From Belfast to Buchanan

R&R Partners is packing up its 29th-story office for an abandoned warehouse a few blocks south. Goodbye Valley views and covered parking. Hello late-night visits from the undead in a haunted warehouse! Needless to say, the move was hard to digest at first. So I did what any logical man would have done: I fled the country for two weeks.

I ended up at a local pub in Northern Ireland talking to a regular about the 300-year history of the bar, which goes from bombings and parties to murders and marriages – and everything in between. I began to wonder why this friendly stranger picked this particular pub for a drink. He could have picked anywhere. When I asked him why, his answer was simple: This was my dad’s pub when he was my age.

I found the response profound. It was apparent that this Irish pub, tucked away in the wet cobblestone roads of central Belfast, offered its patrons a chance to be part of something greater – something that has kept the memories of yesterday alive and the purpose of today grounded. Few things are as fulfilling as being a part of culture.

That Irish pub was constructed 201 years before our state existed. With Arizona being a shade over 100 years old, some say our history is limited, but in the chase for copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate, Arizona’s early history has overflowed with stories. The statewide effort to prosper spurred an economic momentum in one centralized location: the Warehouse District. Now we just call it Phoenix, but the Warehouse District’s boom in 1920 was the cultural spark that put Arizona on the map. Soon R&R will call it home.

That fateful conversation in an old Irish pub made me realize that Arizona has a rich but sometimes forgotten past. In fact, it had been so long since the soon-to-be R&R warehouse was properly cared for and maintained that it would collapse if the support structure wasn’t refurbished. (Check out our blog post about the support work here.) Now our agency has restored the building and set its sights on a culture that’s been tucked away in the Warehouse District for a generation.

History has a funny way of repeating itself. Perhaps Arizona’s future will land back in the Warehouse District. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that R&R’s momentum can produce powerful results.