Legislative Roundup: Home-based businesses, jazz festival, school safety

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News.

Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News

PHOENIX — The Legislature’s optimistic sine die (last day) target of April 17th has come and gone, with only a couple dozen bills left on the calendar. Last week’s announcement of Gov. Doug Ducey’s new teacher salary pay increase has continued to make waves, as his supporters cheer and teachers hold the line on what they say are vague promises.

Teachers across the state voted to strike on Thursday night, in an effort to secure victories for support staff and per-student funding. Seventy-eight percent of the 57,000 votes were in favor of the walkout, which will take place next Thursday.

On top of that, the Don Shooter expulsion saga started a new chapter on Monday. Former Yuma Rep. Shooter filed a Notice of Claim through his attorney, announcing his intent to sue Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) and the state of Arizona for his expulsion. Shooter was expelled from the House with a vote of 57-3, following the release of a report from an independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. The Notice of Claim alleges a conspiracy between Mesnard and the Office of the Governor to force Shooter out because of his investigation into misappropriation of funds.

Otherwise, here’s what happened around the Legislature:

School Safety

The Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee voted 4-3 on Thursday to advance Ducey’s school safety legislation. The bill, SB 1519, was introduced by Sen. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa) and would create a new type of court order of protection that would target those who pose a credible danger to the public. These Severe Threat Orders of Protection (STOP) can be requested by significant others, family members, and other close relations of a person who may be dangerous.

“This is on a clear and convincing evidence basis,” Smith said. “Which is significant, credible evidence that somebody is going to really harm or really kill people.”

Once the report is filed and a credible threat is established, the respondent will be picked up by local law enforcement and transported “to an evaluation agency as soon as practicable.” The person will be served the order and is guaranteed a hearing within 24 hours of being served. If the judge determines the threat to still exist, then the respondent would be brought to an evaluation agency to be evaluated within 72 hours of arrival. After the evaluation, another hearing will be set within 24 hours — here, if the evaluation supports the finding of danger, the respondent will become a prohibited possessor of a firearm for 21 days and could be ordered to undergo treatment.

“We believe these are steps that will ensure our kids and teachers will be safer at school,” Smith said.

That’s because this process is only one part of the bill — there are additional provisions for a laundry list of school security solutions that truly run the gamut. Things like the establishment of suicide prevention programs to educate teachers on identifying suicidal behavior, printing the safe schools hotline on student IDs, training school staff as gun-carrying reserve peace officers, mandatory reporting of violent offenses on campus as well as increased funding for the deployment of School Resource Officers.

All of these disparate programs will be managed through the center for school safety in the Arizona counter terrorism information center. This Center is run by the Department of Public Safety — according to Colonel Frank Milstead, the Director of DPS, this centralization is vital to ensuring safety across the state.

“The School Resource Officers are paramount to the interaction between the schools, the students and law enforcement and the funding is much needed,” Milstead said.

School resource officers were a second-fiddle debate in a nearly four hours-long hearing that mainly focused on how appropriate it was to preemptively take away a person’s guns through the STOP orders. The Arizona Citizens Defense League, a grassroots gun lobbying group, was originally opposed to the legislation because of this — but switched to neutral during the amendment process that led to the bill’s current form.

“It’s supposed to be school safety bill and a lot of the problem that we see is that it doesn’t address the problem adequately,” AZCDL lobbyist Dave Kopp said.

However, a majority of the committee’s members found it adequate. The next step for SB 1519 is the Senate Rules Committee, where it must be determined to be constitutional and in proper form.

Jazz Festival

Jazz saxophonist Neamen Lyles plays onstage at the 2nd Annual Jazz at Lunch Time Concert at the Arizona Capitol. (Photo by: Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News)

Offering a break from the bluster of the Legislature, the Arizona Jazz Festival set up shop on Wednesday to bring music to the Capitol for the second year in a row. Vendors selling arts and crafts were joined by a food truck, turning the street-side festival into a jazz-themed farmer’s market. The concert featured performers such as jazz saxophonists Neamen Lyles and William “Doc” Jones as well as poet Truth Be Told.

The Festival is the Capitol Mall celebration of Jazz Day, which the Arizona Jazz Festival has now spent seven years celebrating. The event on Wednesday was free, but concerts held elsewhere in the Phoenix area required tickets. According to the event’s website, proceeds from those sales go to support  NextStudent Academy for the Arts, which “works with local schools to make jazz music education and instruments available and accessible to students from kindergarten through college.”

Working From Home

The House voted 32-25 on Monday in support of a bill that would ease restrictions on running a home-based business. SB 1387 was first introduced by Sen. Gail Griffin (R-Hereford) as a bill requiring the disclosure of leftover paint and batteries during a home sale — but was changed with a “Strike Everything” amendment in the House to the current form. The bill passed in the House would allow a person looking to run a home-based business to do so without having to buy a special license, install fire sprinklers or rezone their home.

As long as the business is “no-impact” and employs less than three non-family members as employees, the business owner can operate in their own home. Rep. Jeff Weninger (R- Chandler) claimed that this bill would make starting home businesses easier for the poor — Rep. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson) disagreed.

“We are giving them sort of a false promise,” Engel said. “They could easily fall out of this category.”

That category was the “no-impact” label — if a business grows to the point where it affects the neighborhood it is in, then the business would have to move to a traditional place of business.

“I doubt people who are poor are falling over themselves that we are protecting them from being too successful for running their own business,” Weninger said. “But as you grow, you’re going to want to expand.”

The bill now goes back to the Senate. If it passes there, it will go to Ducey to be signed into law.

Erik Kolsrud is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at ekolsrud@email.arizona.edu.

Read more

Arizona leads nation in female farmers

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Amanda Sladek / Arizona Sonora News.

Donna Bruce holding one of her chickens in front of her plant beds on her farm Sharing Life’s Abundance (Photo by: Amanda Sladek / Arizona Sonora News).

In Queen Creek, Arizona, you can find a 1.33-acre lot growing oranges, apples, figs, peaches, pears, grapes, sugarcane, lettuce, tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, okra, corn, green beans – and also raising chickens for meat and eggs, sheep for meat and goats for milk.

It is one of 7,835 farms in Arizona run by a woman.

The farm, named Sharing Life’s Abundance, is owned and operated by Donna Bruce. She’s a registered nurse who works at the hospital 40 hours a week. Since her husband died last year, she operates the farm on her own.  She has no hired staff, just friends and neighbors who lend a helping hand when they can.

Two sheep on Donna Bruce’s farm Sharing Life’s Abundance. (Photo by: Amanda Sladek / Arizona Sonora News)

According to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 45 percent of the farmers in Arizona are women, making it the state with the highest proportion of women farmers in the country. Women make up 30 percent of farmers in the United States as a whole, and are at the forefront of change in modern farming.

Women generally have smaller farms, use sustainable practices and favor growing food over commodity crops such as cotton and wheat. The average size of farms with female operators is just 359 acres, compared to an average farm size of 1,312 acres for all farms in the state.

One of the plant beds on Donna Bruce’s farm. Each are designated by the month she can harvest the crops inside. (Photo by Amanda Sladek / Arizona Sonora News)

Bruce believes the high percentage of female farmers in Arizona is due to the state’s climate, allowing for the year-round growing of crops. Her busiest season for crops is the winter, while her busiest season for livestock is the spring.

In the book The Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture, the five authors credit the rise of women in agriculture to a few reasons, including more women pursuing opportunities in organic and sustainable farming on smaller pieces of land with less equipment needed. Women also have been establishing farms in unconventional ways including adding educational components.

Women farmers have been successful in developing networks to share information and found that “this kind of peer-to-peer networking has been an important innovation for women farmers,” the authors note.

Bruce says women farmers in Arizona share a strong sense of community. She’s in contact with many of the state’s female farmers, in part through multiple, private Facebook groups where they share tricks of the trade.

Donna Bruce holding an egg, laid by one of her chickens, on her farm Sharing Life’s Abundance (Photo by: Amanda Sladek / Arizona Sonora News).

Bruce has been farming since she was 12 years old. She would follow her grandfather around when he gardened and raised rabbits and chickens. He taught her about sustainability –  planting one’s own seeds, using manure from one’s animals and growing the animal feed all on the property. Bruce has used sustainable practices at her farms since, including aquaponics.

At the center of Bruce’s farm is family. Most of the food and milk she gets from her farm is shared with her adult children and family. The rest is sold at local farmers markets.

“My kids ate better than the next-door neighbors who were the kids of a doctor and a lawyer,” says Bruce.

Amanda Sladek is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at amandasladek@email.arizona.edu.

Click here for for a Word version of this story and and high-resolution photos.

Read more

For NCAA, one-and-done rule causes more issues than solutions

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Alex DeMarzo/ Arizona Sonora News.

Prior to the 2006 NBA draft, former commissioner David Stern instituted the one-and-done rule that many believe caused the corruption in college basketball today.

Some people think that if athletes have the ability to enter the league out of high school, they should. Others believe athletes need to stay in college for more than a year, not only to polish their game, but take advantage of a free education.

Dave Heeke, director of athletics at the University of Arizona, favors eliminating the one-and-done rule.

“Somewhere in this conversation we have lost the value of a college education,” Heeke said. “I understand that there a lot of extreme demands that come with being a student-athlete, but people all over this world clamor and want to get a degree.

“It is pretty darn powerful when you walk out of here debt-free with a degree in hand.”

Student-athletes only need to pass six credits in the fall semester of their freshman year to be eligible to play in the spring.

Ben Simmons, a Philadelphia 76ers guard, took advantage of that loophole during his one season playing at Louisiana State University. According to ESPN, his GPA was under 2.0.

Many NBA scouts believed Simmons had the talent to come to the league after his senior year of high school and be a No. 1 pick in the draft, but to be eligible he was required to play in college. He had no interest in being there.

In  “One and Done,” a Showtime documentary that follows Simmons during his one season at LSU into the NBA draft, he said,  “They preach education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”

The one-and-done rule has not only devalued the student part of student-athlete, but many believe it created a corrupt recruiting system among top tier basketball programs to snag best players they can.

Deandre Ayton, UA’s one-and-done athlete, looks to score past Cal’s Kingsley Okoroh during the Arizona-Cal game on Saturday, March 3 in McKale Center. (Photo by: © Simon Asher / The Daily Wildcat)

Federal documents and bank records obtained by Yahoo Sports show at least 20 Division I basketball programs have participated in an underground recruiting operation with former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports. One of the most notable programs is the University of Arizona.

At least 25 current and retroactive athletes have been named in association with this scandal.

Heeke said he does not think the one-and-done rule is the exact cause of the corruption, but it is unfortunately a by-product of a flawed system. 

This recent scandal brings back the topic of pay-to-play. The college basketball players are the most vocal about this because they generate some of the most money for the school and the NCAA.

According to CBS News, the most profitable business for the NCAA is the March Madness tournament. It earned roughly $900 million during the three week tournament in 2014.

These athletes earn a full-ride scholarship and a stipend every month for food and housing. The major issue is these additional funds are only a fraction of the money generated off their likeness for NCAA.

Business Insider calculated the average Division I basketball player is worth nearly $171,000 per year, while the 351 programs take in an average of over $4.5 million per year.

Many complications await any pay-to-play plan.

“There is more than men’s basketball, we have 500 student-athletes spread across multiple sports at the University of Arizona,” Heeke said. If you decide to pay athletes, he questions how programs would share equitably the money among these student-athletes who do not generate as much? “That is one thing to keep in perspective,” Heeke said.

Revenue generated from high-profile sports such as basketball and football goes back into the athletic department, and it essentially funds all other campus sports.

Heeke is against the idea of paying athletes because it would go against amateurism and would turn college athletics into a professionalized system, he said.

Critics and researchers of one-and-done would like to see it structured where athletes can be drafted straight out of high school, but if they choose to go to a four-year college, they must stay for at least three years or at least 21 years of age — just like the eligibility rule for the MLB.

“I think we should allow incoming perspective student-athletes, in the sport of basketball, as we do in baseball, the opportunity to retain certified and sanctioned financial advisors to provide them with solid guidance,” Heeke said. “So, they can evaluate that decision to see if it is in their best interest to go to college or enter the draft.”

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

“Click here for a word version of this story and high resolution photos.”

Read more

How does sexual assault impact minorities?

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Isaac Rounseville/Arizona Sonora News.

Nationwide studies of sexual assault indicate that racial minorities, transgender people and people with disabilities are targets of sexual violence at greater rates than the general population.

The studies, conducted at universities, health centers and hospitals across the nation, all support one emergent truth: that sexual violence, and the harmful psychological impacts of it, fall disproportionately on minority groups.

Transgender students, which included individuals who identified the opposite sex they were biologically born with, were three times as likely to be sexually assaulted than non-transgender men, according to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Other sexual minorities were also reported to be victims of sexual violence at greater rates than their heterosexual colleagues.

Transgender students who were bisexual, for instance, experienced sexual assault at rates nearly six times those of white heterosexual males. Black transgender students suffered sexual assault most severely relative to their peers, at 55.6 percent, in comparison to white cisgender women, at 8 percent. (Cisgender refers to people who are not transgender.) Similar rates of disproportionality were found in a 2015 study commissioned by the National Center for Transgender Equality, a nonprofit organization that advocates for changes in federal discrimination and health care policies.

Thea Cola, coordinator for Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention at the University of Arizona’s Women’s Resource Center, believes that these results flow from disproportionate power dynamics between minority groups.

“Sexual assault is based off of power and control,” said Cola. “People in more marginalized groups, like members of the LGBTQ community, are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence because they’re on the receiving end of a harmful power dynamic.”

 

The disproportionate rate at which transgender people and sexual minorities are targets of sexual violence is also shown in data from campus studies. According to the 2015 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault & Sexual Misconduct for the University of Arizona, non-heterosexual students are victimized at nearly twice the rate of heterosexual students. Students with registered disabilities also report increased rates of sexual violence.

“Campus sexual assault research is a new field, so there’s not a lot of information,” said Cola. “But what people are uncovering so far tends to reflect more national studies, which show that race and sexuality are associated with higher rates of assault.”

Racial minorities are also disproportionately impacted by acts of sexual violence. One study, conducted in 2011 and published in the Journal of Women’s Health, indicated that non-Hispanic black, Native American and Hispanic women women reported greater rates of intimate partner violence (43.7, 46 and 37.1 percent, respectively) than non-Hispanic white women (34.6 percent). Another 2011 study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, also revealed that sexual violence fell disproportionately on black and Native American females in relationships.

Studies also reveal that victims of a minority race tend to experience more severe trauma in recovering from their experience with rape or assault. Theorists indicate that this could be because the combination of sexual and racial victimization magnifies the impact of a violent experience. A study published in the Journal of Family Violence in 2015, which relied on a sample of 905 women over three years, concluded that racial minorities were more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their assault.

But in addition to power dynamics between majority and minority populations, some studies theorize that certain cultural attitudes – particularly ones that place greater blame on female victims for not doing more to avoid assault in the first place – can result in greater rates of sexual violence.

“Rape culture is basically a culture or environment that trivializes rape, makes it seem normal, or shifts responsibility from the rapist to the rape victim,” said Cola. “On college campuses, it’s a form of harmful socialization – where people can fall back into victim blaming, which is not supportive or survivor-centered in any way.”

Attitudes that trivialize rape or explain it as a failure of the victim aren’t limited to college campuses. One 2003 study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology indicated that Asian, black and Latino Americans were more likely to blame victims than Caucasian Americans. This study involved presenting 336 undergraduate students with a short story about a rape victim and then subjecting them with a battery of tests to measure their empathy.

But one running theme in almost all studies about race and sexual assault is the difficulty of disentangling race from several other factors that can influence one’s vulnerability to sexual assault. These include an individual’s socioeconomic status, level of education, employment, marital status and location.

For instance, a caucasian female living in a rural area, where resources like law enforcement and legal services are harder to access, may be more vulnerable to sexual victimization than a Latino woman living closer to legal aid in an urban area. Heterosexual individuals who are poorer and lesser educated, and not fully informed of their rights or resources, may also be more susceptible to sexual assault than homosexuals who are wealthy and well educated.

“There’s honestly not that much research showing how sexual assault affects different groups in different ways,” said Cola. “In addition to addressing sexual assault in our own personal lives, we need to encourage more research and education about how it affects communities we aren’t directly a part of.”

Click here for a Word version of this story and infographics.

 

 

 

 

Read more

The exceptional difficulty of prosecuting rape

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Isaac Rounseville /Arizona Sonora News.

 

Sexual assault remains the most underreported and underprosecuted violent crime in the United States. Of the small fraction of incidents that are reported, even fewer incidents actually result in investigations, charges and convictions.

“It’s extremely underreported, both on and off campus,” said Rene Hernandez, police officer and crime prevention specialist at the University of Arizona. “There is still a major stigma that keeps victims from coming forward.”

According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, (BJS) considered the gold standard of statistical analysis by specialists in criminology and law enforcement, fewer than 1 in 4 victims of sexual assault or rape report their experiences to the police. Of those who report in Arizona, only 1 of every 10 reports result in an arrest.

 
Sexual assault, according to the BJS, encompasses a “wide range of victimizations,” such as attempted attacks, unwanted contact and verbal intimidation. This is a separate category from rape, which is defined as “forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion, as well as physical force.

When focusing on incidences of rape, there is a stark drop off between the amount of rapes reported to the police and the number of arrests, charges and sentences actually made.

The FBI, which gathers crime data throughout the U.S., recorded 3,290 rapes as reported to law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona in 2016. But police only made 344 arrests of alleged rapists.

The FBI’s definition of rape is slightly more inclusive than the definition used by the BJS. This is because it doesn’t require that a rape must be “forcible,” just that vaginal, anal or oral penetration by a sex organ is against the victim’s consent.

This change was made to reflect a growing body of evidence that indicates the majority of rapes came from friends, colleagues or family members. These perpetrators usually exercise psychological or emotional coercion over their victims rather than brute force.

Recent data on the prosecution of sexual assault suggests that even when victims do press charges, very few reports of rape or sexual assault result in a trial.

Many cases are either thrown out or don’t reach a sentencing phase. According to a 10-year study by the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, less than half of arrests lead to charges actually being filed. Of these, even fewer lead to convictions. Those that do get convicted face a minimum sentence of more than five years in prison if it’s their first assault offense.

“Coming forward as a rape victim is extremely challenging, especially if the perpetrator is a former friend or colleague,” said Tracy Miller, a prosecutor at the Pima County Attorney’s Office.

“Other crimes like burglary and physical assault are also very invasive and emotionally taxing,” Miller said. “But with sexual assault, you are forced to grapple with a deep, intimate invasion of privacy that you can’t escape, that you just have to get through by finding strength within yourself and hopefully from your friends and family.”

When an arrest is made, it is just the first step of what tends to be a long procedure in the U.S. criminal justice system. In order to ensure a perpetrator is held accountable, prosecutors typically rely on three main factors, ideally in combination: forensic evidence, a victim who is willing to testify, and a narrative that judges and jurors will find convincing.

But ensuring even one of those factors can be a very difficult, delicate and time-consuming task.

“More frequently, the victims I assist to don’t have visible signs of forcible rape, which could include tearing, bruising or marks,” Miller said. “This lack of clean-cut evidence can make prosecuting a case more difficult.”

For instance, the process of obtaining forensic evidence immediately after a rape can be invasive, particularly when victims unintentionally wash away potential DNA evidence.

In addition to physical obstacles of obtaining evidence, there are immense cultural obstacles that survivors and prosecutors must work against. Because of the social stigma surrounding the status of rape survivors, many refuse to testify or press forward with criminal charges.

Survivors also must deal with strategies of defense lawyers that cast doubt on their credibility, personal stories and motives for bringing charges of rape. This is despite peer-reviewed publications indicating that the rate of false accusations falls between 2 to 10 percent of national cases.

“The default position tends to be to blame the victim,” said Julia Schimmel, a political science and Arabic major at the University of Arizona. “To ask what they were wearing, what they were doing, or what they could have done differently. It shifts blame away from the perpetrator.”

In response to new pressure from students and advocacy groups, police organizations are trying to reconsider their approach to the crime.

“We used to just stick to a completely fact-based investigation in collecting evidence,” said Hernandez. “Now, in addition to the evidence, we do our best to understand how the survivor has been traumatized and what we can do to ease the process for them.”

Sometimes, the very act of collecting evidence through questioning the circumstances of a rape can evoke feelings of shame for a survivor.

“All too often, people frame their questions in a way that blames the victim,” said Miller. “The feeling that it’s her fault plays a great role in deterring a victim from speaking out.”

“Jurors often craft narratives to judge the credibility of a victim,” said Miller. “Testifying in front of a jury, bearing all the circumstances of an attack, can be extremely difficult for a survivor.”

The systemic inertia of the U.S. criminal justice system can deter many victims from reporting assaults or bringing charges. Some proponents suggest lowering the burden of proof for convicting perpetrators of sexual assault, which currently stands at beyond a reasonable doubt, the heaviest legal burden in the justice system.

In 2011, the Department of Education pushed for universities to alter their codes of conduct to address sexual assault on campus. Specifically, his administration required universities to lower the burden of proof for sexual assault conviction to a preponderance of the evidence, which only means by the greater weight of the evidence (or more that 50 percent). This change left the burden of proof in state and federal courts – beyond a reasonable doubt – unchanged.

But others don’t think such drastic changes are necessary.

“I don’t think we need to alter the burden of evidence,” said Schimmel. “I think we just need to work more on elevating victims, on trusting them. Rather than seeing their stories as aberrations, we need to come to terms with how uncomfortably common they are. I think the #MeToo movement has done a good job of that, so far.”

Many proponents also appeal to human decency, rather than institutional forces, as the key to addressing sexual assault.

“What more people need to realize in these circumstances is, could this person be my future wife? Or the future wife of someone else?” asked Hernandez. “If we get more people to realize the humanity of individuals, both before and after a crime occurs, we can put a dent in sexual assault.”

Click here for a Word version of this story and infographics.

Read more

UA team studies environmental impacts on cultural resources in the West

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Ava Garcia/Arizona Sonora News Service.

Cones encircle an adobe failure on the side of the San José de Tumacácori church. The hole is a result of heavy rainstorms in February, where water got under the structure’s plaster layer and got to the adobe underneath. (Photo by Ava Garcia/Arizona Sonora News Service)

There’s a hole in a 218-year-old building in Tumacácori National Historical Park. It’s the result of rain affecting the historic building’s adobe structure. It’s what can happen when environmental effects impact cultural resources, and it’s the focus of a new study by a University of Arizona team.

The team, comprised of six UA experts hailing from a variety of disciplines and three National Park Service members, is studying how environmental stressors affect cultural resources in the West. These resources include man-made national monuments, parks and historical parks.

“There’s been a lot of work done with climate change or identifying environmental stressors and their impact on natural resources,” said R. Brooks Jeffery, co-principal investigator of the study and professor in the UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. “What hasn’t been done in the past, though, is the same amount of attention and systematic research around cultural resources.”

These cultural landscapes are spread out all over the West. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the National Park Service, the team is embarking on a three-year study of the inter-mountain west region of the NPS, which includes Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

The UA team is collaborating with the NPS Vanishing Treasures Program, which supports the preservation of historically built architecture and archaeological sites. The program provides technical support and training to staff in parks across the West.

The environmental stressors that affect cultural resources vary depending on their location. Some areas may be more concerned with wildfire and erosion while others face extremes in freezing and thawing temperatures, according to Jeremy Weiss, a member of the team and a research scientist with Cooperative Extension in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

In a desert environment, much of the damage that affects cultural resources stems from water, in the form of heavy precipitation and flooding, according to Lauren Meyer, program manager of the Vanishing Treasures Program. Fire and wind can also affect cultural resources.

Those stressors can create problems for the preservation of national monuments. Jeffery said extreme weather conditions can have a “disastrous effect” on above-ground adobe structures, and many pre-20th century structures in national parks are made out of similar earthen materials.

“If that material is exposed to an overabundance of water, then the adobe literally melts because it will erode,” Jeffery said.

Flood waters from rain can also create arroyos or drainage patterns that may erode soil structures under the sites, as well as create saturation and degradation, Meyer said.

These environmental impacts don’t just affect cultural resources like monuments and archeological sites. Wilson Hunter, deputy superintendent of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, said cultural resources also include the 80 native families who live in the canyon. Hunter said their farming is being affected by environmental factors such as overgrowth of invasive species of plants and a dropped water table.

And those environmental impacts may not be slowing down anytime soon. Meyer, who has worked with the Vanishing Treasures Program since 2002, said over time she has seen increased severe weather in certain areas in New Mexico and Arizona.

She points to Tumacácori National Historical Park as an example. The park has two monsoon seasons each year, and Meyer said in the last several years they brought in a lot of rain multiple days in a row, leaving the park’s adobe structures with little time to dry out, which has resulted in losses on those buildings.

A close-up of a crack in the trial wash coat of plaster covering the adobe structure of the Convento Ruin in Tumacácori National Historical Park. Cracks like this can be the result of age or rain. (Photo by Ava Garcia/Arizona Sonora News Service)

Roger Dorr, integrated chief of resource management at Tumacácori, said rain affects the park’s historical structures when water gets into cracks in their plaster and wets the adobe beneath it. He said the park’s main structure, a church that dates back to 1800, has had two partial wall collapses this year from a rainstorm in February. Despite the park staff’s monitoring of the walls, the rain found its way into a crack high on the structure.

“The adobe can only take so much before it fails, and that’s what happened,” Dorr said.

To prepare for potential future damage to cultural resources, Meyer said it’s important to understand the unique environmental conditions of each park and what maintenance needs to be done, as well as identifying areas at a higher risk of being damaged to be strategic in how they design interventions.

The research team plans to do just that: They will spend their first year studying the impacts of the individual environmental stressors in the parks and then the next year identifying strategies to prevent damage to the cultural resources. The third year will center on communicating those strategies to the parks so they can carry out mitigation strategies themselves.

“It’s clear that cultural heritage is immobile,” Meyer said. “It sits in the environment in which it was it was built, and it’s not like you can easily pick it up out of that environment and move it somewhere else in order to better protect it. The protections have to be done onsite.”

Some parks already have mitigation efforts that date back decades. Katherine Shaum, archeological technician at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, said she has seen the effects of UV exposure, heat and monsoon rains on historic structures and ruins in the park. But the Great House, the largest ruin in the park, is covered by a roof-like shelter that was built in 1932. Shaum said the roof protects the ruin from sunrays and heat, and it’s the unprotected lower walls of the ruin that are most affected by the monsoon rains.

“A lot of these prehistoric sites, they had people living in them who were able to take care of the buildings, probably on a daily basis, and then when these people leave and especially when their roofs disappear, makes them open to the elements, their deterioration increases,” Shaum said. “The roof shelter is basically a replacement roof and ceiling system. I think it definitely helps prolong the life of the structure.”

The interior of the San Jose de Tumacacori church in Tumacacori National Historical Park. Construction on the mission church began around 1800. (Photo by Ava Garcia/Arizona Sonora News Service)

These cultural resources can be just as much a part of the identity of the American West as natural features of parks such as Yellowstone National Park, Jeffery said.

“The understanding of Hohokam ruins like in Casa Grande, or Mesa Verde for example, or the Spanish colonial heritage that we have, really begins to help us understand where we came from, what our heritage is,” Jeffrey said. “And the continued legacy of those historic and ethnic groups that are still here and are part of the hybrid identity of places like the West — that is this layered landscape of different ethnic and historic influences.”

Ava Garcia is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at agarcia9@email.arizona.edu.

Click here for a Word version of this story and high-resolution photos.

Read more

Exceeding the last day of the Legislature comes at cost

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News.

Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News

PHOENIX — April 17th is the 100th day of the Arizona State Legislature, the milestone that marks what should be the end of the legislative session. The operative word is “should,” because with bills left for consideration, the Legislature isn’t going anywhere quite yet.

Running past sine die — the Latin term for the time of adjournment — isn’t anything new for the Legislature, it’s common practice. Things come up, bills take longer to debate and controversies must be dealt with. This year was no different, with Gov. Doug Ducey’s Special Legislative Session to pass his opioid act and the expulsion of former Rep. Don Shooter took up a portion of precious legislative time.

Each day the Legislature remains open means another day of full security, janitors, office managers, legislative assistants, clerks and pages. They all get a paycheck and it adds up. However, many of them are on staff year round — for the Legislative Council, work doesn’t end when the legislators do. According to Executive Director Michael Braun, sine die just means its time to switch gears.

“We’re here year round, full time, with a variety of responsibilities,” Braun said. “We just change hats.”

The legislators themselves, however, aren’t so versatile.

Their salaries are set by statute — each legislator earns $23,000 a year as well as $35 per day for the first 120 days of the session, and then $10 per day if there’s any time after that. Legislators living outside of Maricopa County earn an extra $25 per day for the first 100, then an additional $10 per day after that.

Time for some math: Arizona has 60 representatives, 28 of which have districts that exist solely outside of Maricopa County. All 60 earn their $35 per day, and those 28 earn an additional $25 per day. For 100 days of the Legislature, that comes out to $280,000 in per diem salaries. The Senate is made up of 30 senators, with 11 outside Maricopa County. Earning the same rate puts that chamber at $132,000.

Salaries being what they are, the legislators can run the session an extra 20 days to pick up an additional $56,000 for the House and $26,500 for the Senate. Beyond that, taxpayers are on the hook for $880 and $410 per day for the House and Senate, respectively.

A 120-day session would cost nearly half a million dollars in per diem salaries alone,  a drop in the Arizona bucket — the Fiscal Year 2019 General Fund is estimated to be $9.95 billion, according to documents from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

However, that’s not to say the Legislature has free reign when it comes to extending the session beyond 100 days. According to Rule 2 of the Rules of the Arizona House of Representatives, there are a few brakes on that late-running train:

“Except as provided herein, regular sessions shall be adjourned sine die no later than Saturday of the week in which the one hundredth day from the beginning of each regular session falls. The Speaker may by declaration authorize the extension of the session for a period not to exceed seven additional days. Thereafter the session can be extended only by a majority vote of the House.”

The Senate has a near-identical end-of-session calendar in Rule 27 of the Senate Rules:

“Except as provided herein, regular sessions shall be adjourned sine die no later than Saturday of the week in which the one hundredth day from the beginning of each regular session falls. The President may by declaration authorize the extension of the session for a period of not to exceed seven additional days. Thereafter the session can be extended only by the Senate by a majority vote of the members present.”

Which means that for the Arizona State Legislature to run at least one more week, both Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) and Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler) would have to declare it so. Beyond that, the legislators themselves would have to vote on an extension.

And vote they will have to, as Gov. Doug Ducey’s pledge to increase teacher salaries by 20 percent by the year 2020 will mean last-minute legislation for the House and Senate. This further complicates the closed-door negotiations over next year’s budget, almost guaranteeing a longer session.

“It’s not every day that something of this magnitude that’s a budgetary item gets put on the table in April,” Mesnard said. “So we’ll move as quickly as we can.”

Last year the Legislative Session ran past sine die by 22 days. Since 2010, the Arizona State Legislature has only met the sine die deadline three times — in 2011, 2014, and 2015. It’s clear that hitting the deadline is the exception, rather than the rule — and 2018 will be no different.

Whether the Legislature ends next week, next month or in September is up in the air — Mesnard was evasive when asked.

“Yes,” Mesnard said, declining to comment further.

Erik Kolsrud is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at ekolsrud@email.arizona.edu.

Read more

Legislative Roundup: Gift cards, Equal Rights Amendment, fake service animals (again), NDAs

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News.

Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News

PHOENIX — The Legislature inched toward closing this week, as the threat of a teacher walk-out dominated the news landscape, in the newest development in the fight over teacher pay. In the House, tempers flared over several instances of the Rules of the House of Representatives invoked to shut down a speaker. Reps. Tony Navarrete (D-Phoenix) and Isela Blanc (D-Tempe) were both subject to points of order over Article 19, which covers impermissible debate.

Both Navarrete and Blanc were called out by Republican representatives and warned by the speaker — though Navarrete was subject to a second point of order and forced to sit. This represents a break from the more relaxed enforcement of the rules that has so far been the case this session.

Despite that, legislative action moved forward — albeit much more slowly than in the past. Here are a few examples:

Gifts Must Keep on Giving

The Senate joined the House on Wednesday in voting unanimously in favor of a bill that would preserve the value of gift cards, prohibiting expiration dates on value as well as fees associated with gift cards. Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-Gilbert) introduced SB 1264 as a piece of legislation targeting bank deposits, but a “Strike Everything”

Refillable gift cards and prepaid cards may still be subject to fees, even if gift cards are not.

amendment made by Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa) in the Senate Finance Committee transformed the bill into its current iteration.

Adding on to that, Rep. Jeff Weninger (R-Chandler) offered an amendment on the House floor to exempt re-loadable or prepaid cards from the fee-charging ban of the bill.

The bill was transmitted to the Senate, where the changes made by the House had to be found in concurrence due to the drastic nature of the changes. Now, the final step for this piece of legislation is a signature from Gov. Doug Ducey, which will put it on the books as law.

Arizona Says No to Equal Rights Amendment… Yet Again

Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley (D-Tucson) derailed the House session on Tuesday with a motion to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment — a move that was immediately countered with a motion to adjourn by House Majority Leader John Allen (R-Cave Creek).

This was an almost exact repeat of a similar episode last year, with the Powers Hannley motion quashed by a recess instead of a substitute motion to adjourn.

With a vote of 32-25 along party lines in favor of the adjourn, the House yet again avoided having to take a vote on the ERA.

The ERA proposal was first approved by the U.S. Congress in 1972 and proposed that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” The amendment was first introduced in 1921, reintroduced in 1972, and the transmitted to the states for ratification after it passed through Congress.

The deadline for ratification passed in 1982, but that hasn’t stopped these symbolic votes — the Nevada Legislature voted to ratify the ERA in 2017, and Illinois is considering ratification as well.

Fake Service Animals Face Fine

A “service dog” vest for sale on Amazon.com that comes with 50 cards that show “your rights.” (image by: Erik Kolsrud/Arizona Sonora News)

The House voted 32-26 to send a bill to Ducey’s desk that would make misrepresenting a service animal a fine-able offense. The bill, HB 2588, isn’t the first service animal misrepresentation bill this session and it took several iterations to get there. That’s because the bill was first introduced by David Cook (R-Globe) as a bill dealing with appropriations for county services. It underwent a “strike everything” amendment that reorganized the text, then another striker to get to its current form.

The crime of misrepresenting a service animal would be a civil penalty that leads to a fine of not more than $250. The bill is the latest incarnation in the quest to legislate fake service animals at the state level. It has succeeded where SB 1040 and HB 2276 failed, as well as being related to another bill that has lost traction called HB 2395.

SB1040 and HB 2276 are very similar to the passed bill, in that they create a civil fine for misrepresenting a service animal — the Senate Bill is identical in language to Cook’s bill, where HB 2276 sets a fine for $50 instead of $250. HB 2395 allows for the creation of service animal ID cards, however business owners would be prohibited from asking to see a card to prove a need for the service animal.

This vote was the last step for this piece of legislation — it will now go to Ducey to be signed into law.

Breaking NDAs in the Name of the Law

The Senate voted 29-0 in favor of a bill that would weaken the power of non-disclosure agreements both in and out of the courtroom. HB 2020 was first introduced by Rep. Maria Syms (R-Paradise Valley) and makes NDAs unenforceable in cases involving sexual offenses. According to the bill:

“A NDA is unenforceable if the person party to a NDA related to allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment  “responds to an inquiry from a peace officer or prosecutor, or makes a statement in a criminal proceeding not initiated by the party.”

Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of public funds to secure a NDA for the purpose of allegations of those sexual offenses. The bill underwent amendments for clarifying changes and a “Strike Everything” that reordered the bill and put greater emphasis on NDAs in addition to the confidentiality agreements.

The bill will now go back to the House for concurrence, due to the changes made in the Senate. If it’s found to be in concurrence, then it will finally go to Ducey to be signed into law.

ABOR Gets a Lumberjack

The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously on Thursday in favor confirming Gov. Doug Ducey’s pick for the student regent of the Arizona Board of Regents.

Lauren L’Ecuyer is a senior studying hospitality and political science at Northern Arizona University, and has served in the Association Students of Northern Arizona University for four years including one year as president. She will be representing more than 180,000 university students in her new position on the board that sets policy for the Arizona university system.

L’Ecuyer’s no stranger to state politics — her mother Jeanine L’Ecuyer, an award-winning media relations expert, was communications director for former governor Janet Napolitano. Lauren L’Ecuyer has also held an internship with Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) reelection campaign, according to her testimony in the Education Committee.

The new student regent will begin her tenure in July, though will not be able to vote in ABOR meetings for the first year of her two-year term. ABOR voted last week to approve tuition increases for Arizona universities — ASU students won’t have a tuition increase, while incoming UA and NAU students can expect 2 percent and 3.5 percent increases, respectively.

 

Erik Kolsrud is the Don Bolles Fellow covering the Legislature for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Reach him at ekolsrud@email.arizona.edu.

Read more

Reality Vs. Romanticism: Pursuing a career In the arts

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by John Ricker/Arizona Sonora News.

Enrique García Naranjo, doing an all-vinyl cumbia set as DJ Q.

Anyone can make and distribute music for the world to consume. Artists no longer need a Capitol Records or a Scooter Braun. In 2010, Damon Albarn, co-creator of popular virtual band the Gorillaz, created an entire album on iOS apps.

If you love music, you can do it on your own. But curating music and putting it out on the web is an entirely different ballgame than building yourself from the ground up in a saturated music-entertainment business.

If you don’t enjoy the grind, you can’t enjoy your passion. For those who have the will to create a lifestyle they love on their own terms, their life is a constant struggle to intertwine their reality with their romanticism.

Anthony Obi was in Arizona for the Tucson Hip-Hop Festival. Under his stage name Fat Tony, he did a DJ set from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Club Congress. Two days later he performed at the festival’s after-party. After that, he hopped on a plane and goes to his next gig in another state. Rinse and repeat.

“I’ve had a flight every week this month, this morning I put out a new song. I’m a publicist for another artist, I’ve handled his record, at the same time I’m pitching my own music,” Obi says, listing his myriad of responsibilities. “I’m in another band called Charge It To The Game, I’m dealing with our new album that’s coming out… I’m constantly doing something. Constantly out of town. Constantly working.”

Fat Tony performing at a Pussy Riot concert. (Photo by Janky Smooth)

The relentless seek-and-destroy for work has been Obi’s job for around a decade. Now 30 years old, he got his feet wet in the entertainment industry when he was a 15-year-old high schooler in Houston. Involved in the grime-core and punk scene of his area, Obi began booking shows. The first show he ever put on was for The Ergs!, a band that would end up playing an influential role in the punk genre.

“I remember being into this band called Minor Threat. I watched an interview with the singer, and they were talking about how they book their own shows, started their own record label, really DIY with their business,” Obi says. “I remember the exact moment watching that video clip and being like, ‘Damn, this dude is my age right now and he’s doing what I want to do, and what I thought I needed help to do.’”

From an early he age he wanted to learn as much as possible: how to engineer his own music, production, promoting shows. “I think that really helped me sell myself to other people that wanted to invest in me.”

And because of the work that he put in from a young age, people did end up investing in him. A record label that was under the parent company Partisan called Young Ones signed Obi and he put out two records under them.

“That is when the world first heard me. That’s the first time I got lots of press, being on Pitchfork and NPR,” he explained. “I did a DIY tour before that record deal. After that, I’ve gone on countless tours and been able to, y’know, change my life.”

But the album that he put out on his own before the deal, titled RABDARGAB, is what got his start locally in his home of Houston. With his boots on the ground, Obi worked the record around in Brooklyn, where he first started meeting people in the industry that had interest in him.

He was able to do this it without a backing support by working part time jobs, paying his friends to help him record, booking his own shows and marketing himself on the internet and in person.

“Pretty much since I signed that record deal in 2011, I’ve only worked in entertainment,” he says. “Being a writer, being a musician, being an actor sometimes, being a promoter sometimes… that’s just what I do.”

The cover of Fat Tony’s RABDARGAB album.

Most artists live that way: doing a bunch of different things to make their income. “Everything that I do, if any one of them was my only job, I’d be super broke,” Obi explains. “I couldn’t pay my rent if I only got money from photo-shoots, or only got money from writing essays, or only got money from being a DJ. All that shit together is what keeps me alive.”

“For me, being a success means I get to do me for the rest of my life, and by that I mean take on jobs, take on projects that I’m interested in,” says Obi. “Things that fulfill me in some way that put food on the table for me and my family.” If it wasn’t for music, Obi says he “wouldn’t be anywhere.”

“I never left Texas until I made music. I was never on an airplane, I didn’t grow up rich at all. This is the best job that I’ve ever had, and I hope it continues to bring more opportunities to my life.”

For many (“quote-unquote,” as Obi put it) creatives, music has been a saving grace for the non-stellar aspects that life always throws at people. Mathew Murphy, professionally known as Snap Murphy, grew up with an abusive dad. His single mother raised him and his brothers who got in trouble around a gang culture. Growing up around a lifestyle where his siblings’ culture soaked into him, as an 8-year-old, Murphy wrote his first rap.

“My brothers were laughing and they liked the rap, it was like a way of me knowing I was accepted by my role models, my big brothers” Murphy says. “I’ve just always been into it.”

Murphy, now 33, has been paying his dues in the Las Vegas hip-hop scene since he was in high school. He would skip lunch and go to other schools to battle other rappers. “That’s how I made a name for myself, because I was battling everybody locally,” he explains.

Once he turned 21 he was able to integrate into the local Vegas scene. Playing shows on the strip, getting more connections with emcees and promoters, he was grinding himself into the public view. “I was working hard, I wanted people to know my name. I never gave up,” Murphy says.

Matthew Murphy, known as Snap Murphy around Las Vegas, spitting a rhyme.

But he cautioned that statement, warning of the façade that the rap persona puts out. “I think anyone who loves making hip-hop music and wants to make a living out of, they gotta realize that you’re not gonna make a lot of money.” Audiences see big projects with illustrious names and they think the artists are eating well. “Meanwhile I’m just a starving artist with a few bucks in his pocket barely scraping by to pay my bills.”

Those bills were the hardest when Murphy was about 24 years old. “I got engaged to my girlfriend of six years and three months later she broke up with me,” Murphy explains. “I came home, she quit her job, said she’s not in love with me and left the next day.” They were renting a condo together in an expensive part of town and too much money for Murphy to afford on his own.

“I got to this point where I started selling all of my DVD collection, all these things to pay my rent for the next 10 months.” He had just started working at a new job at a business called Legacy Sports Cards. The owner was going to close up shop.

“Now here I am trying to think about what am I going to do for work, I can’t afford my bills, and then my car breaks down,” Murphy says. “Then my mom told me she’s was going to have to have heart surgery.” He got together the little money he had from selling various items and fixed his car. Then his air conditioning broke. Right when the summer hit. In the desert of Las Vegas.

“I’m driving a car with no air conditioning, I’m in a job that could be closing down any given second, my mom needs surgery, I’m barely scraping by…” Murphy’s tone changes as he continued the sentence. “I came home one day and, being that I don’t have kids and felt like I didn’t have nobody, I didn’t really have friends… I had a gun, dude, and I thought about ending my life.”

Realizing the dark place he was in, Murphy sold the gun, knowing it didn’t need to be in his presence at that time. He took that gun money and bought the book The Secret and started applying it to how he was living. He got involved with the homeless community. Although he was still near his rock-bottom, he used it as a perspective changer.

Snap Murphy in 2015. (Photo by Fred Morledge)

“Even though all these things were happening there are people that have it worse than I did. I had the perspective of my life isn’t so bad and life isn’t so hard, I need to appreciate these things,” he explains. “Things started changing for the upside for me once my attitude changed. It’s those little changes that give yourself momentum for bigger things to happen in your life.”

Like Obi, the grind that Murphy put in by himself attracted people willing to invest in him. The owner of his job at Legacy Sports Cards, the same owner that was thinking of closing, ended up penning an investment deal with Murphy. At first there was no official contract.

“It was, ‘I love who you are as a person, and I want to help you,'” Murphy says. “It was a friend-to-friend type thing. I knew I had to make something out of it.” With a newfound energy, Murphy started grinding even more and that led to more press from local Las Vegas publications and audiences. His investor saw “how serious [he] was taking everything,” and wanted to make it legal.

Next thing Murphy knows, he is driving to Hollywood in the Bentley of a former Capital Records CFO to sit down in a high-rise building and going over the terms of his investment deal. “It’s better than a record deal because in a record deal you owe them money back. I don’t owe anything,” Murphy says passionately. “The only way the investor gets his money is if I make money in music. It’s a win-win.”

Murphy came into a place where he was going through tough times, but it fueled his passion to make a career with his music. “I was coming home after work and sat in my studio for eight hours by myself after an eight-hour shift of work for a year straight,” he says. “That work you put in… this universe will give it back to you.”

Murphy is now seeing his work being gifted back. After months of reaching out to the DJ of Vegas’ new NHL team, he got to hear his song being played in his city’s biggest arena.

“It’s realizing the sacrifices. Buy a small coffee instead of large, take that initial money and put it towards something that will benefit your music,” he says, offering advice he found so far on his journey. “It’s persistence. You gotta never give up. Once artists take their craft seriously, you gotta keep pushing, you gotta go for it because it’s not gonna come to you, y’know.”

Illustration of DJ Q. (Photo by Audrey Pina)

Most artists along their journey are faced with that decision of whether to leave their current, cushiony circumstances to instead have their passion dictate their lives. Enquire García Naranjo, sometimes known as DJ Q, made that decision. “It was more on like a whim, man,” Naranjo says, “I felt like I had always been waiting to do art completely.”

Sitting on a couch, conversing with one of his mentors he brought up a simple question: “You think I should quit my job?”

“He was like, ‘yeah… yeah, you should!'” Naranjo says. His mentor gave him an Irish proverb along the lines of, “To make a leap of faith you have to trust that the ground will meet your foot.”

“After that it was more or less just figuring it out as I was going along.” He attributes two mentors in his life for giving him the tools to negotiate himself as an artist and being able to commodify the knowledge and skillset he’s built in the past.

Naranjo, 22, was a poet first. He’s done poetry workshops at summer camps, the University of Arizona and his old high school in Tucson. He’s been able to travel around because of poetry.

“I ended up winning like nine [slam poetry competitions] in a row,” he says, modestly listing his feats. “I competed in this All-City championship. I placed 2nd and won the next year. We got to compete at the Brave New Voices Poetry Festival in Berkeley. We were like the first team from Tucson to be accepted, to even apply, really.”

This was a part of Naranjo’s path of just writing for himself to being in front of an audience month-to-month for almost a year straight. After getting “burnt out” on performing, he shifted his energy into learning the craft of teaching poetry. It was around this time he got his first dose of intertwining writing and social justice when he attended a workshop on the school-to-prison-pipeline led by his two mentors. He ended up teaching the same workshop later on.

“A lot of what I come from, too, asides from art, is organizing,” says Naranjo. “So a lot of walk-outs, a lot of cultural events where we bring all elements that we like: hip-hop, mariachi, cumbia… dancing, reading, writing, talking, all that.”

DJ Q at the 2018 Tucson Hip-Hop Festival. (Photo by Andrew Emery Brown)

The connections and relationships that Naranjo made in his path leading up to quitting his job opened opportunities to sustain himself and keep the lights on… sometimes.

Naranjo recalled the week leading up to the 2018 Tucson Hip-Hop Festival: “In that week, we had our lights cut off at the crib,” he says. “We had no access to the studio, we were sleeping with candles. We’d go rehearse and come home to the dark. It was just this real humbling thing, like, we can think we’re doing a cool thing but our lights are cut off, we can’t do shit,” Naranjo says with a laugh and smile.

The harsh, economic reality of living in the United States can catch up with anyone, especially artists not yet fully cemented in the professional machine.

“It goes back to sustainability, like what you’re going to do to fund a project,” Naranjo explains. “More or less, it’s like, what do I have to take care of in the ‘real world’ so I can do my music stuff? Aight, I’ma pay rent, pay utilities and then I need records to sample and equipment to use. That’s the reality.”

Naranjo, like Murphy, cautioned not to let the arbitrary materialism get in the way of the love of the craft that is usually the origin of pursuing a creative career. “In the reality of pursuing art under the circumstances of a capitalistic society, you really have to remind yourself why you do it,” he says.

“If it’s for healing, then you’ll follow that journey to become a human being. If it’s to sustain yourself, you’ll realize that journey is making connections and those networks. Your romanticism and reality should be hand in hand. You should have a vision of what you would like to reach and the things you know you’re capable of. It begins at the moment when you start thinking about it. If you can think it, you can feel it and manifest it.”

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

Click here for a text version of the story and the elements embedded within.

 

Read more

Arizona organization helping veterans cope post-war

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Liz O'Connell/Arizona Sonora News.

It was the annual Christmas event. The time of year for joy and celebrating.

Yet, Joseph Haia felt trapped at the event in the Cardinals Stadium. Thousands of people were surrounding Haia and his wheelchair.

“Too many people around, too many things moving faster than I could,” Haia said. “It was difficult. The thought of not being able to get out of the wheelchair to run away.”

Haia suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. And this event is just one of example that triggers his PTSD.

PTSD is a disorder people develop who have gone through and experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

Common victims of PTSD are veterans. But, with a program based out of Phoenix, a man’s best friend is able to lesson those symptoms of PTSD.

Haia served in the Army for 24 years before his retirement. Then he served as a contractor in the Department of Defense for 11 years.

Haia served from Afghanistan to Iraq and the Sinai desert.

“It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that some things weren’t the same,” Haia said.

He originally went to the Veterans Affairs in Phoenix to seek medical assistance. Haia said that instead of burying his traumatic experiences like he wanted, the Veterans Affair sforced him to recall write down his experiences.

That’s when he turned to a Soldier’s Best Friend.

A Soldier’s Best Friend, an Arizona-based non profit, helps match together U.S. military veterans with PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury with a service dog. Together, the veteran and dog train to build a relationship.

Leslie Bryant works at a Soldier’s Best Friend as a service dog trainer and adoption placement coordinator.

Bryant has observed veterans when they first come into the program. She said they’re usually nervous, sweating and shaking.

Once a veteran comes into A Soldier’s Best Friend, employees find out what could trigger a veteran. Veterans could be uncomfortable in crowds or with people walking up behind them. They start to have anxiety and panic attacks, which increase their heart rate and they will get so nervous that they will have to leave those situations.

Bryant explained that once they find out what triggers veterans, they train the dogs to respond in different scenarios. The dogs learn to come up to the veteran to create space or so the veteran can pet the dog to lower his or her blood pressure.

“We teach those tasks which are what service dogs are required to do almost like teaching a trick to a dog,” Bryant said.

After the first couple of weeks or months of training, the veterans are able to go grocery shopping by themselves or go out to dinner.

“You’ll see it in their faces,” Bryant said. “They walk in the door and they’re standing up proud and tall and they’re comfortable again. Sometimes they don’t even have to tell you. You can just see when they walk down the street or into a store with their dog how much more comfortable they are.”

And that is exactly what happened for Haia.

“I can go out in public now,” Haia said. “I don’t feel threatened. I have a companion that goes with me everywhere and I’m a lot more at ease.”

Of course, there is no one size fit all solution to PTSD according to Dan Newman, a trauma specialist.

“Us humans come in all different sizes and shapes,” Newman said. “Traumas are all different sizes and shapes and our reactions to trauma effect us.”

And a Soldier’s Best Friend is just one example of treatment for PTSD.

But using dogs as a remedy has proved to be effective.

A study conducted by Myra Taylor, Mary Edwards and Julie Ann Pooley proved the positive outcome dogs have on veterans.

The results of the study state that veterans have bonded so closely with their dog, that now the dog is “able to sense their mental anguish and need for reassurance.”

“It’s been a tremendous, tremendous trip that we’ve both gone through and I just can’t imagine life without her right now,” Haia said.

Click here for a Word version of this story. 

Liz O’Connell and Ciara Encinas are reporters for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact them at eoconnell@email.arizona.edu or ciaraencinas@email.arizona.edu

Read more