To Our Downtown Community:
I am struck daily by how difficult this current situation is and how much that difficulty varies for everyone around me. I have to admit that I am struggling. I’m struggling to find the next best step to take, both personally and professionally. The fears and concerns are coming at us from all angles. The anxiety has become a silent hum that accompanies every moment of the day. We often believe in our modern society, that we need to separate our private lives from our professional lives, but is that really possible? Don’t we want to find jobs that ignite our passion? Isn’t that passion extremely personal and close to our hearts? Also, we need to support our families and be financially viable in order to live a fulfilled life. These two sides of our existence are conjoined at the hip and yet we spend a great deal of time trying to be strong in each area -- often to the detriment of the other. I know that I personally always feel that when I’m thriving at the office, my time with my children is the sacrifice, and vice versa.
So here we are, in the most bizarre time I’ve experienced in my 45 years. We all are taking on the personal worry of what may or may not happen to our livelihoods. Many of us own our own business, so we add the stress of the employees that we may or may not be able to continue to employ. Not to mention, the deeply vulnerable position of possibly losing something that we built from the ground up. Business is personal and this pandemic is striking us right now from every side. Those of us who don’t own a business are feeling a bit removed from work and distant from our coworkers. We are trying desperately to stay connected to the people that fuel our creative energy while staying safely distant and, in some cases, helping our children navigate online learning for the first time ever. Could there be a more stressful combination of forces pressing onto all of us?
I love my job. My job is based on this place. My job is made whole by people -- people who own, operate, and manage businesses in this place - and also people who come and celebrate this vibrant place that is the beating heart of Tempe. My job is about gathering, convening, and advocating. My job is about the experience of community coming together to a common living room and being enriched by those opportunities. My job is about our sidewalks. Our parks. Our alleys. And activating our unique nooks in this place that we want people to explore and enjoy. So, needless to say, my job is now like a 1000 piece puzzle with all the pieces thrown on the ground and no photo guide to reference.
Right now, we are finding all the pieces and putting them back into their places. We are opening up and we are doing our best to manage that process in a safe and equitable way. The optimist in me, the woman who starts every day with five gratitudes, is trying to dig as deep as possible to find some positive outcomes in this recovery period. Maybe we won’t find each puzzle piece and maybe we will have to recreate some. Maybe the ending image will be different but equally as beautiful and awe inspiring because of the care and consideration that we are taking to complete our place.
I would like to ask that we all have grace for each other in the days ahead. I believe in our people. Our proud downtown businesses. Our downtown Tempe residents. Our office workers. Our bartenders. Our stylists. And our talented local artists and makers. Downtown Tempe is a community and we are stronger in this unprecedented future if we give grace and care to our army of puzzle builders.
Remember, everyone (including our business owners), are doing their best to navigate these uncharted waters. Everyone is still learning and adapting to the rapid changes of our new normal. For example, a restaurant owner may just have run out of sanitizer moments before you arrived; However, that owner is likely just as frayed and frazzled from the extreme pressures and demands being placed upon them. This isn’t easy for anyone to navigate. Take some deep breaths and offer patience.
With personal safety in mind, please come to downtown Tempe. Take a stroll in our parks. Dine or takeout from our local restaurants. Enjoy a cocktail on a breezy patio. Have brunch with your loved ones. Or wander through a store and find something unique. This is a symbiotic relationship - this place was made for people to enjoy.
We need each other. So please, stay safe, stay supportive and my hope is that we can all stay Tempe Tough through the craziest of days.
Downtown Tempe Authority/Foundation
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