Recently we received a lovely email from a site in Tucson Arizona called Love Letters to Tucson, asking to be added to our list of sister sites. We investigated a little more and discovered that Rachel who runs the site has Welsh roots! We always said all roads lead back to Cardiff. We asked Rachel a few questions about her lovely site. Read on!
1 – What’s your name, where do you come from, how did you end up in Arizona when you have British roots?
My name is Rachel Hughes Miller. I’m from Prescot, just outside of Liverpool. My grandparents lived in Llanblethian, so we spent a lot of time there, my aunt and uncle live in Pent-wyn, and my cousin Nikki in Cardiff.Let’s see, how did I end up in Tucson, Arizona? My dad moved out here about 25 years ago for work, and I followed him a couple years later to go to university at the University of Arizona. I didn’t expect to stay more than a few years, before heading back across the pond, but it didn’t happen. Somewhere along the way I started putting down roots in Tucson. You know the usual thing, friends, boyfriends (sequential, not consecutive), dogs, a house, and of course Tucson, herself, winding her way into my heart.
2 – what inspired you to start LLtT?
Julie Michelle of I live here: SF and I were both involved in a group called Help A Mother Out, which started in 2009, using social media for diaper(nappy) drives. I followed her personal blog Tango Baby and the I live here: sf blog. I loved the idea of sharing people’s stories as a way to see a city or place through new eyes, finding out new quirky things about a place you have lived in for years through other’s stories, and maybe it’s a bit grandiose to think that such a site can have an impact on community, but I hope that if we see this place we love through another’s eyes we might feel more connected to one another, and might enjoy this place we live in a little more.
3 – what has been the best thing about running the site?
Well, while I’ve had the site for a couple of years, I only got my act together this July. So far, it’s been lovely to see how receptive people are. This weekend LLtT got a shout out in our local alternative weekly newspaper online. Tickled me pink to see that. Right now, the response has been really positive to LLtT, but the demographic represented pretty narrow and I really hope in time it will come to represent Tucson better.
4 – what’s it like living in Tucson?
You’re asking this at the tail end of one very hot summer. Think an average of 43 degrees Celsius. Oh, and don’t let anyone kid you when they say, “but it’s a dry heat”. We have monsoons in July, August, and into September. Hot AND humid. And stunning, stark, rich and beautiful. These big, thunderous clouds roll across the sky in the afternoon and in about 30 minutes dump crazy amounts of rain, that then stream down the streets, because there isn’t a road drainage system.
Seriously, Tucson is complex. It’s a big university town, but it’s downtown is small, still growing and vital. It’s about 60 miles from the border with Mexico, and it wasn’t that long ago that it was part of Mexico. Between October and May there seems to be one festival or another every other weekend, Cyclovia, All Souls Procession, Tucson Meet Yourself, Festival en el Barrio, Festival of Books, Parade of Lights etc. It has, quite a rich cultural life, although that isn’t always apparent to an outsider or inhabitant. It is a clothing thrift store delight. It has a vibrant music and art scene. It is more liberal that the rest of the state (that doesn’t take much though). It’s a city in size, but a town in nature.
I wrote the following on my personal blog following the January 8, 2011 mass shooting at a Meet your Congresswoman.
Tucson is a beautiful place. Sunrises and sunsets that make you swoon. Mountains that rise majestically from a fabulous bizarre desert landscape. In summer, thunder and lightning roll in from the East and provide us with both relief from humidity and spectacular evening entertainment. For most of the year, the high altitude, dry air, clear and dark skies allow us sweet glimpses into the celestial heavens that this transplant, from a country known for its constant cloud, still gets goosebumps from.
There is something else too. Something that can’t always be seen. The city has a population of over a million now, more than twice what it was 22 years ago when I arrived. Yet, despite its size this is a small place. A place where typically it isn’t six degrees of separation but one, or maybe two, degrees of separation. And so here Green and I sit this evening talking of the lovely Ashleigh Burroughs who I only know through her writing, and Tom & Mary who we know IRL, hoping they’re okay and that their path to healing is swift. We know we’re not alone in that hope. Across this big-little town we’re all trying to process what has happened. These people are our friends, our colleagues, our family.
5 – what do you do besides run the website?
Most of my day, now our five year old daughter is in school, is spent with our 1 year old son, or developing content for and supporting our local community hospital’s social media ( a couple of blogs and facebook pages).
6 – how did you come across We Are Cardiff and what do you like about it?
I found We Are Cardiff through i live here: sf. It makes me a little homesick. I identify with the delight in a city that isn’t appreciated by those outside as much as it should be. I like the frankness of many of your subjects and the humor. I love that your mission is to show people just how flipping brilliant Cardiff is.
I know Cardiff through the eyes of a child. Meeting my Gran and Granddad at the station (that’s where I’d go for a photo session if I was on WAC), going to the Arcades, have a nice lunch with Gran before heading out toward Cowbridge and Llanblethian. Revisiting it through We Are Cardiff is lovely.
Some photos from the Love Letters to Tucson site:
Visit Love Letters to Tucson