Phoenix Loses Another Creative Force in Taz Loomans

Taz Loomans left town yesterday.

For most people, that won't mean a thing. But for those of us whose livelihood or avocation involves hand-wringing about the local state of architectural affairs, it's proof of our worst fears: that the folks who love this city and want to help it grow are bailing out on us.

Loomans, an architect and first-generation East Indian immigrant, came here in 1991 as a teenager. She studied architecture at ASU and eventually launched Blooming Rock Development, a firm focused on sustainable design and community-oriented development. Her blog has been a go-to spot for anyone who believes that Phoenix is on its way to becoming a world-class city.

Except that, just lately, Loomans is no longer certain of this possibility herself. "Phoenix doesn't offer anything that is all that remarkable," she says — and then, hearing herself, she groans. "I hate saying that! I've been such a proponent of what's good about this place for a long time. But I never really chose Phoenix, per se. I came here in high school because my family moved here. And now . . . I attribute my change of heart to how long it's taking for things to change here. Also, to where I am in my life right now."

Loomans is referring to her recent divorce, which she says changed her perspective. So, too, did a trip to Portland, Oregon.

"I fell in love with Portland on the first day," she admits. "I thought, Wow, why don't I live in a place like this, that already has everything I advocate for: walkability, people on the streets, a vibrant nature, and real commitment from its community? I came back to Phoenix and I saw how desolate and spread-out everything is. It didn't feel right to me any more."

In short, Loomans grew weary of trying to affect change in a city on its way up. She wants to live in a place that's already arrived. She admits she's as guilty as anyone of focusing on how much better things are here than they were, say, five years ago. "It's a dangerous myopia," Loomans points out. "The world is changing at a fast pace, and we need to keep up. In order to do that, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard and to stop patting ourselves on the back about how far we've come. Because we still have a lot of work to do to become a world-class city."

Loomans agrees with me that a good part of that work includes making Phoenix attractive to younger people who will want to settle here, and "re-branding" the city as something other than a place to find nice winter weather.

"We talk a lot about how Phoenix is a convenient place to live," she says. "The roads are wide, there's lots of parking. But people — particularly younger people who've lived in other big cities — need more if they're going to stay. They need a vibrant central core, a lot of coffee shops, and more neighborhood-oriented communities. Phoenix has a lot of that, but those things are not part of our national brand. We're still boasting about the dry, warm weather, which makes us sound like a good place to retire. Period."

Oregon has not turned Loomans into a Phoenix-basher. There are, she insists, a lot of things to love about this city. "I felt embraced by Phoenix," she says, "and very loved here. It's a city where it's easier to matter, easier to make a difference, because not so many people are really trying to change things, make things more vibrant. That means a lot of opportunities for creative people, but it also means it's easy not to be challenged, because there's so little competition. I'm looking forward to honing my skills in a more competitive market, which can only force me to improve in my work."

In other words, Phoenix's loss is Portland's gain.

 
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7 comments
sgbmedia
sgbmedia

Taz!!! Just as I am literally reading this in a rest stop 1 mile east of the Colorado River on my way BACK to   Phoenix after 18 months in Hell-A. Thank you for being an agent of change, voice of reason and writer of significance.  We all must follow the little voice inside ourselves and I wish you Bon Voyage, good luck and don't do anything I wouldn't do. I will think of you every time I use the teak cutting board I won as a door prize at Rogue Green II. This is akin to Yuri heading up north to me....a true sense of loss...one of the good ones departs to spread that goodness around a bit. Be well!

Trinonymous
Trinonymous

Ah, yes, the low, slate gray sky, the complete absence of a good summer thunderstorm, and...oh yeah, have your new digs checked for radon. That said, Phoenix won't become liveable again as long as AC exists for the people who just...don't really belong there.

NoFestRequired
NoFestRequired

This may be a big admission, but I don't want Phoenix to be a world-class city. The world-class cities I know are expensive to be able to appreciate the world-class lifestyle. I want as good a city as me and my city council and citizens can make it, but world-class smacks of elitism and is much a dated buzzword as "24/7 vibrant downtown".


I want to celebrate the things Phoenix IS rather than what it could aspire to be, should it choose to mow down its history and replace it with coffee houses.

jmoriarty
jmoriarty

I wish Taz nothing but happiness, but was so bummed when she decided to move. A definite loss for Phoenix.

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Portland!? What a novel idea? NOT!!!! Did she ever watch Portlandia before she decided to move to the hippy-dippy capital of the world. Please, anywhere but Portland. That place is so overdone, such a cliche.

templesofice
templesofice

@Dogbiter Yeah, no kidding. She wants to move to Portland then good for her. Evidently, she hasn't been too many places. It's funny, I hear ex-Portland residents say the same thing about their town. 

 
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