Coming and going around Oracle, whether picking up mail, patronizing a local business, walking the neighborhood, or just plain hanging out, one of the top-of-mind questions of late is: What’s happening with Way of Bean Coffee Club in its battle with Pinal County. (Recall that a large group of concerned citizens went up to Florence last August to push back on county efforts to bring “The Bean” to heel.)
It seemed, despite the big numbers of folks making the trek to the county seat along with the numbers of letters and emails supporting Way of Bean, the county bureaucracy had dug in. There came a “cease and desist order”, a blizzard of threats, deadlines set, and the possibility of the Bean’s closure .
It’s difficult to know what turned the tide since the “deadlines” came and went but that tide has turned… in Way of Bean Coffee Club’s favor. Was it public pressure? Was it other businesses weighing in with similar grievances? Was it someone in Florence-command-central (like the county manager) deciding the fight wasn’t worth the problems it was creating? Or was it all of the above plus a well crafted letter by Way of Bean’s owner/operator (Kristina Olivares) arguing her case?
The upshot of all this is that the the county has backed off its complaints and reassigned the health department inspector in favor of a more relational guy… someone you might even want to have a cup of coffee with.
When you stop to think about it, Oracle is a better place because a business owner backed by a group of residents and customers made their voices heard in a time and place that mattered.
Maybe we need even more of this can-do spirit around here when it comes to other pressing issues - like the outrageous shakedown of SCIP customers by another government bureaucracy pretending to serve the public good.
What do you think?
NOTES FROM JANUARY 30, 2024 COMMUNITY MEETING RE: AMERICAN AVE ROAD SAFETY ASSESSMENT (RSA)
Meeting Location: Oracle Community Center
Meeting Date/Time: January 30, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Taken by Jean Wilcox, OSCR (Thanks, Jean!)
Organized by Pinal County, attended by Supervisor Jeff McClure and his assistant Trecia, County Engineer Chris Wannaker, Construction Operations Manager Dedrick Denton, Public Works Manager Charles Williams, Senior Transportation Planner Steve Abrams, and Craig Ricketts presenter from the consulting firm that conducted the RSA.
Craig Rickett’s power point will be available from Pinal County after it is presented to the board of supervisors. Data was collected by a subcontractor, United Civil Group. The RSA provides qualitative estimates of safety and performance, and identifies opportunities for improvement. (Name of Rickett’s company?).
American Avenue right of way (ROW) varies in width from 200+’ on the western end, down to 100’ for most of American Avenue, with a constricted narrower width at the curve just east of The Bean where the road crosses a small wash, then widens to 100’ and up to 200’ at the east end.
Several of us from the immediate neighborhood worked with UA landscape architecture students and Pinal County's Kent Taylor. on this plan. Construction was scheduled to begin this month.
The original and newly arranged piano music of Johannes Brahms... left many in the audience "weak in the knees" (as Kaz put it). "Thrilling", someone else said. "Elevating and intoxicating," said another. .
As it aged it moved from our back yard to an old water trap slab on our property. There it sat or decades...deteriorating but retaining sentimental value for both of us. We had rescued it from the COD Ranch around the time of Elna Huggett's passing.
When the time finally came to move it off property, we wondered who in the world might want it. Our first thought was perhaps the Oracle Historical Society (OHS). Having become expert in the restoration of significant pieces of historical value we figured our nearly century old swing set might merit their interest. Sure enough the answer to the "do you want it question?" was "Yes".
So the four horsemen of the American Flag Gang showed up to take it on. Equipped with a flat bed trailer behind a sturdy pickup they hauled it off.
As of now - talk about going full circle - it's resting place when the restoration is complete is the American Flag Ranch (lovingly restored by OHS) which in past times was owned by the very same Huggetts who wiled away so many hours over so many years on that very same swing set.
The fact is that Biosphere 2 itself has been well documented and made known worldwide - but largely ignored by many of us B2 neighbors is the enduring impact on Oracle as a community. Which happens to be a part of the larger story that requires local telling.
Maybe a place to start is with individuals who played important roles in the Great Experiment itself and continued to put down deep roots in our town. Several are still around infusing Oracle with their personal and collective selves.
I don't know how to properly characterize folks like this. "Leaders", "pacesetters", "history makers". None of the descriptives seem to capture who they are and how they have impacted Oracle.
I was making my way to the Oracle Post Office this morning when I spotted a guy bent over a machine of some sort on the steps of the Acadia Ranch Museum. My curiosity got the best of me so I swung around and parked across the street by the Little Free Library to assess what was going on. I should have known who would be there - one of the members of the locally famous American Flag Gang. One or another of AFG always seem to be doing something on the Oracle Historical Society property by way of improvements. In this case, it was Kevin Armbrust melting some of the remaing ice slicks that posed a hazard to visitors who might stop in.
Like many Oracle/Tri-Community residents Kevin has a powerful personal story that extends back into his days growing up in San Manuel, working for Magma Copper Company, being injured and dismissed when a load of pipe fell on him breaking his back...for starters. All this got me thinking about how much we don't know about our friends and neighbors who matter so much in our home place.
A talented group of young musicians help out doing food prep at Rancho Robles. We really enjoyed their company and high spirits.
Which brings to mind Oracle's penchant for partnerships that build and reinforce the values of our town. The Chamber Music Festival is a big winner!
Opportunities like this don't come down the pike very often - the right person, with the right experience, landing in the right spot!
"I have been a “Oraclian” for 2 whole years now. The mothership hasn’t kicked me out yet!
I had the second seizure in the West elementary band room in Coolidge that forced me to retire. I truly thought I would never get to teach band again.
"It’s amazing how life can change in just 2 years! I get to share music with kids again in the MSMUSD, even if it’s part time!
My heart is HAPPY and life is good! God is great!
"Thank you to the Oracle Piano Society for making this venture possible for the local area kids and ME!!"
"Congratulations my fav band teacher ever!!!! Because of you, I fell in love with my clarinet when you first taught me at Lincoln Elementary back in 1994! Keep it up Ms.Lugo (That's what I remember you by You are our future and more kids out there need you"
Here's a way to make a contribution straight to the band program right now. Check it out and kick in if you are so moved.
By coincidence my brother, John, and I attended "masterclasses" in the same week. His was in London mine, of course in Oracle. John is a life long pianist.
He was raving about how great it was as a 79 year old who still takes regular lessons. The sum total of my musical experience was taking guitar for 2 years at the age of 12. So his experience was grounded differently than mine. Duh!
The fact is I had never observed a masterclass until the Oracle Piano Society/OrCA hit town. At least not musically speaking. Looked at as a teaching/learning experience without a music focus I've been in lots of them because I've had some great teachers in multip;le fields. Some of the same qualities apply across the board. To gardening, cabinet making, public speaking, organization building, child raising, every sport, writing, art appreciating, personal training, band. On and on. Performance mastery, attention, care, inspiration, challenge, precision are all part of the mix in master- class practice. This helps explain why Kaz and I appreciated the masters, students, and the impresario himself (at left in the above image) so much.
At best this looks like a nothing sandwich. Dubbed the "Harbridge Ark "by local folks checking it out.
At worst an ecological disaster in the making,
Learn more here: www.coppercreekmine.com/subscribe/
Tiny Mammoth has some big growth plans
Fading community looking to revitalize through annexation of 16,490 acres
By Brian J. Pedersen Arizona Daily Star
Apr 10, 2008
A mammoth land grab by one of Arizona's smallest municipalities is being hailed by town officials as a way to finally bring growth and revitalization to a long-stagnant community.
Critics, however, say the moves made by Mammoth late last year could spell doom by stretching thin an already-stretched revenue stream.
In November, Mammoth, a former mining town 30 miles northeast of Oro Valley, annexed 16,490 acres that increased the size of the town from just under one square mile to almost 27. (To continue click the "read more" below)
Located on Oracle's doorstep, the proposed development has a complicated history dating back to an annexation by the town of Mammoth in 2007. It calls for several thousand new residences and a new school. This may have a big impact on our future with all kinds of questions that need answering.
Talk about photogenic! How about these leading lights at the Oracle Community Center. But looking good played second fiddle to another gratifying community gathering - a Thanksgiving meal.
Most of what we know about the Faraday project in the Galiuros is taken from https://www.coppercreekmine.com/subscribe/ .
A community event conducted by Faraday folks a few weeks ago in Oracle didn't shed much light on the situation. But it did make me stop and take note of a familiar dynamic with which many of us are familiar.
Having lived in Arizona for over forty years we've seen many schemes come and go. Willow Springs, Cherokee, Rancho Coronado, Buffalo Bill Cody's gold mine claims, not to mention long forgotten gold and silver digs.
When I say come and "go" I don't necessarily mean stake-in- the-heart gone. In fact a thing called "Cielo" seems to be a sort of zombie project still on the books in Mammoth and Arizona State Lands - never having been de-annexed as far as I know. So there it lies in the land of the real estate undead. Another bad idea in purgatory. Indeed, there's a ton of real estate plattings, zonings, PADs, area plans, and mining claims littering our landscape as half dead schemes of aspirants looking to leverage someone else's money.
So what about Faraday? Some say it's a "bull shit scam". Others point to the drilling, bulldozing, building and water pumping on location as "real". Maybe even real enough to appear on a "prospectus" in money-ville if not "real" enough to lead to the actual blasting, hauling and smelting of ore that is what mining is all about.
There is a common denominator here. Water. There's the rub. Any way you look at it there isn't enough of it to undergird what project touts propose.
The "episode" I just published about Jim Huntington on frankpierson.substack.com is by far the most viewed of the series to date. Maybe it's because JC is such a fascinating character, born and raised in the Tri-Community only to return from a stellar IT career in Metro Phoenix to publish The Oracle and defend our community against all comers. Maybe it's because he woke up local residents to the twin threats of of water contamination and scarcity when many of us had fallen asleep. Or maybe it's because he was skeptical about the claims of power players who would exploit the natural beauty of our region for economic benefit. Where and how he died is an important part of the story too. That's when fire and flood enter the picture.
More to come on JC. A friend of mine said after the Voices in the Oaks concert this afternoon was a classmate in San Manuel! I'm looking foreard to hearing her stories.
The OAST studiio tour reminded me once again how difficult self promotion of one's own work is. No agents heaping praise on creative ventures - just an artist self touting, putting it out there.
It's a risky business that inevitably attracts slings and arrows. "I don't like" this a customer mutters about a piece that took weeks to create. So and so is much more accomplished "we're wasting our time here. Let's move on." "The colors suck." Hard stuff for a creative to deal with, especially those new to the scene. Vulterable. Speaking of vulnerable it's not just artists with their work. It's also new businesses boot strapping, standup comics launching, And I'd include all sorts of crafts, musicians, and food entrepreneurs (bagels anyone?) in this discussion.
Take Tina Bolt for example. We renewed our connection on the art tour last weekend. Not only around fabrics and hand made constructs of all kinds but also "fermenting" vegetables. That's right! Oracle Ferments. She and her musician husband, Austin Owen, a locally renowned musician, offer a range of products of their own creation that includes bread, pizza dough and sauce. And they deliver which is kind of an unbelievable convenience. How about that?
We didn't get to visit every location today (more tomorrow) but those we did proved richly rewarding https://www.oracleartiststudiotour.org/
So that answers the "who" question but why did Faraday think they needed a show of muscle before their recent infomercial event in Oracle?
By design there was no central presentation or even welcome to focus the attentions of the curious. Call it commercial by information dispersal. The goal of course of this approach is to deep six any possible coordinated reaction that might disrupt the early stages of a controversial mining project in the Galiuros. So locals were left to their own devices to wander around, peering at slick displays and asking a question or two of various character wearing Faraday logoed shirts.
I had several conversations with Faraday shirt wearers that followed a template always ending with "too early to say".
The upshot of the non-event seemed to be "time will tell". Maybe Faraday is just doing advance work (drill, assay, raise capital, promote); or maybe Faraday will be involved in the actual mining. One tout said open pit 'yes', another not so sure. Nothing about water use, nothing about risks to the environment, or economic trade offs (which are huge now that the Tri-Community has rotated away from blasting, hauling and smelting ore in favor of tourism and open space recreation). And nothing about a union (too soon to tell...).
So I suppose it's fair to say Faraday may call the event a success - a community gathering with a box checked somewhere, somehow ... without riling up too many more of us locals. I'm sure corporate is pleased that the security force had nothing to do beyond showing up in force.
Truth be told, however, some locals are already riled up having put together a well crafted website: coppercreekmine.com.
I've gotten a lot of pointed reactions from locals who attended the event described above. Two in particular stand out. Here's Craig Anderson's:
"Very nicely done Frank. The "Oracle Chronicles" accurately captured the non-event ... sales event. There were a few of us that were "put off"... "dismayed" by the "International Security Services" ominous black SUV and personnel in bulletproof vests we passed to enter the San Manuel, Mammoth and Oracle Community Centers.
As Faraday said in their NI 43-101 Technical Report Mineral Resource Estimate Copper Creek Project, Arizona
Report Date: August 18, 2022., section 5.5 Infrastructure Availability and Sources "The area is in a mining-friendly and politically stable jurisdiction with extensive infrastructure, including power, rail, water, roads, and access to skilled personnel."
Another comment comes from an individual with lifelong employment experience in the mining industry. His curiosity piqued by the Faraday claims, he four wheeled to the Copper Creek location. He found the remote location access-challenged and the proposed mine scheme itself likely more "speculative scam" than productive venture.
If you've never witnessed several hundred grade schoolers encounter a world class opera singer for the first time in their young lives, look for the next opportunity! It was quite a scene yesterday afternoon organized by Dr. Stephen Cook and the Oracle Piano Society and the Mammoth-San Manuel School District. The event included the introduction of Lorena Candelaria who starting now brings her considerable musical knowledge and talent to MSSD. (There's a lot more to be said about how all this came about and what the future looks like but let's save it for future posts.)
Maybe it gets better than this in the sweet by an by but it's hard to imagine.
Joined by local stars sitting in to help make it happen even better.
Two hours later on this same Sunday afternoon. We transition from the Way of Bean Coffee Club to the Oracle Center for the Arts.
How about this?
A remarkable Sunday afternoon musical journey from down home/Cajun genius to operatic magnificance in our little town. Musical alchemy.
Stories from recent Oracle history as lived by Kaz and myself: frankpierson.substack.com
Jodi and César at the Metaphysical Faire
Laurie, Liz, and Pat at the Oracle Learning Garden Plant Sale
Kristina at Way of Bean (Tom Turino, Shannon Arnold and Ralph White make music tomorror 1-3)
For Oracle's life and times as Kaz and I have lived them go here: frankpierson.substack.com
Kind of mindblowing what's going on around here these days. Exercise your imagination with a cornucopia of events!
Into metaphysics or just metaphysics curious? There's a Metaphysics Faire tomorrow, Oct 21, 10-4 at the Oracle Community Center. Mentally cramped? The same day there's a book sale at the Oracle Library to help you break out of your summer torpor. Never appreciated opera but want to? There's an amazing concert at OrCA 3 pm, Oct 22 with a pianist and opera star. And if you can imagine feeding yourself with a successful fall/winter garden, the plant sale at the Oracle Community Learning Garden is for you (Fri, Sat and Sunday). And BTW if you can picture the brush pile in your yard gone, the Oracle Brush Dump is now open!
The short answer is vibrant local institutions coupled with leaders willing to invest time, energy, and money in those institutions.
This comes to mind because several recent events testify to the vitality of our town and what makes it tick. Here’s an example. The day before yesterday the Oracle Piano Society brought a pianist/composer/superstar from Cuba, Aldo Lopéz-Gavilán, to Oracle and the Tri-Community. What defined the experience for Kaz and myself wasn’t just his phenomenal sold out performance but his willingness to take on the challenging teaching work of young pianists with a joyful expert eye.
If you’ve never witnessed a “master class” conducted by a true master it’s hard to grasp the quality of attention and personal development unfolding before your eyes. I suspect that every one who has something to teach - whether parents with their children, teachers with their classes, artists and trades people with with their apprentices, coaches with their teams, and even institutional leaders of non-profits and churches with their members, could learn a lot from the best of the best in the kind of “master class” conducted by a master like Aldo Lopéz-Gavilán.
But it didn’t stop there. Aldo, Dr. Stephen Cook, and one of Stephen's young local proteges, Isaac Tineo, ventured into an assembly in the Mammoth/San Manuel School District auditorium populated by the toughest crowd of all - young students. Their efforts were rewarded by rapt attention and promising future prospects of the youngsters. Who knows? Maybe there’s another Isaac Tineo in the gathering ready to be inspired to step in to a new world of musical performance.
Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.