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I continually hear people vocalize their disgust for the city of Phoenix. These peoples are fools; this is a place of beauty that is waiting to be uncovered. And I have proof.

It was a stormy evening. I was watching a performance at the Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix. There was a man singing like Tom Waits — gruff, emotional crooning. There was a pop and the lights went out. They flickered back on only to plunge us back into darkness.

The show did not stop, the music continued; he was too far into his music to notice the world.

Outside, it was like the apocalypse had come: violent winds pushing over everything in its way, rain — more like hail — pelting flesh and the earth; gray clouds covered the sky, only to be deformed by the occasional flicker from a lightning bolt.

When the music stopped, the world was still.

I walked outside and stood in the middle of street. I was in awe of the beauty of our city. Our meager skyline the only beacon of functioning society; the block I was in possessed no working lights.

Realization of society screeched back into my mind as the lack of traffic lights begins to cause chaos for drivers. The screeches never culminated to a crash of cars, but instead to another realization — I was surrounded by good people.

A man came up to us and told us his story. He was from New Orleans, living in Arizona just trying to survive. He was out that night trying to find alcohol and shelter.

As he left, water once again fell from the sky. And I got to thinking — everyone has a story, every place has a story.

Phoenix has survived like its mythical namesake. It has been beaten to the ground and has continually arisen from the dead. It is a city that will never allow itself to die, but instead find its rebirth from its ashes.

There are people who care about this city and refuse to let it die. We have organizations that continually work to make our city better. We have places that create a unique city, its likes never before imagined.

The brightest vision of Phoenix’s future is not found in its development, but its social services, and we have a unique organization that reflects the best of the city.

The Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development exists to prevent children from living a life of poverty they believe themselves damned to. This organization strives to help the children better themselves while creating a bright future for them.

For those who refuse to allow themselves to see beauty in Phoenix, I can only present this organization.

Most people have never heard of Tumbleweed or what it does, but it is inspiration. Beyond anything else, Tumbleweed has inspired hope for the future of Phoenix within me, and other people like me.

As the gentrification continues, the economy sinks further and children continue to find their survival on the streets, the need for organizations like Tumbleweed shines brighter than ever.

We need people to be the catalysts for change. We cannot sit back and let developers decide the future of our city. We cannot sit back idly and convince ourselves there is no hope for our city due to its size and sprawl.

We must see the hope. We must see the beauty. We must see the determination of the human citizens to survive in a land almost bare of water.

We must use organizations like Tumbleweed as inspiration — to survive like the phoenix and pick ourselves up from our ashes.

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