Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2015

Neighborhoods

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  • + Palo Verde
  • + Paradise Valley
  • + Peoria
  • + Queen Creek
  • + South Phoenix
  • + South Scottsdale
  • + Sun City
  • + Surprise
  • + Tempe
  • + Tolleson
  • + Unknown
  • + Waddell
  • + West Phoenix
  • + Youngtown
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Best Of :: Megalopolitan Life

Best Friend to the Homeless

There are dozens of nonprofits around the county doing amazing work every day for the homeless, but one really stands out for going above and beyond this year. When residents took to the streets protesting the county's practice of allowing a hot, crowded, and dirty parking lot to substitute for a shortage of shelter space, the LDRC stepped up to the challenge and found a solution. Not only did staff immediately begin coordinating with officials from the city, county, state, and private sector to secure funding for a massive rapid re-housing program, but they scrambled together resources, volunteers, and trained new employees in order to turn the center into a dignified overnight emergency shelter. Now, every evening, hundreds of men and women who previously slept out on the street can spend the night in an air-conditioned, clean, and safe space that's staffed by employees trained in crisis prevention or case management. The LDRC believes that a shelter should be about engaging clients and helping connect them to services, not just providing a roof to sleep under. And we think they're doing a great job in proving this approach works.

1125 W. Jackson St., Phoenix, 85007
MAP
602-393-9930
Best Escape

We'd like to think that someday Arizona will declare February 26 "Llamas on the Loose Day." Because who, after all, can forget the afternoon earlier this year when two of these giant furry creatures escaped from their Sun City home and tore through the streets of the West Valley, overturning cars and starting trash-can fires and riots? Okay, so maybe the llamas didn't terrorize the quiet streets of Sun City, but given the viral attention they received, you'd be forgiven for thinking they had. Within minutes of their escape, the two became a global Internet sensation. People across the country stopped whatever they were doing and watched the live-stream feed with bated breath. They inspired hashtags, GIFs, even a Buzzfeed quiz. Sheriff Joe's men put up a good fight, but they were no match for the llamas, who managed to run across busy streets uninjured for an hour. When the smaller of the two was finally lassoed, the larger one darted away. She evaded capture for another 15 minutes before finally succumbing, sadly ending what arguably was the most exciting event of the year. Follow them on Twitter: @SunCityLlamas.

Best Cape

When Tania Katan left her museum gig to go to work for a tech firm in North Scottsdale, there was a lot of head-scratching among members of the arts community. What was the writer/playwright/funny girl/creative dynamo going to do at a tech firm? Turns out, a whole lot. Within her first year, Katan had launched a simple but incredibly effective campaign called "It Was Never a Dress," turning the ubiquitous ladies room icon on her ear, explaining that her dress is really a cape and encouraging girls to consider a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Demand for stickers and T-shirts was immediate, and social media gobbled up the whole thing, millions of times over. We can't wait to see what Katan has up her sleeve, er, cape next.

www.itwasneveradress.com
Best Space Explorer

THEMIS, or, as its creators at Arizona State University call it, the Thermal Emission Imaging System, made its 60,000th trip around Mars this year. The infrared camera, which has been hitchhiking aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey since 2001, has taken nearly 400,000 images of the Red Planet. In the process, it has saved a landing rover from dashing to pieces in a field of giant boulders by finding it a safe place to set down, and it has helped scientists discover old lakes and gullies carved by melting snow, among other things. You can see what THEMIS sees in real time on ASU's website. Watching the cratered landscape roll by is surreal.

201 East Orange Mall, Tempe
480-965-1790
www.themis.asu.edu
Best Month

May 2015 will go down at the wettest month on record in the United States, and the second-wettest for Arizona, with well over an inch of rainfall recorded. Here in Phoenix, we just called it heaven — a month filled with wind, rain, and unseasonably cool temperatures. By the end of May, temperatures in the Valley were well over 100 degrees, but given that summer typically starts in March around here, we were okay with that.

Best Name

It's the line reporters had itched to write from the time the Phoenix Open was renamed. "There was a waste management problem at the Waste Management Phoenix Open," belted out a lede in the Arizona Republic. Ick. Apparently, a porta-potty leaked raw sewage in puddles near the "Fry's Fan Zone" at Arizona's signature annual golf event, one of the largest in the country. It smelled, people walked through it, and it took hours to clean up. Not exactly a hole-in-one from a public relations standpoint or a fun time for event-goers. But a great lede.

17020 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, 85255
MAP
480-585-4334
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Best Friend to the Homeless: Lodestar Day Resource Center

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