Executive Update For You from Christine Conte

July 15, 2020

Dear Tohono Chul Family,

In the short two weeks since my last letter, our local (and statewide) situation has shifted dramatically… The life-threatening wildfire fire on the mountain has now been 92% contained with relief from monsoon rains. The smoke has largely cleared and blue skies are once again the norm. While we haven’t seen similar progress in containing the COVID-19 virus, I hope this letter finds you well—in both body and spirit.

I know I am repeating myself when I say, THANK YOU. But my gratitude for all you have done to support Tohono Chul, all the while facing your own personal challenges, overwhelms me. You have brought good news, hope, encouragement and inspiration when we needed it most.

In that light, I’d like to share more good news about how you have lifted this place and carried us through these unimaginably difficult times, and some plans we have for giving back to YOU when we are able to reopen.

In my last letter, I said that although Tohono Chul remains closed (as it must at least through the end of this month), we are actively working to welcome you home by creating new nature, art and cultural experiences. None of this would be possible without your generous support!

So, first, a few highlights from the “field notes” of General Services Manager, Bryce Beamish:

  • Undaunted by the dual challenges of thirsty plants during the pre-monsoon dry season and a shortage of expert garden staff, the garden team is hard at work. One of the new gardeners—avowed “plant nerd,” Chris Kibler–is replanting the Succulent Garden with a focus on plants that are less likely to become squirrel food.

  • And speaking of wildlife, there’s a lot more of it! With fewer people on grounds, the creatures are moving in, and we’re keeping an eye on them, day and night. One of the images on our wildlife camera even captured a packrat trying to steal the camera!
  • In short, the whole grounds crew is working to get things ready for the eventual reopening. When you come back, you’ll notice that things are a little different. And, we hope, you’ll find them even a little better.

Second, when Tohono Chul reopens—and it has to, both for you, and because opening is a financial imperative—you can expect a safe and comfortable experience that everyone deserves, including:

  • One-way path

  • Timed entry appointments for grounds and the La Galeria gift shop
  • Hand sanitizing dispensers throughout the grounds
  • Some safely prepared and lovingly served refreshments in the gardens by the Garden Bistro, an arrangement that may continue until the restaurant is able to reopen

And last but definitely not least, you have lit the way through the thorny forest towards a brighter future.

Survive and Thrive has surpassed the original challenge gift of $150K and reached over $250K! What this means is that Tohono Chul can and will survive the long hot summer. I thank each of you personally for making what seemed impossible, a reality.

To keep moving forward, we will continue to need your generous support. Our goal is to raise another $100K to ensure we make it through October, just the beginning of our top revenue-generating season, and into November.

Despite it all, we still have good news to share. And it’s my great pleasure to share it with you.

My thoughts remain with you and your families. You ARE the hope. We WILL get through this and we WILL gather together in the gardens once again.

Warm regards,

Christine Conte, PhD

Executive Director