The children’s story Stone Soup is unfolding within our Arizona community as individuals from businesses, schools, local government and law enforcement are coming together, each with unique resources and talents, to create vibrancy and a sense of community in the area from Montebello to Dunlap and 15th Avenue to 23rd Avenue. Leading this collaborative effort is the nonprofit 19North.
19North is an organization that brings individuals together to “collaborate, partner, use our resources, so that we all win. So that the community benefits from our relationships together,” founder and CEO Shannon McBride of the 501(C)3 explained. A few of the key members of this organization include: Abrazo Central Campus, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Beatitudes campus, Los Compadres restaurant, Ace Hardware, local churches, and four grade schools and one high school in the surrounding area, as well as key leaders such as Allan Stevenson with the City Planning & Development office, Commander Steve Martos with the Phoenix Police Department, representatives of District 5, and active neighborhood groups.
When McBride was asked about her drive and inspiration to tackle this massive undertaking of supporting and providing resources to this entire community, she stated, “I think it started with the light rail being put right down the center of our community.” McBride continued, “The light rail, in a positive way, was a catalyst. You know, yes at first that first meeting that someone would go to is out of concern about what’s happening. That was for sure the driving force. And I think what I am understanding with community development, it often starts around safety concerns. That’s just what brings people together.”
Since the completion of the light rail project, McBride explained that property values in this region increased by 300 percent. At least once a week McBride receives a phone call from developers with an interest in local real estate because of the light rail and their knowledge of what it brings to the community.
19North and its community partners organize monthly events, alliances and creative opportunities that are offered to the public. On the second Friday of each month, food vendors, musicians and artists join together with members of the community to talk, eat and enjoy the company of others. In the upcoming year, a community garden will be put in place that will encourage community development and learning through the act of growing and harvesting together.
19North also has a business alliance that connects business owners, law enforcement and other active individuals in the business community to discuss concerns, opportunities and ideas to better the neighborhood and businesses within it.
Jill Roberts, a member of the Board of Directors of 19North and a local small business owner, expressed her thoughts on what this organization is doing for business owners. “I see the benefit of owners having a place to come to for support. Not just with small business questions but community questions.”
Through a partnership with Phoenix Center for the Arts, 19North offers art classes to the public in addition to a monthly art exhibition. Additionally, a mentorship program will soon open up opportunities for community members to serve the younger generation through partnerships with nearby schools. 19North is also working to support, educate, and provide resources to the transient community, made possible by Phoenix Rescue Mission. McBride notes that these projects, although many, will not stand-alone much longer: “I’m working on a lot of new projects.”
This community set lofty goals to achieve greatness and as a result, it is making strides in business development, unity, and overall happiness. Shannon McBride proudly stated, “When businesses thrive, neighborhoods thrive.”