Need to switch gears on centennial planning - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Need to switch gears on centennial planning

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Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2009 2:44 pm | Updated: 3:13 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

It's look like individual Arizonans will decide how the state will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2012, through their personal commitments of time, money and ingenuity to honor this unique milestone.

Last week, largely lost amid battle budgets and an avalanche of legislative proposals, Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Centennial Commission provided an update on official efforts to prepare for the 100th anniversary of Arizona's formal entry into the United States. According to the Associated Press, they didn't have much to say beyond unveiling a new logo, a new Web site at and a commitment from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to hold special performances in Phoenix a couple of days preceding the anniversary date of Feb. 14, 2012.

State officials had expected to be much further along in their planning by now, as their work started five years ago. But a clash of visions on the scope of celebrations and political competition for control has repeatedly sidetracked the process.

Now, the state doesn't have a single dime to spare, and lawmakers already have taken back money previously set aside for centennial arrangements. Planners acknowledged Monday they will have to rely solely on private donations to fund any state-sponsored activities.

But no one should assume at this point it's going to be a disappointing birthday bash. Arizona's heritage is so much more than a few cubicles and concrete edifices of the state Capitol. We know a great many groups in every corner of the state have been working on their own ideas - historical societies and churches and local councils, teachers and poets and painters, geologists and miners and ranchers ... and who knows who else.

A series of ceremonies and permanent memorials bubbling up from the grass roots is more likely to truly capture the vast diversity of geography and people that the state of Arizona always has enjoyed. Embracing such an approach with enthusiasm could lead to an anniversary that actually connects more Arizonans to the state's legacy.

With a little faith and some innovative thinking, there's still time to prepare for Arizona's centennial in ways that will shine for the next 100 years.

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