I like cities. I like the look of cities. I like how streets branch and narrow and cross each other, how people and vehicles move and adjust to the traffic around them, how the changing streetscape both signals and conceals the human activity inside. Cities are puzzles to be opened and solved, tempting the interested and the curious to discover their secrets.

We credit towns and cities as a civilizing influence on populations after individuals first moved from the countryside to villages and towns for safety and fellowship. Families living in settlements were freed from food production, so their energies could go into small manufacturing and trade, education and the arts. People living in towns developed basic laws to regulate human behavior, an expression of the “social contract” or compromise that allows people of different backgrounds to co-exist peacefully. In this relatively peaceful setting, institutions for public good developed and grew.

Phoenix is a great city, part of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. A young city by some measures, Phoenix is home to outstanding institutions, mature nonprofits driven by mission and supported by grateful members and donors. I’ve worked in the Valley with many of our top educational, cultural, and scientific organizations, any one of them a potential partner for Phoenix Friends School. In my vision for a Friends middle school, these partners were always in mind and part of early conversations about curriculum and hands-on learning experiences. Our city is a tremendous resource to tap. The challenge was to narrow the field and then to integrate scientists and educators into the PFS curriculum.

We are pleased to announce and celebrate our academic partnerships with Arizona Humane Society and Desert Botanical Garden, top local institutions with national reputations. Both institutions will strengthen Phoenix Friends School’s science curriculum in a way that helps young students understand the complexity and richness of the living world and the role we play as humans, our planet’s dominant inhabitants.

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