Explore Class 2 Visits Mesa

May 26, 2023

Exploring local cities is such a valuable part of the Explore experience because it sheds light on places that exist just a short distance from where most people live. In Mesa, community leaders are using arts and culture as a vehicle to change the city’s narrative and create impact in a broader context.

Our visit to Mesa provided a chance to reconnect with the leaders that hosted us last year. We spent the first half of our day learning from the leaders at RAIL Community Development Corporation, who shed light on some of the ways that decisions made over time and the current gentrification trends are affecting residents in the Mesa community. 

We took a tour of the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown and discussed the changes happening in the area and the unique experiences of specific neighborhoods. We then went to K’e Learning Lab and met with Carmen Guerrero from Cultural Coalition who shared her work curating cultural events for the community. 

Next, Pam and Darryl Slim shared their work supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs and they honored us with a beautiful Navajo ceremony. 

Our next stop was the new Arizona State University Media and Immersive eXperience (MIX) Center, where we toured the space and saw the incredible technology and resources available for students, and many available for use by the community as well. 

Then, we headed to the Mesa Arts Center where the Deputy Director, Mandy Tripoli, gave us a full tour of the beautiful campus and we learned that the building was voted for by the residents, who chose to tax themselves to create this incredible asset for the region. 

We ended our day with a discussion with the local council representative, Jenn Duff, and the director of the Downtown Mesa Association, Nancy Hormann. They shared how their work and vision plays into the activity in the downtown area and some insight into the evolution of the area over the past 15 years. 

Throughout our day, the Explore participants’ ideas of Mesa were challenged, pushing back on existing assumptions and broadening their perspectives to include a multifaceted understanding of what Mesa is, who lives there, and what it has to offer. 

This experience demonstrated once again that there is room to deepen our understanding of the places that we think we know, and that Arizona is full of surprises tucked away in every corner we visit.  

For more photos, please visit our Facebook album.

Special thanks to all of our community partners who made the trip such an incredible experience.

Johanna RichardsASU
Councilmember Jen DuffCity of Mesa
Jeff McVayCity of Mesa
Augie GastelumPatchwork Community Inclusion
Ryan WinkleRAIL CDC
Pamela SlimK’e Learning Lab
Darryl SlimK’e Learning Lab
Arianna Huerta-CrummeyASU MIX
Mandy TripoliMAC Engagement Director
Carmen GuerreroCultural Coalition
Nancy HormannDMA
Michelle DonovanNile Coffee Shop
Scott SmithFormer Mesa Mayor
Orvid CutlerQue Chevere
Maria CutlerQue Chevere

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