Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

August 7, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Changing Hands Bookstore

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  • From beef to books -- see how one bookstore is surviving in a tough market. Changing Hands Bookstore has taken over the building of the iconic Beef Eaters restaurant in Phoenix, which has closed, and is now peddling its products with some of the character of the restaurant still intact.
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, changing, hands, bookstore, phoenix, restaurant, beef, eaters, books,

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Ted Simons: It's not often a new bookstore opens these days. It's even more unusual to see a business take over an iconic restaurant, but that's happened in Central Phoenix. Christina Estes and Steve Aron have the story.

Every day we have a half dozen people come in to tell us their stories of this restaurant.

Christina Estes: For years Jay Newton's Beefeaters welcomed British diners. It was a popular spot for business deals and birthdays, political marriages and wedding anniversaries. Shortly after the owner died Beefeaters closed. The 17,000 square foot building sat vacant for seven years, until the owners of changing hands decided to open their second community bookstore.

Cindy Dach: It was a building the community very much wanted to save.

Christina Estes: But wanting to save something doesn’t always generate enough cash to make it happen.

Cindy Dach: As a bookstore not a lot of banks jump on the idea of loaning a model where everywhere else it's going out of business.

Christina Estes: Cindy Dach and her partners took out loans and turned to the community. They asked residents to pitch in $80,000. They collected more than $90,000.

Cindy Dach: There's a lot of ownership of people who come into the building.

That is right?

Cindy Dach: It's a legacy project. By donating, being one of the 1,100 people that made this happen, you're part of the legacy of our future.

There was a terrible jolt, the bicycle hit a rock and George flew off the seat head first.

Christina Estes: The future calls for a commitment to community events and gathering places. They kept the former restaurant's common space and added a coffee, wine and beer bar called first draft.

Cindy Dach: This is a free standing modern building. We wanted to make sure it wasn't just about us. We are now stewards of this building and how do we reflect that in our aesthetics.

Christina Estes: They removed carpeting to reveal the original floors. Installed skylights to brighten the original beams and repurposed the redwood.

Cindy Dach: Some people come in and you can tell they are looking for where they sat with their grandfather.

Shawna Eaton: They kept the -- I can tell they kept some of the rafters and fireplaces. It's very reminiscent.

Christina Estes: Shawna Eaton enjoyed some good meals in this building. Now she brings her daughter to enjoy good books.

Shawna Eaton: I think a lot of people in this area really want that kind of local flavor to come back more. They are not as willing to spend money at large chains as they are to go and shop at local shops now.

Christina Estes: Attached to the bookstore is southern rail, a new restaurant that honors its predecessor by showcasing the vintage leather booths, chandeliers and art pieces purchased in London. But they can't afford to let nostalgia cloud their business model. They need only to look at their shelves as a warning.

Cindy Dach: Last year, sadly, Over 300 Barnes & Nobles across the country closed. We reached out to seven nearby Barnes & Nobles that were closing and there was a store in Pasadena that donated all of their bookcases to us. They were on their way to the landfill. The owners were very excited that they were going to resurrect them.

Christina Estes: They added wheels so they can be easily moved. They also create a subtle reminder. That moving forward can be just as important as looking back.

Ted Simons: And while Changing Hands has only been open about three months in Phoenix, the Tempe store is celebrating its 40th year. And a reminder, we've done a lot of political coverage on the show a lot of debates. Find it all on or website at azpbs.org/horizon. Go to the website and find all of our political currently. Learn about what we've covered in the past what, we plan to cover in the future. Azpbs.org/horizon. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Ethics of Genetic Alteration

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  • The ability to alter genes for our own benefit also has the potential to be harmful to us. Arizona State University evolutionary ecologist Jim Collins is urging scientists to consider the scientific, ethical, regulatory and philosophical implications of genetic alterations. He will discuss the complicated question of the benefits and costs of genetic alteration.
Guests:
  • Jim Collins - Evolutionary Ecologist, Arizona State University
Category: Science   |   Keywords: science, ethics, genetic, alteration, asu, evolutionary, regulatory, philosophical, benefits, costs,

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Ted Simons: Gene modifying technology is increasingly being seen as a way to eliminate everything from invasive species to eliminating certain insect-borne diseases. But ASU evolutionary ecologist James Collins wants scientists to consider the ethical, regulatory and philosophical implications of genetic alterations. James Collins joins us now to discuss gene modifying technology. Good to have you here.

James Collins: Thank you.

Ted Simons: This is -- this kind of stuff is fascinating. Because you really, as you're trying to point out, you really don't know what you're getting into completely, do you?

James Collins: It's really hard to make predictions in these sorts of biological systems. It's much the point of what we've been talking about. It falls into the category of what some of my colleagues call anticipatory governance. It's the notion of anticipating what some of these changes might be, and putting in place the sort of regulations that would be really helpful in helping us control these technologies as we start to potentially put them in the field.

Ted Simons: What is gene modifying technology? What are gene drives?

James Collins: So it would be a case in which you combine mathematics, engineering, biology, to alter the genome in very predictable ways and do it quite quickly, with changes that you can then have individuals perpetuate from time to time. And therefore push this change through a population much more efficiently than has been done in the past.

Ted Simons: Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm wading in deep here. RNA program to edit precise DNA sequences. Is that in the ballpark there?

James Collins: That's in the ballpark. The engineering part of this uses the RNA, the messenger molecule, to change the basic genetic machinery of an individual. To put a simple example on the table, it would be a case where you would use one of these gene drives, for example, in a species that has two sexes, males and females, where the sex of a baby is determined by the male whether it produces a male chromosome or a female chromosome. The males would produce only male chromosomes. Meaning that eventually you wind up with a population or species that's all males and the bisexual species goes extinct.

Ted Simons: If it goes extinct and it's responsible for insect borne diseases,that's a good thing.

James Collins: It's easy to see why there's an argument for driving to extinction some types of species. There are species in sex that carry vectors for malaria, dengue fever, reducing that sort of burden on human populations.

Ted Simons: What are the concerns?

James Collins: We don't know enough about the role of insects in the basic biology, basic ecology of these ecosystems to make a prediction about what the consequences are of losing a species even like a mosquito from the ecosystem.

Ted Simons: If you're looking to get rid of an invasive plant, you're going get rid of it but you don't know what else you'll get rid of.

James Collins: That's right, that's right. It's not unlike any kind of technology. The upside is the capacity for reach in and eliminate an invasive species. The downside could be you don't have sufficient control over the genome and it could get out into a beneficial species.

Ted Simons: I was going ask about the stability of this. It sounds good, sounds like it lasts, but we don't even know if it lasts, do we?

James Collins: Right, right. There's a lot of basic research that's needed there. The problem is really quite interesting. You have basic research advances and applied research coming in right on top of it. You can see the two things going together but we don't know enough on the basic side to make the kind of predictions you want in order to use it in very responsible ways on the applied side.

Ted Simons: So again, when we were talking about -- I think you just referred to it moving from species to species, that's possible as well that. Sounds really tough.

James Collins: It is possible, because we know that in the natural world there are such things as lateral gene transfer, when genes move between different species. In fact, it's been a key part of the evolutionary process over time.

Ted Simons How far along are we with gene modifying technology right now?

James Collins: We've had some gene modifying technologies for quite a while. Genetically modifying organisms we have. The issues with these new techniques are, are we able to do it very precisely, very quickly and get changes that are very different from the organisms we have right now.

Ted Simons: And with that in mind, what kind of safety measures do you think are needed out there?

James Collins: We need to be able to step back. These technologies are imagined and being brought forward. They have groups of individuals that we argue in our paper are by definition interdisciplinary. You really want philosophers, ethicists, scientists, engineers all sitting at the table and you want ordinary citizens at the table discussing what the pros and cons are of doing these sorts of technological advances.

Ted Simons: Let's say the mosquitos.

James Collins: Sure.

Ted Simons: People are sitting at a table what, are they saying?

James Collins: They are saying the advantages from their perspective and what the disadvantages might be from the perspective of an individual who doesn't quite agree. Somehow you have to bring these voices together in a way that you come to a decision that's responsible.

Ted Simons: That is happening to a certain degree now? You may not think it's happening enough but is it happening to a certain degree?

James Collins: It is, to a certain degree. We have experience in other sorts of areas. And bringing these sorts of committees and discussions together to make decisions about the best way to move forward.

Ted Simons: How is it being handled? Obviously you can get roundtable groups and these sorts of things but how are you getting these sorts of people together?

James Collins: In our case we use a pair of workshops we organized at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the other at University of California at Berkeley. We had scientists, agency people, we had people from EPA, all sitting at the table, philosophers. All sitting at the table and having these discussions about how they think the best way forward might be.

Ted Simons: Are they specific on certain invasive species or kind of looking at the big picture and basically more of a big umbrella kind of a thing?

James Collins: Kind of a combination of both. We have power workshops with individuals coming in with very specific cases. They were at the leading edge of this sympathetic biology technology. Then you draw on that to see what types of generalizations might be able to come forward.

Ted Simons: If you're actively working in the lab, and you've got a eureka moment here, are you going to pull back because some philosopher says, wait a minute, be careful.

James Collins: We are charged to think in that way at all times. Yes, that's exactly the issue being put on the table. There's a together which you want to be responsible. Us a begin to think through what these advances could be. And furthermore, how you can use them both to advance basic science but also to advance in the applied area.

Ted Simons: How does the business world get into all of this? A lot of scientists are developing a lot of things for profit, for industry. How does that play into all of this?

James Collins: Among the cases we had several of them were from business out of biotechnology. With one was a fascinating case in which the genes for bioluminescense, the genes that cause organisms in the ocean to glow at night, have been introduced into a small plant. Now the plant glows.

Ted Simons: Oh, my goodness.

James Collins: Glowing plants. And the question then is, what do you do with that sort of technology? It's being made available. You can get seeds for glowing plants. How do you monitor and regulate that sort of technology?

Ted Simons: Everything from insects getting the time of day wrong to birds getting the time of day wrong.

James Collins: That's the point. Especially from an ecological and environmental point of view.

Ted Simons: Last question: Is the march toward modification, is this inexorable? We can talk about this all we want. As human beings, this is going to happen, isn't it?

James Collins: I think these technological advances are there on the table. They are being brought forward. And the issue that again that goes along with this notion of anticipatory governance, a big word for a simple idea, getting in front of the technologies and having these conversations and making these decisions before they are released.

Ted Simons: I know you're having these conversations, but are people listening?

James Collins: Well, we're waiting to see if they are going to listen on this one. We do think they are listening, yes.

Ted Simons: Very interesting stuff. Thanks for joining us, very interesting.

James Collins: Welcome, it's been a pleasure.

Tempe Town Lake

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  • The Tempe City Council recently denied an application for a project at Tempe Town Lake. The council decided the project from Pier at Town Lake did not have an adequate design or development density. Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell will discuss the rejection of the project and development around the lake.
Guests:
  • Mark Mitchell - Mayor, Tempe
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, tempe, town, lake, city, council, project, development, rejection,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Tempe City Council recently denied an application for a residential project at Tempe Town Lake. Such denials are not unusual and often deal with height and density concerns. But this time the concern was that the proposed development lacked the desired height and density for lakeside projects. Here now is Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.

Ted Simons: Before we get into details, where exactly is this piece of land?

Mark Mitchell: It's on the South side of Tempe Town Lake between Rural and McClintock. In the middle of Rural and McClintock on the south side of the lake.

Ted Simons: So, it's not at the intersection of Rio Salado and Rural, a little bit east of that section? Across from the golf course?

Mark Mitchell: Correct.

Ted Simons: Is that golf course sticking around for a while? What’s going on with that thing?

Mark Mitchell: I think it is, for a little bit.

Ted Simons: Now we’re taking a look at the parcel map and there on the left is Rural Road, kind of halfway back there. Now, the development application was denied because it wasn't dense enough?

Mark Mitchell: It didn't fit the vision of what the council was looking for. It was a good quality developer and a good project but not what we were looking for in this particular location. This is Tempe Town Lake and Marina Heights regarding State Farm and the development there, we're looking for more of a mixed use type of development, a little more density than just residential apartments.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about this particular development. How high, how dense was this project?

Mark Mitchell: It was a three-story high building, basically, you know, stick construction. We were looking for a little more mixed use; retail, a hotel component all in that particular area.

Ted Simons: And again, I think we have a shot there of what looks like some of the artists' renderings here. Sounds like there was a 350-some-odd unit complex, you're looking for more than that, huh?

Mark Mitchell: There's a bigger vision for that area. Not only the land they were looking at, but also other parcels of land working with ASU. There's going to be over 330 acres in and around there we're looking at to make sure they fit in the design. It just didn't fit with the overall vision we have as a council.

Ted Simons: Is there an overall height and density requirement?

Mark Mitchell: No, but it didn't have some of the right uses. There was no office or retail or commercial mixed space in that project being proposed. It didn't fit what we were looking for in the long term.

Ted Simons: Again, it's not just the fact that there were three or four stories, but it wasn’t what other projects are or planned to be?

Mark Mitchell: We were looking for a little more density. Doesn't necessarily have to be the height, but good mix of retail and office space to make it work, as opposed to just residential.

Ted Simons: How far along in the process was this project?

Mark Mitchell: It was far long in the process, but we were looking at -- they had to do an amended agreement with us, and what was proposed there was a hotel, mixed use and rental. But they were just proposing a rental, and it didn't really fit in the overall scheme.

Ted Simons: They amended the original proposal?

Mark Mitchell: They tried to. They knew what we wanted there and they have seen other -- just because we have a vision, they didn't really hit what we were trying to accomplish.

Ted Simons: Sounds like what they were saying is the market dynamics don't call for that kind of thing right now.Valid argument?

Mark Mitchell: Just a little west of there we have the largest office building ever built at one time, $600 million project, two million square feet, very artistically done. Also Hayden ferry lake with the third tower. A lot is happening in and around that area.

Ted Simons: As far as other substantive plans for the area, are there plans b, c, d?

Mark Mitchell: There are some.

Ted Simons: Who owns that land, how does that work?

Mark Mitchell: Some of the city land, we own it and we do an RFP out for it.

Ted Simons: That land is city owned?

Mark Mitchell: That land is not city owned. It's a different private company that we're trying to sell it. We own the land just south of it and a little to the east and to the west. We own the land that encapsulates that piece of land.
Ted Simons: That means you’re the one with the RFP then?
Mark Mitchell: We have an RFP on the south side with a bigger vision, but we were trying to work with that particular developer to plan it with our land. It didn't fit the vision of the overall council so we didn't move forward with the amended PAD.

Ted Simons: So whoever owns the land, are they coming back with the plans b, c, d?

Mark Mitchell: They are.

Ted Simons: Is there like a 17-story senior housing development ready to go or under consideration over there?

Mark Mitchell: Yes, there is. It's just to the west of there. It's going to be -- fit a great need. We're a very diverse community. We're not just a college town, a young professional town, but we cater to all different age groups. This is just a good fit for the area to have a good mixed use, different times of diversity within that are.

Ted Simons: When is the dirt going to move on that one?

Mark Mitchell: We're waiting to hear from the developers. The plans have been submitted and it's approved, we're just waiting to break ground. I'm assuming when ASU -- they just picked the developer for the stadium district and we have people responding, as well.

Ted Simons: When is this happening, 2015, 2016?

Mark Mitchell: It could be.

Ted Simons: Okay. Now that I've got you here, this USA basketball big deal of Mellon University, where does that stand? Right now there's just an empty Chili’s sitting there.

Mark Mitchell: There is. We have a great relationship with ASU. There's a lot of moving parts. I know ASU basketball and the OMNI group had a meeting in Las Vegas last week. There are good things coming out of that, they had their annual meeting in Las Vegas. We know they are moving forward and working well with ASU.

Ted Simons: Lots of plans, lots of things, even in that area where we're talking about, the Rio Salado and Rural. Everything from hotels to piers, something-or-others going for a million dollars, a billion dollars. We hear about them and then they float away. Are these going to float away, too?

Mark Mitchell: No. We have State Farm, Hayden Ferry Lakeside building tower three, the University Hub on Veterans Way and College, they are breaking down on their tower. We have Oliver McMillan -- excuse me, the Hanover project in downtown Tempe. We just reopened AMC Movie Theaters, a good renovated space. We have other developer planning happening in and around the downtown. We have a whole bunch of stuff happening in the southern part of our city, as well. It's very exciting to see. All the investment we've done over the years is starting to pay off. We're attracting developers so we can continue to grow so our residents can expect the quality of life they expect and enjoy.
Ted Simons: What kind of developments in the southern parts?
Mark Mitchell: The southern parts, it's going to be the global technology for GoDaddy, the Arizona State Research Park. Phenomenal project, a 200,000 square foot building, it’s going to house the technology side. Other developments happening in and around, State Farm is putting in a building there, as well. They are putting another footprint down South. They are continuing to track good high-tech companies in the southern part of our city. It's starting to pay off.

Ted Simons: Last question before you go, the streetcar, where does that stand now?

Mark Mitchell: The council selected a route on the streetcar which goes from basically where the Marina Heights project is -- we call it the C route. It goes from Rio Salado, Mill Avenue to Apache, close to probably McCallister. The goal is to get to Dorsey, but it depends on funding from our partners in Washington.

Ted Simons: It comes down Mill Avenue, does a little loop de loop in the downtown area, and hits Rio Salado and goes east --

Mark Mitchell: We hope Marina Heights, where State Farm is.

Ted Simons: Any plans of taking it to Tempe Marketplace?

Mark Mitchell: We would love to connect the Streetcar to Wrigley West. You would hit all the interest points from Wrigley West to Tempe marketplace, to the stadium district, to Marina Heights, to Hayden Ferry then come back down South and hit all of the Mill Avenue stops and points of interest, then go by the potential USA place, and moving citizens in and around the downtown area.

Ted Simons: If you're going to develop at the lakeside, bring it big or don't bring it at all.

Mark Mitchell: We want good quality that helps with the vision we're looking for.

Ted Simons: Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Mark Mitchell: Thank you.

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