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Rachel says goodbye
Rachel is one of the co-founders of the Arizona Agenda and longtime Phoenix journalist.
When you’re ready to move on, everything starts to feel like a sign.
Climbing expenses most salaries can’t keep up with. Haywire gas prices. The never-ending housing crunch. Record-breaking heat and shrinking water. Endless traffic and construction and tourists and sprawl. Legal fireworks seemingly every day (thanks, David Gowan).
I’ve loved writing about all of these issues over the past 10 years. But living with them burnt me out.
So here’s the big announcement: My family and I are leaving the Valley soon, relocating to the Minneapolis area to be nearer to our loved ones as we continue to raise our new baby1.
More than any flaws with Phoenix are the draws of being near my family. The more we’ve talked to other parents, the more we’ve heard how many of them make it work by having daily support from family and close friends. We need that help, too — and we really want it for our kid.
I’ve missed countless important events by living across the country from my nearest and dearest, but I’ve missed the mundane even more. I crave a simple Tuesday night dinner with my siblings. I want to pick some apples on a random weekend in October with my cousins. I can’t wait for my parents to see their first grandkid grow up in front of their eyes instead of in photos and videos from afar.
I moved here in 2012 to go to grad school at ASU. For a couple years, I struggled to wrap my head around Phoenix. It felt a lot harder to find and build community here. It seemed so spread out and, at times, soulless. But over the years, the city became mine. I loved and defended it — I still love and defend it. I found my place and my places and my people. Many of those people have left for cheaper housing and better opportunities elsewhere in the past few years. Some of the places I cherished didn’t make it through the pandemic. My world got smaller again.
Still, the list of what I’ll miss from my adopted home is incredibly long: friends who stood in as family, journalists who helped me grow, the “winter,” creosote and desert rain, all the people busting their asses to make this place better, Changing Hands, great food around every corner. Don’t ask me in February if I’m missing Phoenix. I’m sure I’d start crying.
Ending my time in Phoenix with the unexpected success of the Agenda is the perfect capstone. I leave my first baby (not a human one, but a newsletter) in Hank’s hands. He has so many great plans to expand and keep finding more people to inform and entertain. You’ve seen some of that with the new Tucson Agenda, but that’s just the start.
Big moves require you to look back at how you got here. And with the Agenda, I finally felt like I was able to make a successful case for the way I wanted to cover politics but struggled to do so at other places.
I never liked covering politics, which is a rough position to be in as a political reporter. I often felt like stories were missing the elements that made important shit matter to people who should care about it but needed more context or clearer stakes. I didn’t like spending time at the Capitol or schmoozing with politicians. I loved reading government documents and figuring out how a policy decision affected all of us. I loved sharing what I learned with people to help them understand how government works so they could get involved.
We created cheatsheets that let busy people get up to speed. We talked to people like they aren’t experts but could be. We had fun, brought people along on a journey, kept it fully transparent. Our ability to try anything meant I could see if my big ideas would even work. They usually did! They sometimes didn’t, but that was fine, too.
We learned. We grew. You were all here through all of it. It felt like we had cheerleaders and accountability partners at the same time. I’ll probably never have another opportunity like this. I’ll cherish it forever.
When we came up with the idea for the Agenda, it grew from a question we’d always asked ourselves: What would we do if we were in charge? Well, we’d do this. Write what we want, have a damn good time doing it.
I’ll be staying in journalism, but in a different role with an actual boss this time. I’m excited for what comes next.
And I’ll keep reading the Agenda, because how could I not?
Thank you all, endlessly and wholeheartedly, for your support the past two years as we made a case for locally owned and operated independent journalism. I will miss having such dedicated readers who never hesitated to applaud us and call out our bullshit. We needed you — the Agenda still needs you. Stick around! You won’t regret it.
In case you missed it a few months ago, we welcomed our first child in May. I’ve been taking time off since then to learn how to be a mom and take care of my son. We’re all doing great so far! I wish I felt comfortable sharing photos of my baby to thousands because he is CUTE. He is obsessed with smiling. We lucked out.