Meet Big Jim's Tucson

2013-04-09T00:00:00Z 2013-04-27T15:22:18Z Meet Big Jim's TucsonJim Griffith Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

There are many ways in which one can describe Tucson. It’s a place of Sunbelt sprawl and rapid growth. It’s the home of Davis-Monthan, Raytheon, and the University of Arizona. It’s got a friendly winter climate and excellent resorts and golf courses. It’s surrounded by desert and mountains of breathtaking beauty. It boasts good restaurants, a vibrant arts scene and a reviving downtown.

All of the above and more is true and important. But let me tell you about the Tucson I care to live in.

It’s a place where crops that were developed hundreds of years ago in this particular patch of desert are still planted, harvested and eaten. It’s a place where the language with which Father Kino was greeted in the 1690s is still spoken today.

It’s a place where some families have lived since Tucson was an outpost of the Spanish Empire, and where each set of subsequent arrivals has been welcomed, has assimilated, and has made its mark on our culture, our traditions, and our foods.

That’s the Tucson I live in by choice, and that’s the Tucson I want to write about.

But I won’t stop there. Tucson is in a desert, but not in a vacuum. It’s part of the Santa Cruz Valley, which is part of Southern Arizona. And just as Sonora, right across the border from Southern Arizona, is part of a larger natural region called the Sonoran Desert, so Tucson shares much of its history and culture with our sister state to the south. Therefore, we’ll be crossing that border many times over the course of this blog.

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About this blog

Jim Griffith is the former director of the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona, and co-founder of Tucson Meet Yourself. He’s also the author of seven books on the folklore and folklife of our region, most recently “A Border Runs Through It.” His books can be purchased at

If you have questions or suggestions for Jim Griffith or this blog, e-mail

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