Of the many barrios in Tucson, I only managed to draw two: One because of its vulnerability to corporate development and gentrification, and the tireless efforts of a soft-spoken Latina with a spine of steel to save it.
The other because of its activism, strong Lowrider culture and Chicanismo.
Barrio Kroeger Lane
Tucked in at the base of A-Mountain where Mission Road meets Star Pass, Barrio Kroeger Lane struggles against poverty and the onslaught of modern development. Recognizing the sacred and historical value of the land, lifetime resident Josefina Cardenas has worked tirelessly for decades to preserve and enhance what remains. While she and others in her barrio have obtained working partnerships and collaborations with the University of Arizona, the Tohono O'odham Nation and numerous other community groups, what the future ultimately holds for Barrio Kroeger Lane remains tenuous. It is not alone. Older land parcels that were treated as yesterday's dumps are now today's gold-- sought by investors with deep pockets.
Barrio Hollywood is one of Tucson's many distinctive Mexican-American neighborhoods, famous locally for its former annual Fiesta Grande - a fantastic street fair along Grande Avenue, its main arterial street.
This no-nonsense, historical neighborhood is known for its history of activism fighting systemic racism, land grabs by the City and subsidized developers, substandard education, and denigration of Mexican culture and use of the Spanish language. It cultivates a strong sense of community foreign to Anglo neighborhoods, and its El Rio Neighborhood Center is a hub of activities and services for its residents. I was drawn to it for its proud Lowrider culture - the largest in Tucson. It is also home to some of Tucson's iconic historic landmarks, like Pat's Chilidogs, and Chicano street art-- some by famous local artist David Tineo -- now almost completely blind.
Today, Barrio Hollywood is a Multi-Coalition Heavyweight fighting gentrification across the west, central and south sides, tenant evictions, real estate vultures, and protecting the remains of Tucson's Birthplace Open-Space from an out-of-state mega-developer.