Documentary airs plight of Arizona’s state park system

Citizens urged to contact legislators and Governor to adequately fund parks. The documentary film, Postcards from the Parks will be shown on the following dates:

Thursday, June 17th at 7:30PM (doors open at 7PM), Orpheum Theater, 15 W Aspen Avenue in Flagstaff (928) 556-1580;

Thursday, July 8th at 7:30PM (doors open at 7pm), Madcap Theaters, 730 S Mill Avenue in Tempe (480) 634-5192; and

Thursday, July 22nd at 7:30PM (doors open at 7pm), Grand Cinemas Crossroads 6, 4811 E Grant ( NE corner of Grant & Swan) in Tucson (520) 327-7067.

After the showing of the film, a community dialogue led by filmmaker Sam Jansen, Arizona Humanities Council Scholar Vincent Murray, and other parks advocates will follow.

Postcards from the Parks was produced by four friends — Susan and Peter Culp, Jocelyn Gibbon and Sam Jansen — to chronicle their experiences visiting Arizona’s 27 state parks.  “In 2009, I was appointed to the Governor’s Sustainable State Parks Task Force,” explains Susan Culp, “and when we began our work, I was surprised to realize how few state parks I had visited.  I wanted to see them all before making any recommendations that could affect their future.” 

What they found — a system in crisis — inspired the four to share the story of Arizona’s state parks with a broader audience.  Over the course of six months, the friends documented the parks’ natural landscapes, recreational amenities, and historical and cultural sites as well as the visible signs of long decades of neglect.  “To be honest, when we started I didn’t know whether each and every state park would strike me as impressive and important,” Jocelyn Gibbon shares. “But each one was really special — and the system as a whole is such a valuable asset for Arizona.”

Through interviews with state leaders, conservation advocates, and parks volunteers as well as relevant research and analysis, Postcards from the Parks highlights the many contributions of the state parks as protectors and preservers of what it means to be an Arizonan. “We hope the movie will be used to generate community action in support of the parks,” says Sam Jansen, adding that the producers have created postcards to accompany the film.  “The hope was that groups could get together, watch the movie, write postcards to state leaders, and then encourage others to do the same.”

After the film’s viewing at these three venues on June 17th in Flagstaff, July 8th in Tempe, and July 22nd in Tucson, a facilitated discussion and question and answer period will be led by Vincent Murray, a historian with Arizona Historical Research, in cooperation with the filmmakers and other parks advocates.  A native Arizonan, Murray spends much of his spare time as a cultural resource advocate, promoting the preservation of the state’s archives, historic buildings, and archaeological sites.

An opportunity for postcard-writing to state leaders will also ensue.

Funding for these events was provided by donations from the Arizona Heritage Alliance, Wells Fargo Bank and the producers of the film. Each film event is free to the public.  Donations to the non-profit, the Arizona Heritage Alliance, as well as to the Postcards from the Parks project for further distribution of the film, will be accepted.

For more information, contact the Arizona Heritage Alliance at, (602) 528-7500 or email

Budget cuts hurting Arizona’s museums; institutions, parks falling into disrepair, forced to close

[Source: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic] — Even as Arizona prepares for its centennial in 2012, the state’s history is becoming less and less accessible to the average citizen.  Museums across Arizona are cutting hours, restricting programs, merging or closing altogether in the face of drastic budget problems.  The State Archives, which had been open only two half-days a week, is trying to figure out how to go to a four-day schedule with a diminished staff.

And state parks, many with historical significance, can’t turn enough money at the gate to maintain aging and sometimes-dangerous facilities and stay open.  The impact is significant: In a state where so many people are newcomers, the institutions that can help them connect to their new state’s history are harder to access.  “The more people know about their place, the more likely they are to be good citizens,” said Dan Shilling, an expert in civic tourism and a former executive director of the Arizona Humanities Council.  Museums play an important part in extending that knowledge, Shilling said.  [Note: To read the full article, click here]