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Posted on: November 20, 2019

Talking About the Future

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What happens when you get a group of young community members from Apache Junction together and ask them to create a brand and vision for their hometown.

Although you may expect the typical, “There’s nothing to do here” or “Walmart is fun,” sort of commentary, a group of 20 youth came up with a few insights that were far more inspiring.

The city of Apache Junction, in partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Local First AZ Rural Development Council, recently embarked on a project to develop a narrative about the true identity and “brand” of the Apache Junction community.


As part of the process, the team wanted to conduct a workshop with local youth where their perceptions of the community could be discussed. In this session, youth from Apache Junction High School, Imagine Prep and Central Arizona College – Superstition Mountain Campus shared what it’s like to grow up in Apache Junction, their favorite assets and attractions, and what the community would look like if it grew in a way that was meaningful to them.

They pointed out the support system that only people from small towns can understand and each of them proudly spoke of the direction in which their community is working together to reinvent itself. Challenges identified in the community included:

●          Parents having to commute to work due to a lack of local jobs, causing them to be away from home for longer periods of time

●          Lack of options for indoor activities and gathering spaces

●          No walkability due to lack of sidewalks and roads in disrepair

After a little food for thought (mostly Doritos and Tootsie Rolls), the group discussed the many ways Apache Junction is not like its surrounding communities; acknowledging this fact alone as part of its charm. Using the kind of imagination only youth can muster, the group broke out into pods and created a vision for Apache Junction in 10 years; visions that if came to fruition would inspire them to stay and raise their own families in their hometown. The group thoughtfully tackled issues affecting Apache Junction such as education, workforce development, crime and housing; proposing solutions which included:

●          A teen commission for events (and the development of a Thanksgiving Day parade)

●          Safe crosswalks and pedestrian-courteous drivers

●          Better schools and increased donations to youth events and activities

●          Additional health clinics and housing developments to bring more jobs and more residents

●          More greenscapes and “life” added to rustic landscape

By combining the perspectives of long-time residents with those that have only had the opportunity to observe; opportunities for improvement become increasingly apparent. So what’s next for Apache Junction? If these kids have anything to do with it, it will definitely be something bright!

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