Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Draw of the Cards

“How did you ever get a name like Show Low?” was my question to Mayor Rick Fernau of Show Low, AZ (population 7,695), 175 miles northeast of Phoenix. I love learning the history of town names and am making a collection of them as I travel around the country.

“We were named on the turn of a card in a game called show-low. C. E. Clark and Marion Clark both owned ranches in the settlement and decided that it wasn’t big enough for both of them. The two men agreed to let a game of cards decide who was to move. Clark proposed that they each draw a card and Cooley turned up the deuce of clubs. He said ‘show low it is’ and the town has been named that ever since.”

That was in 1873 and the town wasn’t incorporated until 1953. The main street in town is named for that card…The Deuce of Clubs.

Another attendee at my talk at the APS Community Development Conference was Anthony Peterman who helped to set up the first municipality within a Native American Tribe. He helped to set up Kayenta, AZ and is now project manager for the development of the community. Prior to that he was head of economic development for the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region of AZ. Peterman told me, “There is another tribe in Washington that is looking at doing the same thing.”

Someone who is reaching out to these small towns is the Arizona Community Foundation, which was set up in 1978 and started to reach out to counties and towns throughout the state in 1994. They now have 13 affiliated foundations throughout the state with over $40 million in assets in these community foundations, funding over $2 million in projects in rural Arizona.

AZ is rapidly growing both in the metro areas and in most of the rural communities. If you haven’t been there lately, you should try to visit.

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