Does residency concern voters? Not too much

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Eddie Celaya.

Gabby Giffords, left, holds the hand of Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running for office in CD2, on Aug. 28,in Tucson. Kirkpatrick, who held office until 2017 in CD1, faced a lawsuit to remove her from the Democratic primary ballot. (Photo courtesy Arizona Daily Star)

When Ann Kirkpatrick faces off against Lea Marquez-Peterson for the right to represent Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District on Nov. 6, part of the decision for voters will hinge on how important they believe it is for a candidate to live in the district they represent.

If recent Arizona history is any indicator, the answer is “not very.”

During her Democratic primary, Kirkpatrick was the subject of a court case brought by three private citizens that challenged her claim of residency in CD2. The case was ultimately dismissed.

“Ann Kirkpatrick is a resident of Tucson, so that’s where she is,” Kirkpatrick campaign manager Rodd McLeod said of the case. “Most nights that’s where she puts her head on the pillow.”

The case against Kirkpatrick was supported financially by her main rival, former state representative Matt Heinz, who paid for the suit’s legal fees.

Heinz, however, is no stranger to living outside the area he represents, either. He lives south of CD2s Pima County boundaries, in CD3 according to reporting from the Arizona Daily Star.

Kirkpatrick also wasn’t alone in defending her residency status during this primary season.

Yuma Republican Don Shooter, running for a state senate seat, had a case brought against him claiming he too was living in Phoenix. Despite evidence Shooter had registered to vote in Phoenix and had shut off utilities to his Yuma-area home, his case was also dismissed.

Unlike Kirkpatrick, Shooter was unsuccessful in his primary race. Still, for Craig Morgan, the lawyer representing the citizens who brought the case against Kirkpatrick, the results of the Democratic CD2 and other recent Southern Arizona races are disheartening.

Candidate residency an issue?

For candidates running for federal office there is no constitutional mandate that requires they live in the district they represent, only that they reside in the state their district is in.

Under the constitution, however, Arizona does have the ability to set its own requirements on candidates, but it cannot require candidates live in the district they plan to represent. The case against Kirkpatrick was based on an Arizona statute that required candidates list their “primary” address on petition paperwork.

Morgan argued that while Kirkpatrick may reside in Pima County, she violated Arizona statute by listing two different primary addresses on her petition paperwork, a violation of state statute. Plus, his clients contended, Kirkpatrick’s actual residence was in Phoenix.

“The petitions themselves indicated an address where the client’s believed the candidate did not reside,” Morgan said.

While Morgan was able to show that Kirkpatrick and her husband do jointly own a house in Phoenix, Superior Court Judge Joshua Rogers ultimately dismissed the case, citing evidence that included gas receipts and her “couple of months” membership with the Pima County Public Library.

For state legislative positions, the Arizona Constitution stipulates candidates must have lived in Arizona for three years and must be a resident of the county the district is located in for a year.

Even someone with no legal training can see there is gray area in both state and federal residency requirements, said Morgan.

So how common does Morgan believe the problem of candidates living outside the district they are running for office in is?

“It seems to me it comes up every election cycle,” Morgan said. “(It’s) not common in the sense every other candidate does it, but common enough that it comes up.”

That common re-occurrence is what bothers Morgan, and what should bother voters too, he said.

“I’m not sure that the electorate is as well educated about the issue as they ought to be,” he said.

Do voters care?

Xoe Watchman, head of voter registration at the University of Arizona for NextGen Arizona, said that, for young voters at least, where a candidate resides isn’t necessarily their first consideration, politically. Instead, she said the issue of a candidate’s residence is secondary.

“At the end of the day, if the candidate represents young people and the issues that affect them every day, that’s the candidate they are going to stand behind,” she said. “Where they live — as long as they are representing the young people — that’s where their votes will go to.”

Morgan disagrees. He said the issue of where a candidate lives is important. For him, when he considers voting, he said he considers how connected a candidate is to the community.

“I don’t think people understand how important it is that you really think about whether someone who isn’t in the trenches and isn’t a part of your community is really the best person to represent your community,” Morgan said.

For CD2 specifically, Pima County Democratic Chair Jo Holt sees voters as choosing between candidates based on the issues, not on if one candidate may have lived in Tucson longer or more recently.

“If that’s the only thing you can come up with to complain about [Kirkpatrick’s residency], then you’re basically saying that her policies are rational. She is a pragmatic individual that is very middle of the road I think,” Holt said. “I think she’ll be a great fit for CD2.”

Sue Mitchell, chair of the Cochise County Republican Party, disagreed.

“It’s very important,” a candidate live in the district, Mitchell said. “We call them carpetbaggers for a good reason.”

Mitchell said she was tangentially aware that Kirkpatrick’s residency was in question, and that she would make the issue wider known amongst local GOP-circles before the election. She also said the issue of a candidates residency was something voters should consider outside of this election.

“It’s something that’s important for all races, all races,” she said.

For Holt, the issue of Kirkpatrick’s residence is a moot point. She said that voters in CD2  would probably focus on three main issues: the state of the economy, healthcare and education.

“I believe the national polling actually places healthcare as more of a concern now than the economy and jobs for most Americans,” she said.

Watchman echoed Holt’s sentiments, and pushed back on Morgan’s claim that better education would make voters more aware of the question of residency. She argued voters, especially younger ones, were well versed on many issues including residency.

“It’s not to say that they don’t know, it’s representation versus not being represented,” Watchman said of voters not taking a candidate’s residency into account. “And young people are going to stand behind the person who represents them.”

Eddie Celaya is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at epcelaya1@email.arizona.edu.

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Passion keeps teachers in the classroom

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Bria Fonteno.

Daniel Johnson helps a student with his work at Hollinger K-8 in Tucson, AZ. (Photo by: Bria Fonteno / Arizona Sonora News)

As Arizona schools struggle with fixing problems in the education system, having committed and passionate teachers may be the start to a solution.

“I teach because I love what I do. I still remember the positive role models I had that now influence my role in education,” said Daniel Johnson.

Johnson, 28, has been working in the education system for five years.

“I wanted to support kids with special needs and give back to the community,” said Johnson.

He started volunteering at schools where he fell in love with working in small groups. Johnson eventually left special education because he spent more time putting information in the computer, and less time helping the kids.

“I was overwhelmed, and that’s when I left my second job,” said Johnson.

Johnson says that more people would stay in the profession if they knew the facts before committing.

“Get an awesome mentor, be open to criticism, and find coworkers you can drink with after work,” said Johnson.

Johnson has been in working in Tucson, AZ at Hollinger K-8 for three and a half years and is now the in-school interventionist, where he does behavioral and academic interventions with students.

He is passionate about his students and doesn’t plan to leave to leave teaching anytime soon.

“No one wants to be a teacher for the money. Teaching is a passion and something that people do because it’s what they love,” said Johnson.

Johnson says that teaching has long been viewed as a low-paying job, and many teachers opt out of out of benefits altogether because they lose too much on their paycheck.

In January, the Arizona School Boards Association issued an analysis of teacher salary. According to their results, the median teacher pay in 2018 is $46,949.

A graph by AZEdNews, a service of the Arizona School Boards Association, shows the 2017 national ranking for median teacher salaries compared to other neighboring states.  (Infographic by: Lisa Irish / AZEdNews)

According to data collected this year by WalletHub, compared to teacher salaries in other states, Arizona fell at the bottom ranking at 50 for ‘opportunity and competition’ and 51 for ‘academic and work environment.’

Michael Radloff, 52, is the department chair at Pima Community College.

He has been teaching for 20 years and has been the department chair at Pima for ten years.

Radloff sees issues in the education system that are pushing teachers away from the classroom.

“To make it even worse, they’ve watered down teaching standards, and teacher qualifications just to put more bodies in the classroom,” he said.

According to the National Education Association, close to 50 percent of newcomers leave the profession during their first five years of teaching.

Radloff says he believes in the profession and wants to see more effective teachers develop in the classroom.

“You have to have hope, despite the negativity going with pay, respect, and qualifications,” said Radloff.

Lori Trevino opens the door to her classroom as she anticipates her student’s arrival. (Photo by: Bria Fonteno / Arizona Sonora News)

Lori Trevino, 56, is a 7thand 8thgrade English Language Arts teacher at Valencia Middle School and has been teaching for four years.

“Most teachers that leave don’t care about the kids,” she said.

Trevino says that teachers are leaving the profession because many aren’t getting the proper training, they receive little to respect, there’s a lack of support from the administration, and they receive low pay.

“When I first starting teaching, I made the exact amount my father made when he started teaching 27 years ago. That is a long time to not have any movement forward; it is hard,” said Trevino.

She began her teaching profession at Sunnyside High School and after just two years, Trevino resigned.

“I was so ready to leave that I walked around every day with my resume in my pocket. It just needed a date,” she said.

Trevino is unhappy with the pay, but she stays because she is passionate about teaching her students.

“These kids are our future. Every career in the world starts in my class,” she said.

Trevino spends 37 to 40 hours a week with her students, sometimes even more with grading and extra-curricular activities.

“My kids are everything. Sometimes I spend more time with my students than their parents do,” she said.

Trevino uses poetry slams and games to interest her students.

She cares about the student’s education and believes that it’s important schools bring in teachers who believe in each individual student’s capability to learn.

“I teach because I get to be someone else; I get to help that ‘one.’ I realize that I can be of real service to the children and that brings me joy when I come into work, because I know I’m making a difference,” Trevino said.

Bria Fonteno is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Contact her at bdfonteno@email.arizona.edu

Click here for a Word file and high-resolution photographs. 

Read more

Passion keeps teachers in the classroom

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Bria Fonteno.

Daniel Johnson helps a student with his work at Hollinger K-8 in Tucson, AZ. (Photo by: Bria Fonteno / Arizona Sonora News)

As Arizona schools struggle with fixing problems in the education system, having committed and passionate teachers may be the start to a solution.

“I teach because I love what I do. I still remember the positive role models I had that now influence my role in education,” said Daniel Johnson.

Johnson, 28, has been working in the education system for five years.

“I wanted to support kids with special needs and give back to the community,” said Johnson.

He started volunteering at schools where he fell in love with working in small groups. Johnson eventually left special education because he spent more time putting information in the computer, and less time helping the kids.

“I was overwhelmed, and that’s when I left my second job,” said Johnson.

Johnson says that more people would stay in the profession if they knew the facts before committing.

“Get an awesome mentor, be open to criticism, and find coworkers you can drink with after work,” said Johnson.

Johnson has been in working in Tucson, AZ at Hollinger K-8 for three and a half years and is now the in-school interventionist, where he does behavioral and academic interventions with students.

He is passionate about his students and doesn’t plan to leave to leave teaching anytime soon.

“No one wants to be a teacher for the money. Teaching is a passion and something that people do because it’s what they love,” said Johnson.

Johnson says that teaching has long been viewed as a low-paying job, and many teachers opt out of out of benefits altogether because they lose too much on their paycheck.

In January, the Arizona School Boards Association issued an analysis of teacher salary. According to their results, the median teacher pay in 2018 is $46,949.

A graph by AZEdNews, a service of the Arizona School Boards Association, shows the 2017 national ranking for median teacher salaries compared to other neighboring states.  (Infographic by: Lisa Irish / AZEdNews)

According to data collected this year by WalletHub, compared to teacher salaries in other states, Arizona fell at the bottom ranking at 50 for ‘opportunity and competition’ and 51 for ‘academic and work environment.’

Michael Radloff, 52, is the department chair at Pima Community College.

He has been teaching for 20 years and has been the department chair at Pima for ten years.

Radloff sees issues in the education system that are pushing teachers away from the classroom.

“To make it even worse, they’ve watered down teaching standards, and teacher qualifications just to put more bodies in the classroom,” he said.

According to the National Education Association, close to 50 percent of newcomers leave the profession during their first five years of teaching.

Radloff says he believes in the profession and wants to see more effective teachers develop in the classroom.

“You have to have hope, despite the negativity going with pay, respect, and qualifications,” said Radloff.

Lori Trevino opens the door to her classroom as she anticipates her student’s arrival. (Photo by: Bria Fonteno / Arizona Sonora News)

Lori Trevino, 56, is a 7thand 8thgrade English Language Arts teacher at Valencia Middle School and has been teaching for four years.

“Most teachers that leave don’t care about the kids,” she said.

Trevino says that teachers are leaving the profession because many aren’t getting the proper training, they receive little to respect, there’s a lack of support from the administration, and they receive low pay.

“When I first starting teaching, I made the exact amount my father made when he started teaching 27 years ago. That is a long time to not have any movement forward; it is hard,” said Trevino.

She began her teaching profession at Sunnyside High School and after just two years, Trevino resigned.

“I was so ready to leave that I walked around every day with my resume in my pocket. It just needed a date,” she said.

Trevino is unhappy with the pay, but she stays because she is passionate about teaching her students.

“These kids are our future. Every career in the world starts in my class,” she said.

Trevino spends 37 to 40 hours a week with her students, sometimes even more with grading and extra-curricular activities.

“My kids are everything. Sometimes I spend more time with my students than their parents do,” she said.

Trevino uses poetry slams and games to interest her students.

She cares about the student’s education and believes that it’s important schools bring in teachers who believe in each individual student’s capability to learn.

“I teach because I get to be someone else; I get to help that ‘one.’ I realize that I can be of real service to the children and that brings me joy when I come into work, because I know I’m making a difference,” Trevino said.

Bria Fonteno is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Contact her at bdfonteno@email.arizona.edu

Click here for a Word file and high-resolution photographs. 

Read more

Documentary reveals Bisbee’s dark past

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Pablo Lopez.

Fernando Serrano on July 17, 2017, during the re-enactment of the Bisbee deportation for the film “Bisbee ’17.”

Robert Greene takes audiences on a journey through one of labor history’s darkest moments in his documentary “Bisbee ’17.”

Greene’s film, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was released in select theaters on Sept. 7, documents the city of Bisbee re-enacting and facing what is one of Arizona’s darkest moments in history.

What was once Arizona’s richest cities has one of the darkest pasts. On July 12, 1917, more than 1,000 miners who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union were violently rounded up and dragged out of their homes. Two thousands of their fellow neighbors, deputized citizens who called themselves armed loyalists, came for them. They shoved the miners into cattle cars for a 16-hour train ride without any food or water.

They took them to the middle of the New Mexico desert and told them to never come back to Bisbee. This is the Bisbee deportation of 1917.

In justifying the deportation, the mining company and citizens said the striking miners posed a threat to the American way of life. The miners were on strike against the copper mining company Phelps Dodge, which owned and controlled most of Bisbee at the time. Members of the IWW were demanding better working conditions and overall better treatment. Most of the men were either Mexican or Eastern European. Better paying jobs with the company went to white men.

“The ’17 in ‘Bisbee ’17’ is for 2017,” said Greene. The film is not meant to just focus on the events  in Bisbee, but on the present state of Bisbee and how the past can still be felt a century later. Greene forces Bisbee to confront and remember a key part of its history that it would rather forget.

“You feel the past and present collapsing into each other,” Greene said.

He recreates the events of the deportation on the 100-year anniversary, July 12, 2017, by using current residents of Bisbee as actors and follows different key characters throughout the film, getting their perspectives on what happened so long ago and how it affects them today.

The fact that so many people in the film who called Bisbee home had no idea about the strike or the deportation is heard over and over again.

“This isn’t something that was taught in school,” one person says in the film.

Greene said he picks on this idea, people not being formally taught about these events, throughout the film by filming and staging numerous scenes, including the opening scene, in different schools around Bisbee.

It was exciting to shoot in Bisbee schools where for over 100 years the Bisbee Deportation was not discussed, said Greene. It’s poetic and ironic.

People who did know about the deportation learned it from stories passed down by relatives. Key residents who have major acting roles tell how they feel about the events of the past, some saying that what happened was unjustifiable while some people on the other hand say they would do it again.

 A woman, the daughter of a man with ties to the mining company, talks about how she was raised to believe that what happened was necessary for the greater good of Bisbee, “in other words they weren’t deported.”

“The word deportation is alive with meaning,” says one resident in the film. The film conjures up issues of immigration, deportation and labor, which are issues that are still dealt with and discussed in modern day Arizona.

“It couldn’t be more relevant,” said Greene. “It was on all of our minds that these images we are creating would be immediately relevant and immediately frightening.”

Leading up to the release of the film Greene released six short films that focus on different aspects and people in Bisbee. The film has been released in select theaters across the country. Click here to find a theater near you. 

Pablo Lopez is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the university of Arizona. Contact him at pabloreyy@email.arizona.edu

Click Here For a Word Version Of The Story and High-Resolution Photos

Read more

Documentary reveals Bisbee’s dark past

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Pablo Lopez.

Fernando Serrano on July 17, 2017, during the re-enactment of the Bisbee deportation for the film “Bisbee ’17.”

Robert Greene takes audiences on a journey through one of labor history’s darkest moments in his documentary “Bisbee ’17.”

Greene’s film, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was released in select theaters on Sept. 7, documents the city of Bisbee re-enacting and facing what is one of Arizona’s darkest moments in history.

What was once Arizona’s richest cities has one of the darkest pasts. On July 12, 1917, more than 1,000 miners who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union were violently rounded up and dragged out of their homes. Two thousands of their fellow neighbors, deputized citizens who called themselves armed loyalists, came for them. They shoved the miners into cattle cars for a 16-hour train ride without any food or water.

They took them to the middle of the New Mexico desert and told them to never come back to Bisbee. This is the Bisbee deportation of 1917.

In justifying the deportation, the mining company and citizens said the striking miners posed a threat to the American way of life. The miners were on strike against the copper mining company Phelps Dodge, which owned and controlled most of Bisbee at the time. Members of the IWW were demanding better working conditions and overall better treatment. Most of the men were either Mexican or Eastern European. Better paying jobs with the company went to white men.

“The ’17 in ‘Bisbee ’17’ is for 2017,” said Greene. The film is not meant to just focus on the events  in Bisbee, but on the present state of Bisbee and how the past can still be felt a century later. Greene forces Bisbee to confront and remember a key part of its history that it would rather forget.

“You feel the past and present collapsing into each other,” Greene said.

He recreates the events of the deportation on the 100-year anniversary, July 12, 2017, by using current residents of Bisbee as actors and follows different key characters throughout the film, getting their perspectives on what happened so long ago and how it affects them today.

The fact that so many people in the film who called Bisbee home had no idea about the strike or the deportation is heard over and over again.

“This isn’t something that was taught in school,” one person says in the film.

Greene said he picks on this idea, people not being formally taught about these events, throughout the film by filming and staging numerous scenes, including the opening scene, in different schools around Bisbee.

It was exciting to shoot in Bisbee schools where for over 100 years the Bisbee Deportation was not discussed, said Greene. It’s poetic and ironic.

People who did know about the deportation learned it from stories passed down by relatives. Key residents who have major acting roles tell how they feel about the events of the past, some saying that what happened was unjustifiable while some people on the other hand say they would do it again.

 A woman, the daughter of a man with ties to the mining company, talks about how she was raised to believe that what happened was necessary for the greater good of Bisbee, “in other words they weren’t deported.”

“The word deportation is alive with meaning,” says one resident in the film. The film conjures up issues of immigration, deportation and labor, which are issues that are still dealt with and discussed in modern day Arizona.

“It couldn’t be more relevant,” said Greene. “It was on all of our minds that these images we are creating would be immediately relevant and immediately frightening.”

Leading up to the release of the film Greene released six short films that focus on different aspects and people in Bisbee. The film has been released in select theaters across the country. Click here to find a theater near you. 

Pablo Lopez is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the university of Arizona. Contact him at pabloreyy@email.arizona.edu

Click Here For a Word Version Of The Story and High-Resolution Photos

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Southwest cuisine returns to its indigenous roots

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Simon Asher/Arizona Sonora News.

Evan Johnson Media

A dish at Kai, the Pee-Posh Garden, rests on a plate.

Native American food has re-entered the mainstream palette.

Today, fine dining menus infuse indigenous flavors and themes. And the trend is recognized nationally. CNN recently profiled six restaurants serving Native American-inspired meals, including Kai at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix. Kai has a 2018 Forbes Travel Guide Five Star rating.

Kai’s menu boasts what Forbes lists as must-try – grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo. Prices for these infused dishes skyrocket, with Kai’s menu running about $300 for a full-course meal titled “The Journey.”

Kai’s Head Chef de Cuisine Ryan Swanson has been with the restaurant since 2015.

Ryan Swanson, Chef de Cuisine at Kai in Phoenix.

Swanson creates dishes and courses that intertwine fine dining and the cultures of the native Pima and Maricopa communities.

Cuisine plays a quintessential part of indigenous community and culture, according to Rachelle Simpson, interim director of the University of Arizona’s Native American Student Affairs.

Simpson identifies as Acoma and Jemez, both Pueblo tribes.

“Looking at food and the importance of sharing food … in my family that’s a way of conveying our love for each other,” Simpson said. Simpson’s maternal grandmother taught her traditional ways of making tortillas, stews and pies. “Sharing in that cultural and familial wealth, I hold that very dear.”

Indigenous cuisine is often misunderstood. For many, the thought of fry bread with honey is a staple of all Native American diet.

In reality, fry bread made its way into indigenous culture during the Long Walk in 1864. U.S. Army soldiers gave rations of lard, flour and sugar to the indigenous people marching from Northern Arizona and New Mexico to Fort Sumner, N.M.

Navajo marched in the winter, according to Crow Canyon Archeological Society, and almost 200 tribal members died on the walk.

Indigenous elements are making their way back onto the plate. With restaurants like Kai and others embracing the marriage of Indigenous flavors and practices with modern techniques, the public eye is more focused on Native American food.

“It seems like there is starting to be an appreciation for new knowledge of these ancient ingredients,” said Swanson. “Perhaps we’ll soon find cholla buds and mesquite flour in a supermarket?”

An authentic Indian Taco from Cafe Santa Rosa in Tucson, Ariz.

In a Youtube video by Buzzfeed, non-indigenous people try food typical to Native culture. The participants rave about how healthy and tasty the food is and wonder why there’s such a lack of knowledge about indigenous culture and food.

Simpson and others are working on bridging the gap between the confusion in pop culture and the rich traditions that are under the radar.

“That’s where I find it’s problematic,” Simpson said. “White society (and non-natives) with cultural appropriation, there’s this desire to appropriate our designs or our style of dress, our food, our medicine, our prayers. But when it comes down to advocating for our land, our sacred sites, our water…it’s crickets, sometimes.”

In an article published by CNN, Sioux Chef Sean Sherman said Native American cuisine was far out of the public eye for so long due to the oppression of Indigenous communities – “Out of sight, out of mind.”

This has been the reality of indigenous culture in the United States. Racist caricatures of indigenous people are associated with teams such as the Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins, or with Halloween costumes of moccasins and beaded headbands.

An important step in the reclamation of the indigenous culture is to decolonize the way you think – especially with food, according to Simpson.

Some tribes have been using less pre-processed foods and instead returning to the diets that their ancestors had before the waves of colonization.

In an article by the Minnesota StarTribune, members of an indigenous community are returning to their roots (literally) for two reasons: the native crops are cheap and easy to grow, and the community is tapping back into their ancestral culture.

“There’s a lot of sugars that are added, preservatives. … I know there are several tribes that are decolonizing their diets,” Simpson said.

Simon Asher is a reporter for the Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at simon.asher1@gmail.com

Click here for a word version of the story, and high-resolution photos.

Read more

Southwest cuisine returns to its indigenous roots

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Simon Asher/Arizona Sonora News.

Evan Johnson Media

A dish at Kai, the Pee-Posh Garden, rests on a plate.

Native American food has re-entered the mainstream palette.

Today, fine dining menus infuse indigenous flavors and themes. And the trend is recognized nationally. CNN recently profiled six restaurants serving Native American-inspired meals, including Kai at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix. Kai has a 2018 Forbes Travel Guide Five Star rating.

Kai’s menu boasts what Forbes lists as must-try – grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo. Prices for these infused dishes skyrocket, with Kai’s menu running about $300 for a full-course meal titled “The Journey.”

Kai’s Head Chef de Cuisine Ryan Swanson has been with the restaurant since 2015.

Ryan Swanson, Chef de Cuisine at Kai in Phoenix.

Swanson creates dishes and courses that intertwine fine dining and the cultures of the native Pima and Maricopa communities.

Cuisine plays a quintessential part of indigenous community and culture, according to Rachelle Simpson, interim director of the University of Arizona’s Native American Student Affairs.

Simpson identifies as Acoma and Jemez, both Pueblo tribes.

“Looking at food and the importance of sharing food … in my family that’s a way of conveying our love for each other,” Simpson said. Simpson’s maternal grandmother taught her traditional ways of making tortillas, stews and pies. “Sharing in that cultural and familial wealth, I hold that very dear.”

Indigenous cuisine is often misunderstood. For many, the thought of fry bread with honey is a staple of all Native American diet.

In reality, fry bread made its way into indigenous culture during the Long Walk in 1864. U.S. Army soldiers gave rations of lard, flour and sugar to the indigenous people marching from Northern Arizona and New Mexico to Fort Sumner, N.M.

Navajo marched in the winter, according to Crow Canyon Archeological Society, and almost 200 tribal members died on the walk.

Indigenous elements are making their way back onto the plate. With restaurants like Kai and others embracing the marriage of Indigenous flavors and practices with modern techniques, the public eye is more focused on Native American food.

“It seems like there is starting to be an appreciation for new knowledge of these ancient ingredients,” said Swanson. “Perhaps we’ll soon find cholla buds and mesquite flour in a supermarket?”

An authentic Indian Taco from Cafe Santa Rosa in Tucson, Ariz.

In a Youtube video by Buzzfeed, non-indigenous people try food typical to Native culture. The participants rave about how healthy and tasty the food is and wonder why there’s such a lack of knowledge about indigenous culture and food.

Simpson and others are working on bridging the gap between the confusion in pop culture and the rich traditions that are under the radar.

“That’s where I find it’s problematic,” Simpson said. “White society (and non-natives) with cultural appropriation, there’s this desire to appropriate our designs or our style of dress, our food, our medicine, our prayers. But when it comes down to advocating for our land, our sacred sites, our water…it’s crickets, sometimes.”

In an article published by CNN, Sioux Chef Sean Sherman said Native American cuisine was far out of the public eye for so long due to the oppression of Indigenous communities – “Out of sight, out of mind.”

This has been the reality of indigenous culture in the United States. Racist caricatures of indigenous people are associated with teams such as the Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins, or with Halloween costumes of moccasins and beaded headbands.

An important step in the reclamation of the indigenous culture is to decolonize the way you think – especially with food, according to Simpson.

Some tribes have been using less pre-processed foods and instead returning to the diets that their ancestors had before the waves of colonization.

In an article by the Minnesota StarTribune, members of an indigenous community are returning to their roots (literally) for two reasons: the native crops are cheap and easy to grow, and the community is tapping back into their ancestral culture.

“There’s a lot of sugars that are added, preservatives. … I know there are several tribes that are decolonizing their diets,” Simpson said.

Simon Asher is a reporter for the Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at simon.asher1@gmail.com

Click here for a word version of the story, and high-resolution photos.

Read more

New Cochise County 4-H program builds confidence, character

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Hannah Dahl.

Addison Burright leads her steer, Clover, out of the stall on Friday, September 14 in Willcox, Ariz. (Photo by Hannah Dahl/Arizona Sonora News)

Dust swirls around Addison’s square-toed boots as she leads a calf the color of chocolate syrup out of the stall and into her backyard. Despite being three times her size, the animal follows patiently behind Addison like a dog on a leash.

Clover, named for the symbol of 4-H, is obedient to Addison’s firm commands, and neither he nor Addison breaks a sweat when an errant sheep attempts to butt its way in between the steer’s hind legs.

Clover is the second calf Addison Burright has raised as part of Cochise County’s 4-H program. Every morning for the last three months, Addison has fed and watered Clover, broke him to lead in a pink and blue halter, and kept a detailed daily record book of feed and grooming.

Addison Burright guides her steer into position for a profile view on Friday, September 14, 2018 in Willcox, Ariz. Both Burright and the steer remain calm despite a pig distraction. (Photo by Hannah Dahl/Arizona Sonora News)

Both she and her twin brother, Cooper, are preparing to show their steers, sheep and chickens at the Cochise County Fair in a couple weeks.

Head, heart, hands and health

4-H is a national non-profit organization focused on providing its members with real-life agricultural experience. Nearly 6 million youths across the United States participate in the program, and membership has remained stable over the last five years. Out of the total members, about half (2.6 million) live in rural communities.

In places such as Cochise County, where agricultural roots run deep and strong, buying and raising a beef steer or showing an animal in the county fair are the most common projects. 4-H is overseen by the Cooperative Extension branch of the land-grant universities in each state.

In Arizona, the University of Arizona offers 4-H to all 15 counties, in addition to Indian reservations and military bases. By joining forces with the Cooperative Extension unit, 4-H has been assisting the university since 1902 in achieving its goal of delivering practical knowledge about science and agriculture to the public.

Profitable pets

Addison Burright’s 4-H steer, Clover, waits patiently to be let out on Sept. 14,  in Willcox, Ariz. (Photo by Hannah Dahl/Arizona Sonora News )

In the traditional model for 4-H livestock projects, the participant purchases an animal and closely monitors its feed, exercise, and weight gain for about 100 days. When the county fair arrives, participants show their animals to a panel of judges, where they are scored on qualities such as musculature and temperament.

Participants have the option of raising a market steer or breeding heifer. Steers are auctioned off after the fair, with the largest animals bringing in the most money.

Heifers are kept for breeding, so by the following year, participants have begun to develop their own herds. Both projects can be lucrative for the participants if the community has a large number of generous 4-H supporters at the auction.

Building tomorrow’s farmers

The cost of purchasing and feeding a 400-pound calf at $2.00 a pound is still enough to break any 11-year-old’s piggy bank. The amount of feed a calf needs to gain another 300 pounds before fair can cost just as much as the calf itself.

For many families living in small rural communities, the cost overshadows the benefits.

That’s where Riverview Dairy’s Beef Builder program comes in. Riverview is based out of Minnesota, but currently milks up to 7,000 cows a day at its Willcox dairy.

Last year, Riverview began an initiative called the Beef Builder program, which leases steers and heifers to youth in Cochise County who want to participate in 4-H.

“The Beef Builder program is meant to be for kids who maybe can’t afford doing the beef project, or the 10-year-olds that want to try 4-H, but their parents are not excited about them being around a 1,200-pound steer,” said Moiria White, the Beef Builder program leader and head of public outreach at Riverview.

Moiria White quizzes Makenzi Lawson as part of her pre-fair assessment on  Sept. 14,  in Willcox, Ariz. (Photo by Hannah Dahl/Arizona Sonora News )

The Beef Builder program expands the reach of 4-H to those families who might not have otherwise been able to participate.

Instead of purchasing their own calf for $800 at the sale, participants pay $100 to their 4-H chapter and then head to the dairy to pick out their animal, White said. The $100 fee goes towards purchasing supplies and hay, and Riverview doesn’t see a profit on the venture.

At the end of the fair, the youth have the option of buying their animal at a steep discount.

“Riverview sells the calf back to the kids for the price it would’ve been when they picked it out,” White said. “So essentially they’re getting a calf that’s been fed another 100 days at the cost of a 90-day-old calf.”

Last year, two participants decided to purchase their Beef Builder calves; this year, they’ll show those steers in the carcass class and make a profit off of the meat at the auction.

“That’s the idea of the program,” White said. “Kids can first see if they like it, and then they can buy their calf for half of what they’d pay at the sale.”

Making a difference

Public speaking and leadership are just two of the skills Eric Thoutt learned from his 4-H experience as a youth in Colorado. Now, as the 4-H program coordinator for Cochise County, Thoutt accompanies White on her visits to the homes of Beef Builder participants and shares his experience.

“We didn’t have all this fancy stuff when I was a kid,” Thoutt says as Cooper Burright shows off a pen built specially for transporting his sheep, Shelton, to the fair.

Cooper Burright wrangles his feisty steer, Oreo, on Friday, September 14, 2018 in Willcox, Ariz. (Photo by Hannah Dahl/Arizona Sonora News)

The program has changed a lot in the last decade, though the mission of “learning by doing” remains the same. 4-H recently added new programs in robotics, computer science, and other STEM-related areas, Thoutt said.

“This is where tomorrow’s careers are,” Thoutt continued. “As we become more of an urbanized society, not everyone can raise a pig or a sheep. The addition of these tech opportunities allows us to get more youth involved in 4-H.”

Learning by doing

The Burright twins wake up before sunrise each morning to feed their lambs, goats, chickens, pigs and steers. As the fair approaches, they must also spend extra time brushing and conditioning their animals’ coats each day.

In a society where the average youth spends 5 hours a day staring at a screen, the development of practical life skills such as time management, responsibility — and good old-fashioned hard work — is becoming a rarity.

When Makenzi Lawson gets home from school, she heads outside to the corrals to spend time with her 4-H heifer, Miss Priss.

“My favorite part is hosing off Miss Priss and brushing her down every day after school,” said Lawson, a seventh-grader.

Makenzi Lawson struggles to lead her calf, Miss Priss, into the corral on Sept. 14, in Willcox, Ariz. (Photo by Hannah Dahl/Arizona Sonora News)

Lawson is a returning member of the Beef Builders program. Her heifer from last year’s program, Minnie, roams free in the backyard of her family’s small farm in Willcox.

Life after 4-H

4-H focuses on preparing its members for both the workforce and higher education.

“Youth can attend national conferences where they will develop marketable skills for the workforce, such as learning to submit a resume and attending a job interview,” Thoutt said.

For those wanting to attend college, the Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation also offers scholarships to 4-H members.

Over the last 10 years, 4-H membership in Cochise County has remained relatively stable, with an average of 400 participants per year.

Riverview’s Beef Builder program currently makes up a very small part of that number. Last year, there were nine participants, White said. This year, there are only five.

However, White is more focused on the impact the program has on individuals.

“We believe in educating young people, we believe in the power of 4-H and FFA,” White said. “This is one way we could help in the community and help these kids. Hopefully we get them excited about agriculture.”

The influence of 4-H has already begun to shape the lives of the Cochise County Beef Builder members. Lawson and the Burright twins both plan to do 4-H next year. But more than that, the youths are beginning to think about their future careers.

“My favorite part of 4-H is working with the animals,” Addison said. “I’m going to be an animal doctor when I grow up, so this is a good experience for me.”

One day, Addison may use the skills she’s learned in 4-H to save an animal’s life. But for now, she’s content keeping vigil over the baby birds nested above the ceiling fan in her barn.

Hannah Dahl is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News Service, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at hdahl@email.arizona.edu.

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Native bees do it better

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Kaite Fletcher/Arizona Sonora News.

 

A native cactus bee (Diadasia Rinconis) sits on its preferred flowering plant. Photo by: © World Atlas

A native bee wraps its hind legs around a flower and vibrates its wings to unlock the flower’s hidden treasure –pollen. Its fuzzy body coated in yellow, the bee flies off to discover its next pot of gold.

This technique of shaking the flower’s pollen sacs, is called buzz pollination. It’s exclusive to bees that are native to Arizona and cannot be done by domesticated honeybees. The nation’s buzz about bee decline often forgets these key pollinators.

A top producer of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, Arizona farmers could take a major hit if native bee populations continue to decline.

“There are a lot of cases where honeybees cannot do the job of pollination in an agriculture setting,” said Kathryn Busby, a

Entomologist Kathryn Busby shows her collection of native bees in the University of Arizona. (Photo by Kaite Fletcher/Arizona Sonora News)

University of Arizona graduate student in entomology. “Certain types of plants require buzz pollination. Native bees just do it better.”

Native bees include bumble bees, Mason bees and carpenter bees.

Arizona holds the highest diversity of bees in the country, said pollination ecologist Stephen Buchmann, with 1,300 species that call the state home. Honeybees represent only a small number of those species.

“People aren’t aware that native bees even exist. Like the jeweled green bees – the beautiful ones, they are all around us,” Busby said. “If you look down at a flower, you are likely to see one.”

The first study on wild bees, released in 2016, suggests wild bee abundance declined in 23 percent of the U.S., including many key agricultural regions. This creates a discrepancy between increasing crop demand and falling wild bee populations. It shows that some of the most pollinator dependent crops have the strongest mismatch, such as apples and watermelon.

The first map to show the status of wild bee abundance in North America as of 2013. Photo by: © PNAS

A map of the identified regions that face mismatch between wild bee populations and crop demand. Photo by: © PNAS

Habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use threaten these native bee populations.

“Colony collapse is a combination of all these factors – chemicals, pathogens, mites, monoculture crops that affect honeybees,” Busby said. “All these things also affect the native bees. It is just much harder to quantify (for solidary native bees) because an individual nest would be abandon and no one would notice.”

Colony collapse disorder, first reported in 2006, is when a majority of adult worker bees vacate the hive with the queen and immature bees still inside.

Honeybee keepers have struggled to keep up with the increasing demand for pollination services, partly because of this abandonment. Less bees and more demand lead to increased costs for farmers.

Lucas Schvindt, a local hobbyist beekeeper, was raised around beehives in Uruguay, where his grandfather tended to 10 hives in the countryside. Some of his bees currently sit on an alfalfa field.

Commercial bee keepers tow their beehives around the country to pollinate different crops – something that most smaller, family owned farms cannot afford. The price per hive is about $200 for a couple weeks of pollination, said Buchmann, with up to two colonies needed per acre of crops.

People have the “best intentions” to help pollinators when they start beekeeping, said Schvindt, but sometimes other native pollinators are displaced in the process. Schvindt explained how an area can be oversaturated by honey bees that can outcompete native pollinators for natural resources.

Lucas Schvindt examines his honeybee hives in northeast Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Kaite Fletcher/Arizona Sonora News)

The decline of bees not only harms the natural ecosystems, but also food security and the agricultural economy that go hand in hand.

Buchmann coined the phrase, “Thank a pollinator for every third bite of food,” back in 1996 to promote his book “Forgotten Pollinators,” he said, yet recent research showed that the statistic still holds true. Thirty-five percent of food production worldwide are pollinated by bees.

There is a $200 billion worldwide industry of pollination, according to Busby, including all pollinators from bees to bats to butterflies.

Bee pollination alone adds about $20 billion in value to agriculture crops in the U.S. each year, said Busby, because between 66 and 75 percent of crops require pollination by bees. This includes tomatoes, blueberries, almonds, squash and many more fruits, nuts and vegetables that are vital to a balanced human diet. Other crops include cotton and alfalfa, which is a major source of a cow’s diet.

This is critical in Arizona, where agriculture and agribusiness make a $17.1 billion economic impact and supports 77,000 jobs statewide, according to the 2016 Guide to Arizona Agriculture.

A comb-style hive that belongs to Schvindt. (Photo by Kaite Fletcher/Arizona Sonora News)

Increased agriculture destroys nesting habitat for solidary bees and limits their diets to a single crop. Sufficient natural pollinator habitat within farmland allows native bees to continue to make a major contribution to pollination services.

“If you really want to help the pollinators, plant flowers and local native plants for the bees,” Schvindt said.

Pollinators have been evolving with plants for 125 million years. Flowering plants radiated when bees buzzed onto the scene, evolving into the species known by modern botanists.

Climate change has created a phenological mismatch between flowering plants and pollinators, which is when the timing of a mutual relationship between two species does not coincide as before.

In simpler terms, for example, flowers bloom earlier in the warmer spring air before bees are prepared to pollinate. By the time bees are active, a flower’s pollination period has come to an end and cannot be serviced by the bees. There is also less food for the bees and their offspring.

It is a double-edged sword because if one partner becomes extinct, then the other does not have a chance for survival.

Kaite Fletcher is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach her at kdfletcher9@email.arizona.edu

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Magic made at UA’s mirror lab

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Chandler Donald.

 

Stuart Weinberger, manager of the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, points to the load displacers underneath an 8.4-meter mirror. (Photo by: Chandler Donald/ Arizona Sonora News)

Saturdays, for most people at the University of Arizona football stadium, focus on tailgating and touchdowns. But for some, the focus is on making the world’s largest and most advanced mirrors.

The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, located on the stadium’s east wing, makes mirrors the size of swimming pools for the biggest telescopes in astronomy.

The Richard F. Caris Mirror lab sits on the east wing of the University of Arizona Football stadium. (Photo by: Chandler Donald / Arizona Sonora News)

“There is no other place in the world that does what the mirror lab does,” said Christian Veillet, director of the Large Binocular Telescope. “It makes the biggest ones on the planet.”

The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab was established in 1980 with its innovative use of the honeycomb shape to build mirrors on the cutting edge of astronomy. World-renowned projects included the Large Binocular Telescope, the Magellan Telescope, the Multiple Mirror Telescope, and the lab is currently working on the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

“There would be no LBT without the Mirror Lab,” Veillet said. “We are like the forerunner for the GMT.”

Built in the early 1990s, the LBT is able to produce an image resolution with two 8.4 meter mirrors that would equal that of a single 23-meter mirror, according to Viellet. It’s much easier for scientists to build smaller mirrors wih more accuracy.

“With this technology, we have been able to discover volcanoes erupting on Jupiter’s moon Io,” Veillet said. Before the LBT, images of Io were too blurry to distinguish the landscape. 

Because of the high resolution of LBT’s images, astronomers are able to look at things not only in the solar system but far beyond.  Veillet said they look at light from galaxies 9 billion light years away. Because light takes time to travel, what they see is an image of a galaxy 9 billion years prior, giving them, and the scientific community at large, insight into the origins of our own galaxy.

LBT is also one of the top telescopes looking for asteroids entering our solar system. If there is a big one headed for Earth, the astronomers at the LBT might be the first ones to see it, according to Veillet.

The mirrors take time and ingenuity to cast, according to Steward Observatory Director Buell Jannuzi. In the late ’60s, astronomers were starting to figure out what worked and what didn’t when it came to building telescope mirrors. UA and the Smithsonian Institute collaborated to make the Multiple Mirror Telescope or MMT on Mount Hopkins south of Tucson, Jannuzi said.

The mirrors for the MMT were salvaged from a failed NASA space telescope. They were made hollow and small because of the weight restrictions that come with sending a telescope into space.

Damon Jackson of the casting team fastens cables on the spin casting furnace. (Photo by: Chandler Donald/ Arizona Sonora News)

Before then only huge single mirrors were used for Earth-based telescopes. They were hard to make and difficult to transport. What they found using multiple smaller, hollow mirrors was a surprisingly clear image resolution, according to Jannuzi. They came to find hollow mirrors had an advantage for Earth-based telescopes as well; they could heat up and cool down to the temperature around them much faster which meant much less atmospheric distortion. Think about how the air above asphalt becomes distorted on a hot day.

Then, UA astronomy professor Roger Angel, UA astronomer John Hill and others took the idea of multiple hollow mirrors working in tandem and ran with it. The idea of a honeycomb shape was to allow for the lightest and most hollow framework that would still allow for structural support and rigidity.

“He started in the backyard of his house doing some tests with a small oven,” Jannuzi said about Angel. “Eventually we moved to the space in the east wing of the stadium.”  

When the lab first started, the group could only cast 3.5-meter mirrors. The key to success, said Jannuzi, was the spin-casting technique. Essentially, the glass is laid out on top of a styrofoam-like mold which is later power-washed out to create the hollow effect, and slowly spun in a giant furnace creating a saucer shape. But with a series of upgrades throughout the 1990s, they were able to successfully cast mirrors as large as 8.4 meters, the size that will be going onto the GMT in 2024.

The mirror lift is set in position to transport an 8.4-meter mirror on Wednesday, Sept. 26. (Photo by: Chandler Donald/ Arizona Sonora News)

“Because we’re busy making the GMT mirrors, we’re sending some of the 6.5-meter mirrors over to the College of Optical Sciences,” Jannuzi said. “They’re polishing one mirror for the TAO telescope which is going to Chajnantor, an 18,000-foot-high mountaintop in Chile; they’re also working for the Mexican National Observatory on San Pedro Martir, which is in Baja California.”

In some ways, the casting is the easy part. Buddy Martin, the mirror lab’s lead scientist for polishing and measuring, said it takes about two years after the casting before the mirrors are ready to ship.

“The next stage is called grinding,” Martin said. “The diamond-studded grinder removes glass and is able to get the accuracy of the mirror to one-thousandth of an inch.”

This process takes about a year and doesn’t even scratch the surface of how accurate these mirrors need to be.

The next step, polishing, is where Martin and his team come in.

“It’s wearing the material off at a very slow rate so you can slowly get to an accuracy of one-millionth of an inch,” Martin said. “That’s the bottleneck in this process.”

The polishing team goes through cycles of measuring and making changes in the glass. This is done by programming the polishing tool to make micro adjustments where Martin and his team of engineers see room for improvements, then measuring the accuracy of the glass compared to a computer-generated “perfect mirror.”

The mirrors are measured in a tower at the lab. The measurement tools need to be high above the mirror to detect imperfections in the lightwaves gathered. The polishing team uses a multitude of overlapping tests to ensure no mistakes in measurement were made, something that Martin said can never be ruled out.

To make the process even more difficult, scientists and engineers working on the mirror need to account for every movement of the mirror — from taking it from the lab to the testing tower, all the way to the intercontinental flight destination of the telescope. 

“With something that large, you can never assume that it will hold its shape,” Martin said.

Still, with laser measurement tools, Martin is able to detect irregularities at one-fifth of one-millionth of an inch.

“We are pushing the limits of the knowledge we have and the work we’ve done, or that anyone has ever done,” Martin said.

To give some perspective on the accuracy of the mirrors, If you took an 8.4-meter mirror made at the Richard F. Caris mirror lab and scaled it up 1 million times, it would be about the size of North America, according to Martin. He said the largest bump in the mirror would only be an inch high and the deepest valley would be an inch low.  

“The LBT, as well as the MMT, were pioneers in adaptive optics,” Jannuzi said. “There’s blurring that’s caused by your telescope jittering or heat near your mirror, but there is also all sorts of disturbance in the atmosphere, so they’re able to take that out by changing the shape of the mirror.”

In the reference body, or structural support, of the mirror there are magnets. Astronomers wanting to adjust for a blurred image can adjust the magnetic resonance in the mirror which makes small changes to the shape of the mirror, correcting for any blur.

Leslie Utley examines a mirror segment for the Giant Magellan Telescope. (Photo by: Chandler Donald/ Arizona Sonora News)

In the ’90s, Jannuzi said, three main types of mirrors were implemented. All three worked, but the large and thin meniscus mirrors were very fragile and hard to make, and smaller segmented mirrors took a lot of time to produce. Mirrors made at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab may take a long time to produce, but they are sturdier and telescopes usually only need one or two of them. At the moment, the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab is the only one making mirrors for large Earth-based telescopes in the world, according to Jannuzi.

The only other competitor in the race for the best images of space are space-based telescopes. Space telescopes have a particular advantage over Earth-based because there is no atmosphere to distort the image. But Jannuzi isn’t worried about the mirror lab losing any business.

“It’s always cheaper to build a really big telescope on Earth than it is to send one into space,” Jannuzi said.

For example, NASA’s successor to the Hubble Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2021, will cost about $10 billion. The James Web Telescope’s segmented mirror, made by NASA, will be 6.5 meters across. Meanwhile, the GMT, featuring UA’s 8.4-meter mirrors, will have 10 times the resolution power as Hubble and will only cost $1.3 billion to make, according to Jannuzi.

As of now, the mirror lab has cast five 8.4-meter mirror segments for the GMT, to be completed in 2024. The first segment is finished polishing and the second is close behind. They are also casting several 6.5-meter segments for the Mexican government and the University of Tokyo.

“6.5-meter segments are a good size for people who need mirrors for cheap,” Jannuzi said.  Having a higher number of smaller mirrors in production is good for astronomy, according to Jannuzi, because there is an infinite amount of space and only so many eyes looking at it.

Jannuzi said the state has provided the mirror lab with funding for salaries and operations, but the majority of the mirror lab’s funding comes from grants and donations, such as $20 million in gifts from Richard F. Caris in 2015.

Caris was the owner of Interface Inc., which makes electrical components for UA mirrors. His financial impact on UA’s contribution to the GMT led to the renaming of the mirror lab. The lab is also supported by contracts like that with the Mexican government and the University of Tokyo, to build mirrors which cost from $15 million to $25 million depending on the size, according to Jannuzi.  

While Jannuzi admitted the mirror lab doesn’t make any profit for the state, the university or themselves, the success of the mirror lab is reflected in all the discoveries, data and innovations made by the astronomers using UA mirrors.

Chandler Donald is a reporter for the Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at chandlerjd@email.arizona.edu. 

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