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

Today is May 20th my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”. This week we discuss a garden teaching teens about organics and a virtually untapped labor pool ready to make their mark.

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 with the Tune in App.

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

We start today with some summer fun.

Complete show #32
Good morning Tucson. It’s 11:30 on a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch our with us on Downtown Radio Tucson’s Underground Station. Today is May 20th. My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to wife along the streetcar. This week we discuss a garden teaching teens about Organics and a virtually untapped labor pool ready to make their Mark 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 downtown. Dot-org also available on your iPhone or Android with the TuneIn app reach us by email contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org interact with us on Facebook at Life along the streetcar and of course, you can follow us on Twitter our handle there is at streetcar life. We’re going to start Today’s Show with some summer fun.

It is heating up in the city and school is out or soon to be out for everyone and we’re going to feature activities which might help families pass the summer months with some fun and without having to jump into a car. The flandrau science center and planetarium is designed to Delight visitors of all ages by tapping into the wonders of science. It’s located on the University of Arizona campus and flange real offers planetarium shows powered with Hands-On science exhibits. There’s also some really cool specimens from the you of a mineral Museum exhibits will change over time, but there’s always a focus on biology. Energy astronomy Optics and similar disciplines. I’m sure you’re aware that the U of A is world-renowned for their groundbreaking research and has helped deliver in a big way for space exploration and if space exploration is your thing, they offer a state-of-the-art projection system to fly through the solar system before safely landing on Mars part of the center is the mineral

Museum which we touched on and it’s Nice as one of the top Gem and Mineral collections in the country. And of course most of the Tucson knows that flange Rao has their Observatory and they continue to offer free public astronomy to our community. The programs are typically run or overseen by volunteer astronomers. They help visitors identify Saturn’s rings the cloud belts of Jupiter the Andromeda galaxy and some other really amazing and stunning images that just may transform the way you see our world the center of the planetarium the minimum ZM. They all have a variety of special shows and events. So for hours of operation and for more information head over to their website or over to our Facebook page after the show, and if you are connected with land route, or if you have another fun activity for urban families to check out The snow like to set up an interview and come check out what you’ve got going on. Let’s get into the really good stuff this year. My name is Tom. He think you were

listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio. 99.1 FM Tucson available for streaming from Downtown Radio dot org, but if you tuned in last week, then, you know, we spent some time with Kelly Waters the education and Outreach manager for the food conspiracy Co-op. And in that interview, we discussed a lot about their history. We looked at their Origins and how Or decades later. They’re building on that original Mission to provide healthy food at affordable costs and doing so and an ethical manner. Now we didn’t have time to get into an important growth development that they were working on. So we wanted to spend a few minutes with Kelly and talk on this week’s feature about their Urban Garden a space after using that right now for growing vegetables that you’ll see in the grocery store, but they’re growing knowledge. They’re helping high school students and others really get a firm grasp on what it means to have a garden and that connection of

place. So you’ve seen transformation in Tucson on 4th Avenue and as I’m assuming your clientele has changed your ownership and your public a bit. Yeah, I would say again more and more younger people in our neighborhood more and more students. We get a lot of students. We work with Tucson High actually, so it’s one of the things that I always forget to talk about because it seems so natural to us that we work with a lot of high school age students with Tucson High it just kind of started out. Because they’re our neighbors and it seemed like a really really easy win win and we work with the exceptional and program there and they’re here three days a week. They work in our kitchen and in the grocery department and then that extended out into the garden so we are now working with the transition school to work program, which is I’d say just a little bit older maybe 18 to 22 year olds and that same population and they are they’re also out and about everywhere. They’re working in the community

gardens there. Working with the Fourth Avenue Merchants the downtown Alliance and you know, I’m just trying to bring this particular population into our environment and socialize with this group and have them have experiences with employability skills and hopefully move on to a different type of work environment. You just said they work in the garden. You have your own garden on. Yeah. Yeah. Also since I would say during our renovation we started out with when we expanded into the back. We had the possibility of not only leasing the space but we had what I think was just kind of like a empty lot that was kind of ugly and it had a lot of potential and we worked with a you of a graduate student. Didn’t to apply for some with the city of Tucson’s water harvesting program. We kind of put together a concept of the conspiracy Garden which was to harvest rainwater to plant Native Foods to grow foods for the coop and a lot of times, you know, I think people think they’ll that has to be row crops

that has to be vegetables. But we’ve really expanded our understanding of what that looks like from Desert Harvesters and working with the urban Forest. There’s Brad Lancaster and all those Native Food desert dwellers that have taught us about how to plant the rain how to sign the shade and how to plant food all the same time. So we’re really working on trying to re wild our Urban space but also while growing vegetables and herbs and growing people to and bringing in the the younger of the students. Do you think University our University High and then getting them with these Concepts and getting them through practice and and I think that that that ideally the closed loop of that would be you probably won’t see our vegetables here in the store right away. I think the idea is that we want, you know, I think they use are kind of eating it themselves, you know, like when they started up this project because it’s transition. It used to be that we had a staff member who was growing production

for the coop and it was really successful. It just was you know, how we invested in our store at the time and it’s and it’s a The really valuable investment to make but if it’s not understood as far as like it costs money to pay staff to grow vegetables. I think that’s a really hard concept for people understand like farming because farming is a lifestyle and I think sometimes people think well, you know, we’ll just pay the laborers to do the labor and it’s not like that. I think people who grow food love to grow food. So we had kind of this long process of transitioning our garden from being a production Garden for the store to doing more education and Outreach because it wasn’t something that we could do all at once, you know, you can’t grow food and do education Outreach with one person working 20 hours a week. It just it wasn’t really possible. And so and so this is kind of a happy medium. So maybe someday we’ll have a staff position that can work in the garden and work with the students

as well and maybe have a garden department. But right now yeah, we’re Just kind of exploring this partnership with transition school to work and we really really appreciate having a space where this population, you know, it’s like they don’t they’re not fully integrated into a standard classroom day and the school system is designed around testing and they don’t fit into that either. So this is really a space for them and our staff is really welcoming and really works with them and development away. And that’s why that’s why has been such a great partnership.

Last week we said that the coop is a community source of information as well as groceries in the garden is a prime example of that. If you have a moment to head down there and check out the coop ask if they have the opportunity to show you that guard. I’m sure Kelly or whatever teams available. They’d probably enjoy the opportunity to share that space with you. It’s really become an outdoor classroom. It’s educating tucsonans about water harvesting. As well as other techniques that you can use within an urban environment. To have a very prosperous garden and Lush Orchard of trees if you so choose but I like the fact that their emphasis is on our youth. And that really leads us right into our second feature of the day is one of the partners that the co-op has involved in their community outreach is a program of the United Cerebral Palsy of Southern Arizona, and it’s called workability. And the mission of this group is to put abilities to work by transitioning young adults with disabilities

into employment opportunities the idea for this effort was spawned by Vanessa’s Uber who until taking on the workability. Program had been a habilitation manager for you. Sepia Southern Arizona. Now this role had her working directly with families providing education and assistance to them with developmental disabilities and behavioral conditions. And in her time she recognized that the goal of Independence was predicated in part by finding employment and what she found and what workability seeks to reduce was a gap. Between the desire and ability of the job Seeker as well as a gap in the understanding and opportunities of the employer. We caught up with Vanessa downtown the outdoor space third hockney plaza, where actually some of her team where they’re working through their internship with the downtown Tucson


So we focus a lot on making sure the curriculum we use is person-centered. So folks are treated as real people. They have desires wants needs just like anybody else. We don’t just place the minute job. The goal is for them to sort of work on this journey. It’s like a holistic approach to figuring out what you want to do. We support folks to find their place in the world. So What is that? Well kid be going to school and a lot of our folks go to college and a lot of people if parents sometimes don’t see that that could be a possibility and I think our society sometimes things that people with disabilities can’t do college if you have an intellectual disability, but some of them can they can actually get a an associate’s degree or they could get a college degree. It might take them longer but backs is a choice for them and then Employment. An employment of their choice and what that could look like some folks may choose to try to live independently and figure that out. Well, how am I going

to do that? You know where I might live it with my parents, you know, whatever whatever their wants and desires are well, we want the person to feel like they’ve had a choice and what they choose and really the way to do that is set up exploration for them because sometimes people don’t don’t get the time, you know, they have their in high school. They have their big piece that they have to do in high school, you know, and when they start thinking about transition sometimes Transit transition doesn’t happen until they’re 16 and really, you know transition thinking about the future should be happening much earlier than that, but it is what it is, you know with our Public School System the way it is and the Educators already have someone

That are trying their best to do a great job of transition and a lot of them are but they don’t get that opportunity to really explore different types of career fields. And so we really wanted to provide that experience that exposure and I think it’s great because I think it does two things that educates our members, but I think it also educates a businesses and a lot of businesses will say later. Wow, I never thought about it is think I could I would be open to hiring somebody with an intellectual disability or you know, I just didn’t know enough about autism or intellectual disabilities or down syndrome or even cerebral palsy. I mean The people when they see a motorized wheelchair and the person can’t use their legs and their arms and maybe they have an augmentative device. They’re trying to wrap their heads around what how how can I utilize a person with all of these things going on in the workplace? Like they don’t they don’t see it or they get afraid. So I think we’re also educating

businesses. I live on your website that the phrase was think beyond the label. Right? Right, and that is that is an excellent website. I would encourage Urge everybody to go there. It’s actually a website that has some great resources for people to really think about the benefits of hiring somebody with a disability when I was reading through on the workability website. Even you have an employer Resource page we do and some of the things on there don’t jump out at you as being I think that’s part of the education such as the Loyalty of the employee once they’re trained and they understand what you need from them. They tend To last a long time in that position they do and from a more tangible side of things the spending power of that population with with the cerebral palsy or other disabilities. They have a lot of disposable and discretionary income that they spend and they might be attracted to you as a business if you were out promoting and supporting employees. Absolutely. I think that

it does expand I do believe it brings more business. More income or Revenue into a business because word does travel fast Tucson is small community. Everybody knows each other here, you know, a lot of people do word gets out. But I also think that it also provides for a diverse workplace any kind of diversity brings on a sense of oh, wow. This is great that this business is so open. It makes people feel good. Well the specific This is we’re going to talk about a couple of programs you’re involved with but you have 20 plus almost 30 Partnerships around Tucson right now. Yeah, well part of that has to do with we have a summer program and we have a all year round work Readiness curriculum. So we have to have internships. That’s a huge part of what we do is into you know, we want to promote also integration. It can’t just all be in a classroom setting there needs to be some out in the Community interaction with the world and that’s a big part 2 is getting our folks used to being in the community

and the community getting more familiar and more comfortable people with disabilities. So so part of that as we’ve had to recruit now the one in particular that led to this interview was we had talked last week with the folks over the food conspiracy Co-op. Yes, and they talked about their garden and then this relationship and that just far. This interest. Can you tell me about how that partnership Works? Absolutely. I recognized that they had, you know, they have a lot going on there. They have a very Vibrant Community. I think they have good business their Community minded. So when I connected with Kelly Waters, we were just sort of sitting and chatting about all the different things they had going on. So they have the garden they had the kitchen they have their grocery. So I thought wow there’s so much opportunity here. For our students to get a variety of different types of careers also the opportunity for our members to learn. What a co-op is what it does. The internships aren’t just

a place for them to just go do something. It’s really about learning the bigger picture of what that business offers a community. They have to learn that piece. They also get actual jobs, so they’re not just Fill in jobs their actual jobs and they have rules because a lot of these folks either have never worked before or they’re brushing up on their work skills. So they get a point person. That’s your supervisor and they actually get evaluated every week. They’re there and then the progress is collected in food data and that gets shared with them their family at the family wants to see that because some of them are minors. And it’s great. It’s a great way for them to right from the get-go. Learn. Okay. This is what I’m really good at all. So oh, you know, I really like the kitchen work more than I do the garden work so they can start figuring out what it is. They actually like to do and that actually helps us in the future or any other organization that’s helping them find work. How do

we support them and what they want to do because you’re providing Fighting again when I think what you call Integrated and competitive environment. So you’re not you’re not creating a position for your your individuals. They’re fitting into something that needs to be done within that employer must the time. I will say that there are some instances later on where we do have to do some job carving and we do have to do some customizing and that is working with the employer and the member to be okay. So the person can do 80% of this job. So are you guys okay working with this individual to do 80% of this job? Because they’re going to be reliable dependable. They’ll get the job done the way you want it but maybe this other 20% could go to somebody else or maybe that could go to some to another one of our members that can do the 20% because you know retainment can be hard for businesses. And that’s the other thing we like to do is work with businesses to help them with the retention. And a lot

of people don’t realize that because that’s another benefit to partnering with us. But yeah, yeah, this is this is definitely a two-way street and it is not it is it’s not a business just opening up their doors and helping you they are doing that. But in there getting something very tangible and returned from what stuff weeks we hope so so what are kind of the next steps for you with workability. Is there are you in a transition stage or you just trying to grow a business relationships? What’s new for you? Well, I think it’s kind of a When I think about what we’re doing we’re doing three different things. I feel so one of those major things is we’re expanding our curriculums. So for example this summer, we typically have five classes happening. We’re having seven classes this year. We’re having our local Tucson classes. And then we’re having one in Green Valley and one up in Marana. So trying to connect with more rural communities because there’s a huge Age need they don’t have access to

Services. The second part is connecting with more businesses which means educating more businesses about the benefits to hiring people to partnering with us, even if they don’t hire somebody if people are willing to provide the internship we love that. The third section that we do is working with people. We do job coaching and development. So working with people one-on-one to support them and getting jobs and maybe getting them connected to school because we also have a contract to support So in accessing Community College or college you get a degree so they can be better employed. So the whole idea of sustainability really and retaining

jobs There’s always two sides to a balanced equation. And you know, I found the service provided to employers through workability is probably as beneficial as the service to their interns. This is clearly in my humble opinion on a case of a business simply providing volunteer or a charitable contribution is really an opportunity to to give some education and some knowledge and then Really take some benefits as far as a stronger Workforce at something that’s going to reward both parties after the interview. I reached out to a couple of organizations here locally that represent a variety of businesses and all the group’s I spoke to were interested in exploring this as seem pretty obvious to me when you’re reading the paper last week about the labor pool of Tucson seems to be draining, you know, we have announcements. Amazon for example has a fulfillment center coming to town that’s going to be done fairly soon and they’re going to need some around 1500 employees. We’ve heard of construction

concerns with labor shortages. There’s other industries that are impacted and certainly employers across the board as unemployment numbers start to decrease employers are looking for alternative sources workability is a pipeline to a large potential employers. Bass and if you do check out the workability website, you’re going to find some cool links. There’s one to another site called think beyond the label and gives its guide for employers, but really just gives the general public good information about interacting with someone with disabilities and how to best go about that so that you’re not creating an awkward situation for for either of you. And the extended interview that we have Vanessa tells us about how she came to be at UCB Southern Arizona how the work of pill workability program has has grown since its Inception. She goes much more into depth about the impact that it has and we discuss a lot more of the employer benefits that come from this and you know, they’ve got 30 partners

that participate in these are not just small mom and pop shops they range from Small locations to fairly sizable ones and they do really as we mentioned in the interview kind of bridge a wide a wide range of topics. You can hear that extended interview, and of course, we’ll link to workability from our Facebook page. We are listening to Life along the streetcar on 99.1 FM available for streaming on Downtown Radio. Well, we have lots coming up for you here on a Life along the streetcar. So we hope you tune in next week and every week we’re always Sunday at 11:30. We’re right here on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and Downtown Radio dot org for the stream. If you have any questions comments concerns want to share with us what’s going on in the world reach us by email contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org interact with On Facebook at Street at Life along the streetcar. Sorry about that. And of course our Twitter handle is at streetcar life. We’re going to leave you today with some music from

Alien atmospheres a song. It’s called believe we talk about some really great things happening in our community. And I hope you believe things are looking up here for Tucson. Hope you have a great

week. Talk to you next Sunday.

    Help Tom Continue Providing Great Downtown Tucson Podcasts

    During the day, Tom Heath is a mild-mannered Senior Loan Officer with NOVA Home Loans. Support the show by referring someone you know whom is looking to buy or sell a Tucson Home!