Category Archives: Currents
Fry bread can be traced back to the days before trendy food trucks, and Nations Creations food truck is giving it a healthy spin. The innovative food truck offers vegetarian-only options, from bean-and-veggie topped fry bread to fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies.
What we get: Vegan tofu taco with the juice of the day. $10. Visit their Facebook page to see where you can find them.
Once you’re in the loop, it’s hard to get out. Addiction latches onto people, controlling their lives, forcing them to commit crimes, push away family and friends, and harm themselves and others. That’s where the Amity Foundation comes in.
The Amity Foundation, founded in the late 1960s in Tucson, is a nonprofit organization that works to break the cycle of addiction.
Amity now serves 3,000 men and women daily in Arizona, California and New Mexico. Its services reach into prisons, as well as residential campuses such as the Circle Tree Ranch in eastern Tucson.
Circle Tree Ranch is a therapeutic community that breaks the addictions of clients—or “students,” in the lingo of Amity—with a long-term curriculum that has been developed over the last half-century. The end goal is to get people back on their feet to stay on their feet, breaking the cycle of recidivism.
“The recidivism rate in the U.S. is outrageous,” said communications director Barry Warne. “People just keep going back (to jail). So we can interrupt that cycle and then interrupt the generational cycle.”
According to a study done by the United States Sentencing Commission, nearly half of federal offenders released in 2005 were “rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions” in the following eight years.
One reason Circle Tree Ranch is special is because it allows children to stay with their parents, taking them out of the foster care system and rekindling a family dynamic while parents tackle their addictions.
Bringing the entire family into the healing process creates a “ripple effect” for the entire community, according the Ray Carroll, a former Pima County supervisor who now serves as Amity’s community and government relations representative.
“Our ripple effect is not just jobs that we produce, but better outcomes in families,” Carroll said. “When you save one person, a head of household, you save their whole family and you raise the quality of life for the entire neighborhood or block they live on.”
Running Circle Tree Ranch requires constant work on the grounds, including construction and maintenance, as well as in the kitchen and the office.
Training equips students with real skills they can use to get back on their feet after they graduate from the program. It’s another way Amity gives back to the community, as many of the jobs at the Ranch are filled by previous students.
One such graduate, Nicole Benson, works in the communications department for Amity, running computers and large printing machines in the print shop on site.
“Most of us here came from a really rough background, grew up in the lifestyle, became a product of the lifestyle,” Benson said. “I grew up not knowing any better. I ended up having three children by the time I was 21 years old. I didn’t know how to be a mom. I quickly turned to drugs to cover up my pain and emotions and quickly fell into that lifestyle.”
From there, she was in and out of prison, giving her children to their father. She finally had a wake-up call in the last month after an 18-month jail sentence when she learned that the father of her children was killed in a motorcycle accident. While still behind bars, she learned of the Amity program.
“I went to them and told them ‘I need help. I am leaving this prison in a couple of weeks, if I am to hit the streets, I’m going back to the same lifestyle, I don’t know any different,’” Benson said.
Eventually, she found herself in Arizona after being transferred from Los Angeles and felt at home immediately.
Both Bond and Warne were also once students at Amity.
Bond first came to Amity when he was six years old. He was one of the children allowed on campus while his parents went through the program, giving him a very different childhood.
“I grew up seeing my parents behind glass and in jail, talking to them on the phone in prison, and my daughter will never have that experience,” Bond said.
When Bond was in his mid-20s, he became addicted to opioids and became a student himself.
When he first checked himself in, staying sober for one day was a huge accomplishment for him, but day by day he got the drugs out of his system. As a student, he worked in nearly every part of the community he could, learning what Amity does in the process.
However, once clean, Bond’s problems shifted. He was faced with learning how to be a good father, husband, son, and friend while he was a student, and regained his identity through the relationships he built in the Amity community.
Warne discovered thataddiction is just a Band-Aid on another problem, a symptom of some other virus.
“And here, [the virus is] a bad childhood start, all kinds of self-esteem issues, all kinds of messaging you got in our highly, highly outer directed society where it’s all about being 95 pounds and fabulous and rich, (those messages) that kind of stick on us over the years.”
Once people get clean, Amity helps people find transitional housing in Dragonfly Village and employment.
“If by the time they’ve completed [the program] they don’t have a safe place to live and some type of income, whether through employment or benefits, then we’re really not succeeding in our mission,” Bond said.
Once students stop worrying about drug use, they can begin to live normal, stable lives.
“I don’t worry about drug use now, I worry about having a teenage daughter,” Bond said.
Rocky Baier is a University of Arizona journalism student and Inside Tucson Business intern.
LA Dodgers Honor Union Members At Tonight’s Game Against The Padres
The Los Angeles Dodgers will hold Union Night Friday evening, with more than 3,000 union members, family and friends from more than 30 unions expected to attend the game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.
Union Leaders To Be Honored
Union leaders will be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field.
The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Isreal Guillen, a graduate of the Second Chance Pre-Apprentice Bootcamp, which helps place formerly incarcerated individuals into paid apprenticeships that lead to union jobs.
The Buckmaster Show Live 8/9/2017:
Arizona’s Opiate Crisis
Today on Buckmaster – A deep dive into Arizona’s opiate crisis. We talk with Ray Carroll, community and government relations director for Tucson-based Amity Foundation. Also Amity’s Project Director Pamela Jay. Also, University of Arizona Ecologist Tyson Swetnam talks about his research concerning how mountain forests are better at storing carbon than forests on flat land. Plus, historian Ken Scoville previews Tucson’s official 242nd birthday celebration.
‑ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
Five-term Pima County Supervisor to Confront Arizona’s Deadly Opiate Epidemic
Ray Carroll joins Tucson-based Amity Foundation, returning to his roots in state’s private
TUCSON, AZ – Just short of 20 years as Pima County’s District 4 Supervisor, rather than seeking a sixth term Ray Carroll has decided to focus on battling Arizona’s historic opiate crisis, which kills more than two Arizonans daily, a 74% increase since 2012, by joining Tucson-based non-profit Amity Foundation.
Amity formed in 1969 to address the opiate crisis of the 1960’s and was originally called Tucson Awareness House. Carroll will immediately address the threat of a $77 billion cut in Medicaid & the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. If passed, it will drastically cut AHCCS funds over the next 10 years, which would be disastrous to health and mental health care systems in Arizona and hurt those in need.
“I am determined to protect Medicaid and all government services so that funding remains in place for so many in need,” said Carroll. “We must address the out-of-control opiate crisis in Arizona, as well as expand services to 1st Nations tribal members and develop work readiness services via Amity’s vocational training programs.”
Carroll also noted the paucity of available and affordable units in Tucson’s housing system. Amity has been subsidizing quality affordable housing for over 3 years via its Dragonfly Village campus that fills a gap of housing needs in Pima County.
Amidst many offers to join several boards, local and national posts, as well as special committees Carroll decided to dedicate his skills and expertise to the private sector in Arizona. After careful consideration of the many offers from a variety of local Arizona based non-profits positioning their social, collateral offerings he chose to join Amity.
Today Amity is a jewel of Pima County providing services to 1000’s each year and has expanded to serve Arizona, California and New Mexico.
For more information please visit www.amityfdn.org
By Mark Whittaker
We were exiting The Loft Cinema when we spotted a bright, copper food truck parked out front. Their product was loaded with fry bread and seeing as we were on our way to dinner anyway, we thought we’d have a nosh beforehand. There were a few options to choose from: Tri-tip steak, a grilled Portobello mushroom, vegan tofu and a marinated chicken. There was also the fairly standard fry bread that was dusted with powdered sugar, cinnamon and honey, although that sounded more like dessert. We opted for a simple one; a Southwest variety that boasted black beans, Pico de Gallo, slaw, avocado and crumbly white cheese. Sounded like a nice appetizer, but when it arrived we were stunned at how generous the dish was. Beyond that, the flavor profile on the fry bread, which was perfectly crispy and chewy at the same time, was impeccable. We sat there gazing at the pile of freshness wondering how such basic components can all come together so harmoniously. “You need to try the avocado smoothie,” said the smiling tattooed man running the truck. An avocado smoothie? Umm… The good man then brought out a tall, densely green drink and handed it over. With one sip, we were hooked. Refreshing, delicious and best of all inventive with its austerity. “That has fresh avocados, soy milk, a little vanilla extract, cinnamon, coconut oil and some agave,” he informed. We then decided to forgo dinner and hang out with this food truck that boasted the title Nations Creations, serving healthy indigenous food atop the slightly decadent fry bread. “If you want to get the real story,” the man named Steven James, said, “you need to visit our foundation out on Tanque Verde.” Foundation? Wait, what have we gotten ourselves into? The next day I found myself driving along Tanque Verde Road, way out of the borders of Tucson. Some miles later, I located the turnoff and down a long dusty road I came across a community literally in the middle of nowhere. This is the Amity Foundation, out on Circle Tree Ranch, a haven for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and the birthplace of Nations Creations. It is sprawling. Eventually I found Steven and he led me into the kitchen where it all started. “Our Native community battles with diabetes at an alarming rate and while they are here getting treated they are also getting proper nutrition,” Steve says as he guides me through the dining hall which is teeming at lunchtime. “Through Amity we were able to get Nations Creations off the ground because we want to bring our nourishing flavors to the rest of Tucson.” So, we have a philanthropic organization, one that has been here for 43 years, to thank for Nations Creations; basically, a food truck with a healthy purpose. While sitting and chatting with Steven and executive chef Jeremy Christensen, children gathered around, dripping from just coming out of the pool, and cooks emerged bearing plates of their signature fry bread creations. Then heads of Amity came over and began to describe who they are, and what the foundation is all about as kitchen staff came bearing plastic glasses of brightly colored smoothies. There was a lot happening all at once. As I was getting an education on what Amity has been doing to rehabilitate our Native community for over four decades, I was treated to some of the tastiest fry bread “tostadas” and “tacos” in recent memory. The Red Chili Tri-Tip ($8) was sublime. Rested over house-cooked pinto beans, lettuce, tomatoes, a nice sharp cheddar cheese and fragrant salsa verde, it had a fresh approach to a distinct and hearty Tucson taste. I also really enjoyed the Vegan Tofu Taco ($7), which is marinated in lime and cilantro and paired with a crunchy jicama slaw, slow cooked black beans, queso fresco, fresh Pico de Gallo and slices of ripe avocado. So lovely to eat among the desert swelter of early summer. As was the Mojo Marinated Chicken ($7) that comes rigged with a crisp jicama and nopales slaw and beans. All of it bountiful and beneficial. It is also well advised to sample their smoothies. My suggestion is not only the Avocado but also the Spicy Lemonade that features paprika and tangy green apples or the Honeydew Blast with summer ripened honeydew melon, crisp apples and cucumber. They are all priced at $3 and will repair anything in you that might need fixing. While exiting Circle Tree Ranch, full and fulfilled, back on the burning road, there was just a near overwhelming elated sensation that I was just part of something very special. Not only is the food from Nations Creations beautiful, but also how it started in the first place is just plain gorgeous. So be on the lookout for a bright copper truck and help yourself.