Executive Update For You from Christine Conte

September 16, 2020

Dear Tohono Chul Family,

Something to look forward to. Something to be thankful for.

Both may seem scarce these days. But in these letters to you, written under less-than-ideal circumstances, it hasn’t been a struggle to find something to look forward to, as well as something to be thankful for.

Today I hope you are celebrating what here in Tucson passes for Monsoon relief, late in coming, but trailing (slightly) cooler temperatures—if sub-100 degree days can be called that. And what we here in Arizona can point to as a cooling of our previously scorching COVID-19 “hot spot” with a 7-day moving average of new cases over the past month trending downward.

Whew (or Phew) to both.

But even closer to home—and here comes the really “thankful” part—due to your continuing help, Tohono Chul has not only managed to survive the “heat,” but push through to a safe reopening of its gardens, galleries and, most recently on September 3rd, the Garden Bistro. Embracing the “new normal” also means the return of garden, art and natural history classes and workshops online and, with all safety measures in place, on-grounds. You can find all the details on our website tohonochul.org

And although staff is still hard at work on the details, there’s a lot more coming your way this fall—extended hours of admissions, online craft sales, and even a revamped/reconfigured Fall Plant Sale.

Here’s more behind-the-scenes news from General Services Manager, Bryce Beamish’s “field report”:

  • New and returning crew members. Drew Kibler, now full-time Groundskeeper, taking care of the parking lot plantings, the Hummingbird Garden & Bistro gardens, the Spanish Colonial Courtyard and the Children’s Garden. Hannah Hendryk, rejoining the crew and currently getting the Ethno Garden ready for a possible fall or winter planting.

  • New plantings. A salvaged Stenocereus columnar cactus found a new home at the first junction past Admissions and a mesquite tree added nearby for a shadier entry.

  • 307 Gila Topminnows. That’s the number of native fish counted as part of an ongoing research project in ten minnow traps set in the riparian area in two hours, with a smaller trapping system revealing a few pupfish, as well as a spike in our mosquitofish population.

  • The Retail Greenhouse. Beautified, refreshed and filled with new plants, it will soon be ready for a grand reopening.

  • Projects outside the main loop. To allow more room to roam, we’ve removed some of the Mesquite tree tangle behind the gallery and we’re prepping the front corner at Ina & Paseo Del Norte for fall flowers.

  • Wildlife. The coyotes that were lounging in main visitor areas have retreated to more remote areas of the grounds since reopening! Good news for the gardens they were romping in and all the plants they were spending the night on!

Meanwhile, Survive and Thrive has now surpassed the original March $150K challenge gift and has reached over $300K!

Thank you!! You did this! You made it possible for Tohono Chul to survive the summer and continue to enrich lives and uplift spirits through the wonders of nature art, and culture. You made it possible for Tohono Chul to remain a glorious urban oasis and haven for birds and wildlife.

Your gifts have come in many forms—in memberships renewed, through new members referred, in gifts through our website or arriving in the mail, and in surprise stock transfers. And with these gifts, some of you have also included the most heartwarming and inspiring stories about why you continue to give.

Now, with belts tightly cinched and completely focused on the task, Tohono Chul is looking at a much brighter future than any of us could have imagined when we were forced to close in March.

We will continue to need your generous support to make it through the end of 2020. Knowing that our normal revenue streams will not begin to return until the end of the pandemic, our goal now is to raise $200K before January.

This will be a real push. But I am confident that with your help, together we can get there.

As always, I look forward to seeing you back where we all belong, and thanking each one of you personally for all your help.

Warm regards,

Christine Conte, PhD

Executive Director