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Why I Love Where I Live: Engaging in beauty & brokenness

Neon sign designed b y Saywells Design Co ., installed and built by  Cook and Company Signmakers  for Why I Love Where I Live.

Neon sign designed by Saywells Design Co., installed and built by Cook and Company Signmakers for Why I Love Where I Live.

In light of our recent shop opening, we wanted to take a moment to openly reflect with all of you about our journey here at Why I Love Where I Live. Opening our retail store was a big step for us, one we didn’t necessarily plan.


We were actually on the hunt for storage space for our online merchandise when the opportunity arose to open a retail space at the MSA (Mercado San Agustin) Annex. Through the process of planning for this, we thought more on where we’ve been and where we’re headed. As many of you know, this all started as a very personal process of learning to love Tucson as home. But in time, it grew beyond that into something that belonged to our larger community. It was no longer one story but a collection of voices. WILWIL (short way to say our tongue-twister-of-a-name) became something that had outgrown our original vision and in a way, we were following its lead. A storefront presented a great opportunity to give space to this evolving project. It would offer a physical connection point, a tangible place for us to engage with our neighbors on a regular basis.


We were right that this store would grow and stretch our vision, even before opening day. The more our WILWIL family grows, so grows our understanding of where we live. Our team has had the privilege to hear stories from men and women with an incredible array of perspectives and family histories that are Tucson. We are on a journey that can be exciting one moment and heartbreaking the next, because truly engaging a place requires our whole heart. It calls upon our laughter and our tears as we long to see flourishing for all of our neighbors, and yet know that sometimes one man’s success can unknowingly cast a dark shadow over another’s fading family legacy.


Every city everywhere has a complex interplay of cultures, religions, and political ideologies that are typically riddled with conflict and inequity. Sometimes it’s easy to cast our gaze across distant shores and clearly see the division in those other, not so close to home, places. We can feel it, and lament its brokenness while simultaneously hoping for reconciliation. But it’s much harder to hold our neighbor’s gaze for long enough to see their pain, to know it that intimately. Not to mention to really contemplate how our culture and our own comfort may be contributing to that pain in ways we might not fully understand (yet).

This intimate collision of cultures has been both a difficult and also precious part of our journey as a team, in growing a love that is deeper than just a love of food or culture or entertainment. It's not less than that, but it's certainly much more than that, and the complexity of it all runs deep. As we’ve continued to listen to our neighbors, we’ve heard some of their heartache over the rapidly changing dynamics of Tucson neighborhoods, and even the location where our shop has made its home. As money and development get poured into the area, we must remember the generations of culture that are central to our city's narrative, even when a greater understanding of a place causes us to make changes in our own ways of thinking and living. This quickly changing landscape is teaching us to slow down and seek to understand more.


We want to learn and grow with all of our neighbors, as we each play our small part in reflecting the beauty that we were uniquely created with for the sake of the other. In our process of understanding place, learning to love where we live in a more complete way, the most shaping education for us has come by way of relationships. We are grateful for those that have slowed down with us and patiently invited us to see sides of Tucson we might not have otherwise seen through their kindness and bravery in building bridges across generations and across communities.

In our new space at the MSA Annex, our hope is to be a place where people can feel at home being themselves, to be reminded of the essential role we each have as participants in this unfolding story of our place. 

Photo courtesy of Tzin Garcia.

Photo courtesy of Tzin Garcia.


Every business, organization, family and person has gifts that may bring healing, preserve culture, foster development, or cultivate a sense of community. When we try and do it all, we often are left tired and discouraged. When we don’t consider what our part is, we can feel isolated or disengaged. The only way we’ll be able to play our part is by resting in the reality that we are one among many. We see our team's role as celebrating the good, true, and beautiful things in our city through as many fun and creative ways we can possibly think up! With that same lens, we don't want to shy away from the brokenness and true problems we see our city face on a daily basis. We'll point out both the beauty and the brokenness with the hope that it leads each person to engage in some way and work to stay off the sidelines. Through the work of Teena and others on this blog, we want to put on display the rich and diverse ways Tucsonans are living into their callings in hopes that it will help you better discern your own. As we each discover what that means for us individually, we can look to our neighbors as partners in seeking flourishing for all. 

We humbly continue on in this life-long learning process of loving where we live, and we invite you into our new shop to keep the conversation going. We’re so thankful that you are in it with us.


A collaborative piece on behalf of the WILWIL team, written and edited by Teena Dare and founder, Kristin Tovar. 

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