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November 25, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Chandler History program

  |   Video
  • A look at Chandler's "history in your own backyard" program.
Category: Culture

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Ted Simons: Recently, the City of Chandler received an award from the American association of state and local history for its "history in your own backyard" program. Producer David Majure and photographer Scot Olson take us to Chandler to see what the program's all about.

David Majure: The Chandler, Arizona, we know today was shaped by its many yesterdays. By pioneer families who farmed this land and community leaders who formed this city. Their stories are enshrined on informational kiosks in city parks.

Man: We take the history to the location where the history was made and this allows people to really get an appreciation of what was here before their neighborhoods were here and brings the history to the forefront.

David Majure: It's Chandler's history in your backyard program.

Dorothy Ruoff: Here's our park. Right across the street.

David Majure: People like Dorothy, who before marrying her husband, spent her childhood as Dorothy Woods in the silk stocking neighborhood. It's located near the intersection of Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard where it park was built.

Dorothy Ruoff: If you come around on this side, you can see the houses that were here in the silk stocking neighborhood. This is my house at 245, my brother and my sisters and I, I'm right here. My younger sister, my older sister and my brother.

David Majure: Dorothy's house was built in 1921, her parents owned it many years later.

Dorothy Ruoff: They bought the house when I was three months old and moved in 1937. Dr. Chandler had in the original design of this city, he designated what it cost to build houses in certain areas and if you built a house north of Cleveland street, which is now Chandler boulevard, if you built a house north of Cleveland street it had to cost $3,000. And the idea was if you could afford a $3,000 house, you could afford to buy your wife silk stockings. And so it became kind of -- you know, jokingly called the silk stocking neighborhood. They bought this for $2,050. We have the bill of sale for the property and whoever built it spent $3,000 on it and they got a bargain.

David Majure: Chandler's roots are in agriculture. It is a small urban island surrounded by miles of farms and fields.

Dorothy Ruoff: To go to Phoenix was always an adventure because there were only a few paved roads.

David Majure: It was an adventure that some African American students experienced every day as they were bussed from Chandler to carver high school in downtown Phoenix. One of them, Willie Arbuckle is pictured here.

Willie Arbuckle: That's me. That's me and our ROTC military uniform and I enjoyed playing soldier.

David Majure: That ended in 1949 when schools were integrated and Willie was sent to Chandler High.

Willie Arbuckle: Four of us. The first four African American students to attend Chandler. In 1951, Robert Turner and I were the first two African Americans to graduate from Chandler High School.

David Majure: That's his history. But Arbuckle Park is named for his mother. They moved to Chandler to work the fields picking cotton. Her husband died when Willie was eight. Leaving her to care for five kids on her own. She cared for them and just about everyone else in Chandler’s African American community.

Willie Arbuckle: She was just a force for good.

David Majure: She became a community leader who will be remembered as a peacekeeper.

Willie Arbuckle: 1968, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. An African American male, down through town tearing up stuff. Which was a big mistake.

David Majure: She calmed their nerves and talked them into a solidarity march.

Willie Arbuckle: She was a stabilizing influence in our part of the city.

>> Always been proud to say that Chandler was my hometown. Thank you. [Applause]

David Majure: There are the stories of people who made the city what it is today. A city where learning about history is a walk in the park.

Ted Simons: Earlier this month on Veteran's Day, Chandler dedicated a World War II veterans' kiosk. It's the last of nine neighborhood history kiosks placed throughout the city.

Kigabo Mbazumutima

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  • Kigabo Mbazumutima is a doctor from the West African Republic of Benin who grew up in primitive conditions but was inspired by his two sisters to obtain a medical degree. He is now working, along with help from Arizona State University, to bring medical care to his people. Mbazumutima will talk about his efforts and his life.
  • Dr. Kigabo Mbazumutima
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Kigabo Mbazumutima has a unique story to tell. He grew up in primitive conditions in the east Congo, a life that included no running water, no electricity, no cars, and not even a road for cars. Medical care was nonexistent but Kigabo had a dream of becoming a doctor, and after realizing that dream, he had another goal: To take medical care back to his homeland. He's doing that with help from Arizona State University. I recently spoke with Kigabo about his life and his efforts to help others. Kigabo, thank you for joining us here on "Horizon."

Kigabo Mbazumutima: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about you. Your upbringing, if you would.

Kigabo Mbazumutima: I am born in the east of Congo. And a place called the high plateau. It's a village where there is no road, there is no electricity, there is no running water. People live there, a wild life. And people don't have access to healthcare. And when we was very young, I -- we used to see people having babies in homes. My mom had 11 children, all 10 were born in home. The last one had to go -- my mother had to go to the hospital, but they had to transport her for four or five days before she get to the hospital. And it was terrible. But it was a normal life. It was a normal life to see people getting sick, getting no treatment. All of what people were able do was to have medications prepared by wise men or wise women and give to people. That's how people were able to give and were to recover or to die. And women were dying in my own eyes. Until my younger -- my older sister, who was at that time, the only girl who had a high school diploma, died when she was giving birth and she was my hero. She was the person who used to tell me, Kigabo, as you are smart in school. What if you become the first doctor in this area, as I became the first girl to have a high school diploma? I didn't make my decision, even though I knew that was something, you know, necessary to do, but since she died, I said I have to become a doctor. I will do whatever it take to become a doctor.

Ted Simons: Did you have a mentor? Did you have people helping you and assisting you as you pursued this -- as you pursued this dream? It's one thing to say I want to be a doctor. You achieved it. How did you get it done?

Kigabo Mbazumutima: When I said it, people believed it was grief for the death of my sister. We're poor, just leave him alone. He's going through grief. But I was serious about that, and since my parents noticed that I was serious about that, they decided to help me. It was a very -- it was very difficult. Very challenging to have money to pay tuition, to live with -- without any assistance from the government.

Ted Simons: Became a doctor, and I know worked along those lines and I know your family was responsible for you getting to America and Arizona, where you have decided to go back and help some of the folks that you were raised W. talk to us about the African American health new horizons.

Kigabo Mbazumutima: I saw it was possible to do it. But after my graduation, it was like a dream, because it was not like an official -- it was not incorporated. It was not tax-exempt. It was not -- you know, it was just a dream that became, again, active, and the whole idea was doing so many things on my own, to build a clinic with my sister and to travel and talk to some organization about my dream. Funding very well. But still it was a dream, I was not able to go far. Until I met the TVSG.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about that. It's an Arizona program that helps organizations like yours.

Kigabo Mbazumutima: And TVSG took my story, everything I was telling, my dream and everything, and they found a way, a professional way, to make my dream become a nonprofit, to become an organization, an official organization.

Ted Simons: Assisting legal matters and these sorts of things.

Kigabo Mbazumutima: They assisted in legal matters and, you know, we were discussing like we were all part of one team. I didn't feel like a client. And I didn't feel -- see them ace service provider, who were just discussing everything, and services they were able to provide, like the incorporation, the bylaws and the tax exempt, with the I.R.S. application, they did everything. I was coming, answering questions and they were finding a way to put it in a professional way to become a legal foundation for my organization.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, last question here -- how are things going in the organization? Are you making a difference in Africa?

Kigabo Mbazumutima: Actually, I am making a great difference. Different level. First of all, on the level of hope, we went and traveled to Africa, I saw how healthcare leaders reacted -- received us. Hospitals we visited, we met with doctors, was just amazing. It was just amazing. People saw that. Now we are there, not to look for money, but to look for a solution for every problem of access to healthcare. And now since we became an official organization, many people even here in the U.S. are responding very positively. From looking to give us financial support. American immediate association said they want to give us a container of medical equipment to take to Africa. And so many doctors in the meeting we do, conferences, when I speak with them about Africa health and new horizon and my relationship with Arizona State University and TVSG, this make a very big difference. They get interested, they make a commitment to help. And this is making a great difference.

Ted Simons: Ok. Kigabo, it's an inspiring story. Thank you so much for joining us on "Horizon."

Kigabo Mbazumutima: Thank you so much. It was an honor to be here.

Phoenix Symphony

  |   Video
  • Symphony Director, Michael Christie talks about the current season of concerts and some of the challenges the Symphony faces in our current economic climate.
  • Michael Christie - Director, Phoenix Symphony
Category: The Arts

View Transcript
Ted Simons: After a successful fund-raising campaign, it was announced the Phoenix Symphony will be providing live music for ballet Arizona's presentation of the nutcracker this holiday season. It's a significant announcement in the face of tough economic times that have been especially trying for the arts community. Joining me now to talk about the Phoenix Symphony and how it's dealing with the recession is the symphony's director, Michael Christie. Good to have you on "Horizon."

Michael Christie: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: Before we get to the money matters, what's the state of the symphony right now?

Michael Christie: Well, we're enjoying robust ticket sales. Above our goals, which is great. Contributed money is definitely where the trouble lies. We're in a real estate community and a lot of donors of commercial real estate folks and that's a little bit tricky but I'm thrilled we've been able to maintain vigorous programming.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask, does the programming change when you got to get the tickets in? Do you have find yourself veering to the war horses as opposed to new music you would like to play?

Michael Christie: I would like to play all of it. I believe variety is key. When I'm planning a whole season, nine months, I'm trying to find different points that people who like war horses, for example, will find on the calendar and people who want different kinds of experiences also. I wouldn't say there's a panacea, an easy answer to ticket sales but I've been committed to trying to have a good balance. Really good concert experience and energetic performances and ticket sales represent the success.

Ted Simons: Is that the bottom line, the ticket sales? How do you know that the innovative piece that excites people is still holding on to people who want to hear Beethoven and Bach.

Michael Christie: I think the lines have been blurred here more than a lot of communities and I think it enables us to mix things in a more provocative way and we don't have to rely on one camp in people's interest versus another.

Ted Simons: Did that one camp, the new music camp, did it go too far in not recognizing and appreciating and celebrating melody?

Michael Christie: Well, I think in many ways, yes, I don't think it appreciated and celebrated the listener to be perfectly honest. I think it was very composer centric and performer centric and didn't think about what the person hearing the music for the first time would experience and we've pass that's now and for the last 15 years and going forward, there's a whole new group of composers focusing on more topic related things. We're celebrating the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth and there's pieces about his birth and we had pieces composed about the Navajo sacred traditions and people writing melodic things related to poetry and there's a resurgence of beautiful, rich harmonies and melodies and that's been taking people's interests again.

Ted Simons: Resurgence, with the audience as well?

Michael Christie: Yes, people are relieved when they hear a piece of music and there's something they can grab on and remember as they go home.

Ted Simons: How difficult is it? Some of the 21st Century stuff, the surrealism, that seems hard to get right the first time. How difficult was it for the players?

Michael Christie: A lot is extremely complex and they're asked to produce sounds they're not used to playing and there's a lot of homework that has to go into it. On a week to week basis, some of that music is not incredibly fulfilling and people are relieved they get to sit back and make their instruments sing beautiful and a think audience and performer alike are reinvigorated by this new group of composers.

Ted Simons: The collaboration with ballet Arizona on the nutcracker, this kind of collaboration happens all the time. Is it happening more in these tough economic times?

Michael Christie: I would say generally yes, but we've been doing it for at least the time I've been here, Phoenix boys' choir and we're working more with ASU and the other communities I have been music director that's a hallmark. We say a certain number of collaborations every year and purposefully go out and do that. Here in Phoenix, that's been a big, big push for me, to have the meetings and get people excited and work in different performance venues and multimedia activities and really expand what I call expanding the pie of the symphony's influence.

Ted Simons: As far as expanding the pie in terms of the symphony's performance, where does the Phoenix Symphony rank? We're not probably L.A. and San Francisco and New York.

Michael Christie: We're high. Every time I come home, I'm just so thrilled at the orchestra's flexibility and sense of adventure. A lot of these folks have been here for quite a long time and there's the tremendous tradition, a camaraderie and team spirit that helps me in the performance of the works and so I -- I would say we are -- orchestras are grouped by budget class and when you get to $15 million and above, you're in the A orchestra. We're in the B category. $6 million to $15 million. We're the top of that category, which I'm thrilled about.

Ted Simons: We've been hearing about turmoil at the Phoenix Symphony in a variety of ways and players leaving and accusations that they're not getting along with you. I have to ask you, first, what's going on, where does that stand? And how does that affect just the image of the symphony and the orchestra?

Michael Christie: Well, cooler heads prevailed and I think it's very calm at the symphony. Of course, when I new leader comes and change happens, people wonder what's my agenda -- I think people are much more comfortable that I'm not after individuals, I'm really about creating a great environment to make music for our excited audience. And, of course, change happens and sadly a few people decided to make some of those things public, which was premature and disappointing really, for me. But every -- every -- I think, every employer, every employment has these moments when you have to ask somebody to do something and -- you know, we move forward.

Ted Simons: So you see that as growing pains.

Michael Christie: Oh, definitely, a growing pains situation.

Ted Simons: If -- with that in mind, can the Phoenix Symphony grow to -- and without talking budget so much as performance, to where everyone goes, awe, they're doing X, Y, Z, we have to get the C.D., is that still in the cards?

Michael Christie: Absolutely. We just performed one of the greatest 20th Century operas, called "Nixon in China." The audience, their jaws were on the ground. We had people calling and emailing asking for encore presentations. We had other orchestras asking us how we did this and it's my wish we continue to have all of our projects be that well known and I'm happy we're getting that notoriety.

Ted Simons: If you were on a desert island and you only had one C.D. What is the piece that you would have to have?

Michael Christie: I think I would have any number of recordings of the opera by Mozart. I think opera is just an amazing thing and if I was sitting on an island, beach, sun, palm trees, I'd want those melodies in my head.

Ted Simons: Very good. Thank you for joining us on "Horizon."