"We realize that when you try to seemingly limit the rights of drivers in the city, the debate gets very heated," she says. "The streets of Phoenix are a political issue."

Until then, Phoenix Spokes People plans to provide bike valet services at different events, hoping to raise enough tip money to keep projects going — like installing bike racks at local businesses. While a fundraiser is planned to raise the cost of filing for nonprofit status (about $800), they say a Big Brain Award would go a long way. Whether or not it wins, PSP has big plans for Phoenix's roads in the future.

"I can't wait to see what happens in the next five years," Allebach-Warble says. "It's exciting to be in Phoenix now because we're creating what we will be known for." — Heather Hoch

Aisha Tedros, Culinary Art
Lauren Saria
Aisha Tedros, Culinary Art
Kimber Lanning
Evie Carpenter
Kimber Lanning

Mary Stephens | Urban Vision
For Mary Stephens, it's all about intersections.

Walking through the ever-changing courtyard of Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center in the Garfield District, she meets a Peruvian jeweler staying the night. He's on his way to Los Angeles to sell his wares. "Mucho gusto," she says, as he wheels his suitcase around the incense-scented historic bungalow to get settled in his room.

Stephens, a Phoenix native who bought the 25-bed hostel from her mother in 2010, says she's passionate about "connecting things that don't necessarily go together."

Her goal in taking over the hostel was to make it a cultural hub, similar to Mexico City's Casas de las Culturas, which she visited during her many international travels. Thanks to her time abroad, she says, "I have come to really respect the creation of arts spaces as radical aesthetic and intellectual alternatives to the status quo."

Stephens credits her English parents and her travels with what she calls her neo-Marxist European worldview with a strong class critique. And in her studies of race, culture, history, and identity in plays, she developed her interest in performing arts as a sociopolitical outlet.

At her hostel, artists and performers converge and uniquely experience Arizona. Its success is obvious. With performances and events held on a nearly weekly basis and past notable guests including Manu Chao, Ana Tijoux, and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, it's clear the space has become a destination for both staying and performing.

But that's only a fraction of what Stephens calls her work-driven life.

"At any given time," she says, "I am working on four or five projects that, in general, deal with border issues, whether that means geographical borders or identity borders."

Stephens, 34, works as a professor at Arizona State University's School of Film, Dance and Theatre and serves as producing director of the university's Performance in the Borderlands program, which presents performances often at the hostel. The initiative has presented previously banned plays like Hungry Woman and Ubu Roi, acclaimed Japanese dance duo Eiko & Koma, and Colombian street theater group Nemcatacoa.

She admits that standing at the crossroads of so many projects is exhausting, but there's nothing else she'd rather do.

And there's no other place she could do it.

Arizona's an epicenter of controversial laws, she says, where cultures come together regardless of whether people like it. But that mishmash of ideas and people can be a beautiful thing.

Stephens says the borderlands can be understood as a freeing proposition, as opposed to a battle, in which diverse cultures and world views can inform each other. That's central to her work: melding social issues with art to enhance understanding.

She points to a mural she commissioned from La Muñeca on the south side of the hostel. It features an Oaxacan pattern and a portrait of a woman in bright blue, burgundy, and red. Not your typical color combination, but, much like Stephens' view of culture in the borderlands, it comes together to create something utterly unique and surprising. — Becky Bartkowski

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. | Culinary Art
Arizonans are accustomed to seasonal beer trends: hefeweizens in the summer, pumpkin ales in autumn, and the occasional holiday cider.

But thanks to one up-and-coming brewery, Arizona is finally experiencing a trend that's truly fresh.

In the seven months since opening, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. has produced 65 beers in 44 styles. It's a turnover rate that earns the Gilbert-based beer business both devoted followers and frustrated fans. But brewery co-owners Jonathan Buford, Patrick Warem, and Brett Dettler wouldn't have it any other way.

At Arizona Wilderness Brewing, beer culture is as protected as it is intertwined with the environment around it. Using locally sourced ingredients like farro from Hayden Flour Mills, coriander from Somewhere in Thyme Spice Co., and Sel Gris French sea salt from Go Lb. Salt, the brews distilled at Arizona Wilderness are about quality rather than quantity and, as such, their time on tap is brief.

"Think about our brewing company like walking through the wilderness," Buford says. "You're going to go through your seasonal changes. You're going to go through your different climates and different terrains, and that's kind of what we model our beers after."

It's a model that the trio developed less than three years ago in Buford's Gilbert garage. The longtime outdoorsman had left his window-cleaning business to pursue what he describes as "art meets creative science." After absorbing every podcast and book on brewing (including John Palmer's How to Brew, which he still views as the beer Bible), Buford turned to Ware and Dettler to fill what he considered the voids in his beer-making operation.

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I'm going to bookmark this article to send to people who think Phoenix is nothing but tired retirees, soulless suburban sprawl, and right-wing politicians.  Lots of innovation going on in America's sixth-largest and fastest-growing city. 

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