Earlier this month, the national BALLE Conference on Localism came to Phoenix for the first time, bringing hundreds of Localist leaders from around the country to talk about the best practices for building strong local economies. This annual conference is the national forum for visionary local economy connectors who are making a difference in their communities, and we were proud to welcome so many hardworking change-makers into our community.
To get an idea of what the conference encompassed, watch this short BALLE Conference highlights video:
At the conclusion of the conference, we were blown away by the feedback we received about Phoenix and Arizona. Many attendees from out of state had never been to Arizona before, and so all they knew about the state was what they had seen in the national media. Other attendees were Arizona residents, but never spent much time in Downtown Phoenix. Overall, 82% of post-conference survey respondents said that attending the BALLE Conference changed their perception of the host city, Phoenix, mostly for the better. Here are just a few samples of what conference attendees had to say about their experience:
"I didn't know much about Phoenix before this conference. I feel like I got a privileged view of so many amazing people and initiatives working to address their challenges in creative and collaborative ways. I now love this city and would love to come back."
"I had no idea Phoenix had such a vibrant arts district!"
"I am an Arizona resident but don't live in the Phoenix area. I was very impressed with how many committed, thoughtful organizations and activists are doing great work in city. The Phoenix Sparks program was impressive. The city was far more walkable than I anticipated and the [welcome] guide was very helpful."
"Phoenix has so much life, energy, pulse that I didn't know about."
"I've always thought of Phoenix as a pretty rough place. I was impressed not only by the downtown but, significantly, by the passion of the folks working on local issues."
"I live in the east valley of phoenix and never come downtown. After my time at the BALLE Conference I realized I have been missing a big part of my town. Downtown Phoenix is really coming into its own. I will return."
"[Phoenix] is much greener than I expected!"
Thank you to everyone for experiencing Phoenix as a Localist with us! We're proud of the work being done in our city and state, and look forward to continuing to build an Arizona we're proud to visit and call home.