Best Neighborhood 2013 | FQ Story | People & Places | Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix is home to some of the best neighborhoods in the Valley. Our pick for the best is FQ Story, just west of Seventh Avenue south of McDowell. It's one of those neighborhoods where nobody, except those who live there, drives through. So the tree-lined streets are quiet and filled with quaint little Craftsman bungalows, English Tudors and ranch-style homes built largely in the early part of the 20th century, with a few infills here and there. And as more and more people move downtown, the little historic district's 600 (or so) homes are filling up fast. Its proximity to downtown Phoenix attractions like Chase Field, Phoenix Art Museum, local restaurants, and more also make the Story neighborhood an attractive option for Phoenix house hunters.

Each year, the Willo neighborhood blocks off its streets, rolls in the food trucks, and throws open its doors to the rest of Phoenix. There's a reason this downtown Phoenix neighborhood has been named one of the best cottage neighborhoods in the country. In a city where most of the houses are cookie-cutter replications of each other, with slightly different shades of beige, Willo is a hodgepodge of Tudor-style homes, bungalows, and Midcentury Modern beauties. During the annual home tour, residents and visitors around the Valley take a self-guided tour through one of the city's oldest neighborhoods and get an inside look at some of the homes that make downtown Phoenix so unique.

Though the name rolls right of the tongue (say it with us: do-co-mo-mo), Docomomo gets its name from quite a mouthful: International Working Party for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement. Per its website, it's an international organization with a U.S. chapter that works toward the documentation and conservation (do-co) of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the modern movement (mo-mo). Thankfully, there's not a vocab quiz at the end of the annual tours that Modern Phoenix puts on in conjunction with the organization. The 2012 bus tour featured commercial buildings on the west side and began at the Ralph Haver AIA-designed Copenhagen store, formerly known as the Lou Regester building. Each year, the tour leaves us looking at Phoenix with fresh eyes and newfound curiosity about the city's history.

It seems fashion designer Tiffe Fermaint is never not working. She released the first installment of her 2013 collection, which was inspired by digital technology, in February and a glam-meets-futuristic swim line in May, and Fermaint started stitching up a children's line in between. Oh, yes, did we mention she worked a full-time job at H&M and was pregnant with her daughter Violet during all this? Because that most definitely was the case. But the designer isn't running out of material anytime soon. And for that, we are ecstatic. She consistently presents exciting, innovative designs that have us always anticipating what she might do next.

Now, it is true that most nonprofits do not include hair tutorials on their websites. But, hey, maybe they should. Because the ladies behind The Shine Project prove that you can do good and look good at the same time. They employ underprivileged kids from all kinds of backgrounds to make pretty bracelets — hand-stamped, chain-linked, bejeweled — and use the money to help them pay for college. It's a simple concept with beautiful results, in more ways than one.

As many people know — many more people than we'd like — fighting cancer is tough. There are countless appointments to make, medications to be administered, and, in short, a laundry list of things that become more important than grocery shopping and food. But one local do-gooder, Jennifer Caraway, set out to help by founding the nonprofit organization The Joy Bus in 2011. Named after a friend whom she lost to the disease, the charity helps homebound cancer patients and their family members by delivering meals directly to their homes. And they don't just offer any meals: The Joy Bus creates chef-inspired eats (in fact, two local chefs Bernie Kantak and Tracy Dempsey sit on the board of directors) that are locally grown and organic whenever possible. Offering three programs from which to choose, the foundation hopes to relieve patients and their families of some of their burden and create a support system for those who might otherwise not have one.

Not unlike Phoenix Fashion Week's aim to create relationships between up-and-coming designers and buyers, Phoenix Style Collective works to connect the city's clothes-minded. With news, boutique haps, and an annual conference, PSC's blog proves to be a go-to for those looking to become a part of the Valley's style scene, whether they're well-dressed tastemakers or business-minded entrepreneurs. The bloggers behind (and on) the scenes include GROWop's Josh Hahn, Tea Talk blogger Chelsea Brown, and A Bit of SparkleFarkle's Katherine Thornhill. With its networking events and workshops, the collective strives to put Phoenix on the fashion map by creating a well-linked community. And it succeeds with style to spare.

Cheryl Najafi isn't crazy about being compared to Martha Stewart — but it's hard not to think of the Arizona home-entertaining guru in relation to the ultimate domestic goddess. Both pride themselves on throwing beautiful parties in well-run homes. But where Stewart's a hyper-planner, Najafi's more laid back (she also isn't too crazy about cooking). With a focus on DIY projects, simple inspiration, and easy recipes, CherylStyle is a bright, fun guide to hosting decidedly unfussy get-togethers and fully enjoying your home life. On the blog, you'll find everything from how to properly pack a suitcase and pool party game suggestions to tips on looking good sans shower — complete with illustrations from Big Brain finalist Jon Arvizu.

Let's be honest, if there is any type of blog there are too many of in Phoenix, it's music blogs. And after a while, there isn't much left to say, is there? There is a finite number of active bands, after all. Yet, PHX Literal Music Reviews is different, in the same way that Rocky Horror is different from Rocky.

First of all, the reviews are literal, but painfully, painfully so. Like, guitarists are "plucky stick men" and drummers are the "hitters of circles." The main reviewer writer dude, who pens himself as Yulunga Baktai, constantly describes his reactions to live music with aching unembellishment, such as saying things like "I have to say that this show was definitely a show where music was played."

The end result is a blog that is truly reflective, blemishes and all, of the wonderful music scene we're graciously given in this flaming hot Valley. It's more of a love note than biting satire, and, best of all, it'll tickle your insides with those guttural noises we call laughter.

We love Gwen Ashley Walters' food blog, Pen and Fork — mostly for her incredible smoothie recipes and photos (can we coin the term Smoothie Porn right here and now?) and because it helps us keep up on her writing for Valley publications like Phoenix Magazine and Edible Phoenix. But even more than that, to be honest, we just love Gwen Ashley Walters. As our city takes its place in the national food scene (in a small corner, to be sure, but still, we're arriving), the backbiting, sniping, and questionable ethics among bottom feeders is only getting worse. That's why it's always such a relief to hear from Walters — whether on Instagram (follow her @chefgwen), on Facebook, or on her blog. She's honest, she speaks her mind, and she's got great taste. Thanks for keeping it classy, Chef Gwen.

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