Tucson Fashion Week!

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Another four days of fashion-forward fun is here. This year's Tucson Fashion Week includes some big names and some super-big talents, both locally and nationally - from Project Runway stars to notable University of Arizona alums. And we're giving away tickets for each night! Here's the lowdown:

What: Mercedes-Benz Tucson Fashion Week

When: October 16th to 18th.

Where: Venues around Tucson.

1. Launch Party, Designer Competition and Presentation

Architect Nathan Lee Colkitt, a UA alumnus, will judge a Designer Competition. Each fashion designer will be given an architectural structure created by his company, Colkitt & Co, and will create a garment inspired by the architecture. A fashion installation and presentation by national vintage and secondhand clothing boutique Buffalo Exchange will add to the fun. Downtown restaurants Proper and Diablo Burger will provide the food.

When: Thursday, October 16, 5:30 - 9pm

Where: Connect Coworking, 33 South 5th Ave

Cost: VIP single $65; general admission: $35; student or standing room $15.  Tickets here.

2. The Garden Party at Tucson Botanical Gardens

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David Zyla. Photo courtesy of Tucson Fashion Week.

Another great party! Emmy award-winning stylist and author David Zyla will host The Color Story, an interactive fashion show. Joey Rodolfo, senior VP of Tommy Bahama Men’s Design and another UA Alum, will be featured with a retrospective collection of his life’s work, and special award presentation. The Hidden Garden fashion show will feature local and regional designers and unique fashion exhibits. Food provided by Blu: A Wine & Cheese Stop, Prep & Pastry, and Kingfisher.

When: Friday, October 17, 5:30 – 9:30pm

Where: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N Alvernon Way.

Cost: VIP single $100; general admission: $35; student or standing room $15. Tickets here.

3. Project Runway Showcase and Project Arizona at the Fox Theater

Another high-energy evening that opens with a spectacular costume collection from former Chair of the University of Arizona’s School of Theatre, Al Tucci. The evening will showcase Project Arizona, inspired by the TV series Project Runway and featuring three emerging designers, including Estrella Sevilla.  A dramatic fashion presentation from Tucson Fashion Week Founder, Elizabeth Denneau and her collection CandyStrike will be staged in the lobby of the theatre (more on that in this issue). TFW closes with a Project Runway Showcase featuring collections and appearances by five Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars designers. Agustin Kitchen, Acacia Real Food & Cocktails, and Penca will provide food.

When: Saturday, October 18, 6 –9pm

Where: Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St.

Cost: VIP single $100; love seat $60. Tickets here.

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A scene from last year's Tucson Fashion Week Runway. Photo by Gillian Drummond.

Win tickets now!

For the second year running, 3 Story Magazine is a proud sponsor of Tucson Fashion Week - and we have a pair of tickets to give away for each night! We'll be drawing the names from our subscriber list on Monday October 13th. Good luck! 

Dear Tucson...

Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: for Scott Matlick, the colors of Tucson's mountain ranges spell home. Photos by Rachel Miller

"Dear Tucson,

Tucson is home.

One of my first jobs in Tucson required a drive north on Houghton Road, above the river, early in the morning. When I started in the short days of early January, it first presented itself as yet another dark, quiet trip on a lonely road. Serene and relaxing, but perhaps unremarkable. As the year inched forward and sunrise began to creep into my morning commute, the majestic colors of the young sunlight rebounding off the towering Santa Catalinas straight ahead silently, but definitively,  convinced me that Tucson was my home.

Scott Matlick #thisistucson Houghton Love Letter to Tucson

There is something deeply personal about the proximity of the Tucson mountain ranges. Rather than a monstrous geological feature at the outskirts of town, there is a certain detail of character that one feels climbing the ever changing flora and climate of Mt. Lemmon Highway. They are not "the" mountains, they are our mountains.

Similarly, there is an oddly juxtaposed unity between the vastness of 1,000,000 residents and the singular smile owned by one of the Contrerases at El Guero Canelo.

We all bleed red and blue, care about green on all levels, and wake up and go to sleep to infinite shades of orange and magenta. Tucson is family. Tucson is opportunity. Tucson is local. Tucson is passion. Tucson is home."

- Scott Matlick

Santa Catalina Mountains from Houghton Road #thisistucson Scott Matlick love letters to Tucson

Scott Matlick Love Letter to Tucson #thisistucson

Scott, wife Annie and daughter. Photo courtesy of Scott Matlick.

Scott generously shared his letter (first shared on Tucson Young Professionals) with Love Letters to Tucson as part of TYP's #thisistucson campaign. The campaign's mission is to attract and retain young professionals here in Tucson. Earlier this year TYP launched a city-wide social media hashtag campaign in order to promote pride and positivity in our city. That's something we can all get behind. Scott is the Development Manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona. 

Do you have a love letter for Tucson? Visit Rachel's blog to submit one.

Dear Tucson...

Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: for Peter Norback, Tucson's sunshine brought more than just physical warmth. Photos by Rachel Miller

Dear Tucson,

Buddy Hackett, the comedian, once said that when he moved out of his mother’s house and away from her cooking he suddenly thought he was dying because “the fire in his chest was going out.”

Something similar happened to me when I moved to Tucson from Princeton, NJ 19 years ago. Over an 18-month period I began not to feel things in my hands and my knees and my shoulders. I thought I was slowly losing all sensation in my body when I realized, 'Hey, my arthritis is going away.'

peterloveletter Other things started to happen, too, like music sounded much better once my teeth stopped chattering. For 53 years I was cold for a good part of the year. I often wore coats over my coats… it was that bad for me. Then Merrill Lynch, where I worked, started to change from an investment brokerage to a bank, which they failed at in the worst possible way. I saw that coming so I left several years before the end.

onecanaweek The only thing I wanted in my life at the time was sunshine. So I just packed up and moved to Tucson. Turns out that was all I ever needed anyway. I’m healthier, which makes me happier, as does my work to help feed the hungry.

New York City was a cold reality on many levels for me. It was the best place to build my author and marketing careers. But the worst place to enjoy the outdoors for any extended period of time.

The biggest compliment I can pay Tucson is to say I am no longer cold. And that is what I love the most.

love,

Peter

We don't need the Movoto Real Estate folks to tell us that Tucson is among the nation's most caring cities. We see it daily, and beautifully, in Ben's Bells, the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, and in the simplicity of Peter Norback's One Can a Week Food Donation Program, among other fine Tucson examples. 

Rachel met Peter initially at Sprouts Farmers Market on Speedway where he was soliciting donations for the program, and then joined him in the Miles neighborhood where he started the program. Contact him if your neighborhood or school or business would like to participate in or sponsor the One Can a Week program.  Peter Norback  can be contacted at (520) 248-3694  or at pnorback@cox.net

 

 

Dear Tucson...

Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo

Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Victoria and Raul were skeptical of moving to Arizona, but Tucson won their hearts. Photos by Rachel Miller.

victoriaraul1

Dear Tucson,

When we heard we were moving to the old pueblo we were angry. Livid. All we knew of you was that you were located in Arizona, the most dreaded of the red states, with pink underwear clad prisoners and bigoted laws towards immigrants. But we had no choice; it's where work was sending us. So rather than wallow, we Googled you. What is there to do in Tucson, we asked. And the Internet answered: there is roller derby, a museum fashioned after a zoo, and one of the largest arrays of telescopes in the world. There is desert and mountains and 360 days of sunshine. There is climbing and hiking, go-kart racing and skydiving. There are monsoons, saguaros, and gila monsters. There is even an Air Force base, a major university, and thousands of proud local businesses. We were placated; we figured we could make it work.

And then we arrived: it was May, it was hot, and there was no one here. There were tumbleweeds blowing down Congress, stragglers on 4th avenue, and jobs were hard to find. But there was sunshine and mountains and AC. We found a small apartment in downtown Tucson and set about exploring our new home.

victoriaraul2 We found a extraordinarily cool place, filled with amazing, kind people, incredible, tasty restaurants, and weird plants. We found adventure everywhere we looked, with plenty of new things to try and new places to visit. And although we were initially skeptical, we've since built a home here. And we love it.

We love the sunshine, the haboobs, and the monsoons.
We love the mountains and the desert.
We love biking through town and hiking up Aspen Trail.
We love the mosaics, murals and street art.
We love the lizards, stray cats, and terrifyingly large spiders.
We love the carne asada, the cookouts, and the pools.
We love how close you are to the border, to wine country, to the Grand Canyon.
We love the star filled sky and the sunsets. Oh the sunsets!
We love "keep Tucson kind/shitty", "Bear Down", and "Free Baja AZ".

Thank you Tucson -- you will forever be in our hearts as our first home together, our oasis in the desert, our little slice of sunshine.

tkm
Vic & Raul

Victoria and Raul moved to Tucson two years ago when work brought them kicking and screaming to the Old Pueblo. What they found delighted them. They met Rachel down at Broadway and Stone close to Ben's Bells on Thursday evening and exchanged thoughts on downtown restaurants, pizza and cocktails. Victoria blogs at I scream for Sunshine where she writes about travel, food and life.

* Want to contribute to Love Letters to Tucson? More info here.

victoriaraul3

Dear Tucson...

Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Becca Ludlum, a New York transplant, smiles through the triple-digit heat. Photos by Rachel Miller.

becca1

Dear Tucson,

When I was young, I didn’t know you. You were just a place on a map with a picture of a cactus in my World Book Atlas. Growing up in upstate New York, I knew snow. I knew maple trees and fresh apples and farm stands. Humidity and snow banks and thunderstorms. I didn’t know you. I didn’t know mesquite trees or monsoons or roadside honey stands.

Now, I know. After living with you for 12 years, I know all those things. I also know about 110 degree days and which month is best for Eegee’s Flavor of the Month (July). I know about wearing sunscreen every day and not going outside without shoes in the summer – even just to grab the newspaper from your driveway.

becca4 I know to stay far away from jumping cacti and that flip flops can make crazy tan lines on your feet and that on game days the dress code for the entire city is red and blue.

I know about Mexican food – something I never had in New York. I know the difference between a flauta and a taquito (it’s in the tortilla) and I know how to cook (and eat) a proper fajita. These are things that I never dreamed I would know about when I was a little girl.

After 12 years, I know you. And I love you.

xo,

Becca

Becca lives in the sea of ocotillo that is Corona de Tucson, where the desert comes right up to the doorstep and throughout the neighborhood the sidewalks and bike paths get significant use, even on the weekday morning Rachel went out to see Becca. Rachel says it made her begin to rethink her city dwelling ways a little. You can find Becca online at My Crazy Good Life and at beccaludlum.com, where she works wonders for small businesses and bloggers.

* For more Love Letters to Tucson, and more photos, and info on contributing to Love Letters, click here. And check out Rachel Miller's new summer blogging project, One Hundred Degrees of Tucson. 

becca3

Dear Tucson...

Love-Letters-to-Tucson-logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Fabiano Moura remembers Christopher City. Photos by Rachel Miller.

christophercity1

Fabiano Moura, with fond memories of the now defunct Christopher City.

"Dear Tucson,

My introduction to you was a bit of a shock. Imagine growing up for the first ten years of your life always within minutes from the Brazilian beaches and tropical surroundings, only to land in Tucson on (what I know to be a rare) cold and dismal day in December of 1989. After landing, we made the drive across town from the airport to Ft. Lowell and Columbus, to an area that was then Christopher City, our new home.  I was young, but can remember two prevailing questions ringing through my mind: 'Why are all of the trees dead, and why is the sky grey?'

It was chilly and dry and my body was still craving the warm Brazilian tropical summer, but the excitement of being in a new country soon overcame my discomfort.

My father was brought to the University of Arizona to finish his doctorate program and my family, along with many other families in similar situations, was placed in the housing development we affectingly grew to know as Christopher City, or CC for those of us who were still learning English and had a hard time pronouncing “Christopher”.

christophercity3 CC was unlike any place I have ever experienced and holds a special place in my heart to this day. Speak to anyone who lived there and you would be hard pressed to find a different statement. For the next four years we lived in Christopher City and the stories I could tell are a tale of a different time and place, a hidden cultural melting pot and a breeding ground for adventures and childish mischief.

As kids, we of course started with the essentials: find a group of friends, find a desert, build a fort, maintain it, and defend it against all foes. My group of friends consisted of four Navajo Native Americans, two Mexicans, two Iranians, two Koreans and one kid who no one really knew where he was from. Our nationalities, religions and cultural differences came second to our love of the outdoors, building forts, roaming the surrounding desert and forbidden walks to the Circle K at Alvernon and Columbus.

christophercity2 The cultural center was a large building in the middle of the housing complex where we separated the boys from the, well, smaller boys, with amenities such as a swimming pool, diving board, ping pong table, pool table and a playground where we would have a healthy dose of daily competition for no other reason than being kids. The sun dictated our curfew… and the sun told us to stay out from sun up to sun down.

Our sunscreen consisted of a thick layer of desert dirt, and our version of war included real BB guns and a thick layer of clothing. We knew nothing of bike helmets and the front yard bushes served as a perfect catching net for jumping from the rooftops. A crowd favorite was strapping on roller blades and grabbing on to the bumpers of city buses as they entered the complex -  and seeing how long we could hold on.  Thinking back, I have no idea how we made it, but I would not trade the experience for anything!

Christopher City was a place of culture, a place of friendship and most of all a place that represented the opportunity to pursue the American dream. I will never forget it and now, as a parent, all I wish for is that my kids have even a slice of what I had growing up in that place.

love,

Fabiano"

Christopher City was a full-service community constructed in Tucson on 70 acres at Columbus Boulevard and Ft. Lowell Road. It opened in the spring of 1963. Construction was sponsored by the Catholic organization the Knights of Columbus at a cost of $5,600,000. There were efficiency and one- and two- bedroom apartments, limited nursing care, a club house, stage, pool, and small shopping center on the grounds. The community was initially marketed towards Catholics and later towards members of the Jewish and Protestant faiths.  The community didn’t do well financially and in 1966 the Federal Housing Administration foreclosed on the property. In 1967, the University of Arizona purchased the property at a price of $2,450,000 for married student housing. In 2000, the property was found to be infested with mold and was demolished.

* For more Love Letters to Tucson, and photos, click here. 

 

Dear Tucson...

Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month, in celebration of Kon Tiki's 50th birthday, regular Maggie Rickard pays homage to a Tucson classic. Photos by Rachel Miller.

maggie rickard

Dear Tucson,

I love you

I love your natural beauty and devastating sunsets.

I love the music and art that you have inspired us to make.

I love that you offer so much more than you ask in return.

I also love being able to have one of Kon Tiki’s lovely rummy cocktail at the end of an overly rough day.

I fell in love with you on vacation. Following a particularly strenuous physical therapy session, I opened the door of Kon Tiki and entered another world. While we poured over tiki on Ebay in New York, we could find no real Tiki bars. In Tucson I could be IN the Kon Tiki.

Kon Tiki is our staycation, our escape. When we want to be in another place we open the door and find paradise here. For a few hours… an escape to relax.

Maggie

maggierickard5

Velvet Hammer, aka Maggie Rickard, moved to Tucson in 2002 with her partner Mark Bloom. Drawn by the warm weather, the lack of walk-up apartment buildings and the Kon Tiki bar, Maggie and Mark have been creating beautiful glass mosaics and art as Velvet Glass since they moved here. Maggie’s alter- ego Velvet Hammer is the drummer for the Jonestown Band

You can see the rest of Maggie’s photo shoot here

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Maggie outside her favorite haunt, Kon Tiki.

Dear Tucson...

Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month, as Tucson gets ready for its sixth Festival of Books, bibliophile Holly Schaffer sends her city a note. Photos by Rachel Miller.

holly schaffer

"Dear Tucson,

I love you. And I love books too.

Let’s just get this out up front: I’m a bibliophile. I always have been and I always will be. But it’s okay. It’s nothing to be ashamed of (okay the stacks of books overrunning my shelves may be a little embarrassing, but it’s worth it).

I’m going to take a stab and say I’m not the only bibliophile in Tucson. Wanna know how I know? Four words: TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS.

Let’s roll back the clocks . . . March 2009. Many, many volunteers (myself included) had worked countless hours begging authors from around the country to come and take part in the first annual Festival. “But Tucson is a book-loving city,” I can hear the volunteers saying to (pleading with) publicists from such well-known companies as Random House and Simon & Schuster. And thank goodness we stuck with it.

holly1 I knew from the second my husband dropped me off on the University of Arizona mall the morning of Saturday, March 14 to work the U of A Press booth that all our work had paid off. Throngs of people at 9 a.m. grew into a crowd of more than 50,000 by the end of the second day.

That’s not a typo: 50,000 book lovers gathered in Tucson over one weekend to celebrate authors, literature, literacy, and the reading/writing community. Over the past five Festivals (held every March at the start of UA Spring Break), this annual event has continued to spread its wings, attracting 120,000 in 2013.

tfb logo Okay, okay . . . back to the point. I love Tucson. And I love books. And that includes the Tucson Festival of Books. It would be impossible to innumerate in one simple love letter all the amazing things that make the Festival the fourth largest in the nation. So allow me to use some trusted bullet points to do the job:

* The Festival features more than 300 presentations, 200 exhibitors, and countless opportunities to meet authors, poets, screenwriters and journalists. Panels are created by teams of volunteer book-lovers who are incredibly passionate about various subject areas, which means that Festival attendees are sure to get the best of all genres, from mystery and romance to science and outdoor adventures and everything in between.

* All proceeds from the Festival are directed toward improving literacy rates in Southern Arizona. In fact, since its launch in 2009, the Festival has contributed $900,000 to local literacy organizations.

* Science City! Basically a world within a world at the Festival, Science City gives attendees an opportunity to immerse themselves in engaging hands-on activities, lab tours, science talks, and dynamic performances. Visitors of all ages are invited to ignite their senses with the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this amazing pavilion. Organizations participating in this year’s Science City include the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter, the UA Wildcat Water Lab, Sky Island Alliance, and the Marine Awareness and Conservation Society - just to name a handful.

* Fun for the whole family. And I mean FUN. Storybook characters wandering the paved walkways, a tent for tots with story performances, puppet theatre, felt board fun, and so much more. I really can’t think of a better way to spend time with the family while encouraging a love of reading. The Festival is a must for families!

* It’s an all-hands-on-deck community event. More than 2,000 volunteers take time out of their lives to assist. Over the course of two days (and even more when you count the folks who act as volunteer drivers providing author ground transportation to and from the airport) Tucsonans act as food court hosts, entertainment support, author escorts and moderators, among many other jobs. It’s truly amazing to see so many people come out year after year to keep this event going.

* Bus scholarships, generously provided by Fiesta Bowl Charities and Citi, are made available to schools and children’s organizations to assist in providing student transportation to the Festival. Need I say more?

holly schaffer I could keep going, but really . . . do I even need to? After five years, the Festival is Tucson. People travel from out of town to attend; the UA Mall is packed solid for two days; the sun shines gloriously on tents full of books and smiling authors and readers; the food court swells with families eating, laughing, reading; the culinary tent inspires people to try new foods and drink (while filling their shelves with the best new cookbooks out there); and workshops throughout the weekend help aspiring writers become the best they can be with programs focused on research, editing, the craft of writing, promotion, and on and on.

Tucson, I love you. You are quirky and wonderful and hot as hell and beautiful. And you are a book loving town. And really, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get much better.

Oh - one quick thing before I go. If you didn’t already know this, the Festival’s website is live NOW! Check it out. This year they’ve made a color-coded genre grid with an option to create your own customized Festival schedule.

Love, your friend,
Holly"

Holly Schaffer is the Publicity Manager at the University of Arizona Press. She’s volunteered on the Tucson Festival of Books Author Committee since its inception in 2009. She’s currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. A first-time mom, Holly is most excited about attending this year’s Festival with her 18-month-old son Elliott. When she’s not enjoying some fresh air and story time in the kids' area, you will find her working at the University of Arizona Press booth.

* Visit this year's Tucson Festival of Books March 15th to 16th at the University of Arizona. More info here.

Dear Tucson...

Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue  we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month, in honor of Valentine's Day, 94.9 MIXfm's Bobby Rich gets poetic - and emotional - about his adopted town. Photos by Rachel Miller.

bobbyrich2 "Dear Tucson,

I didn’t know I’d love you, until I met you.

It wasn’t quite “at first sight,” rather it took several months of being with you every day. Then I started to “get you.”

And the more time I spent with you the better I liked you. Then it became love.

I love the looks of you, the scent of you, the unrelenting friendliness of you.

The east, west, north and the south of you.

I love the mystery of you. Even after two decades of being with you I don’t know nearly enough about you. Yet you know me, providing the familiarity I need when I’m feeling a little lost.

At the same time I can become lost in your strange ways of twisted, turning arteries. And - like the rest of us - you are a bit confused as to what you want to be when you grow up.

bobbyrich3 At any given time of the year you can cry me a river or dry my eyes. Feed me, entertain me and show your artistic understanding of colors at the beginning and end of the day.

I love reminding those who would criticize your hotness that they could be living with Chicago or Minneapolis.

And one thing I especially love is how you care for those who need help. Your empathy and concern for the helpless and underserved often proves your heartfelt desire to make yourself better.

I am at home with you. It feels right. Let’s stay together."

It started with a Tweet ('Bobby <3 Tucson'), prompting Rachel to ask Bobby for a love letter. And it ended with Bobby giving her a fabulous behind-the-scenes tour of both 94.9 MIXfm and the KGUN 9 news station. Given Bobby's love of music, Rachel wasn't surprised to see several song titles and lyrics woven into his letter.

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* Bobby Rich has been the 94.9 MIXfm morning show host since 1993. He is also active in the community, with projects such as the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona (which he was instrumental in founding), and the MIX Miracles radiothon, which raises funds for pediatric care at TMC for Children through the Children's Miracle Network.

To get you even more in the Valentine's mood, click on the video below for the story behind Rachel's blog. Got a Love Letter for Tucson? Click here.

Dear Tucson...

Love Letters to Tucson logo Each issue  we link up with Rachel Miller's Love Letters to Tucson blog for a letter from a Tucson inhabitant about why they love this fair city. This month: Aquil Joel Hameed of the new Axe Capoeira studio. Photos by Rachel Miller.

aquil1 "I ended up in Tucson because of a girl.  I moved for love, but not the love of Tucson. I hated Tucson. I hated Tucson because it wasn’t Phoenix, where I had a decent job, friends, and the capoeira group I’d trained and played with for five years.

"Before I moved down here I would travel down to Tucson for a weekend to visit my girlfriend, but we weren’t exploring Tucson. We’d basically just go out to eat and relax. At the time, I hadn’t come to appreciate the weather, the fact that it’s cooler here, the proximity of Mt. Lemmon, or the friendliness of the people in Tucson

"When I first moved here I would get in my car and drive for hours. I would pick a direction and just drive around. Sometimes I would drive until I ran out of road and for a long time would get turned around and get lost. But the next day I’d do it again. At the time I didn’t have a job in my field. The economy was crashing and it made things very difficult. I took a chance quitting my job, where I had been employed for over four years, and moved to Tucson.

aquil2 "It wasn’t until I was a little more established, finished college, and started working in my field (I am an information technology manager), that I began to fall for Tucson and see what Tucson had to offer. And then in a lot of amazing and inexplicable ways, things began to come together.

"I started falling in love with Tucson when I positioned myself to begin teaching capoeira and building a group here. Capoeira [a dance and martial art developed by African slaves that brought to Brazil] had been a large part of my life in Phoenix. I trained in our Scottsdale academy for five years as part of the international Grupo Axé Capoeira organization.  When I came down to Tucson I left my friends and my social connections there behind, but I found that the capoeira culture is very rich here. People in Tucson really resonate with capoeira and the arts. While there are maybe three capoeira groups in the Phoenix area, there are five or six in Tucson, which has a fraction of the population of the metropolitan Phoenix area.

aquil3 "Another thing I love about Tucson is that it seems that so many of the people here are grounded, positive, and friendly as a whole. When I started teaching capoeira in town, I’d be at the mall, in the grocery store, or even in restaurants, and people would stop me and say, ‘You’re the capoeira guy!’ I think I got a lot of exposure early on where I first started loosely teaching classes at a local LA Fitness.  And later they’d seen our group performing at Club Crawl or Tucson Meet Yourself, but people here are friendly enough to say hi and express their appreciation for the art form I’ve come to love. I didn’t experience that in quite this way until Tucson.

"This is a love letter to Tucson, but in a lot of ways, Tucson has taught me more about giving love to others, but even more importantly about receiving love and encouragement from the good people that come into my life. And it just so happens that Tucson has a lot of love to give.

"As for the girlfriend. she moved back to Phoenix. But I love Tucson and I love the life I have here, with my son, the capoeira academy, and my work."

Rachel met Aquil at the Axé Capoeira Tucson training space Studio Axé in midtown's Broadway Village where, under the beat of the berimbau, he almost convinced her to relive her childhood by attempting a handstand. This born-and-bred Phoenix boy has leaped the Gila River and now claims Tucson as the home he loves.

* Want to check out what Axé Capoeira Tucson is all about? They will be performing at the Tucson Festival of Books on March 15. Interested in learning Capoeria? Aquil and his instructors offer beginners and advanced classes as well as kids’ classes throughout the week. Axe Capoeira is at 2928 East Broadway Blvd. Tel: 520 990 1820.