9/11 - 10 Years Later

What were you doing the morning of September 11, 2001?

Phoenix resident and Gangplank co-founder Derek Neighbors was working at home for the Free Software Foundation, communicating with a global team online. "One of the guys from Austria said, 'Go turn your TV on,'" says Neighbors. "And I said, 'Why, what's going on?' And then a guy from Tennessee said, 'No, you really need to go turn your TV on.' And I turned on the TV when the second plane was hitting one of the towers."

Nick Blumberg, Public Insight Journalist for KJZZ-FM, was a child in Chicago at the time. "I was eating breakfast before school, and I heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center," he says. "I turned on the TV, and a couple minutes later, the second plane hit the second tower ... we sat and watched ABC news all day long."

Few people have forgotten what they were doing when they heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. Ten years later, many people still feel the impacts of that day, including Neighbors and Blumberg, who are two of six panelists on the "10 Years After 9/11" Community Discussion, taking place Thursday, September 8, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.

Other panelists include federal prosecutor Mike Morrisey (who's worked on National Security cases since 2005); local artist Safwat Saleem; Changing Hands Web developer Jennie Tetreault; and Christopher Toward, who served as director of New York Cares' disaster recovery program.

Neighbors was brought on board for his role as a business owner and social media expert. "They wanted insight from somebody who employs Generation Y millennials, and how it's impacted that generation," says Neighbors, who also serves as the President of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership. "A lot of people don't remember the world before 9/11, especially when it comes to airport security. Some people were used to seamless, faster travel, without all the security checks. It's interesting to see the differences between them. For one set, it's a difficult hassle, and for another, it's just par for the course."

Airport security changes will be just one aspect of the panel discussion. Neighbors says he'd also like to discuss the differences in mentality by generation. "During 9/11, people who came from the Cold War generation, they tended to be much more judgmental about race," he says. "But millennials, though it impacts them, are still blind to those issues, and fear of Muslims."

"From my perspective, it's interesting -- a ten-year anniversary is arbitrary, but also very important," Blumberg says. "It's a time to sit back and reflect on how this changed us, and what does it mean?"

Other panelists will likely discuss things like rescue efforts at Ground Zero, and the impact of 9/11 on art and popular culture. Each will likely have his or her own reasons they feel the community discussion is important. For Nieghbors, this panel is important for a couple reasons.

"I think we gave up a lot of freedom and bold thinking out of fear after 9/11," he says. "It's important to talk about it so we don't continue to go down a path of fear and the further eroding of freedoms."

Neighbors adds that 9/11 also put the United States into a more global perspective for its residents. "I think 9/11 showed that the way we operate and are seen in the world does have consequence," Neighbors says. "Just because we're the biggest and most powerful doesn't mean we're untouchable. The world is watching."

For Blumberg, the panel provides an opportunity for deeper discussion. "The panel can create a space where people can sit and talk and reflect in deeper ways, more nuanced ways," he says. "It's nice to create a space where we can have dialogue."

Thu., Sept. 8, 7 p.m., 2011
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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea