Countdown to Arizona’s Centennial

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On Arizona’s 99th birthday, we’ll take a look at plans to celebrate its 100th as the Countdown to Arizona’s Centennial begins. Guests include Karen Churchard, Director of the Arizona Centennial Commission, and Catherine May, Vice President of the Arizona Historic Advisory Council.

Ted Simons: Arizona celebrates its 99th birthday today, which means the countdown to the centennial is now in high gear. Here to tell us how Arizona is planning to celebrate and commemorate its 100th birthday is Karen Churchard, director of the Arizona centennial 2012 foundation. And Catherine may, vice president for the Arizona historic advisory committee. Hope I got that right. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it. How do you plan a centennial?

Karen Churchard: One day at a time. We've been planning for a couple of years now and just really got a lot of different input from different constituents and agencies to talk about what type of projects and events we would like to plan from a statewide perspective.

Ted Simons: Have you looked at other states to see what they've done?

Karen Churchard: Absolutely. Oklahoma was the most recent in 2007. We actually went there and seen the projects and events taking place at that time.

Ted Simons: Ok. You were tasked by -- what? -- the legislature.

Catherine May: Yes.

Ted Simons: What kind of guidelines were you offered?

Catherine May: The historic advisory committee was already a commission in place and so they changed some of the legislation that already existed to add planning for the centennial. And this was a good seven, six years ago.

Ted Simons: Wow.

Catherine May: That's been going on for a while and the historic advisory committee developed a plan that included the legacy projects and started pushing out the ideas and we had workshops and stuff that supported that.

Ted Simons: Legacy projects, what are we talking about here?

Catherine May: The idea was that instead of just focusing on the wonderful events that always occur around centennial celebrations we would do something, left a legacy for the state. We would encourage people who think about how the projects might be turned a little bit in that direction and leave something for our generations that are to come.

Ted Simons: Do you have an example?

Catherine May: One would be the Arizona stories. And they have -- that all of the research that goes into that and the films are going to be around to help tell the history of Arizona into the future.
Ted Simons: Your group was charged by the governor, correct?

Karen Churchard: That's correct.

Ted Simons: And what were the goal there is? What were you told?

Karen Churchard: Our goals were to work on the marketing and the event side that Catherine mentioned. Reaching out to the communities to not only apply for legacy project status but official event sanctioning and our program of work is focused on projects and events that center around the statewide celebration.

Ted Simons: Give us a example of some of the those events.

Karen Churchard: The Arizona centennial copper chopper. A motorcycle that was custom built that's been traveling the state for the past few months and that's a fundraiser too. We're selling raffle tickets to win it and another event we kicked off last week -- project, is the Arizona centennial penny drive where we're encouraging K-8 children to raise pennies to shine up the capitol dome.
Ted Simons: What kind of response so far?

Karen Churchard: Very well received. The teachers and parents and principals are excited about participating and it's a great opportunity to teach not only the fourth graders required to learn our state history but engage all of the different classroom levels at this important moment in time.

Ted Simons: Are there commemorative items available as well? I thought I saw something on the website that you could buy stuff.
Karen Churchard: We have merchandise available to purchase. A company's been working with us. We had that out today at the state capitol and well received.

Ted Simons: How is the centennial being received? There's so much going on in the state right now and people hear, it's coming up. It really is now. Are people starting to get interested?

Catherine May: Absolutely, we saw that today. A wonderful turnout and seeing that with the response now to the legacy projects, people were applying slowly but now it's really picking up. Even checked with the committee chair to be sure she had enough people to handle what was coming.

Ted Simons: What do you think? Are you seeing more activity?

Karen Churchard: Much more. And being an event person, that's my background, I knew that January 2011, everybody would pretty much wake up and get engaged. We have over 130 legacy and official legacy events sanctioned so far and what I'm pleased to see, it's a grassroots effort. The counties and cities and nonprofits that have stepped up and are working on projects and events meaningful to them and their communities.

Ted Simons: You mentioned five, six years in the making, probably further back if you want to go back that far, but the concern regarding money right now in Arizona is -- overrides everything. Can you do a centennial the way you want with the economic conditions the way they are.

Catherine May: The way I want? Actually I think what happens when you face reality and what's been going on now in the state of Arizona is we've seen much more by way of collaborative effort so that people are joining together to come up with a project that might work really well for a number of constituent groups and that's always very, very help. A good example, the Arizona memory project. We were talking about that. That it is a terrific opportunity for repositories from all around the state to collectively put all their images into one location that they can then are shared with people across the state and outside, of course, of the state of Arizona.

Ted Simons: The impact of the economy and budget in general, the economic conditions on what you're try doing?

Karen Churchard: It's been challenging and we're working on getting all types of corporations and foundations involved in helping to support the festitivities and commemorations, it's not just a big party. There are a lot of projects that are involved that we're working on and collectively we need to find a way to fund-raise and it's been challenging.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask this when we talked about other states. So many other states have such a deep history. We have it here, but so many folks come from somewhere else. Is that a hurdle as well?

Karen Churchard: Surprisingly, it hasn't been. I've come to realize there are a lot more people who are interest here and have a true fourth, fifth generation homesteaders that do live here and they've been great and rallied around us and I've been pleasantly surprised to find that out. The other side, we know that the people who do live here now, how much they love Arizona and they really have been very engaged in the project.

Ted Simons: Is that what you see as well. Someone who moved from Chicago, seven, eight years ago, how do you get them excited.

Catherine May: They chose to move here and there was a draw. As a matter of fact, years ago, we started looking at that. What eight years from now, 10 years from now, when we were first considering what we were going to do, people coming to the state going to be looking for? What do the five Cs mean to them. It's a very different state than the historic state that we are. How are we going to roll that out.
Ted Simons: If someone wants to get involved, what do they do?

Karen Churchard: It's our website that we have a lot of information about the events.

Ted Simons:

Karen Churchard: Yes.

Ted Simons: Thank you for joining us tonight.

Karen Churchard: Director, Arizona Centennial Commission;Catherine May:Vice President, Arizona Historic Advisory Council;

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