the official turning on of the next generation of the Internet, IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). To many people, you shouldn’t notice anything. Nor should you really be concerned with anything. Being on IPv6 isn’t much of a bragging right (unless you’re a nerd/geek/computer scientist).

Why should you care about IPv6? In this video below, from Google, Vint Cerf (one of the co-creators of the Internet) explains it all. Under the current system, IPv4, there are just under 4.3 billion IP addresses available. (Think of an IP address as a telephone number or as a house address. When you go to a website, like, you’re going to a server that hosts It’s reached by an IP address, which is


Happy IPv6 World Launch Day!

A big announcement!

…in which I share and make official some big news with you all. Yay!

Big news! I’ve started to leak the word out to a few of you but as one academic year winds down and another begins, I thought I would share some news with you all. This is, after all, a personal blog so I hope that you can indulge me here as I brag about myself.

I am pleased to share the news with you all that, beginning in July, I will be joining the staff of Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) as their Information and Instructional Technology Coordinator. Not only is ASA a nationally recognized school that produces so many wonderful alumni, it’s also the place where I spent my middle- and high-school years (grades 7-12) from 2000-2006.

I’d also know a thing or two about the alumni that the school produces: I am humbled to be leading the school’s Alumni Association as we work through a period of transition and welcome future classes to our fold.

The new gig consists of three parts. I should note that I’m not formally on the teaching faculty; however, I suspect that I’m going to be doing a lot of informal teaching along the way. First, I’ll be making sure that the day-to-day technology operations of the school are working just fine. Think of this one as managing the enterprise IT — making sure networks work, computers process, phones make calls, and so on. The second part is the unofficial Digital Knowledge Architect of the school: researching new technologies as they might pertain to the educational outcomes of the school. What is the school doing well? What needs work? How can we take ASA to the next level…and beyond? The last component is serving as the school’s Technology Advisor. Not only am I the IT person for the enterprise that is ASA, I’m that person for the 750 students that attend the school. Of course, that doesn’t mean that as students have issues with their personal tech, I’m going to fix it. But that does mean that I will be giving grade-specific information on how to be smart with technology, how to be safe online, and how to be good digital citizens.

On a different note, that means that this blog is changing its focus. You’ll see that in the past month, I’ve rebranded it as “Technology for a Digital Generation” and have started to focus on emergent technology. Over the coming months, and especially as I settle into my new role, that focus will take off and this blog will become the home for resources and research that I will be doing. Downtown Phoenix and bicycling will take a backseat on this blog. But don’t worry — there are a number of great fellow “urban philosophers” that will unequivocally fill the shoes I vacate. The last post I pen on downtown Phoenix, at least for some time, will be my “Whither Density” postmodern analysis of downtown Phoenix. Expect that one to come out in a couple of weeks.

The school is such a wonderful place and I’m thrilled to be joining the ranks as a staff person. I’m so excited and I can’t begin to thank my mentors who have inspired me to get to this place. One person that I do have to call out by name is Dr. Colleen Carmean, the current Assistant Chancellor for Instructional Technologies at the University of Washington-Tacoma. I know Dr. Carmean because we both worked at the ASU College of Public Programs and I was fortunate to work with her on several research projects about advancing technology in education. She is also a dear friend and mentor of mine. In this new gig for me, I’m trying a little bit to emulate what she did as ASU CoPP’s Digital Knowledge Architect — and to be that mentor for the students with whom I’m working. If I am even 1/10th of the mentor to my students as Dr. Carmean has been to me, then I should think I’ve done something.

That’s the news from here. To all those who have helped me along the way and on this journey, I say “thank you” and I raise a glass to our accomplishments. Of course, I look forward to many many (many!) more accomplishments and celebrations along the way!

Urban Fail: Bicycle Cellar at the Security Building isn’t happening

Another sad day for downtown Phoenix: The much-anticipated project to place a second store of The Bicycle Cellar here isn’t happening.

photo credit: ASU

The Phoenix New Times’ Jackalope Ranch blog reports this evening that Maricopa County has decided to stop plans for The Bicycle Cellar, a bicycle commuter support station and retail space, from going in the County-owned Security Building at 234 N Central Ave in downtown Phoenix.

Plans to place a Bicycle Cellar bike station in the long vacant ground floor of the historic Security Building now appear to be all but dead despite gaining initial approval from the Maricopa County Facilities Resource Panel back in January.

“Unfortunately, the Bike Cellar project has in fact been cancelled,” said Jonce Walker, Maricopa County Sustainability Manager and shepherd of the project for the county.

The project was not included in the 2012-13 fiscal year tentative budget, which was approved by the county Board of Supervisors on May 21. The final budget is scheduled to be adopted on June 18.

This is a tremendous loss for the emergent bicycle culture that’s developed in central Phoenix over the past years. Scores of organizations — from downtown businesses to surrounding neighborhoods — supported this project. It’s a shame that it won’t be happening and that the lobby of the historic 1928 Security Building will remain vacant.

What’s also a shame is that the Phoenix Urban Research Laboratory, Phoenix’s preeminent space for urban leaders and thinkers, is going away as well. Too bad that there’s no creativity.

Another sad day for downtown Phoenix. When will we have some good news for a change?

Google’s Project Glass

…in which we wonder if Google’s Project Glass might go anywhere.

I realize I haven’t posted on here for awhile — which is fine, I suppose. I’m working on a major think piece on downtown density and some distractions that have gotten in the way as of late. The piece will blend urban themes and deconstruct some of downtown Phoenix’s metanarratives and macrostructures. Intrigued? I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you.

But anyway, this came across my radar screen. My posting of this is a few months tardy but a friend shared this with me last night and I have to admit that I’m fairly intrigued. It’s Google’s Project Glass, which takes the mobile phone (which is practically attached to us anyway) and physically attaches it to us.


The question is this: Would you wear this? I totally would. If this were integrated into some other services and had open APIs, my goodness: this thing would be useful. Take the scene at the Mud Truck food truck. Instead of just checking in there, what about doing some online payment (a la Square and Square Wallet)? Now that would be useful.

Final thoughts on the Urban Grocery’s closing

Some final thoughts on the closing of the Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.

I’m learning more and more about the circumstances surrounding the closing of the indoor Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. While we could debate ad nauseum about the factors that led to the closing of the indoor market or point fingers at various individuals and groups, the reality is that the indoor Urban Grocery is closing at the end of business on Saturday 12 May.

In summary, passion and volunteerism alone do not make a sustainable business model; one has to pay the bills. While I’m not at liberty to say the extent of what I know and name my sources, the financial situation of the indoor Urban Grocery made it inevitable that it was going to close. Unfortunately, no amount of community donations could have possibly sustained the indoor market with how it was operated.

What we in the downtown Phoenix community need to do is work with organizations like Local First Arizona and others to find a local business partner to operate a downtown Phoenix grocery store. With the absence of the indoor Urban Grocery, downtown Phoenix has become a food desert, something that is fundamentally incompatible with an urban environment. I’m dreaming here, obviously, but this would be a tremendous opportunity for a group like Bashas’/AJ’s or La Grande Orange to step in. For either group, this would be a perfect entrée to downtown Phoenix.

We have established that the indoor Urban Grocery is a tremendous resource for the downtown Phoenix community. Although this isn’t a perfect metric, at the time of this writing, the “Save Downtown Phoenix Public Market” Facebook page has 566 likes. There have been polls and surveys done about the Urban Grocery. But again, a place needs to be operated effectively and have sound financial footing to run.

While this might sound a bit harsh, I believe that we need to move on from lamenting that the indoor Urban Grocery is closing to finding ways to write the next chapter in the life of the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. If there’s one thing that we in downtown Phoenix are good at, it’s rallying around a common cause. Let’s do that again and show our community our determination and our resolve.

I’m willing to help advance this conversation as best as I can.

Greening Grand Avenue: Designing the Future

Please join the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for a sneak preview presentation of the Greening Grand Avenue Project sponsored by the EPA.

Please join the Grand Avenue Merchants Association for a sneak preview presentation of the Greening Grand Avenue Project sponsored by the EPA.

Program: “Greening Grand Avenue – Designing the Future”
Presenter: Leslie Dornfeld, PLAN-et, the Lead of the recent EPA study of Lower Grand Avenue
Reception: Drinks and Bites
Date: May 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Location: Oasis on Grand – 15th Avenue/Grand Avenue/Roosevelt

We hope to see you on May 16.

Supermoon 2012

The world was treated to the Supermoon on 5 May 2012.

If you didn’t know, the orbit of the Moon around the Earth isn’t a perfect circle. It’s an ellipse. At its nearest point, the Moon is about 50,000 km closer to the Earth than it is at its farthest point.

Science and numbers aside, it makes for pretty pictures. Enjoy!

all photos copyright (c) 2012 Edward Jensen, all rights reserved