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Downtown Lowdown

The DL: Downtown a hub of good works

Last weekend, downtown had dozens of events, including a replay of a 1997 University of Arizona basketball championship game, a jazz concert in a historic theatre, and people dressed in mostly cardboard. This weekend, some of the many events include a show at the Fox Theatre featuring several of Tucson's favorite musicians and a James Beard award-winning chef making a guest appearance at a restaurant blocks away from his own.

These events all have something in common, something that illustrates why downtown is not just the hub of food and culture in the city, but also the heart: they all benefit good causes.

The Wildcats rebroadcast packed the Fox with fans eager to see their team beat Kentucky in an intense showdown that led the UA to the NCAA championship. Fans paid between $25-100 to hang out with members of the team and watch the game unfold, even though the end result was already well known. All proceeds went to benefit Blair Charity Group, which promotes leadership development and addresses needs in Southern Arizona, and the Primavera Foundation, dedicated to giving people pathways out of poverty.

The Cardboard Ball, last Saturday at the Steinfeld Warehouse, featured folks dressed in their best cardboard outfits, displaying robots and other creations made from cardboard. It was a benefit, this time for the All Souls Procession, a free event that attracts tens of thousands of Tucsonans every year and provides a rich cultural experience and healing with a celebration of life and lives that have been lost.

The jazz show at the Fox Theatre featured Bill Cantos, Mari Falcone, Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Big Band, and The Jim Howell Band, and raised money to help rebuild St. Demetrios Church, the fire-damaged home of the popular Tucson tradition, the Greek Festival.

One of the shows this weekend at the Fox will feature Jim Messina, Ronstadt Generations Y Los Tucsonenses, the Rillito River Band and many other favorites, to benefit the family of William Warnecke, one of the 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots. This is an all-day, Sunday event, with the first show is scheduled for 2pm, and a final set starting at 8pm. A dinner break will allow attendees to take in a meal at any of the 50-plus popular downtown restaurants.

Speaking of dinner, Tucson's celebrity chef, Janos Wilder, will bring his crew from the kitchen of DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails to take over Cafe 54 for dinner on Sunday. Cafe 54 provides on-the-job training for people in our community with mental illnesses to allow them to develop the skills that will help achieve independent employment. The takeover is by no means hostile. Wilder is known for his support of community organizations, and is beloved for his involvement in addition to his delicious meals. All proceeds from dinner will benefit the programs of Cafe 54 and their parent group, Coyote Task Force.

This is just a snapshot of the community-oriented events in downtown Tucson. El Tour de Tucson raises money for numerous local groups. Tucson Meet Yourself (coming up next week!) gives a platform for ethnic and cultural organizations to not just raise awareness, but sell their food and crafts to raise money for their own projects, one of the few fundraising opportunities many of them have. Almost every week in downtown, people come together to help out others, raise money for good causes, and have a wonderful time doing it.

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A strong sense of community is one of the things that those of us who live here love about Tucson. We all know that we're neighbors, interconnected, even those of us who live in different parts of town or enjoy different things. We care about each other, and want to participate in activities that don't just make us feel good, but are doing good. Downtown is a place of connection, a place to come together and get to know one another and downtown events with a positive mission encourage us to come together to do something great for our community.

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Jim Messina will perform Sunday at the Fox Tucson Theatre.

Friday, October 4

All Souls Poster Art Awards Ceremony 

The Importance of Being Earnest

Victorious Shostakovic

Red Baraat

First Fridays with Quest and Sonario

DJ Aspen

Saturday, October 5

St. Augustine Cathedral 2013 Festival

Alois Kronschlaeger & David Sayre: Exhibition Openings

All Souls Lantern & Mask Making Workshop

The Importance of Being Earnest

Illumination

TAART Walk: Toole Avenue Art Walk

1st Saturday Art Walks

Seeing the Santa Ritas

"Levitation for Lemmings" Opening

Andrew Kjera: Under Construction

Rey Murphy Album Release Party

Mamma Mia! Film Screening

Sunday, October 6

St. Augustine Cathedral 2013 Festival

Pumpkin Fiesta 2013

All Souls Lantern & Mask Making Workshop

Victorious Shostakovic

Sittin' with Jim Messina and Friends

Janos Meets Cafe 54