(August 30, 2019)—When Archaeology Southwest wholeheartedly embraced the “science café” movement more than a decade ago, we knew from the overwhelming response that we had started a good thing with Archaeology Café. And before we knew it, we’d hosted cafés in Tucson for 12 years and Phoenix for 7. We’d even inspired a sister Archaeology Café series in the UK!
Over the years, we’ve tweaked the program, based on feedback from our loyal attendees. Last year, we experimented with using Facebook Live to share our cafés in real time. Two years ago, we moved our venues in both Tucson and Phoenix to settings where PowerPoint presentations were possible. In Tucson, we moved to the Loft Cinema, and our attendance jumped dramatically. With that expanded capacity, we have been averaging well over 100 attendees—and several cafés had more than 200 participants. In Phoenix, we moved to Changing Hands Bookstore.
And now I’m going to say something that will make some of you unhappy: this year we are pushing the “pause button” on the Phoenix cafés.
OK, I heard those expletives—now let me explain.
Attendance has been flat in Phoenix, often not reaching our averages of previous years. Some folks have mentioned that the start time is difficult for working people in metro Phoenix. Our commute from Tucson to host the program makes a later start time impracticable at present. Moreover, livestreaming from our Tucson venue has worked well, but our Phoenix venue has delivered poor results or failed outright.
At Archaeology Southwest, when we commit to a task or a program, our expectation—and yours—is that we will do it well. That’s not happening right now in Phoenix, which is why we are on hiatus there for the next season.
Now, having said that, I also want to state that we are very open to your suggestions, Phoenix-area friends. What could make the Phoenix cafés work? We have explored many options, and we do have limits on our staff time and budget, but we are eager to hear any helpful recommendations. Send those to email@example.com.
Back to what is happening with Archaeology Café. This season, we will hold seven cafés in Tucson on the first Tuesday evening of the month. We begin in October 2019 and run through May 2020. Due to a scheduling conflict in November, the Loft Cinema is not available on the regularly scheduled café evening, however. Instead, we scheduled a book release event at the Loft Cinema on November 19.
I’m excited about our themes and topics every café season, and this one is no exception. This season, we and our speakers will be providing you with information about places you can go to experience aspects of what the speakers will be sharing in their presentations. It’s important to me to get everyone out on these landscapes that I love, that our speakers love, and that are ours to protect and celebrate through our public lands system.
10/1/19, The Painted Rock Petroglyph Site and What It Tells Us about the People of the Western Arizona Desert with Aaron Wright (Preservation Archaeologist, Archaeology Southwest)
11/19/19, Book Release: Rock Art: A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape with Jonathan Bailey (Photographer, Author, Conservationist)
12/3/19, Pecos National Historical Park with Jeremy M. Moss (Chief of Resources Stewardship and Science, Archaeologist, Pecos National Historical Park)
1/7/20, The Bears Ears Water Project: What Environmental Chemistry Reveals about Agriculture and Landscape Archaeology in the Greater Cedar Mesa Area with R. E. Burrillo (Assistant Principal Investigator, SWCA Environmental Consultants)
2/4/20, Casa Grande National Monument and Its Place Today with Kyle Woodson (Director, Cultural Resource Management Program, Gila River Indian Community)
3/3/20, Seeking the Future in the Past: What the Fossils of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Can Tell Us about Our Future with Christa Sadler (Instructor and Guide for the National Park Service, Grand Canyon Field Institute, Wild Rivers Expeditions, Baja Expeditions, and National Geographic Society Expeditions)
4/7/20, Aztec, Salmon, and the Pueblo Heartland of the Middle San Juan with Paul F. Reed (Preservation Archaeologist and Chaco Scholar, Archaeology Southwest)
5/5/20, Tales of Two Cities: Casa Malpais, Kinishba, and the Elusive Promise of Archaeological Tourism with John R. Welch (Director, Landscape and Site Preservation Program, Archaeology Southwest)