Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Autumn in Tucson: Let the Festivities Begin!

I am smitten with Fall in Tucson. After the long, hot summer, it’s such a delight to open the windows and let in the evening chill. A feeling of nostalgia washes over me with the crisp autumn breezes. Sunlight warms my cheeks like butterfly kisses. Autumn bliss. (Or not...)

When I list my favorite things about Tucson, Tucson Meet Yourself and the Homescape Harvest Tour are right up there with the Tucson Festival of Books and my home away from home, the Loft Cinema. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy this lovely season than to get outside for Tucson’s captivating fall festivals and tours. Here are some of our favorite Fall festivities.

Homescape Harvest Tour

October 1, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

I can’t begin to articulate how going on the Homescape Harvest Tour filled me with wonder, ignited my curiosity and kindled a shared vision. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you may have noticed that Dan and I are big fans of Watershed Management Group and their efforts to get the rivers flowing again with rainwater harvesting. We’ve become members of their coop and Dan is currently in their docent training program. (So proud of him!) It all started when Dan attended the Homescape Harvest Bike Tour. The next year he brought me along on the walking tour. I’m so grateful that he did. 

I’ve been telling everyone I can about this fascinating excursion. Inspiring home landscapes throughout Tucson will be open to explore at your own pace. The Watershed Management Group have lined up some of the most well-designed, beautifully functional, affordable and sometimes whimsical examples of how to harvest water, energy, and food. You can get ideas for your dream yard – like we did.

As you explore home landscapes, you’ll have the opportunity to learn firsthand from the homeowners. Experience enchanting rain gardens, cisterns, passive & active solar systems, greywater systems, composting toilets, shady desert oases, lush food gardens, and wildlife habitats.

Click here to purchase tickets: https://watershedmg.org/hht2016 

Tucson Meet Yourself

October 7 - 9

Tucson Meet Yourself, that has been lovingly dubbed “Tucson Eat Yourself,” can occasionally even lure my apathetic teens out of the house for some Danish pancake balls with lingonberry jam. That’s just one of the many delectable tastes offered from Tucson’s diverse cultural heritage. I have happy memories of my kids making Mexican cascarones (confetti eggs). It’s become a family tradition to make Mexican cutout flags from colorful tissue paper. You can catch anything from Irish clogging to belly dancing to Native American flute music to Polish pierogi cooking demos on the festival stages. 

Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival

YWCA, 525 N. Bonita
Sunday, October 16, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Check out the wave of the future – sustainability! Don't miss the Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival. The Tucson Electric Vehicle Association will be there with a wide variety of electric vehicles. Solar cooking demonstrations on a creative collection of solar ovens.

And learn other easy, but effective steps for energy efficiency. Another hot trend is going “back to the future” with rainwater harvesting techniques inspired by ancient people and adapted to the modern urban life style. How cool is that?! Learn how to glean delicious foods from the desert! Some of my favorite groups: XerocraftMission Garden, Iskashitaa, and Watershed Management Group (among others) will have displays.

The festival is dedicated to promoting all aspects of sustainability in Tucson and Southern Arizona. This is a great place for sharing ideas and information and for finding opportunities to get even more involved in local sustainability actions. There will be delicious local food available for purchase. ETSF is striving for a zero-waste event, so plan on bringing your re-usable water bottle. Mine is packed and ready to go!

Make a day of it and catch both the Envision Tucson Sustainable Fest AND the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Tour. 

Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Tour

11th Avenue and University Boulevard
October 16,  1 PM - 3 PM

See how this once barren neighborhood was transformed into an oasis in the desert by using curb cuts to direct the rainwater to irrigate mesquite trees along the street and a native food forest in the medians – a great example of green infrastructure. Before Brad Lancaster pioneered these successful rainwater harvesting techniques, curb cuts were illegal in Tucson. The enjoyment is heightened with a community mural and metal sculptures.

Brad uses only rainwater for his household and gardening needs, harvesting 100,000 gallons of rainwater annually. His property is an example of how passive and active solar power work together with passive and active water harvesting in a beautifully integrated design. 

The Dunbar/Spring Tour will have homes, gardens, local businesses, public art, and water harvesting features on the tour. Tickets are $5 day-of the event and can be picked up at the Neighborhood Garden - NW corner 11th Ave and University. Self-guided tour on foot, or bicycle tour provided by BICAS.

Hear neighborhood stories by author Aloma J. Barnes at the Dunbar School Project!

The Dunbar Coalition and Aloma Barnes book “Dunbar: The Neighborhood, the School, and the people 1940-1965” is available for purchase.


October 30th, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

What better way to feel the autumn breeze on your face than to hop on your trusty metal steed to join thousands of bicyclists as they take over the streets. Cyclovia is Tucson’s semi-annual celebration of living streets. For five hours on a Sunday, the streets along the Cyclovia path are closed to automobile traffic and opened to the community: bicyclists, pedestrians, community organizations, and people wanting to meet their neighbors. There’s a new route every time, so different neighborhoods get to celebrate. This Fall is central Tucson’s turn. While the route doesn’t quite make it to our neighborhood, it does cover the part of Tucson that is like our backyard - including a number of our favorite places. The route starts in Miramonte, makes a stop at the Watershed Management Group’s Living Lab, and ends at the Tucson Botanical Gardens - where everyone can get free admission to the gardens and the unique Frida Kahlo display. Revel in the small town feeling that makes Tucson so great while getting a glimpse at what our streets could be if we weren’t so car-obsessed!

Tucson Celtic Festival

November 4-6

As a member of the MacGregor clan (from Dan's mom’s side), Fall means it’s time for him to pull on his kilt, strap on hissporran, stash a dirk in his stocking, and head up to Rillito Park to eat haggis, drink dark beer, and watch grown men throwing telephone poles around. That’s right - it’s time for the annual Tucson Celtic Festival. Food, music, dance, and games. It’s a time when everyone’s inner Celt comes out - even if you aren’t Scottish or Irish!

All Souls Procession

November 6th

Is there any event more representative of Tucson than the All Souls Procession? (OK, maybe Tucson Meet Yourself edges it out.) The All Souls Procession started out as a small group of Tucsonans who decided to celebrate a Mexican holiday to honor their departed loved ones. Before long, the little sidewalk procession was filling the street with people of all ages in fanciful skeleton make-up carrying paper lanterns, gigantic puppets, and creative floats. Now it is one of Tucson’s most beloved celebrations, bringing thousands Downtown to remember, protest, cry, laugh, sing, play music, create, dance, and - most of all - celebrate living in this unique place we call home.

Now that the summer heat has ended and the temperate fall weather has arrived, it's time to venture out of the AC, plant our fall veggie gardens and go enjoy all the things Tucson has to offer us. See you at the fests!

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