Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

This week we speak with Dre Voelkel and Jessica Sueskind The director and co-director of the TENWEST Impact Festival.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on– we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.

Reach us by email [email protected] — interact with us on Facebook @Life Along the Streetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with John Doe

Today is November 3rd my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”. We start today with a really big number.

TENWEST Interview Part 1

How do you cover a ten day event with over 60 partners and 100s of presentations in a 30 minute show? How do you condense an experience of the former Mayor of Pittsburgh talking about the transformation from an a failing steel mill town to an entrepreneurial and technological hub while also sharing the impact of a DC funding expert on a south Tucson female entrepreneur. How do you combine unintended consequences of unexpected collaboration between dress maker and social media expert with a the carefully orchestrated path of a beer brand from barley to bottle. The answer– I don’t know to. I couldn’t figure it out- so we decided to spread the coverage over the next 2 weeks so we can get in as much information as possible.

Everything I just described was a few moments in time of what happened in Tucson over the 10 days of TENWEST Impact Festival. We sat down with Dre Voelkel, Festival Director, and the Co-Director, Jessica Sueskind, to get a sense of what lessons were learned in October that will lay a foundation for 2020 and beyond.

The first couple of minutes of audio has a little static, but it clears up, so hang in there. The part we feature today will provide an overview of this recently completed event including the reasons for it and the philosophies that drive it.

Next week we’ll dive deeper into specific success stories and how the last 5 years of TENWEST will lead to future impacts in Tucson and our region.


Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson! It is a beautiful day in the Old Pueblo. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your Downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station. This week, we speak with Dre Vocal and Jessica Susskind, the director and co-director of the Tenwest Impact Festival which just recently wrapped up.

Tom Heath: Each and every Sunday our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM streaming on also available on your iPhone or Android by using our very own radio app. Just head over to your iPhone store there or the The Google play and download Downtown Radio Tucson. Take us wherever you go. If you want to get us on the show. Our email is [email protected] interact with us on Facebook at Life along the streetcar and follow us on Twitter at streetcar life.

Tom Heath: Today is November third. My name is Tommy. Then you’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar and we start todays show with a really big number. Five million. Five million Riders have used Tucson’s modern streetcar since its Inception in 2014. That celebrated five millionth rider, Isabel was greeted by Mayor Rothschild. She was greeted by music from Miss Olivia The Interlopers and a whole bunch of happy folks for the success of the Tucson Modern Streetcar.

Tom Heath: As that five millionth rider, Isabel also received some gift certificates and some swag from shops along the Route. And on Facebook if you go to the Tucson streetcar Facebook page you can get a little recap of all of those festivities and of course will link to that on our our Facebook page. 

Tom Heath: Now it took just over five years for the streetcar to hit this mark. So that means the average ridership has been about 1 million per year and that is a little shy of the original projections, which probably had us closer to around 35 or 36 hundred riders a day. That’s about 1.3 million per year. 

Tom Heath: Well, According to Pat Richter of SunLink. He’s the communications director, said that there’s a national trend in lower public transit ridership that they’re seeing across the country. And that is a holding true here and Tucson as of late, ridership is down now Richter did not offer any specific explanations, but anecdotally I think you could probably surmise that this decrease in ridership might be correlated to an increase in RideShare apps like uber and Lyft, along with alternative modes here in Tucson like to go Bike Share and our new scooter pilot program. 

Tom Heath: Those all probably play a little bit of a role in the decrease of Sunlink ridership. Richter did state in a recent news interview that there’s been three billion dollars of public-private investment along the Route since it was announced and that investment has benefited businesses, the city, taxpayers and really the impact of the streetcar is noticeable.

Tom Heath: In related news, the streetcar will be operating extended hours this evening till about 10:30 to accommodate the traffic for the annual All Souls Procession. We’ve covered this in the past, you can count on tens of thousands, probably a hundred and fifty thousand people heading downtown to the the west side of the freeway there . 

Tom Heath: The Procession takes place from 4 to 10 p.m. And the parade Marchers Festival attendees are there to pay homage and connect with those Souls who have departed our Earth. That is going to be a large number of folks down there so expect heavy congestion. We’ll link to a parking and Transit option map that was provided by the Many Mouths One Stomach organization, which is the group behind Dia de los Muertos. 

Tom Heath: Those transit options include special bus service from the Ronstadt Center and they’ll also have locations for those Rideshare apps. We mentioned earlier. Of course, the streetcar will be running a little bit later tonight. So check it out on our Facebook page. 

Tom Heath: How do you cover a 10-day event with 60 Partners, hundreds of presentations and do all of that in a 30-minute show? How do you condense and experience of the former mayor of Pittsburgh talking about the transformation from a failing Steel Mill Town to an entrepreneurial and technological Hub while also sharing the impact of a DC funding expert and her relationship to a south Tucson a female entrepreneur. How do you combine the unintended consequences of unexpected collaboration when a dressmaker stumbles into a social media presentation and how do you how do you balance that with a carefully orchestrated path of a beer brand that goes from barley to bottle and includes the Brewer and the artist? 

Tom Heath: The answer is I don’t know. I could not figure out how to condense all of that into one show. So after much trial and error we decided to spread the coverage out over the next two weeks so we can get as much information out as possible. 

Tom Heath: Everything I just described was a few moments in time of what happened in Tucson over the ten days of the Tenwest Impact Festival. Earlier this week we sat down with Dre Vocal, the festival director and the co-director, Jessica Susskind to get a sense of what lessons were learned this past October and how will that lay a foundation for 2020 and beyond.

Tom Heath: I will tell you the first couple minutes of the audio has a little static but it clears up. So hang in there just a little bit we did want to cut it because it’s really good background to the story and the part we’re going to feature today is an overview of this recently completed event, including some of the reasons behind it and the philosophies that drive it. And next week, we’ll dive a little bit deeper into the specific success stories and how the last five years of Tenwest will lead to Future impacts in Tucson and our region. 

Dre Vocal: My name is Dre Vocal, I’m the festival director of Tenwest through Startup Tucson. I’m also the program director at Startup Tucson.

Jessica Susskind: And my name is Jessica Susskind. I’m the co-director of the festival and I’m a program manager for festivals and community outreach at the University of Arizona. 

Tom Heath: That’s a lot. 

Jessica Susskind: It’s a long title. But what it really means is that I get to manage all of our on campus partners and bring our campus Partners together with our community partners with sort of Tucson to put on the Tenwest Festival. 

Tom Heath: How did you guys come together? What was the what was the Catalyst to bring you guys together? 

Jessica Susskind: So my boss Rick Yngwie who is the director of The Vampire Center for entrepreneurship at U of A was the Catalyst on campus to bring you of a into the fold two years ago as a title sponsor and then he also helped to write a strategic plan initiative and president Robin strategic plan which allowed them to hire me and make a five-year commitment to the festival and be not only the title sponsor, but also a strategic partner. 

Tom Heath: You’re a part of the U of A is commitment to the festival?

Dre Vocal: Yes

Tom Heath: Welcome outstanding and Dre?

Dre Vocal: I joined just before the festival last year as the festival director. And so we had kind of a wild ride of joining a festival and then this is kind of my fault first full year under my belt as from beginning to end and then so I’ve just been really amazing. So to have Jessica as a big support of the University of Arizona making this commitment and it’s really exciting. Because we’re able to through having sort of an embedded person within the university be able to bring out the thought leaders and departments and all sorts of different partners that we wouldn’t have known it from the outside, which is really what we want to do with the festival sort of bring the University of Arizona Talent out in the community in and really leverage all the strengths that we have in Tucson. 

Tom Heath: Well, the 2019 version is recently in the books, and I’m sure 20/20 is just around the corner and we talked before we got on. There’s so much that happens. The data hasn’t been fully analyze. So there’s a lot of impact and results that you don’t just have yet. But can you tell me what start over backwards what if what’s the process when the festival ends what’s happening now? 

Jessica Susskind: So we take a long nap 

Dre Vocal: It was a 10-day festival and what we’re really trying to do with the festival is bring together the community really create a place a platform for organizations and individuals who are really passionate about building Southern Arizona together and it’s multidisciplinary. So each different day has a different theme a different audience. So we kicked off the Festival this year with building Innovative cities in this was a collaboration with mayor Rothschild and really focusing on kind of macro level. Where’s the long-term vision? And where do we need to go? And what do we need? 

Dre Vocal: Put into place to be ahead of the curve as Society changes and we looked at the changes that come in the digital future. Then we had some really awesome collaborations over the weekend with Tucson Meet Yourself with Civic Hackathon. And then we were launched right into the Sustainability and Social Impact Day. We did an education conference. We did a creative conference. 

Dre Vocal: We did an entrepreneurship conference and we did a science and technology conference that we called “Fourth Industrial Revolution in you” and then we also scattered throughout their we had different experiences and film and culture and art that you could experience and then in our final weekend, we had a collaboration with an art installation with the MSA and exim climb Shen, the women’s hackathon the insect festival or a set of my missing. I think you actually got over it. 

Dre Vocal: So after that all wraps up, so that’s 10 days. We work with 60 different partners. And so really what we want to do as we kind of like wrap up. The festival is understand. We did a bunch of surveys so really understanding here from the community. What worked what didn’t work. What can we change then? We need to work with all of our strategic partners and we have a luminary sort of a high-level list of deeply invested folks who helped us set the vision for next year. So which lot of data collection that has to happen and processing and then we get together and we say, okay. 

Dre Vocal: What do we want to make sure gets included? What can we tweak? And then from there? We’ll move onto a public call for applications. So this is something that we started last year where we said. Okay, if you aren’t organization and individual who wants to see something you want to bring the project to life. Let us know what it is. Let’s use this as an opportunity to to do Grant and Seed funding for new projects and to include new partners that maybe have been Weren’t aware of the festival would now like to really bring their audiences inside the fold. 

Tom Heath: We are in the middle of our interview with Tenwest Impact Festival director Dre Vocal and the co-director Jessica Susskind and we’ll be back to the second half of our interview, which as reminder is part 1 of 2 part 2 coming next week. We’ll be right back in just a few minutes, but I want to remind you that you are listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio and  99.1 FM and available for streaming on 

Tom Heath: All right, we’re going to finish up our interview with Dre vocal and Jessica Susskind. They are the driving forces behind the Tenwest Impact Festival. They will tell you that they do not do this alone. It takes a tremendous amount of volunteers Community leaders Visionaries and others but Dre and Jessica are the ones on the front lines pulling it all together and we’re going to finish up with our interview that we had a little bit earlier this week. We’re going to pick up with Jessica and finding out kind of her connection with Ten west festival and how she got involved last year. 

Tom Heath: So for the 2019 version at what point did you get involved with 2019? 

Jessica Susskind: So I started working at the McGuire Center last year just before the festival last year. So I came in for the 2018 Festival as like a kind of like day of help helping hand. I didn’t do a lot of pre support because I was new and then I hit the ground running right away and was here for the full year with Dre in January. Add me as the co-director Tran Liz of the festival and so that was when I really started working on campus to get together with our campus partners. 

Jessica Susskind: Last year, we did one public call for partners, but I think something that will change for 2020 is will do a public call for the community and a call for on campus so that we can really increase that campus engagement by reaching to them directly because through the you of a sponsorship of the festival we have some funds that are specifically to seed you of a events. And so I think it’s important to do a separate. Location process so that the campus partners are engaged a little bit differently. So that’s something that I’m excited about for 2020 is to help kind of because I’m in my role now and I get to start in October instead of in January. It gives us more of a Runway to engage those Campus Partners. 

Tom Heath: So we are part of the debrief in 2018 prepping for that for this most recent one? 

Jessica Susskind: Yeah. Yeah. That was when I really started in like an unofficial capacity and then my official capacity started right as that application was launched and then when we did that application review in January that was kind of when my official. 

Dre Vocal: We actually had what the vision was set by the community application. So just to say some things that came out of the application process that works sort of surprising and exciting about this year. So one thing that came through was there was a lot of creatives that were asking for a professional conference to be added to the festival. So we heard from a lot of musicians we heard from designers we heard from fashion folks that there wasn’t really a place where they could meet with other creatives and really work on some of the professional development skills to grow their businesses. So we kind of took a chance and we did a first-time conference for this and we didn’t know how it was going to go and we did we did put together different tracks. 

Dre Vocal: So we had a film track and we had a fashion track and we had a graphic design and we had a music entrepreneurship track and then we had sort of a track that was like General skill building, master classes in social media and websites that sort of cross that branding sort of went across all of them. And we didn’t know how I was going to turn out. We were like, well, you know, if we get you know, just yeah 75 people that would be cool be great for a first year event, but it was really exciting. 

Dre Vocal: We got over 250 people that came to it and some of the stories just anecdotally this is kind of some of the data that will process but a fashion designer came up to me and she said, you know, I originally came to this. Go to the fashion design track, but then I just pop my head in to the marketing and packaging design and I was blown away. I didn’t know that those Services were available here in Tucson. So I’m actually going to move my packaging and Design Services from New York to Tucson and for me that’s like a huge win. That’s what we want to see we want to see our community leaning on each other and discovering the talent that we have here. So that was a really exciting day for me. And we had some amazing Keynote Speakers.

Tom Heath: In 2018 you do a debrief and you find out the collaborative the creatives want a conference you put that together a dressmaker comes to this conference because she’s part of Tenwest she attends other festivals, and now that’s created a link with her marketing here locally and that started with a conversation after 2018 and what needed to improve and then you sort of let the collaboration take its own its own natural courses?

Jessica Susskind: Yeah, correct. And so we sought out who are the partners that would like Work with us. Pima Community College has a really awesome fashion want track so they were able to come in as a partner with that socket was helping us with the guided master classes in our keynote speaker. We worked with the Arizona film Expo which actually launched as a result of the application process. 

Jessica Susskind: So this was just a little microcosm of what we’re seeing at the festival which we’re having people come out of the Woodworks who have always wanted to put something on but didn’t have the the facility, you know, this the facility or enough people to do it. So we help support them and then we’re able to pull in Partners who are like you Sokka, you know just experts in their space to really help us bring everything together. So that was that’s just one little microcosm of a day and then so we had a conference there. And then in the evening we had the first ever Arizona Hall of Fame sponsored by Jim Click. 

Jessica Susskind: We had Barbara Eden. We had a number of of Arizona film stars sort of come to that and it was really exciting. Meaning we had Brandon your brew and then we had sounds of melanin with the black Renaissance, which is one of these projects that was submit to us collaborative of black artists in Arizona. Wanted to be able to tell the story of black artists in Arizona in a really multimedia way. So it was a virtual reality live music conference our concert happening at Congress that you really couldn’t get anywhere else. And that’s just that whole day was just like yes, this is what we’re trying to do the festival bringing people together. Together that are different fields that didn’t know about each other empowering new artists to do projects that couldn’t be find anywhere else and then also really celebrating the heritage of Arizona through our film our film Awards. So that was that’s just one day man! 

Tom Heath: That day it starts off with the conference of Mayors from across the country. So it’s clearly Diverse and eclectic conference. How do you describe to people what what the Tenwest Impact Festival is or do you just stop?

Jessica Susskind: Do you want to know a lot or a little because it’s hard to Encompass it in a small amount of things because it’s such a diverse. It’s I mean, it’s ten days long as it’s multidisciplinary. They’re 65 Partners, but to put it into like a sentence what I really think West is it’s a platform. It’s a platform for exactly what your was just talking about with the creative day for people in Tucson or from out of Tucson that have always wanted to do something but didn’t have the capacity either financially or like they don’t have event planning experience or they just like have this idea but I’ve no idea what to do with it. And we’re giving this platform for a wide range of events experiences art installations conferences and saying hey we want to help you do this. Let us know what you want to do and we’re going to help you accomplish that.

Dre Vocal: It’s an event just that it’s an event of Discovery and in the way we going to talk about it. The tag line is it’s a place for the curious and the impassioned to come together and solve the grand challenges of our Times Really mission-driven in terms of sustainability. Social impact thinking about the ways that technology is impacting our Workforce. So we want to have it have a lot of umph to it that you’re going to get world class speakers right here in Tucson who are who are really Forward Thinking about What what can we do to be ahead of the changes that come and so that’s kind of that’s that it’s sort of that. That’s who you are. If you’re curious and passion.

Dre Vocal:  Did you want to solve Grand challenges? This is for you and you’re going to find something that’s interesting for you. But in terms of the content that happens a lot we’ve had people come up and say I went to the education conference just because I wanted to know like what’s happening in education. What are some innovations that are get going on and that’s really why we keep the ticket so that one ticket gets you into everything and we keep It really low cost. So it starts at $25 for a 10-day experience, which includes food and art and professional development and connections and networking and that’s really an an open invitation to the entire region to to come and experience what Tucson has and for people to fill activate and empowered to make a change in their Community. Whatever they’re passionate about.

Tom Heath: That was a Dre Vocal of the Tenwest Impact Festival. We’ve been speaking with her and the Co-director Jessica Susskind. This is part one of a two-part series will have the second half next week. So you’ll want to tune in for that want to thank both Dre and Jessica for their time. 

Tom Heath: They come off a very busy preparation and execution of the ten west Festival had just a few days off and then we got them back in the studio talking about the impacts also in a little shout-out to Dre who this week. We’ll be getting married or Fiancé Adam Thompson, and she’ll be tying the knot later this week. So congratulations to both of them. 

Tom Heath: Well, my name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life along the streetcar in Downtown Radio, 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown 

Tom Heath: That’s a wrap for episode number 108 of Life Along the Streetcar. The past episodes are all available. If you head over to our web page Life Along the, always welcome to check out just about every show we’ve done there’s a few that are on there simply because my skill sets are not strong enough sometimes to do the actual recording we’ve gotten better and all the recent shows are on there. 

Tom Heath: You can check out that things like episode in our second year here with Comic-Con that’s happening. This weekend is wrapping up today. If you want to get a little perspective on Comic-Con. You just had a real life along the streetcar dot-org. There’s little search bar you type in Comic-Con and guess what you’ll be able to find our interview. They’re all so you can go back to last year. We did our feature on the All Souls procession so you can get more information about what’s happening this evening downtown by a look at what we covered last year. So head over there, we’d love any feedback that you’ve got and if their stories we should be covering. I got to tell you our shows been driven over the last six months by recommendations and that’s just fantastic. 

Tom Heath: We interview someone and that leads to a another story or feature that we want to get out there and just excited about that. We had Stevie Rose on last week. She was that poet that kind of came through and and our first story about the Tenwest Impact where she ended up being the narration her poems became the narration of a short film that was in a film competition that was part of 10 West and she was on the the station on a show last week talked a lot about her involvement with Black Renaissance and local artist Shawn Louis. 

Tom Heath: So she connected us with him. He is actually out of Tucson at the moment shooting working on his album, but he’ll be back shortly. We’ll get him interviewed and talk about his impacts here in Tucson. So that’s what I’m talking about one story leading to another, if you’ve got something we should be sharing you can get us on our Facebook page. That’s where a lot of people seem to interact with us or email us directly [email protected] and we’d love to know what you know that we should be sharing next week. 

Tom Heath: We’ll have the second part of our interview with Dre and Jessica finishing up our coverage of the in West impact festival for 2019 and get a sense of what they’re doing to roll into 2020. I do have a feeling that we’ll be talking much more about the various collaborations that have come out of this year’s Tenwest Festival. 

Tom Heath: We’re going to leave you with a little music today. By the poet, we just mentioned Stevie Rose. She was our feature last week. We ended the show with a song of hers that we ran a little long so you didn’t get to hear much of it. So we reached out to her. She gave us one of her new singles just recently released. This is a song called Groove and it’s featuring Chakra Blue and it is available. 

Tom Heath: You can search out Stevie Rose there on Facebook to find out more about her. We want to leave you with as much time to enjoy this song today. This is Groove with Stevie Rose featuring Chakra Blue. My name is Tom Heath, and you’ve been listening to Life Along the Streetcar. 

Tom Heath: I hope you have a fantastic week. And please do tune in next Sunday at 11:30 either on 99.1 FM or stream it on downtown radio or hit us up on our app Downtown Radio Tucson and catch up with all the news and events. It’s happening. In Tucson’s Urban core. Hope to see you tonight at the All Souls procession. Have a great week. 

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Tom Heath - Senior Loan Officer with Nova Home Loans