This issue marks the 24th time we’ve invested a couple thousand hours of intensely choreographed creative effort to craft a magazine that evokes the flavors and aromas, the textures and colors, the heritages and stories, of this place we call Baja Arizona.
Just 48 months ago we were scrambling to create a new magazine from scratch. Four years later, we are gratified that Edible Baja Arizona was instrumental in helping Tucson earn a UNESCO designation as the first City of Gastronomy in the United States, which, among many other benefits, has generated nearly $17 million in national and international media coverage of Tucson’s food scene since December 2015, according to statistics compiled by Visit Tucson. We are delighted to chronicle an era of innovative ideas, new ventures, and numerous possibilities to build a strong local food economy that makes our community thrive. Although we share a licensed trademark with some 90 other Edibles, this magazine is as local as a saguaro cactus, operating with total autonomy. It sprang to life from a vision that is deeply rooted in this place; it is owned by longtime Tucsonans. We print at Courier Graphics in Phoenix. We’re proud of our fierce commitment to localism.
Our immense thanks to our loyal advertisers, without whom there would be no magazine. Please patronize them frequently and thank them for their support. As regular readers know, we always encourage you to subscribe (leaving the free copies for new readers to discover!) and we thank our stalwart subscribers. And, of course, much love and gratitude to all of our incredible collaborators and the amazing core staff that makes this publication appear like magic every eight weeks.
I want to give special acknowledgment to some folks to whom we owe a debt of gratitude: Rick Hoffman, Philip Rosenberg, and Wil Gerken stepped up 18 months ago to provide much-needed capital to enable us to continue publishing. An award-winning endeavor like Edible Baja Arizona requires significant investment—expertise and sweat equity can only go so far—and collectively we’ve invested well over half a million dollars to create the magazine you love. I share that fact to emphasize our commitment to creating an enduring institution that will continue to tell the story of what it means to live and eat in this singular place where Sonoran Desert, sky islands, borderlands, and cities converge. Onward!
Since the first prehistoric inhabitants planted corn and beans along the Santa Cruz River floodplain more than 4,000 years ago, the place we call Downtown Tucson has been reinventing itself. The arrival of the railroad in 1880 was a major catalyst for growth, connecting an isolated desert outpost of 7,000 people to the world. After World War II, the rapid influx of new residents and the easy availability of land engendered seemingly endless sprawl, while decimating the city’s once vibrant historic center. And the misguided—and some say overtly racist—decision in the 1960s to obliterate the traditionally Hispanic heart of the downtown in pursuit of “urban renewal” was devastating. I will forever describe the bulldozing of historic neighborhoods as the crime of the century, leaving the ghosts of those displaced residents to haunt downtown.
The celebrated arrival of another set of tracks—those of the Modern Streetcar, linking the University of Arizona, Fourth Avenue, Downtown, and the Mercado District with steel in the street—has been heralded as equally catalytic, culminating three decades of intensive effort to make Downtown Tucson the vital, authentic, and historic heart of the metropolitan area. Editor Megan Kimble’s feature story dives deep into the players and dreams behind downtown’s latest effort—during perhaps its most critical juncture—to become something distinct and of this place. She writes: “As the city unsprawls itself—recognizing, like a body builder, the importance of a strong core—the future of downtown is still being defined.” She asks: “In downtown Tucson, where is the there there? What makes us feel like we are here? And why does it matter that we do?”
As always, there is an incredible banquet of amazing content to discover in these pages. We’ll see you around the table.
—Douglas Biggers, editor and publisher